Samsung announced the Galaxy Watch Active alongside the Galaxy S10 a few weeks back, and it said the Watch Active would be its first smartwatch with blood pressure monitoring. However, the device has been on sale for weeks, and owners report there's still no blood pressure monitoring. Samsung, meanwhile, remains silent on the issue.
Health tracking is one of the primary use cases for a smart wearable, but there's only so much room for sensors. With the Watch Active, the PPG sensor that tracks your heart rate is supposed to pull double duty. The PPG is an optical sensor that measures changes in blood volume, and Samsung plans to use a proprietary algorithm to translate that data into your approximate blood pressure.
The key to that is apparently the My BP Lab app, which was developed in partnership with UCSF researchers. The app is currently only available on Samsung phones where it uses the PPG sensor built into those phones. It's supposed to connect to the Galaxy Watch Active as well, but most users report no luck. We've sideloaded it on a non-Samsung phone and were not able to get any data from a Watch Active. (Some users with Galaxy Note 9, S9, and S10 devices are having success, but it's not clear why others aren't.)
So, why the delay? It's possible the roundabout way of measuring blood pressure isn't as accurate as Samsung had hoped. It definitely doesn't seem like something the FDA would certify as a medical device, but the data might even be too misleading to provide at all. We've reached out Samsung and will update if we get a reply.
It's just a study, not a feature
We've heard back from Samsung, and it turns out the blood pressure monitoring feature has already launched. However, calling it a "feature" is a little generous. Samsung says the Watch Active's blood pressure monitoring is only available as part of the opt-in study with UCSF (on Samsung phones from the GS9 and onward), and that might continue in some fashion after the study. The watch's product page doesn't list blood pressure monitoring as a feature, but the initial PR does list it as a highlight:
New to the Galaxy wearable line, Galaxy Watch Active puts smarter blood pressure tracking on your wrist. Download My BP Lab, the research app jointly developed with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), directly to Galaxy Watch Active to monitor blood pressure and keep better track of your physical health every day.
That makes it sound like something anyone with the Watch Active can do—it doesn't mention a study or phone restrictions. So, you can understand why everyone reported on blood pressure monitoring as a standard feature. While Samsung didn't technically mislead anyone, it's easy to see why people could have been confused.
We've updated this post's title to reflect Samsung's statement.
- Samsung community