Galaxy Watch 5 review: Should you go Pro?
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Galaxy Watch 5 Intro
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, while not as eye-catching as the larger Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, is a fantastic smartwatch that might be an excellent choice for individuals who want to avoid the imposing footprint of Samsung's largest wearable.
Just like the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4 foldable wonder-kids, the Watch 5 is mostly a minor update of the Galaxy Watch 4, last year's Samsung smartwatch for regular folks. With this here Watch 5, however, Samsung is enhancing both the hardware and software in order to improve the experience, but definitely not more than necessary. Battery life, possibly the most important aspect of a smartwatch, is rather similar to the previous model, and the same applies to most of the features and functionalities you have at your disposal.
Still, despite the general lack of revolutionary new features and design changes, the Galaxy Watch 5 scores important updates in the design department—the base version now comes with a sapphire crystal screen, just like the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and the Apple Watch Ultra, so a definite win for Samsung in this department.
Starting at $279 for the 40mm Wi-Fi version and topping up at $349 for the 44mm LTE-enabled one, the Galaxy Watch 5 is easily one of the best and most recommendable smartwatches for Android devices, and especially so for the Samsung ecosystem. You can also consider this one the main answers to the Apple Watch Series 8, although the two aren't really interchangeable due to ecosystem compatibility restraints.
Galaxy Watch 6 is looming on the horizon. There's a plethora of features that might get improved on the next wearable.We are nearing the end of the cycle for the Galaxy Watch 5 as the
What’s new about the Galaxy Watch 5:
- Sapphire crystal glass
- Larger battery
- Improved sleep tracking
- New skin temperature sensor (functional as of May 2023)
Table of Contents:
Galaxy Watch 5 Specs
These are the full Galaxy Watch 5 specs compared with the Galaxy Watch 4:
As we can see, the differences are small, with the two wearables being mostly similar in terms of hardware. They are even powered by the same chipset and have a similar size.
For a more complete breakdown, check out our Galaxy Watch 5 vs Galaxy Watch 4 specs comparison.
Galaxy Watch 5 Design, Models & Sizes
An incremental remix
No beating around the bush – you will be hard-pressed to find any major visual differences between the old Galaxy Watch 4 and the new Galaxy Watch 5. We get a slim and lightweight wearable that sits great on the wrist and is extremely comfortable to wear. This one could be worn on just about any occasion. With a simple change of the strap, it would fit the track just as well as an informal evening get-together.
Sadly, there's no titanium case on the Galaxy Watch 5, as Samsung has opted for Armor Aluminum instead. In case that one doesn't ring a bell, here's a refresher: it's the same material that makes up the frame of the Galaxy S22-series. It's a sleek and lightweight material that's pleasant to the touch, holds no fingerprints, and feels premium, so all is well in the world.
The Galaxy Watch 5 is available in 40 and 44mm versions, which are mostly similar to last year's models in terms of size. I had the pleasure of reviewing the larger 44mm model, and it was perfect for my thicker wrists.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Unlike the Watch 5 Pro, the Watch 5 has a completely flat top case without a raised bezel for extra protection of the display, but at least the screen comes with a sapphire crystal. Speaking of the display, it’s the same 1.4" Super AMOLED panel as the one you'd find on the Galaxy Watch 5, as well as on the 44mm Galaxy Watch 4. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it's just as bright and vivid as you would expect from a Samsung device with an AMOLED screen.
There's no rotating bezel, but there's a digital one that allows for some useful interface interactions, and that's good news for fans of Samsung's wearables: while it's no rotating physical bezel, this one still allows for some extra interactivity. It still doesn't feel too great to use this one, as it takes away from the ease of use and creates more problems than it solves in the form of undesired taps and ghost touches. Not a fan, personally.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Surely, if we had a hardware rotating bezel, things would have been completely different, but that one wouldn't fit with the lightweight sport-y nature of this wearable. The side buttons are unchanged, but still feel click-y and responsive enough.
The 44mm version of the Galaxy Watch 5 is available in Graphite, Sapphire, and Silver colors, while the 40mm comes in Graphite, Pink Gold, and Silver. All of those look quite snazzy in person, and all of the wearables can be had with a regular sports band in tow.
Galaxy Watch 5 Software & Features
The best Android smartwatch, period
Running One UI Watch 4.5 atop Google Wear OS 3.5, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is certainly among the best Android smartwatches you can get right now. The interface is extremely intuitive and easy to use, with a couple hundred native apps available on the Play Store. Even if a certain app is not available as a companion app, you can still see notifications and reply to them with some basic responses.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
There's lots of customizability, with lots of watch faces to choose from. There's a nice balance between informative watch faces and purely flashy ones that don't really give any information.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 incorporates an advanced BioАctive sensor, which combines a variety of specialized health sensors to provide users with the most accurate health data and wellness insights. The watch now provides practical advice on how to achieve your goals, reminds you to rehydrate after tiring cardio activities, and much more, in addition to doing a thorough body composition analysis. Well, I can't say how correct the BMI readings are, but they sure do look believable and are definitely good enough for regular Joes.
Samsung has also thrown in a skin temperature sensor on the Watch 5. For many months, this one wasn't used too much, but an update in May 2023 finally brought female cycle-tracking to the wearable that uses data from the temperature sensor. Great news for all eligible users that might benefit from the advanced on-device cycle tracking!
There's improved sleep tracking as well. Aside from tracking the ins and outs of your sleep stages, like REM (rapid-eye movement), light, and deep sleep, as well as detecting possible sleep apnea, the sleep tracking of the Galaxy Watch 5 also gives you a sleep score after every night, as well as a sleep spirit animal that best describes your sleep patterns.
But that's not all—there's a new sleep coaching feature with a 5-week program that might improve the quality of your late-night activities, or so Samsung claims. It has individualized checkpoints, targets, and milestones, so that you can game-ify your improved sleep!
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Now, health features are predominantly in the domain of the ubiquitous Samsung Health app, which is the hub for all wellness and fitness-related features. Some features, however, like the ECG and the blood pressure tracking, only work with Samsung's Heart Monitor app, which is exclusively available on a Samsung phone only.
When it comes to activity tracking, the Galaxy Watch 5 is well-automated. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised as to how quickly the wearable detected that I had started a brisk run. Samsung claims that you can also manually track more than 90 different activities, which is a humbling amount.
Galaxy Watch 5 Battery and Charging
Both the 40 and 44mm versions of the Galaxy Watch 5 have scored larger batteries in comparison with their predecessors. The 40mm Galaxy Watch 5 has a 284mAh battery versus 247mAh on the 40mm Galaxy Watch 4, while the 44mm version comes with a 410mAh battery, a neat bump over the 361mAh battery in its predecessor.
How does this translate to battery life in, well, the real life? Well, it definitely depends on your own specific usage habits. I'll walk you through mine and finally tell you how long the 44mm version of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 lasts me.
For starters, my setup: raise-to-wake auto brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC are enabled and always on display is disabled, automatic HR readings are set to 10 minutes while being still, and all other features are left unchanged from their default values.
With such a mostly regular usage, the Galaxy Watch 5 usually lasts me a full day and night and has battery life in the teens the next day, so a quick rendezvous with the charger is due. Speaking of charging, Samsung has fortunately improved it a lot. The Galaxy Watch 5 now supports up to 10W charging, which is good enough to juice up more than 40% of battery juice in around 30 minutes, which is honestly great - quick regular top-ups ensure you'll always have enough juice.
Galaxy Watch 5 Processor, Storage & ConnectivityThe Galaxy Watch 5 is powered by the same Exynos W920 dual-core chipset that powered last year's Galaxy Watch 4 and 4 Classic. Performance is okay, and I only noticed some slight issues immediately after the setup, when the watch was still settling in.
There's 16GB of native storage, of which you can use roughly 9GB after the Galaxy Watch 5 is ready to rock'n'roll. That's more than enough space to fit tons of apps, watch faces, pictures, and music files, so no complaints on that front.
There haven't been many changes in terms of connectivity, though the Galaxy Watch 5 scores minor improvements over its predecessor. In particular, Bluetooth gets upgraded to version 5.2, up from version 5.0, and essentially improves the efficiency of the ubiquitous connectivity standard.
Galaxy Watch 5 Audio Quality and HapticsYou can take and make calls on the Galaxy Watch 5, and the quality is acceptable. Surely, you can connect a pair of earbuds and enjoy better audio quality, but the built-in speaker is good enough.
Haptic feedback is acceptable. It doesn't feel cheap, but it has that tinny feel that's the polar opposite of, say, the Apple Watch 7, which has deeper vibrations. It's all matter of personal preference, though, as it's unlikely to miss a notification with either the Galaxy Watch 5 or the Apple Watch.
Galaxy Watch 5 Competitors
While you can't really use one instead of the other, the Apple Watch 7 and the Apple Watch 8 are definitely squaring up with the Galaxy Watch 5. See, you can only use the Apple Watch with an iPhone, while the Galaxy Watch 5 works best with Galaxy phones, so you'll definitely be picking up the one watch that works with your ecosystem of choice.
The recent Google Pixel Watch isn't a wearable I would recommend getting instead of this here Galaxy Watch 5 as the latter is a much better product, with more fleshed-out features and functionalities. And if you want to seriously step up your game, the Apple Watch Ultra is also available for quite a heftier price as well.
In case you don't really want a smartwatch, Garmin has a wide range of more rudimentary watches that will still show you your notifications but also have a vastly better battery life thanks to their different MIP (memory-in-pixel) display technologies.
Galaxy Watch 5 Summary
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
All things considered, the Galaxy Watch 5 is a great smartwatch. I even prefer this one to the weird and unwieldy Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. The Galaxy Watch 5 is sleek, feature-packed, and has everything that a modern smartwatch should have.
Key improvements like the sapphire crystal glass and faster charging, as well as the promise for an even better health monitoring in the near future thanks to the skin temperature sensor, certainly position the Galaxy Watch 5 is a good smartwatch.
Don't get me wrong, the Galaxy Watch 5 is definitely a minor refresh over the Galaxy Watch 4, but that one was already a superb smartwatch of its own, so it's unrealistic to expect a revolutionary new design and features set.
Starting at $279, the Galaxy Watch 5 is definitely a smartwatch I can recommend. It's easily among the best smartwatches you can get for your Android and especially Galaxy phone right now, though you probably shouldn't upgrade if you already own a Galaxy Watch 4—the improvements aren't that major and you wouldn't get an immensely better value.
For anyone else looking to get into the smartwatch scene, the Galaxy Watch 5 is a no-brainer choice that you should shortlist, especially if you're flaunting a Galaxy as a daily driver.