Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: The Wear OS smartwatch we ve been waiting for. Smartwatch Samsung 5

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: The Wear OS smartwatch we’ve been waiting for

If you’re into smartwatches but there is no Apple Watch on your wrist, chances are that you’re using a Samsung wearable, or have at least considered one. That’s only natural – Samsung is one of the frontrunners in the wearables arms race, where it is actually collaborating with Google quite intensely in terms of software development, with the hopes of catching up with and even surpassing Apple’s market standings.

And with the new Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, Samsung is definitely enriching the smartwatch space with a rather intriguing offering that’s tough enough to endure harsher usage conditions but also live to tell the tale, unscathed at that. At the same time, it lacks the somewhat off-putting and gimmicky “rugged” design that many of those conventional watches possess, and it easily passes as a rather Smart dress watch.

With a battery to easily last you at least two days of mixed to heavy usage and a bunch of features that fit rather nicely with its durable nature, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is easily the best smartwatch you can get for your Android device, and the ultimate one to go with your Galaxy phone.

This one is the perfect accessory to the recently unveiled Galaxy S23 Ultra, Galaxy S23 Plus, and Galaxy S23, or any other of the best Samsung phones. Anyway, let’s delve in deeper and see what’s up with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and how it squares up to its more affordable offshoot, the Galaxy Watch 5.

The Galaxy Watch 6 Pro and Galaxy Watch 6 are coming soon, but the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is still the best watch for Galaxy phones.

What’s new about the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro:

  • Sapphire crystal glass and titanium body
  • Larger 590mAh battery
  • Exclusive GPS guidance Track Back
  • Improved sleep tracking
  • New temperature sensor
  • Enhanced Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro at Samsung: from 179 now with trade-in

Samsung has an epic discount right now on the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. You can save 270 on the Watch 5 Pro with an eligible trade-in. At the moment, you get up to 220 off with enhanced trade-in, and without a trade-in, you still get 50 off in instant savings.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

The Good

  • Superb battery life
  • Titanium body sapphire screen is a superb combo
  • Bright and legible OLED display
  • Great health and sleep monitoring
  • Good haptic feedback
  • Charges rather quickly

The Bad

  • 15.5mm real thickness means that it’s bulkier than advertised
  • The rotating bezel is sadly gone
  • Ecosystem issues. some features are exclusive to Galaxy phones

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro Specs

Wondering about what literally makes the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro click and tick? Here’s a summary of the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro specs:

SpecsGalaxy Watch 5 Pro
45mm, 45.4 x 45.4 x 10.5 mm (15.5mm real thickness), 46.5G, 499 (LTE), 449 (Wi-Fi-only)

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro Design, Models Sizes

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is, to put things lightly, one imposing and large smartwatch, noticeably taller and heavier than, say, an Apple Watch, for example. It comes in a single, one-size-fits-all 45mm size. Fully made of titanium and sapphire glass, the latest flagship Galaxy Watch is a solid and rather sturdy cross between a dress watch and a heavy-duty trekking companion, which might look just a little bit intimidating when you first put it on your wrist.

Thanks to the large battery inside, it’s a rather thick gadget that literally and figuratively stands out, and it definitely might be a bit harder to hide that one up under your sleeve. Still, it’s not uncomfortable to wear this one, and I eventually got used to the weight. However, if it weren’t for the benefit of this review, I wouldn’t have forced myself to wear this smartwatch while I catch some zzz’s in bed, as it’s just a bit too big and unwieldy. The regular Galaxy Watch 5 is way more comfortable in this regard, and I wore than one with pleasure.

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has certainly been devised with thicker wrists in tow. Surely, nobody’s stopping you from getting one even if you have narrower wrists, but it sticks out and definitely look a bit funky. That said, despite the advertised thickness of 10.5mm, the actual thickness of the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, the bezel and sensor and the bottom included, weighs in at 15.5mm.

The rugged Galaxy Watch 5 Pro features a raised bezel with the purpose of protecting the display from accidental bumps and the such. Still, it won’t shield your screen from sharp objects, and I bet few are willing to test out the durability of sapphire that way.

There’s no moving parts on this watch. Yep, none—the beloved rotating bezel of old,, which allowed for quick interactions with the interface without touching the screen, is now sort of gone. Shame, as it would have matched the rugged design of the Watch 5 Pro rather nicely! The overall functionality isn’t totally axed, mind you. The inner part of the bezel is still capacitive, meaning that you can slide your fingertip around to emulate the same functionality, but the satisfaction, accuracy, and utility of the old rotating bezel is gone.

After spending a week with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, I can swear on any holy book that the removal of the circular bezel is my biggest gripe and pet peeve with the wearable. The lack of the useful hardware feature irked me so much that I eventually fell in love with the regular Galaxy Watch 5, a sleeker and more comfortable gadget to wear, barring the lack of a larger battery.

Speaking of the display, it’s just as bright and vivid as you might remember from previous Samsung smartwatches. It’s a joy to look at this remarkable 1.4-inch OLED screen, which is perfectly legible even in the brightest daytime and makes content and interface elements just pop!

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is available in Gray Titanium and Black Titanium, both quite classy colors that look great in person. Samsung also introduces a new D-Buckle strap, which utilizes a clever mechanism to latch the watch onto your wrist. Potential adopters can also customize any other available watch bands within the Bespoke Studio, which expands this functionality to the Watch 5 Pro, similarly to the configurator on the Apple Watch, albeit with more variety in store.

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro Software Features

The ultimate Android smartwatch

Like the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and the Galaxy Watch 5, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro comes with an advanced BioActive sensor that combines a slew of dedicated health sensors to give users the most accurate health data and wellness insights. Biometric analysis has been improved – aside from taking a full analysis of your body composition, the watch now also gives you helpful advice on how to reach your goals, urge you to rehydrate after an intensive cardio, and more.

One of the new features of the Galaxy Watch 5 lineup is the infrared skin temperature sensor on the underbelly of the watches. In May 2023, this sensor was finally enabled thanks to a software update, and now allows for advanced female cycle tracking by examining temperature change trends overtime.

Samsung has also improved sleep tracking a lot. Aside from overhauling the interface in order to make it more useful to users, it’s also gathering more comprehensive sleep data, and to top it all off, users are matched with a sleep spirit animal, of sorts. Should the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro detect that you have some recurring sleep issues, like sleep apnea for example, it will alert you accordingly in order for you to take the necessary action. The new and improved sleep tracking functionality also suggests a sleep coaching plan with personalized checkpoints, goals, and milestones.

True to its rugged nature, the Watch 5 Pro features some enhanced activity features, chief among which is the exclusive route-based GPS guidance, which uses gentle haptic feedback and voice-assisted messages to navigate you through the great outdoors. Track Back is another useful GPS feature only found on the Watch 5 Pro, which will get you back to where you started by retracing the route you took. In my experience, the GPS accuracy is more than acceptable, but have in mind that your mileage may vary if you’re using it in the city jungle with multiple high buildings around you messing with the accuracy. In the wild outdoors, however, you shouldn’t have such issues.

What’s great about the GPS guidance on the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the flexibility it offers. You need a GPX file to head on to an adventure, and you can obtain this one in several ways:

  • by using Google Maps and converting a custom map to.GPX,
  • by downloading a sample route from Samsung Health,
  • by using a third-party app, like Komoot.

There are some new watch faces that revolve around the outdoors-y, with an emphasis on navigation. One of my favorite new watch faces is called “Pro analog”, and is a rather simple, but neat-looking has a compass, a battery indicator, and a neat activity shortcut, which is arguably everything you’d want out of a Smart watch face.

One of the downsides or quirks of Samsung’s Wear OS platform is that it only works with Android devices, so pairing this watch with an iPhone is a no-go. But that’s not all. even though you can use the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro with any Android device, some of its best features, like ECG and blood pressure monitoring, are exclusive for Samsung Galaxy phones, as the necessary companion app is only available on the Galaxy Store.

Activity tracking is better than ever, with automatic detection of the most popular activities like cycling, running, and outdoor walking, as well as manual tracking of more than 90 other activities.

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro Battery and Charging

The battery champ

With a 590mAh battery, enormous for a full-fledged smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is definitely one of the longest-lasting true smartwatches that I’ve ever used. Actually, battery life of this wearable surely matches the old Tizen-powered Samsung wearables, like the Gear S3 Frontier, which routinely lasted more than two, three, or even four days.

With mostly default settings (Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth enabled), heart-rate monitoring set to 10-minute intervals, and always-on display disabled, I routinely get above 60 hours of battery life between charges, or nearly three full days. As a side note, I consider myself a regular user with mostly mixed usage: I usually get a ton of notifications throughout a regular business day, with mostly mail and DM notifications pouring in, some light activity tracking, heart monitoring, and so on.

Using the GPS guidance or actively tracking an ongoing activity naturally tends to drain the battery faster, but I was always confident that the battery will last until I reach the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s charger.

In terms of charging, Samsung’s latest wearable pride and glory charges quite fast. Thanks to the 10W WPC-based charging (a different standard than the more widespread Qi solution), the Galaxy Watch 5 charges up more than 40% after a brief 30-minute charge, while a complete charge takes a bit over an hour. That’s fast enough considering how good the battery life is, and a few quick top-ups here and there will make sure you never run out of juice.

Galaxy Watch 5 Processor, Storage, and Connectivity

When it comes to the hardware that’s inside the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, you wouldn’t find anything new in comparison with either the regular Galaxy Watch 5 or the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. It’s still powered by the same old dual-core Exynos W920 chipset with a gigabyte and half of RAM and 16GB of on-board memory, which should be enough for all your custom watch faces, GPS routes, apps, photos, and music files.

Performance is adequate, though the watch might lag from time to time, especially if you’re frantically trying to get to a specific app or a functionality, as the interface might struggle to keep up with your pace. Not ideal.

Galaxy Watch 5 Audio Quality and Haptics

The Galaxy Watch 5 can take and make calls, and the quality is adequate for a smartwatch. Audio quality from the built-in speaker is good, though you will have a much better experience if you pair any earbuds to the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Still, for the occasional quick phone call it’s good enough.

Haptic feedback is most appropriate. It doesn’t feel cheap, but it has a tinny sensation that contrasts with, instance, the Apple Watch 7, which has deeper vibrations. It’s all a question of personal choice, since you won’t miss a notification with either the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro or the latest Apple Watch, for example.

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro Competitors

Given its supposed new-found penchant for rugged adventures, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro elevates itself above the traditional selection of wearables. Certainly, the biggest competitor to the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is none other than Apple Watch Ultra, a new rugged Apple smartwatch that is intended for the outgoing, adventurous individual and has a particular set of features that might help you in emergencies, track your dives, and so on. The Apple Watch Ultra is a bit more feature-rich than the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and has a wider selection of “extreme” features on deck.

The recent Google Pixel Watch has some rather serious teething problems given that it’s a first-gen product, so I wouldn’t exactly recommend that one over the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Skip it.

Another lineup of possible competitors are Garmin’s semi-Smart rugged watches of the Fenix family, which offer an extremely wide selection of activity tracking, have sapphire screens in some versions, tough cases, battery life in the weeks, and even solar charge aid that comes in helpful during outdoor hikes.

And if we look past smartwatches, Casio’s G-Shock Mudmaster series might come in as an unorthodox alternative to consider. Still, expect no smartwatch features on those.

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro Summary and final verdict

Yes, definitely. It has all the bells and whistles you could expect from a smartwatch in late 2022, and tops it all up with battery life that just delivers. In case battery life has been your biggest pet peeve with Wear OS smartwatches, this watch is the answer you’ve been waiting for. And it resides in arguably the most diverse ecosystem on Android. Samsung’s one.

The biggest shortcoming of the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro to me is the removal of the rotating hardware bezel. With the risk of sounding like a broken record, I really feel that one would have matched with the rugged nature of the Watch 5 Pro rather nicely, as well as boosting the overall utility and functionality. This signature feature was surely beloved by the hardcore Galaxy Watch users, so I’m sad to see it go. Hopefully, Samsung would reconsider and re-implement the hardware rotating bezel in a future smartwatch, I’m all for it!

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is definitely the wearable to consider if you’re using an older Samsung smartwatch or if you’re using a Galaxy phone and looking to enrich your user experience with a wearable. Starting at 449, it’s certainly costlier than the similar Galaxy Watch 5, but its superb battery life and exclusive guidance features are definitely worth it.

Here’s what it’s like to use Samsung’s most rugged smartwatch

Tom’s Guide Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a great choice for those who want a full-featured Android smartwatch with good battery life and some outdoor sports-friendly perks. It’s quite bulky for an everyday smartwatch, though.


  • Great included watch Band
  • Track back GPS feature works well
  • Auto start and pause for workouts
  • Better battery life than Galaxy Watch 5


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Starting price: 449 Colors: Black Titanium, Gray Titanium Size : 45.4 x 45.4 x 10.5 mm Weight: 1.64 oz Display: 1.4 in, 450 x 450 Processor: Exynos W920 Memory: 1.5GB RAM 16GB Battery life (rated): 80 hours Durability: 5ATM IP68 Connectivity: Bluetooth, LTE, NFC, GPS Compatibility: Android 8.0 or higher

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro takes aim at Garmin watches — even if it really shouldn’t. Despite being the first Galaxy Watch of its kind, the 5 Pro isn’t really one of the best GPS watches for outdoor sports enthusiasts.

Instead, compared to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has a more durable design, a few GPS tools and a longer battery life. Yes, all things worth appreciating. These perks have the making of a great everyday smartwatch; not just a sports watch. Some might lament the lack of rotating bezel, but that’s what the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is for.

An added skin temperature sensor is another draw of Samsung’s 2022 smartwatch lineup, but it doesn’t work yet. In the meantime, for this Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review, tested the device as I do all the best smartwatches with added biking and hiking adventures to put some of the new features to use.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro costs 449 for Bluetooth and 499 for LTE. It comes in a singular 45mm size unlike the standard Galaxy Watch 5, which comes in 40 and 44mm sizes.

galaxy, watch, review, wear

Speaking of, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 price starts at 279 for the 40mm Bluetooth model. The 40mm LTE model starts at 329. The price goes up to 299 and 349 for the 44mm configurations for Bluetooth and LTE, respectively. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic remains on sale as well.

Both new watches became available on August 26, 2022.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: design

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is somewhat of a new design for Samsung. It doesn’t get the rotating bezel like the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic did last year (controversial, I know) but it does keep on with presenting a more premium alternative to the flagship Galaxy Watch.

Looking at the two watches side-by-side, the biggest visual differences are the size and the titanium chassis. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro comes in a singular and very formidable 45mm size, with a case that’s uniquely elevated around the display. I’m guessing this is to protect the sapphire crystal display from scratches, but it does make the smartwatch very thick.

I didn’t realize just how bulky the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro would feel. But having tested the regular Galaxy Watch 5 first, it felt like I doubled the size of the device on my wrist. Personally, it’s just too large for me. I had a hard time wearing it to sleep every night.

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro comes in 2 colors: Black Titanium and Gray Titanium. This version of the watch also ships with what Samsung is calling the D-Buckle Sport Band. It’s a sophisticated-looking, yet sporty strap that I was able to adjust to fit my wrist perfectly. It ended up being my favorite thing about the design. I would consider buying the 79 D-Buckle separately for the regular Galaxy Watch 5.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: Outdoor sports tracking

For the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, I sought some adventurous workouts as I do when I test the best Garmin watches. I took the Watch 5 Pro hiking and outdoor biking during the week I wore it for this review.

My hiking trail was rather easy to navigate, but the watch helped me track my metrics and effort, namely time elapsed, distance, altitude and heart rate. I didn’t feel worried about roughing up the watch in the wooded parts of the hike, either. That’s where the concave bezel offers some peace of mind for durability.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro supports GPX files, which basically lets you share geographic information with others and keep a reliable track of your routes. You’ll need to import GPX data from a third-party app like Strava, though. If I had my route loaded, I could get turn-by-turn directions for my hike. Again, I didn’t need help finding my bearings, but the Track Back feature also worked well when I tried to get back to where I parked my car.

I could better appreciate the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s large display on my bike rides. With the always-on display enabled, glancing down to check my speed and distance was a breeze. The watch also called out my mileage at certain milestones, and kept my pace accurate with auto-pause.

Auto-pause actually works for most Galaxy Watch 5 Pro workouts. It’s a feature I wish the Apple Watch offered for more than just running and biking.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Other health and fitness tracking features

Another fitness tracking feature I’ve found Samsung does very well is automatic workout tracking. As soon as I’ve been walking or moving for 10 minutes, the watch prompts me to launch a workout.

Of course, it can do basic activity tracking like counting steps and giving you a nudge to get moving when you’ve been sitting for a while.

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has both Samsung’s 3-in-1 BioActive sensor (heart rate, SpO2 and body composition via BIA) and the new temperature analysis sensor. Looking at the rear of the watch, you can see the skin-temperature reader sits slightly off-center on the bottom of the Galaxy Watch’s case. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work at the time of this review, but I’ll issue an update when the feature goes live. In the meantime, here’s what I know about the Galaxy Watch 5 skin temperature reader.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: Wear OS

Like the Galaxy Watch 5, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro runs Wear OS powered by Samsung. Though it’s the same foundational Google’s smartwatch software that will come on the Google Pixel Watch, Samsung layers the experience with many of its in-house apps, watch faces and menus. The added skin should also let the smartwatch pair and sync effortlessly with other Samsung devices in the same user ecosystem.

The biggest benefit of Wear OS 3 smartwatches is how they get Google services, namely Gmail, Google Maps and, more recently for Galaxy Watch devices, Google Assistant. The best smartwatches for Android have been a bit disjointed over the years, but moving towards unifying the software the way it is for smartphones should make for a better collection of smartwatches on the market overall.

Software-wise the Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro are almost identical. I can’t help but wish there were more exclusive software features to justify the higher price on the Watch 5 Pro, though. Here’s a full breakdown of the differences between the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 vs. Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: Battery life

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro claims up to 80 hours of battery life with 590mAh battery capacity. That’s about 30 more hours than the standard Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and double the expectancy of the Galaxy Watch 4.

Does that actually pan out? Yes and no. I do believe the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro could last almost 5 days, but that would be without the always-on display enabled, continuous SpO2 monitoring and frequent GPS usage. On my hikes and bike rides, the Watch 5 Pro’s battery life drained more quickly. With what I would consider regular use, I got a little more than 3 days with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro before needed to recharge it.

That’s about a full day’s worth of use more than I experienced with the regular Galaxy Watch 5. I have to say, not worrying about a daily charge with this year’s Galaxy Watch devices was a game-changer.

Still, the battery life is no match for that of many Garmin watches. The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar with infinite battery life comes to mind. The watch is not meant to last you a week in the wildnerness.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a curious smartwatch. Coming for Garmin’s sports watches was an unexpected choice for Samsung, a brand I wouldn’t previously connected to outdoor sports in any way. Perhaps rumors of a rugged Apple Watch Series 8 Pro steered what was just a premium version of this year’s Galaxy Watch into a more adventurous device, but that’s just speculation.

Even if the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the best Samsung watch for outdoor sports, it pales in comfort and battery life to Garmin watches. Though I enjoyed testing it on outdoor hikes and bike rides, the features are actually quite limited compared to dedicated GPS watches.

Instead, I see the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro as the choice for those who like a substantially sized smartwatch, several days of battery life, and enjoy occasional trysts with outdoor sports. The “glamper” instead of the camper, if you will.

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything Smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom’s Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: Fantastically familiar

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 brings subtle but meaningful improvements to an already winning formula. Fundamentally, it’s not too different from the Galaxy Watch 4, so those considering an upgrade may want to hold off. But for first-time buyers, the Galaxy Watch 5 is one of the most well-rounded smartwatches Android users can buy — even if Samsung users get a slightly better deal.

What we like

Better battery life on 44mm model

Reliable fitness tracking

What we don’t like

Very similar to its predecessor

Skin temperature sensor not ready at launch

Small models still have short battery life

Some features exclusive to Samsung ecosystem

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 brings subtle but meaningful improvements to an already winning formula. Fundamentally, it’s not too different from the Galaxy Watch 4, so those considering an upgrade may want to hold off. But for first-time buyers, the Galaxy Watch 5 is one of the most well-rounded smartwatches Android users can buy — even if Samsung users get a slightly better deal.

With the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung demonstrated that it could make a respectable smartwatch by melding its hardware know-how with Google’s retooled Wear OS operating system. Built on top of that solid base comes its successor, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. With minor, almost invisible nips and tucks, Samsung is promising an even more refined smartwatch this time around. Read our Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review for the verdict.

The Galaxy Watch 5 smartwatch offers a bigger battery, more sturdy body, and more comfortable fit than its predecessor. It supports Google Assistant and Google Maps navigation, while a body composition monitor, skin temperature sensor, and improved sleep tracking makes for an impressive health-tracking product.

About this Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: I tested the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 (44mm) over a period of 16 days. It was running software version R910XXU1AVH6 and was connected to a Huawei P30 Pro throughout the testing period. The unit was provided to Android Authority by Samsung for this review.

Update, April 2023: We’ve updated our Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review with details surrounding a new partnership with Peloton.

What you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Watch 5 series on August 10, 2022. The lineup includes the new flagship Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and the vanilla Galaxy Watch 5. The latter is available in two dial sizes and in Wi-Fi or LTE flavors.

The Galaxy Watch 5 is the successor to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, the tech giant’s first watch to debut with Google’s revamped Wear OS 3 build. We were pretty fond of that particular timepiece and still hold it in high regard. As a result, you’ll hear the Galaxy Watch 4 series mentioned as the benchmark plenty of times during this review. The Galaxy Watch 5 builds on this solid foundation with spit and polish where it counts. Chief of these improvements is a larger battery across all sizes and a more resilient sapphire glass lens, but there’s plenty else to take note of.

Health tracking gains from a skin temperature sensor that augments the watch’s menstrual health tracking experience. Overall, health and fitness data still funnels through into Samsung Health, although users can export data to the likes of Strava and Technogym too. There’s also a dizzying number of exercises and activities to choose from, including more niche options like rowing, yachting, and Pilates. However, five workout types are auto-detected: running/walking, elliptical and rowing machine activity, swimming, and dynamic workout.

The Galaxy Watch 5 builds on Samsung’s solid smartwatch foundation with spit and polish where it counts.

As the Galaxy Watch 5 runs Wear OS, you have the freedom to use third-party and Google apps if so desired. This includes Google Wallet, Google Maps, Google Assistant, and more. However, you can still use Bixby and Samsung Pay as the default voice assistant and payments platform. Like the Galaxy Watch 4, the Galaxy Watch 5 can pair with most Android phones, but the complete list of features is reserved exclusively for Samsung phone users. This includes SmartThings integration, blood pressure monitoring, and ECG features, although the latter is not available in the US.

As for the differences between the Galaxy Watch 5 and the Watch 5 Pro, the latter is the new range-topper, but is effectively a chunkier Galaxy Watch 5 with a titanium chassis wrapped around a 45mm dial. That broader body houses a larger battery, a new D-buckle strap as standard, and training features for outdoor athletes, like GPX route display and a track back feature for lost hikers. Notably, the Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro don’t differ much in terms of the core health tracking kit. They share the same skin temperature sensor and “BioActive” sensor array for tracking heart rate, heart health, and body composition.

As you’ve probably noticed, there aren’t markedly fundamental differences between the Galaxy Watch models. Refinement over revolution is the name of the game here.

The Wi-Fi Galaxy Watch 5 model is priced at 279, 30 more than its predecessor’s launch price. For those considering the LTE model, pricing starts at 329. If you want the larger 44mm dial size that costs an extra 30 on top. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro starts at 449.

A healthy list of colorways is on offer. The 40mm model comes in Silver, Graphite, and Pink Gold with Bora Purple, Graphite, and Pink Gold straps. You can opt for a Sapphire, Silver, or Graphite 44mm case and a Sapphire, White, or Graphite strap to complement it. If you have a collection of Galaxy Watch 4 straps or 20mm bands, they’ll happily fasten to both Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro models. The Galaxy Watch 5 is available to buy from Samsung, Amazon, Best Buy, and other major retailers around the world.

What’s good?

I got a flood of déjà vu when unboxing the Galaxy Watch 5. Although the Galaxy Watch 4 has been my daily driver for a good few months, I was easily confused between the two watches save for the different watch faces and strap colors. Some may feel Samsung took the easy way out by offering the Galaxy Watch 5 in an almost identical shell, but I think the company was valid in keeping the design so similar. Why tweak something that works well?

As a result, the Galaxy Watch 5 retains an understated design dominated by a large, round face and vibrant, always-on AMOLED screen. The side-mounted pushers are placed out of the way but are easy to locate and provide tactile, clicky feedback when called upon. Thanks to a redesigned sensor housing that makes better contact with the skin, it’s also one of the most comfortable smartwatches I’ve ever worn. The slightly larger sensor protrusion (visible in the left image in the gallery below) helps the watch clasp your wrist without strangling it. I found it to move a lot less during activity, too.

Subtle design improvements elsewhere also ensure the Galaxy Watch 5 is a more rugged device. On my first day of wearing it, I absentmindedly slapped it against tables, walls, and other furniture in my vicinity. I’m usually the kind of person who’d destroy everything without a protective case. On closer inspection, I found no chips, scuffs, or scratches on the watch’s brim or lens. I can’t say the same for its predecessor, which, despite having the same MIL-STD-810H rating, has plenty of missing paint around its edge. The sapphire glass covering the display also promises to better protect the screen against damage better than its predecessor. Overall, the Galaxy Watch 5’s improved durability might not be a sexy new feature, but users will appreciate it in the months ahead. Of course, if you want the very best protection and don’t mind spending a little extra, the titanium-built Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is still the most sturdy option.

Galaxy Watch 5 (left) with Galaxy Watch 4

Galaxy Watch 5 (left) with Galaxy Watch 4

On top of retaining a similar shell to the previous generation, Samsung’s also recycling many of the internals for the Galaxy Watch 5. The Exynos W920 makes a return alongside 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Despite this, navigating menus on the Galaxy Watch 5 feels a little snappier than before. Some errant stutters remain, but I didn’t feel the need to disable animations on this watch like I previously had with the Galaxy Watch 4.

One big component upgrade is worth talking about, and it’s the star of the show. The Galaxy Watch 5’s larger battery soothes the power anxiety I endured with the Galaxy Watch 4. It translates into markedly better endurance between charges. During my testing, I regularly eked out two solid days of use per charge from my 44mm model, and this was with SpO2 monitoring and snore monitoring activated. You can improve this figure even further by switching off the always-on display setting. Going to bed with around 20% battery left in the tank, I woke with 9% remaining on the dial; this makes sleep tracking a lot more viable.

Despite the improvements, you’ll still find the Garmin Venu 2 and Fitbit Sense 2 have much better battery life. Samsung’s done a great job with the Galaxy Watch 5’s endurance, and even more so with the pricier Pro model, but there’s still room for further improvement.

When the time comes to charge it back up, the Galaxy Watch 5 will spend slightly less time tethered to the wall than its predecessor. It took around 90 minutes to hit 100% from zero. That’s a solid improvement over the Galaxy Watch 4, which took two hours for a full charge.

Let’s talk fitness tracking. We extensively covered the Galaxy Watch 5 series’ health kit, fitness tracking accuracy, and companion apps in our Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review so be sure to check it out for all the nitty gritty detail. Still, I’ll outline here what I experienced with the vanilla model.

Regarding GPS performance, the Galaxy Watch 5 does the job. It’s by no means the most accurate watch ever, but I feel confident it’ll track your walks and runs more consistently than its predecessor. See the GPX tracks below.

The Galaxy Watch 5, albeit a little shaky in a straight line, at least keeps to the actual roads and paths. The Galaxy Watch 4 thought I went wall-hopping. I should mention that this data was recorded while walking using the walking exercise option on both watches. I did expect the GPS performance on both watches to be a little better as neither stick fully to the route I took. This isn’t a deal breaker for the Galaxy Watch 5 as it’s at least more reliable than the Galaxy Watch 4 ever was, but if you really value location tracking there are much better running watches out there that will do a better job.

As for heart rate accuracy, my resting heart rate often polled much lower on the Galaxy Watch 5 than on my Fitbit Versa 2. When wearing both on the same arm, the numbers largely evened out, even though the Galaxy Watch 5 takes a little longer to get up to speed. That said, I feel the figures provided by the Galaxy Watch 5 are well within the realm of reliability for casual heart rate tracking.

The Galaxy Watch 5 also mirrors its older sibling’s heart rate tracking accuracy. It’s worth noting that the Galaxy Watch 4 kept pace with the Polar H10 chest strap during that particular review, so it’s safe to say the Galaxy Watch 5 should serve its users well. I have no idea what happened to the Galaxy Watch 4’s heart rate data before the 10-minute mark. This blip affects GPS data, too.

Sleep tracking is one additional fitness tracking highlight worth touching on as Samsung has greatly expanded its suite in recent years to provide sleep coaching, sleep stages, blood oxygen monitoring, snore detection, and more.

I had a nasty cold while I was testing the watch, which made for a highly volatile schedule. Samsung does explain that readings may be affected by fit and temperature, but I’m not sold on the accuracy of the sleep stages; the results varied considerably from those of my Fitbit Versa 2.

Samsung’s approach does have some perks though. It presents sleep information in a similar way to Fitbit, but also in a way that’s occasionally easier to understand. For instance, instead of Fitbit’s somewhat confusing blood oxygen saturation graph, Samsung tells you exactly how long your blood oxygen reading remained below 90%. You can tap that section for the actual chart, complete with SpO2 percentage down the Y axis.

Finally, in a better late than never moment, Samsung is due to activate its temperature sensor well after the watch’s launch. Announced in mid-February 2023, the company will collaborate with Natural Cycles to bring more acute menstrual cycle tracking to the watch. The feature will land on the Galaxy Watch 5 in the second quarter of 2023 across more than 30 countries.

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In April 2023, Samsung announced a new partnership with Peloton. An “integrated app” is now available on the Galaxy Watch 5 that’ll allow the use of the watch with the company’s exercise equipment, including the Peloton Bike, Bike Plus, Tread, and Row and Guide. That’s good news for those that already own the necessary equipment or those shopping for a compatible wearable.

What’s not so good?

While tucked in bed with a fever, I couldn’t help but think of the skin temperature sensor lying inactive on the Galaxy Watch 5. There are plenty of wearables brands that launch new devices with features that don’t work out of the box, and sadly Samsung fell into the same trap here. We mentioned that Samsung will use this sensor to further improve cycle tracking for those who menstruate, but it’s only becoming a reality half a year after the device’s launch.

While Samsung has improved the battery life on the 44mm model, 40mm Galaxy Watch 5 owners may not be so lucky. There are plenty of reports that the smaller and most affordable watch can’t come close to the two-day endurance figure on the larger model instead barely breaking a single day in some cases. This will largely depend on your usage habits, but it is disappointing that the 40mm model won’t give buyers the same level of confidence as the 44mm alternative.

Beyond this, most of my qualms with the Galaxy Watch 5 are related to navigating the watch. Several of my swipes were not recognized by the Galaxy Watch 5 display, an annoying situation for a UI that relies so heavily on gestures. I found the touch bezel pretty tricky to master, too. There’s a weird dead zone around the watch’s brim that’s difficult to find time after time. This often led to errant watch face touches and erroneous app launches as my fingers mistakenly touched icons. The bezel should make quickly jogging through menus and screens easier, but I didn’t find this to be the case at all. I eventually disabled the touch bezel entirely.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: peak of Android smartwatches

So far, 2022 has been a year of iterative updates for much of Samsung’s portfolio, and the Galaxy Watch 5 is perhaps the best example of that. Looking at the Galaxy Watch 5 and its predecessor side by side, it’s difficult to tell what’s different. Both smartwatches have the same chipset, nearly identical designs, similar health features, etc.

But look a little closer, and you start to see what makes the Galaxy Watch 5 tick. It boasts a larger battery, faster charging, a more durable design, and improved accuracy for health tracking. None of these are groundbreaking upgrades, but they once again prove that Samsung is among the best in the business for Wear OS watches.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Design

The iterative nature of the Galaxy Watch 5 is seen immediately in its design. The Galaxy Watch 5 comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, with my review unit being the former. The only real physical difference with the Watch 5 is the 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor on the bottom, which is larger than before to get you more accurate health data. The Watch 5 is also slightly heavier, with the 40mm model weighing 28.7 grams compared to the 25.9 grams of heft for the 40mm Watch 4.

Otherwise, the Galaxy Watch 5 is virtually identical to its predecessor. But that’s far from a bad thing in my book. The aluminum casing is sleek and minimalistic, just how I personally prefer my smartwatches to look. The two power buttons are wonderfully clicky, the 20mm watch bands can be easily swapped out with any other styles you’d like, and the Watch 5 feels extremely comfortable to wear throughout a full day of use. Even with the heavier body compared to the Watch 4, the Watch 5 has never been uncomfortable or fatiguing to wear. It’s one of those smartwatches you throw on your wrist and quickly forget it’s even there.

Something else that leaves little to complain about is the Galaxy Watch 5’s screen. The 40mm model gives you a 1.2-inch 396 x 396 screen, while the 44mm ramps things up to a 1.4-inch panel with a 450 x 450 resolution. Regardless of which size you choose, both versions feature a Super AMOLED display with “full color, always on” functionality.

Samsung is famous for delivering some of the best screens on smartphones, and that expertise carries over just as well to smartwatches. After wearing the 40mm Galaxy Watch 5 for a little over a week, I’ve been thoroughly happy with every aspect of its screen. Colors are bright and punchy in the best way possible, the ambient light sensor automatically increases/decreases brightness when you need it to, and the Watch 5 gets bright enough that it’s easily viewable even in direct sunlight. I was worried about having difficulty viewing the screen while walking the High Line in Manhattan with the sun beating down on me, but even then, I never had a problem reading the Galaxy Watch 5’s display.

And as hinted at above, the Galaxy Watch 5 supports an always-on display function. It’s not turned on by default, but you can easily enable it from the Settings app. Most watch faces show pops of color in their always-on mode, and if you open an app and then put your wrist down, a basic white clock shows the time over it.

My one and only complaint about the Galaxy Watch 5’s display is the responsiveness of its always-on screen. After lifting your wrist to look at the watch, you have to wait a beat before the display switches from always-on to its fully engaged mode. Far from a deal breaker, it’s one of those things I notice throughout the day.

Galaxy Watch 5: Performance

Powering the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is Samsung’s Exynos W920 chipset, 1.5GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. If those specs sound familiar to you, that’s because they’re exactly the same as they were on the Galaxy Watch 4.

For the most part, the Galaxy Watch 5 is a great performer. Apps open quickly, menus (sometimes) scroll smoothly, and opening Samsung Pay or Google Assistant using the physical buttons is instantaneous. But a 100% seamless experience is not provided by the Watch 5.

During my time wearing the Galaxy Watch 5, I’ve frequently noticed little inconsistencies with the UX. Swiping down to view the quick settings pane often takes multiple tries. When scrolling through my tiles, it’s not uncommon to see glitchy animations. The Watch 5 always does what I ask of it — and usually does it very quickly — but it all still feels a little rough around the edges. The Exynos W920 is a perfectly fine chip for the watch, but I can’t help but wonder if things would have been better with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon W5 Gen 1.

Galaxy Watch 5: Battery life and charging

If you read any of Samsung’s marketing for the Galaxy Watch 5, you’ll see the company claiming that its latest smartwatch can get 40 to 50 hours of battery life per charge — an absolutely massive jump over the 18 hours of endurance Apple promises for the Apple Watch Series 7. Combined with a battery increase from 361 mAh in the Watch 4 to a 410 mAh cell in the Watch 5, all the makings are there for legendary endurance.

In practice, the Galaxy Watch 5 has totally acceptable battery life, but it’s nowhere near the 40 to 50 hours Samsung claims. Most of my days with the Watch 5 weren’t very intensive. It tracks my steps throughout the day, receives a steady stream of notifications from my Galaxy Z Flip 4, and has the always-on display enabled. With this use — combined with a few Google Assistant questions — I ended one day with 41% remaining after 14 hours and 12 minutes of use. Following just under 7 hours of sleep tracking, I woke up to the Galaxy Watch 5 with 18% battery remaining after 22 hours and 37 minutes of total usage.

If you plan on using the Watch 5 for actual workouts instead of basic step tracking throughout the day, prepare for the battery to drain even faster. After recording six outdoor walking sessions — totaling 1 hour and 27 minutes — combined with frequent notifications and an always-on screen, the Galaxy Watch 5 had 24% battery remaining following 17 hours and 24 minutes of usage.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 ships with Wear OS 3.5 and Samsung’s One UI Watch 4.5 software layered on top. The interface is pretty much identical to the Watch 4’s, featuring a variety of gestures for you to get around. The basics are as follows:

  • Swipe down to view your Quick Settings
  • Swipe up to see your apps
  • Swipe right to view notifications
  • Swipe left to cycle through tiles (aka widgets)
  • Press and hold on the watch face to select a new one

After familiarizing yourself with the various gestures for a few minutes, navigating One UI Watch 4.5 is a piece of cake. Everything is within reach from the watch face, the software is visually pleasing to look at, and you can fully customize the two physical buttons to open apps, trigger a voice assistant, and more. Google Assistant is also available right out of the box — something that wasn’t available on the Watch 4 until months after release. And it works very well! I press and hold the top button, the Assistant pops up immediately, and it answers my questions/commands within a second.

One UI Watch 4.5 isn’t a significant change from One UI Watch 4.0 that shipped on the Watch 4 last year, but there are a couple of meaningful changes. You can now reply to messages using a full QWERTY keyboard that supports tap and swipe typing. Swipe typing has been a little challenging to pull off, but tapping away at characters – combined with generous autocorrect — has been a surprisingly good experience. You can also now change your method of input at any time. Simply swipe up from the keyboard and switch to voice dictation, handwriting, or emojis whenever you’d like.

Better input isn’t the only new thing in One UI Watch 4.5. This latest version of the software supports dual-SIM switching if you have multiple SIMs on your Galaxy smartphone, easier access to accessibility features, and more customization options for Samsung’s included watch faces.

All of this works incredibly well and finally makes Wear OS feel like a fully realized smartwatch platform. Except for one remaining pain point: apps.

It’s been a long time since I wore a Wear OS watch as my daily wearable, and I was hoping that the app selection would be improved compared to my last time with the platform. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

To Google and Samsung’s credit, having easy access to apps like Google Maps, Google Assistant, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, and Samsung Health is great. But the minute you start looking for third-party applications, it’s disappointingly barren.

When you open the Play Store on the Watch 5, you can quickly tap the Apps on your phone button to see which of your phone applications have Wear OS equivalents. The only non-Google and Samsung ones I found were Outlook and Bring (a grocery list app I use). There’s no Starbucks app, Delta app, United app, Telegram app, Authy app, Messenger app, ESPN app — you get the point. Wear OS has been around since 2014, and despite being on the market for over eight years, its app selection is still extremely lacking. That’s not a fault of the Galaxy Watch 5 specifically, but rather a larger problem for Wear OS that Google has yet to find a solution for.

Galaxy Watch 5: Health tracking

Health tracking is a major component of almost every smartwatch today, and the Galaxy Watch 5 is no different. The 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor on the underside of the Watch 5 powers its health-tracking feature set. This includes step tracking, auto workout detection, manual workout tracking for 90-plus exercises, and built-in sleep tracking with a Sleep Coaching platform that creates personalized sleep programs. There’s also 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, SpO2 tracking, an ECG app for A-fib detection, and the same Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis sensor from the Watch 4 — allowing you to see your body fat, skeletal muscle, body water, and other stats within seconds.

The new health sensor this year is a skin temperature sensor, but at the time of publication, I have nothing to say about it. That’s because the sensor isn’t actually available for Watch 5 owners to use. It’s an interesting addition and one that should hopefully be activated soon, but Samsung hasn’t provided an ETA for when that’ll be. Considering how long it took for Google Assistant to arrive on the Watch 4, don’t be surprised if you end up waiting months to use it.

While that sounds overwhelming, Samsung does a good job of presenting everything in an easy-to-digest manner. The main Samsung Health app on the Watch 5 houses all of your data in one place — including your daily activity, steps, sleep, heart rate, etc. You can also use numerous health-related tiles, including a sleep tile, body composition tile, exercise tile, and more for quick access to these stats next to your watch face.

During my time with the Galaxy Watch 5, all of the data it collected seemed quite accurate. My heart rate was always within range of what I expected it to be, step tracking looked good, automatic workout detection worked flawlessly, and sleep tracking performed just as well. The Galaxy Watch 5 shows how long you slept, how long you spent in various sleep stages, calories burned during sleep, and your minimum blood oxygen level. It’ll even work with your Samsung Galaxy phone to track your snoring if you’d like.

I can’t speak to how robust the Galaxy Watch 5’s health platform is for a serious or professional athlete, but as a casual fitness person who enjoys a few walks and runs throughout the week, I’ve been happy with the Galaxy Watch 5. From tracking a workout and my sleep to my fat mass, it collects a lot of data.

Just like the Watch 4, the Galaxy Watch 5 is again one of the best Wear OS watches you can buy. But the Watch 5 mainly holds onto that crown because its predecessor was so good, rather than because it does anything new or exciting. From the design and display to the chipset and health-tracking sensors, so much of the Watch 5 is a repackaging of what worked with the Watch 4. If it felt like Samsung had peaked with its smartwatch formula last year, that feeling is even more pronounced with the Watch 5.

That’s not an exciting description on paper, but it ends up serving the Watch 5 quite well in daily use. Everything that was great about the Watch 4 is still here. And combined with the improvements that Samsung did make — like the larger battery and faster charging — you again end up with one of the best smartwatches to pair with your Android phone.