The Galaxy Watch 5 has been overshadowed by the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro with its exclusive features and insane battery life. However, the latter isn't the model that most customers will be buying. At its $279 starting price, the Galaxy Watch 5 will most likely be leading the volumes for Samsung, but does it offer enough to do that?
The scale of the changes is limited but more meaningful. Samsung hasn't made changes for the sake of making changes. It feels that the idea was to take what made the Galaxy Watch 4 so great and refine it further. Ultimately, this yields a well-rounded smartwatch that offers much to love about it.
Will this turn out to be the perfect representation of a Samsung smartwatch or is there still room for improvement? Should this be a smartwatch that you spend your money on? All this and more coming up in our Galaxy Watch 5 review.
The Galaxy Watch 5 looks quite similar to its predecessor but there are some changes that give it a sense of individuality. Samsung's decision to ditch the physical rotating bezel is one of them. This makes the top of the smartwatch nice and flat with a digital bezel around the screen. It doesn't quite replicate the experience of the physical bezel but it gets the job done.
Good things come in small packages
Boasting a brushed aluminum frame, the base of the watch has a slight outward curved display which is meant to provide a more snug fit of the rear sensor disc to the skin, allowing for improved readings. It's available in two different sizes, 40mm and 44mm, ensuring that there's an option available for those with small and large wrists.
Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Watch 5 with Sapphire Crystal on top of the display for better scratch resistance. The durability credentials also include IP68 water resistance and MIL-STD-810H certification. What this simply means that the watch is more than capable of withstanding the rigors of daily use.
Overall, the Galaxy Watch 5 has a solid build quality. It has been put together very nicely and the range of colors work well with the refined design. The footprint is about the same as last year's model and the Galaxy Watch 5 remains just as comfortable to wear for hours on end.
Samsung isn't making any major upgrades in the performance department this year. The Galaxy Watch 5 shares its specs with the outgoing model. You'll find the Exynos W920 chipset alongside 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. Nothing groundbreaking, but this package provides more than enough power for the smartwatch to do everything it promises.
The optimized performance shines through when navigating through the operating system. The OS is very responsive and smooth to any number of taps and swipes that you put it through. The haptics are nice and subtle as well, ensuring that even if there's no major leap in this department, it doesn't decline either.
Samsung has introduced One UI Watch 4.5 with the Galaxy Watch 5. It brings several new features as well as additional customization options. A handful of new watchfaces are included as well with handy complications for health and fitness tracking. The Galaxy Watch 5 is compatible with any Android device running version 8.0 or higher. You can't use it with an iOS-powered device.
Offered in 40mm and 40mm sizes, the Galaxy Watch 5 features a 1.19-inch and 1.39-inch circual Super AMOLED display respectively. At 330ppi, these displays are even sharper than the Apple Watch 7. Samsung's OLED displays always hit the market and it's no different with these panels. These circual panels get nice and bright, ensuring that outdoor visibility isn't a concern.
Sapphire Crystal provides unmatched toughness
The rich color elements that One UI Watch 4.5 brings take full advantage of this excellent display to provide a vibrant viewing experience.
The display plays a crucial role in making it so fun to use the Galaxy Watch 5. I'd often find myself just navigating around the watch, jumping through menus and swiping through the various options because I just liked doing it. That's how good of a display this smartwatch has.
Despite switching to Android-based Wear OS with the Galaxy Watch 4 last year, Samsung continues to ship its smartwatches with an iteration of One UI Watch. It's important for Samsung to provide a consistent UI across Galaxy products. This also means that you get the best possible user experience when using the Galaxy Watch 5 with a Galaxy smartphone.
Best experience reserved for Samsung phones
For example, you won't be able to use Samsung Health Monitor, the app that's required for ECG and blood pressure monitoring. It's only usable when the watch is paired with a Galaxy smartphone. Since you'd be losing out two crucial health features of the device, there's really no point in using it with another phone.
There's little to fault in the updated interface that One UI Watch 4.5 brings. It's all going to feel very familiar if you're upgrading from the Galaxy Watch 4. The swipe gestures are the same and the menus behave as you'd expect them to. If this will be your first Samsung smartwatch ever, rest assured that the learning curve won't be too steep.
One UI Watch 4.5 also strives to make the typing experience easier on these tiny displays. It's a commendable effort but realistically, you're not going to type lengthy messages on a smartwatch. For what it's worth, these minor improvements do make it much easier to shoot off quick texts from your wrist.
Health and fitness
The Galaxy Watch 5 has an almost similar sensor package compared to its predecessor. So all of the features that you'd expect to find on it are present. This includes heart rate and blood pressure monitoring, ECG, body composition, stress tracking, blood oxygen level monitoring, and snore detection.
What it does get is a new temperature sensor that Samsung says third-party apps will also be able to tap into. As the name suggests, this sensor will measure the skin temperature to provide an accurate reading of your current body temperature.
Ticks all of the boxes
Samsung has improved sleep tracking and now provides better insights to enhance the quality of your sleep. It provides a detailed breakdown of sleep stages in addition to highlighting the amount of time you snored. It can even let you hear a playback of yourself snoring, which while a bit unnerving to hear, is an interesting feature to have.
Galaxy Watch models have always been great at exercise tracking and the latest model doesn't break away from that tradition. It's capable of automatically tracking multiple workouts while dozens of manual workouts, both cardio and strength, can easily be tracked using the watch. The readings are fairly accurate when compared against other tracking devices. All of the data is synced to Samsung Health where you can dive deep and see what optimizations can be made to your training regimen.
Your mileage with the battery first depends on the size you choose, since the 40mm and 44mm versions have a 284mAh and 410mAh battery respectively. Ideally, you should get between 1-2 days of battery life, but don't expect it to be a battery champ like the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
Battery life is decent
It's pertinent to note that the Galaxy Watch 5 does see a 13% capacity increase compared to its predecessor. So if you're upgrading from the previous model you might feel that it lasts a big longer. Only realistically expect 2 days of battery life if you're not pushing the smartwatch too much and rarely using its fitness tracking features.
If tracking a workout daily, constantly check up on notifications, keeping Always On Display enabled and maintaining a high display brightness, you'll need to charge the smartwatch once every 24 hours. This is not a shortcoming of the Galaxy Watch 5 as much as it's a conscious decision by Samsung to push you towards the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro if you need true multi-day battery life from a smartwatch.
What is very impressive is the improvement to fast charging which takes slightly under 1 hour and 30 miutes to charge to 100%, with a 1 hour charge giving you 85% battery. We did a battery charging test video showcasing this which we highly recommend you watch.
It's clear that the people at Samsung who worked on this smartwatch had a very simple brief. All they had to do is take the Galaxy Watch 4 and refine it just enough that the Galaxy Watch 5 was able to out shadow its predecessor so as to justify the purchase decision for customers.
With the health and fitness features being quite similar to the Galaxy Watch 4 for the most part, upgrading to the newer model if you already own the predecessor isn't a no brainer, particularly since many of the new software features have already been released for the Galaxy Watch 4.
As a standalone watch, the Galaxy Watch 5 provides an excellent value proposition. It should be a blind purchase for anyone with an older smartwatch or those who are only just buying a smartwatch for the first time. The design and build quality speak for themselves, the health and fitness tracking features are second to none, and the price isn't outrageously expensive. Thus the question that now remains is, what color are you choosing?