Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro hands-on: The best, revisited

The best smartwatch for your Android phone has gotten an update as Samsung launched the Galaxy Watch 5 and added a new Pro version at the same time. It seems the company understands what made the Galaxy Watch 4 such a winner, as the design has barely changed, but has that resulted in stagnation? We spent an hour with the Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro to find out.

There are two models: Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro

First, here’s what’s changed in the range itself. The Galaxy Watch 5 replaces the Galaxy Watch 4 and comes in two case sizes: 40mm with a 1.2-inch display and 44mm with a 1.4-inch display. There’s no Galaxy Watch 5 Classic this time around, and instead Samsung has launched the 45mm Galaxy Watch 5 Pro which it says is designed for outdoor enthusiasts who need a smartwatch. more resistant. The The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic remains, however, for anyone who really wants a Samsung smartwatch with a rotating bezel.

Samsung galaxy watch 5 44mm on a man's wrist.
Galaxy 5 44mm Watch Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

That’s right, none of the Galaxy Watch 5 models use this convenient way of navigating smartwatch menus, and the bezels stay firmly still at all times. It’s disappointing but somewhat understandable as it might be a pain to manufacture, and Samsung has already set the wheels in motion for its total departure with the Galaxy Watch 4. You’ll just have to be prepared to swipe the screen if you buy a Galaxy Watch 5 or 5 Pro.

What about the design? The Galaxy Watch 5 resembles the Galaxy Watch 4, with identical dimensions, screen sizes and weight. However, that’s not a bad thing. Samsung has nailed the design of the Galaxy Watch 4, so carrying it around is absolutely the right thing to do. The way the screen floats inside the case gives the smartwatch visual interest, and the integrated strap design very effectively minimizes the size of the watch.

Samsung galaxy 5 watch.
Galaxy Watch 5 40mm Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

The overall style is sporty, but it won’t look out of place with a smart outfit when paired with the right strap, and there are different versions available to customize it. Samsung seems to have expanded its strap selection, and there’s plenty to choose from in different materials. I really liked the new versions equipped with a powerful and easy to adjust magnetic clasp without tools. They are excellent and owe a lot to the design and closure system used by Tag Heuer on the Connected Caliber E4.

The minimalist crownless styling and choice of case size make the Galaxy Watch 5 suitable for everyone, and when you put it on, the comfort of the soft silicone strap is immediately evident. Due to the design points mentioned above and the pleasing lack of all that glitters on the case of the small 40mm version, there are really a number of case sizes to choose from. I think the style and size of the Watch 5 is perfectly judged.

It will also be durable. Water resistance is handled by an IP68 rating, and the casing is made from Samsung’s hard-wearing aluminum, which is also used for the frames of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4. glass on the screen has been upgraded to sapphire crystal to increase scratch resistance. Unfortunately, in the short time I wore the Watch 5, I didn’t notice the familiar – and always beautiful – sparkle that usually accompanies sapphire.

What makes the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro unique

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a different proposition. Crafted from titanium, the case is 10.5mm thick compared to the 9.8mm thick Watch 5, and the case size has been increased to 45mm. Overall it’s not much bigger than the 44mm Watch 5 – it has the same 1.4-inch 450 x 450 pixel Super AMOLED display – but the way the screen has been recessed into the all-in-one case means it makes more of a statement on your wrist.

Samsung galaxy 5 pro watch.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

It’s also heavier at 46 grams compared to the larger Watch 5’s 33 grams, but that’s because it has a bigger 590mAh battery inside. Sapphire is used on the screen, but it’s thicker than the bezel used on the Watch 5 for better protection. I noticed less reflections, a highly transparent finish, and more of that desirable sapphire crystal shine on the Watch 5 Pro than on the Watch 5.

Samsung has made the exterior of the Watch 5 Pro tougher, but if that’s not enough, it’ll also sell you a small plastic case that clips onto the body – covering the titanium case and adding more impact protection around the screen. It’s like converting the Watch 5 Pro to Casio G-Shock. Putting it on is as easy as lining up the holes, and once it’s in place, it’s very secure. However, unclipping it takes a lot more effort and may break a few nails.

While Samsung is pushing the Watch 5 Pro towards outdoor types, I think with the right strap it’s suitable for everyday use. I also really like the bolder design. However, some people will consider the 45mm case size to be big for their wrists, but don’t automatically assume it’s going to be huge. It fits perfectly on my 6.5 inch wrist when not fitted with the case.

Better sleep tracking, bigger batteries

The changes so far have mostly been in the ruggedness and introduction of the Pro model, but what about the insides of the Watch 5 models? The BioActive sensor introduced on the Watch 4 returns, but with a larger surface area on the back of the case, so it’s more effective at staying in contact with your wrist, and the smartwatch also has a new temperature sensor. Sleep tracking has been improved with blood oxygen monitoring, snore detection and app updates to show sleep stages and provide a sleep score.

The BioActive sensor itself is one of the most comprehensive sensor networks on a smartwatch. It measures heart rate and blood oxygen levels, has an EKG function and can also assess body composition – muscle mass, fat content and water content. In some areas, blood pressure monitoring will be available, but this is subject to local approval. It wasn’t possible to try out these features effectively enough during my short time with the watch.

This is all powered by the same Exynos W920 processor and 1.5GB of RAM carried over from the Watch 4, but Samsung has increased the battery capacity by 15% and introduced faster wireless charging via USB Type-C. Now, an eight-minute charge will be enough for eight hours of sleep tracking, and charging the battery from zero to 45% takes 30 minutes. For software, Samsung has Google WearOS 3.5 with its own One UI Watch 4.5 on top. Scrolling through menus and activating certain features didn’t reveal any major differences from the Watch 4, but apparently there are changes to the keyboard and the way the LTE version makes calls. It was slick, slick and responsive.

Buy the Watch 5 Pro, and you get all that plus an improved GPS feature called GPX. It’s designed for hikers who want to save and share their route with friends, see turn-by-turn directions on their wrist, and also have a TrackBack system that takes you home via the route you’ve travelled. The Pro’s larger battery will provide 20 hours of continuous GPS use.

Samsung doesn’t fix what isn’t broken

The Galaxy Watch 5 is very similar to the Galaxy Watch 4, with both essentially sharing the same design and internals, which impacts the new changes – potentially longer battery life, improved sleep tracking , higher accuracy of health tracking – impossible to assess after a short time with the watch. The things that haven’t been changed probably didn’t need to be, but this is definitely a relatively straightforward update for the Watch series this year.

Samsung galaxy 5 watch.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

And the Watch 5 Pro? It’s certainly more unique than a classic version, although it doesn’t have that physical rotating bezel, and is suitably distinct from the normal Watch 5. While I understand the size of the case will divide opinion, I think it looks great. It’s more versatile due to the increased sturdiness, longer battery life and optional clip-on holster, plus magnetic clasp straps which are excellent. However, I found the Watch 4 Classic too big to comfortably wear overnight, so I imagine the Watch 5 Pro will be the same – and that might mean missing out on the new tracking features. sleep.

Samsung got the Galaxy Watch 4 as it should, and its reputation as the only smartwatch worth buying that isn’t an Apple Watch was well deserved. The Watch 5 hasn’t changed much, and while the improvements in materials and durability are welcome, none of the new models feel like they’re stepping up the smartwatch game. It’s unlikely that the Watch 4 upgrade will be necessary, but given that the Watch 4 never had any significant competition, the Watch 5 will likely become the best option for those with an old smartwatch on their wrist. At least until we see what the Pixel Watch deals.

Price and availability

Tempted by the Watch 5 Pro? Great, but the titanium case and other changes make it much more expensive than the non-Pro Watch 5. It costs $450 for the Wi-Fi version or $500 for the LTE model, while the 40mm Watch 5 starts at $280 or $330 for the LTE model. In the UK you’ll pay £270 for the 40mm Watch 5, £290 for the 44mm Watch 5 and £430 for the Watch 5 Pro. Add £50 to those prices for LTE models.

The samsung galaxy watch 5 and the galaxy watch 5 pro.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Although I couldn’t see it, Samsung is also offering a Watch 5 Golf Edition, which starts at $330 and comes with exclusive watch faces, a special strap, and a subscription to the Smart Caddy app. The Galaxy Watch 5 is available in graphite or silver, plus a sapphire color for the 44mm versions and rose gold for the 40mm versions. The Watch 5 Pro is available in black or gray. Order through Samsung’s online store and the smartwatch can be personalized using the Bespoke Studio, where there will be 1,032 different possible combinations.

All models are expected to be available for purchase from August 26, with pre-orders available from August 10 through August 25.

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