The Samsung Galaxy Watch series is considered a dominant force against the Apple Watch in the premium smartwatch segment. The South Korean giant’s market share in the wearables industry was not significant until last year, but in 2022 it has recorded strong year-on-year growth. While budget brands like Noise, Fire Bolt and Bot are strong in India’s overall smartwatch market, Samsung looks more on the premium side. Cue the Galaxy Watch5 series, where Samsung announced two versions, the Watch5 Pro (Review) and Watch5. The former was just Rs. 45,000 is the high-end offering while the latter is considered a bit more budget-friendly.
Of course, the Galaxy Watch5 is by no means cheap, with the Bluetooth-only 40mm version costing you Rs. 27,999 will set it at Rs. I have the 44mm LTE model which costs Rs. 35,999 which makes it a very affordable wearable. The Galaxy Watch5 can pair with any Android phone as long as it’s running Android 8 and above. I’ve used the Watch5 with me quite extensively over the last couple of weeks OnePlus 10 Pro (Review) and here’s what I’m doing.
Which is better
If you’ve seen the Galaxy Watch4, the Watch5 will look familiar. On the outside, Samsung has made very few, if any, design changes, which is a very good thing. The circular display is housed in a durable aluminum body, while two physical buttons are placed on one side. I have the sapphire color variant and the matching strap which are provided inside the box, both look elegant. The Watch5 is the perfect size for my wrist and at just 33.5g it feels light without being heavy.
Samsung is already one of the best display manufacturers in the market and its products take full advantage of this. The Super AMOLED panel on the Watch5 measures 1.4-inches and has a resolution of 450 x 450. With a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits, the Galaxy Watch5 is easily readable even in sunlight. I also like how crisp and vibrant the colors are against the different watch faces and UI elements. Like its Pro sibling, the Watch5’s display is protected by a type of sapphire crystal that makes it more durable than regular glass. In fact, the panel has an always-on feature and the display retains the color profile of the watch face, although the results are slightly muted.
Software and Utility
Samsung Galaxy Watch5 has partnered with Google on the software front. The combination of WearOS with Samsung’s own UI elements sprinkled on top looks like a masterstroke, giving the user the best of both worlds. You get the Google Play Store on the watch, which lets you download various apps. For example, Google Maps does a very good job of providing quick directions and subtle haptic feedback when approaching turns.
Apart from that, there are some other stock apps installed on the device like Spotify, Microsoft Outlook and more. For the most part, the interface is fluid and does a great job of switching between screens. Key touch gestures include swiping up to reveal downloaded apps, swiping left to check secondary screens, swiping right for notifications and swiping down for quick settings. Both buttons can be used to get to the home screen and the previous screen and can be customized in the Galaxy Wearable app for different functionality. I also like how Rise to Wake works every time I turn my wrist.
As for performance, the Watch5 has the same dual core The 5nm Exynos W920 SoC from last year is clocked at 1.18GHz. There is 16GB of built-in storage for things like apps, music and watch faces.
The built-in microphone and speaker allow you to make calls directly on your smartwatch. Better yet, connect your smartphone to the wireless earphones and pick up a call on the Watch5 and transfer it directly to your earbuds. The speaker on the watch isn’t very loud and you have to hold it really close to your ear to hear anything clearly. However, the microphone works very well even in noisy environments.
Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable app is highly intuitive and offers relevant customization options for the user. There are a large number of watch faces available to choose from and the Galaxy Watch5 can store a variety of faces. There are also app notification settings buried deep within the UI, along with gesture control, button mapping, and more. Samsung’s Bixby is the default choice for AI but you can change it to Google Assistant thanks to WearOS integration. Changes can also be made to health and fitness tracking such as measuring SpO2 levels while sleeping, automatic activity detection, heart rate notifications and more.
Fitness and health tracking
The Galaxy Watch5 has excellent fitness tracking capabilities and the ability to continuously monitor the body’s vitals. The Samsung Health app is essential to investigate the various parameters that Samsung is tracking your workouts and health. The app displays a constant step counter on your smartphone’s notification panel, although it can be turned off. The watch has over 100 workout routines to choose from and you can also get Google Fit from the Play Store for more workouts. However, the Watch 5’s automatic health tracking only works with Samsung’s stock workout routines.
I was very satisfied with the data collected by the Watch5 during my daily evening runs. Built-in GPS continuously updates track locations along with distance and relative heart rate during each split. In the Health app, there are more detailed metrics like heart rate zones, VO2 levels, sweat loss and more. I compared all readings to the Apple Watch SE and found them to be consistent and accurate. The IP68 waterproof rating lets you take the Watch 5 for a swim and dive up to 5ATM.
The Watch5 also has sleep tracking features which are very accurate. You can collect a detailed analysis of your sleep patterns, including drops in blood oxygen and snoring data, when you keep your smartphone close to you. Also, the watch automatically measures your heart rate every five minutes and tells you if it’s higher than normal under various conditions. I’m a little annoyed at how often the workout detector is triggered, even when I’m walking to the grocery store. An impressively smart watch also packs in a A bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor to track body fat, BMI and other statistics.
What is not so good
Touch response during exercise
A typical 40-minute running session can cause a lot of sweat to build up on the Watch5’s screen and affect touch response. I can’t swipe to secondary screens or check other important information, which is a bummer. I also had to use the buttons to pause the workout.
Without the always-on display, the Watch5 lasts about two days on a full charge. However, with the feature turned on, I barely make it past a day and a half. The The 410mAh battery is slightly larger than last time but there are no noticeable benefits to battery life. Daily workout tracking eats up more of the Watch 5’s battery, and I think Samsung is lagging behind competitors like the Fitbit.
SpO2 tracking while sleeping
Blood oxygen tracking during sleep is erratic at best. The Samsung Health app shows my SpO2 dropped to 78 percent overnight, but I didn’t see it drop below 92 percent the next day. All this to say, the Watch 5 reading is likely to change depending on your sleep status and should not be consulted for medical purposes.
Despite some flaws, Samsung has delivered a very healthy and premium smartwatch experience with the Galaxy Watch5. For fitness and health fans, other competing products have little to offer and unless you own an iPhone, the Galaxy Watch5 is the way to go. You can spend even more money to get the Watch5 Pro, but most of its functionality is offered with the regular Watch5. Finally, users who own a Samsung smartphone will get an experience that is better enough to negate any real competition in the premium smartwatch category.
Editor’s Rating: 4/5
- Sturdy and elegant construction
- Amazing AMOLED screen
- Extensive health and fitness tracking
- The Wear OS app ecosystem
- Sweaty exercises can interfere with the tactile response
- Battery life could be better