While Smart Wearables have come a long way in the last five years, they haven’t yet fully broken the ‘niche’ reputation and expanded into mainstream territory. Some may chalk this up to technological bottlenecks and limited functionality. However, when it comes to Android smartwatches, the Samsung Galaxy Watch always stands as the outlying performer and the prime example of the best smartwatch that Android has to offer.
Last year’s Galaxy Watch 4 was already pushing the boundaries, and with its latest iteration, Samsung has fine-tuned an already great product. We got our hands on the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and used it for over 2 weeks to see if there are any chinks in its armour. Here is our comprehensive review.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: Design and Display
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 comes in a sleek rectangular box. Inside the box, you will find the smartwatch, a wireless charger, and a quick start guide. The Galaxy Watch 5 does not ship with a power adapter. The non-Pro version of the smartwatch is available in two sizes – 40mm and 44mm. We used the latter for this review.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 comes with a sapphire crystal screen instead of the Corning Gorilla Glass found on its previous iteration. The sapphire crystal feels it can easily withstand rugged use, and in our two weeks of thorough testing, the display did not register a single scratch. The armour aluminium frame is quite robust and holds everything together.
The Galaxy Watch 5 weighs 34g (44mm version) with dimensions of 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8 mm. The silicone strap wraps nicely around the wrist, providing a comfortable, snug fit. During workouts, the strap does not feel itchy even with a fair amount of sweat.
Moving on, the 1.4-inch Super AMOLED display does not come with a rotating bezel around it. While we did enjoy the physical aspect of the rotating bezel, the new dial design looks a lot cleaner. The functions of the rotating bezel can now be carried out with the digital bezel, but getting used to the touch sensitivity will take some time. The brightness of the display is ideal for bright outdoor surroundings. There is also a range of watch faces to choose from.
On the right side of the frame, you will find two physical buttons with a microphone placed between them. These two buttons can be customised according to your liking from the Wearable app. They are also equipped with BioActive Sensors. Out of the box, the top button is a shortcut to the home screen while the bottom button can be used to go back to the previous screen. The left side of the frame houses a small speaker.
The atmospheric pressure sensor finds its way to the top of the frame and the optical heart rate sensor and the pressure vent can be found on the flip side of the dial. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is IP68 rated, which means it is water resistant up to 50 metres. The watch holds up well during swimming and sweaty workouts.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: Performance
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is powered by the Exynos W920 chipset and comes with a storage space of 16GB (7.5GB available memory) and 1.5 GB of RAM. The Dual-core 1.18 GHz Cortez-A55 processor outperforms its predecessor by 20%.
OS duties are handled by the Android Wear OS 3.5 coupled with One UI Watch 4.5. The user interface is quite smooth and intuitive, offering access to the major functions with just a single swipe. Even the keyboard is well-integrated, and you won’t find yourself reaching for the voice commands as often. Swiping down from the home screen reveals the Quick Panel, and swiping up presents the Apps screen. A left swipe gives you a peek into the notifications while a right swipe gives you access to all the tiles and health functions.
The home button and the back button can be customised from the Galaxy Wearable app. While the home button offers a lot of customisable options, you can only use the bottom button to go back to the previous screen or to show recent apps. You can also customise several different Watch faces from the app and then quickly switch between them by long pressing the home screen on the watch.
The app library for smartwatches is constantly growing, but we’d still like to see some more advances in this area. There are currently no apps available for WhatsApp or Gmail yet. However, you can manage your emails on your watch with the Outlook app which comes pre-installed on the device. Media controls are also well integrated into the software.
Moving on to the health and fitness features, there aren’t a lot of complaints one can raise.
Samsung keeps raising the bar with every iteration of the Galaxy Watch in this aspect. With state-of-the-art BioActive sensors, the Galaxy Watch provides round-the-clock health tracking with incredible accuracy. This package of sensors can track your sleep, monitor the heart rate and blood oxygen level, and provide your body composition analysis.
The Optical Heart Rate Sensor is pretty accurate and provided readings that were consistent with medical-grade equipment. The Blood Oxygen monitor also provided measurements that were consistent with a home oximeter. The watch also comes equipped with a helpful period tracker tool for women.
What we were thoroughly impressed by was the sleep-tracking function of the Galaxy Watch 5. The sleep data it produced was remarkably accurate. You can even turn on the SpO2 tracker and snore detection for more comprehensive data. A full breakdown of your sleeping pattern is provided on the Samsung Health app. This is where you can see how much time you spent in deep sleep and REM sleep, along with other metrics.
The Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Sensor is capable of measuring your body fat percentage and skeletal muscle weight. We cannot speak to its accuracy, but can only hope that Samsung keeps improving upon this feature.
When it comes to fitness tracking, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 supports tracking for over 90 exercises. We took the Watch out for a run and it automatically started tracking the distance, pace, heart rate, and calories burnt. You can easily pause the workout session by simply pressing the back button once. The Samsung Health app provides a greater breakdown of the data for every workout session.
After being thoroughly impressed with the health and fitness tracking features, we were a bit letdown by the Galaxy Watch 5’s battery life. The Watch 5 comes with a 410mAh battery, which barely lasts a day on moderate use. If you’re looking to buy the Galaxy Watch solely for the purpose of fitness tracking, you will need to charge it once a day.
Upon moderate to slightly heavy use, we found we were left with about 15-20% charge at the end of the day. If you want to track your sleep activity, you will need to charge the watch before you go to bed.
Luckily, the Galaxy Watch does not take long to charge. The 10W wireless charger is capable of charging the smartwatch 30% faster, taking only 30 minutes to reach from 0 to 45%. With a USB-C end, you can easily plug it into your smartphone and charge your watch on the go.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 leaves little room for debate when it comes to claiming the title of the ‘best Android smartwatch on the market.’ The BioActive sensors cover an incredible amount of detail to provide well-rounded data when it comes to health and fitness tracking. The intuitiveness and accessibility of the smartwatch make it really fun to play around with. The only aspect that we think the Galaxy Watch 5 can improve upon is the battery life.
Incredible health and fitness tracking