Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: sometimes bigger is better

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch v doesn’t break new basis in the world of smartwatches, simply it is the best Android watch you can buy right now. It has a bigger battery compared to final year’s models, a more durable pattern and a new temperature sensor — just you tin’t use information technology yet. It looks and feels much the same as last twelvemonth’s
Milky way Watch 4, and then it’s definitely an iterative update rather than a major overhaul.

This year’due south scout comes in two variants: the $279 Galaxy Watch five and a slightly larger, more than rugged $450
Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, which I have also reviewed. Autonomously from the construction, sports modes and battery capacity, they share most of the same features. If y’all own a Galaxy Spotter iv, there’southward no compelling reason to upgrade unless you want a bigger sentry in the Galaxy Lookout man 5 Pro, or slightly better battery life from both new variants. The software is largely unchanged from last year and, perhaps more importantly, you lot lose the fan-favorite rotating bezel present on the Galaxy Scout 4 Classic.

This is the best Android watch for now, simply with the Pixel Watch on the horizon and a wave of Habiliment Os watches including the $ane,290 Montblanc Summit 3, it faces some new competition. Also keep in mind some of Samsung’s central health features similar the electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) require a Samsung phone to use.

Improve fit on the wrist, but farewell-adieu rotating bezel

The Galaxy Watch v doesn’t await very different compared to last year’s regular Sentinel 4. But the sentry’s underside now sits more snug against your wrist, which makes for a comfortable fit. Information technology comes in a xl-millimeter and 44mm size, similar to terminal year.

The biggest physical change is the absence of a physical rotating bezel, a stalwart of the Galaxy Watch line ever since the original model came out in 2018. Instead, the Galaxy Watch 5 uses a software-based touch bezel that requires moving your finger around the edge of the brandish to navigate. It sits on top of the touchscreen itself, and the watch also has two physical buttons on the side.

Motility your finger on the edge of the display to use the touch bezel.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Last twelvemonth’s Milky way Watch 4 model worked the same manner, but it likewise came in a Classic edition with that physical bezel. Funnily enough, the older Galaxy Sentry 4 Classic is still available to purchase, just information technology actually costs
than this year’south model on Samsung’s website at the time of writing. The impact bezel is OK. It has haptic feedback then it “clicks” when you move your finger effectually the edge. Just I’d rather see the space occupied by the new touch bezel be used to extend the size of the screen instead. Hopefully Samsung is saving that for the Galaxy Watch half dozen.

The Galaxy Watch 5 uses the aforementioned processor as last year’due south watches, rather than the new Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 chip. But like CNET’s Scott Stein wrote last year in his review of the Galaxy Watch four, performance was never really an effect anyway. The Watch 5 series is responsive and loads apps quickly.

Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro side by side

The Galaxy Watch 5 (left) and Pro (right).

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Wear Bone feels neat, merely like to last year

Design-wise, there’s really very petty that separates the new watches from the Watch 4 series. They both run Samsung’due south One UI on top of Wear OS iii, with Google apps like YouTube Music, Google Maps, Google Wallet and the Google Assistant available.

But even though there are a suite of Google and tertiary-party apps through the Play Store, the Galaxy Watch 5 series needs a Galaxy phone to apply health sensors like the ECG. Yous’re also tied to Samsung Wellness for the virtually part, though you tin can sync to Google Fit with a little endeavor. It’s non yet compatible with the Fitbit app — Google
bought Fitbit terminal yr
and some of its features are expected to eventually arrive in Wear Bone. So the Galaxy Picket v is an Android scout, simply it nevertheless feels most closely aligned with Samsung devices. That said, with the exception of the ECG, my experience using the picket on both a Galaxy telephone and a Google Pixel phone felt very similar.

I’ve noticed some improvements to typing on the sentry. The full keyboard is easy to swipe on when typing messages, and that even pertains to the smaller 40mm model. The dictation-to-text feature is also a little better at accurately translating my Australian accent. Phone calls I’ve taken on the lookout sound clean and well-baked, with the microphone picking upwardly my voice well for callers on the other end. I only tested the Bluetooth and GPS edition, rather than the LTE version, then your phone needs to exist within range to make and receive calls on the watch.


Lexy Savvides/CNET

Although it’southward a niche characteristic, yous tin can play music from the speaker without Bluetooth headphones connected, as long equally the music files are stored on the scout. I was able to play back Spotify from the speaker likewise with a Premium subscription when I downloaded songs to the watch.

The Galaxy Watch 5 has a couple of new watch faces, and all of them wait great. Ane of my favorite new watch faces shows a live blitheness of a garden. My personal favorite is the Pro Classic, which includes  a compass that indicates the northward bespeak when you move your wrist around. It’southward the default lookout man face on the Galaxy Sentry v Pro, simply it’s also bachelor on the smaller watches. Galaxy Watch 4 owners will as well get the new watch faces in an upcoming Wear Os 3 update.

Galaxy Watch v bombardment life gets a footling boost

The regular Galaxy Sentinel 5 lasts longer than the previous version, but non past a huge jump. I tested the 40mm version with its 284-mAh bombardment, and it lasts effectually 24 hours between charges with the ever-on brandish turned off. This includes slumber tracking, a GPS workout for approximately one hour and notifications from my telephone.

With the always-on display active, that drops slightly to around 21 hours with the aforementioned usage. Usually I’ll need to give the watch a little bit of a top-upward before bed if I want to track slumber. If you find yourself in the same boat, I’d recommend having at to the lowest degree 30% battery remaining, peculiarly if you’re tracking claret oxygen, snoring levels and centre charge per unit overnight. You can also requite information technology a quick recharge earlier bed. Just 8 minutes of charge time will requite you enough battery to last through the night.

Samsung claims the regular Galaxy Spotter v offers up to forty hours of full battery life, just information technology feels almost impossible to hitting that number without leaving information technology in airplane fashion nearly of the time. That ways I wouldn’t go notifications, calls or exist able to utilize the spotter for anything apart from telling the time, which kind of defeats the purpose.

The 44mm version that I oasis’t tested even so comes with a larger capacity battery at 410 mAh, so I’d expect information technology to last longer. Samsung quotes 50 hours.

Fast charging allows you to juice upward the watch to 45% in 30 minutes. But you need a 25W USB-C charger to take reward of this faster charge speed and, only similar the Apple Watch, at that place’s no adapter included in the box. I was able to charge the Milky way Spotter v from flat to 45% in half an hour, with the remainder of the battery filling to 100% in around 1.v hours. The watch can too reverse wireless charge from certain Samsung phones.

Galaxy Watch 5 watch face showing icons including flashlight and battery power

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Skin temperature tracking has promise, but isn’t agile withal

The infrared sensor sets the Milky way Watch 5 serial autonomously from final yr’south models. But it’s non active yet and nosotros don’t have an ETA on when it will become switched on via software update. Samsung says it volition exist used nightly while sleeping. Competitors like Fitbit and Oura use the infrared sensors on their devices for skin temperature tracking during sleep to provide more than insight into whether you may be running a fever, or more than data on menstrual cycles.

Galaxy Watch 5 temperature sensor

That small circle is the temperature sensor on the dorsum of the Galaxy Watch 5.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Most of the other wellness features and sensors remain largely unchanged from the Galaxy Scout 4. You still get a bioimpedance sensor to measure body composition, plus a blood-oxygen sensor and an FDA-cleared ECG. There’s also a claret force per unit area sensor, merely it is only available in certain markets and is not cleared in the United states of america. Both the ECG and blood pressure features are locked to Samsung phones through the Samsung Health Monitor app, which is non available in the Play Store if you lot pair it with whatsoever other Android phone.

Unlike the Apple Watch and most of Fitbit’s watches, the Galaxy Watch 5 doesn’t check for irregular heart rate rhythms in the background. Y’all accept to take an ECG on-demand to check for signs of atrial fibrillation. The watch does take high and low heart rate alerts, plus fall detection that can likewise be activated during workouts.

The Galaxy Sentinel five can track upward to 90 different workout types and has automated workout detection for activities like walks and runs. I found it was really reliable in accurately detecting my walks when I forgot to start a workout manually.

When testing the heart charge per unit sensor against a chest strap, the Galaxy Sentinel v did a practiced job overall when it came to accuracy for cardio workouts. It landed within 3 beats per infinitesimal of the strap for average heart rate during my workouts. The Galaxy Sentinel 5 Pro was a lilliputian more than in lockstep with the strap overall. GPS accuracy is really good on both Galaxy Watch 5 models. I had no bug locking on to a signal within five seconds in San Francisco, either with or without a phone in range.

Sleep tracking on the Galaxy Lookout 5 needs more finesse

Sleep tracking on Galaxy Watch 5

Screenshot past Lexy Savvides/CNET

The Galaxy Watch five is in the eye of the pack compared to other wearables I’ve tested when it comes to slumber tracking. Later on a full week of sleep tracking, it does a good chore of picking up sleep stages and accurately calculates full sleep time, but its sleep score system confuses me. Fifty-fifty with an extensive 9- or 10-hour snooze (I know, I was actually tired) the Watch 5 rarely gave me a slumber score above the high 70s. I night, it was a especially dire 61/100 despite all my slumber scores hitting their targets; it seems that fifty-fifty any amount of awake fourth dimension during the dark significantly affects the score.

To compare, I wore the
Fitbit Charge 5
during those same sleeps and it gave me a score almost in the 90s on that same night. Sleep scores are all proprietary calculations that every wearable does differently, simply it’s kind of disheartening to meet such a low score after what felt like a pretty restful night’s sleep.

There is a sleep coaching feature that’s similar to what’s on the Galaxy Watch 4. After a week’s worth of sleep tracking, you do a quick quiz and the watch will give you coaching to help ameliorate your snooze. You too get a slumber animate being that all-time represents the type of sleeper you are. I’m an unconcerned king of beasts, whereas Fitbit says I’yard a tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race I gauge.

I’ve besides had mixed results from the claret oxygen sensor, which tends to read a picayune lower than both a pulse oximeter and other wearables, especially at dark. At times, I’ve had both the Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch v Pro say my lowest blood oxygen level was anywhere from fourscore to 87%, which is particularly low and could signal signs of sleep weather similar slumber apnea. No other clothing has ever given me such low readings, peculiarly when I charted the same nighttime’s sleep with both the Fitbit Charge 5 and Oura ring. Blood oxygen sensors are generally not medically cleared, so take their readings with a grain of salt and e’er consult a medical professional for proper guidance. I’ve reached out to Samsung virtually the depression blood oxygen readings and will update when I hear back.

Yet the best Android watch… for now

The Milky way Watch 5 does a good job of straddling the middle footing between a standard smartwatch and a fettle watch. But battery life takes a hit because of all those smart features. If you push it to its limits with extended workouts, you’ll before long find yourself needing to charge more frequently than you might expect.


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