(Pocket-lint) - In previous years, Samsung's approach to its Galaxy Watch series has been to offer a 'regular' and a 'Classic' model, with the latter featuring a rotating bezel. That was not the case for 2022. For its latest series we have a 'regular' and a 'Pro' model, with the latter seeking to offer better battery and sports tracking abilities.
The end result is a fully fledged smartwatch for Android phone users which can last up to three days on a full charge without compromising on features. Or - at least - that's the claim. Is it an approach that has worked though?
Having spent a couple of weeks with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, it's hard to escape the feeling that - currently - from a features and performance standpoint, this is the best WearOS watch we've seen on the market for some time. In fact, it could be the best ever.
There's not a lot it can't do. You can fully customise watchfaces, track all your workouts and important health metrics (even if sleep is a bit hit and miss) , and even use it to navigate up tricky mountain paths or track your way back if you get lost. Add that to a battery that can last three days, the sleek, minimal design language and useful features like music playback and contactless payments, and you have a smartwatch that, in our minds, is the Apple Watch equivalent for Android phone users.
If you really value fitness and battery life above all else, you'd still be better off looking at something from Huawei or Garmin, but if you want that 'proper' smartwatch experience and don't want to charge every single night, or miss out on features, this is the one.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
- Good battery life
- Great-looking design
- Very durable
- Strong feature set and lots of fitness tracking options
- It's a little expensive
- Only works with Android phones
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro vs Galaxy Watch 5: What's the difference?
- Price: Watch 5 Pro from £429; Watch 5 from £269
- Size: Watch 5 Pro 45mm; Watch 5 40 or 44mm
- Materials: Watch 5 Pro titanium/sapphire; Watch 5 aluminium/sapphire
- Battery: Watch 5 Pro 590mAh; Watch 5 284mAh
Let's start by quickly running through how these devices compare. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro comes in one size, 45mm, while the Watch 5 offers both 40 and 44mm sizes.
However, the Watch 5 Pro is considerably thicker than the Watch 5, mostly because it has a much bigger battery, so it's a larger device overall.
The bezel extends beyond the display to provide it with protection, whereas the Watch 5 is flush, while the sapphire crystal cover on the Watch 5 Pro is tougher than the sapphire crystal on the Watch 5.
That use of premium materials extends to the body too, with the Watch 5 Pro using titanium, compared to the aluminium Watch 5.
The functions are mostly the same, but the added battery life means the Watch 5 Pro can offer more advanced GPS functions and last for longer. Of course, it's also a lot more expensive.
There's a more comprehensive comparison of these devices right here.
- 45.4 x 45.4 x 10.5mm - 46g
- Titanium and sapphire crystal build
- Quick release straps
- IP68, 5ATM protection
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro only comes in one size, which is 45mm, so you don't get the options that you do with the regular Watch 5. It's a bigger device overall, because the larger battery makes for a thicker body, while the raised bezel to protect the display makes it a mite bigger again.
What's more important, we feel - at least from a purely aesthetic standpoint - is that the design has matured. We may have lost the rotating bezel from the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, but with the Pro there's precision and refinement that didn't exist on previous models, as lovely as they were.
The Watch 5 Pro, then, is a great-looking watch, with its sleek titanium casing, and the black bezel around the screen curving upwards to that protruding frame. Likewise, the slim lugs that hold the band are similarly seamless and curved. It's probably the most elegant watch Samsung has ever designed, and that's despite it being quite a big device. It's got that classic, minimalist almost Braun-like look to it.
It's the toughest of the new Galaxy Watch models too. The titanium body adds durability, with enhanced sapphire crystal glass covering the display, which is said to be tougher than the Galaxy Watch 5. There's also IP68 protection, or 5ATM, as well as certification for MIL-STD-810H.
What that means in a real, everyday sense is that it shouldn't really matter what conditions or collisions you subject it to, it will survive. It's very impact resistant, scratch resistant and waterproof.
The raised bezel this time is just there for protection too, ensuring you're more likely to hit the metal edges of the screen than the display itself.
Usually, within the first week or two we'd find at least one or two very small scratches or marks on the screen or bezel, but with this combination of materials, it's mark-free so far. When you bear in mind that it's been tested with several kettlebell workouts where the weight is often knocking, or resting, against the watch's screen, that's pretty good going.
While general consensus is mixed on the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro band, we really like it. It features a magnetic clasp that snaps open and shut easily when you want to remove or wear the watch.
This means the band has no holes in it whatsoever, you just slide the metal mechanism up and down the length of the band until its at the right size for your wrist, then lock it in place and you never have to touch that adjustment again. It's an elegant solution, and one much more like the kind of fixing you'd find on a more premium watch, like the TAG Heuer Connected.
Display and software features
- 1.4-inch round Super AMOLED display
- 450 x 450 resolution - 16m colours
- WearOS 3.5 with Samsung OneUI
- Contactless payments, installable apps, offline music
- Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi
There's not too much to be said about the display on the display of the Watch 5 Pro, except that it's generally very good. It's round, sharp, bright and colourful. It's one of the first WearOS watches we've tested in a while that hasn't needed manual brightness adjustment either. Its auto brightness seems to do a great job of ensuring the display is always easy to read.
To make the most of it, Samsung has a number of watch faces, with many more installable from the Play Store. As WearOS faces go they're really customisable too, particularly the Samsung ones. You can change the main background colour, hand style, accent colours and complication data for most of them. What's more, they almost all have an ambient/always-on version that fits perfectly with it.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro builds on previous Galaxy wearables, offering not only the functionality of WearOS - which Google relaunched in 2021 in cahoots with Samsung - but also some of the legacy features Samsung watches were known for from its Tizen days.
We'll dive more into the sport functions shortly, but from a general smartwatch perspective, it has all the features you'd hope to find. That means contactless payments on your wrist (great for emergencies) and support for Bluetooth headphones/earphones and offline music listening, so you can listen to music during workouts without needing your phone with you.
While smartwatches are - for the most part - useful for glancing at notifications as they come through from your phone, we often found the conversation view in certain messaging apps - like WhatsApp - really useful. This way, you don't just see a context-less message pop through from a group, you can view the thread leading up to it as well. And - of course - you can reply using voice dictation or the small touchscreen keyboard.
None of these features are the primary way you'd ever access them, but knowing they're on your wrist for the times you can't quickly get to your phone is reassuring.
There are plenty of third-party offerings available from the Play Store too, all of which can be installed directly on the watch.
Fitness and health tracking
- All-day heart rate sensor
- SpO2, ECG and body composition
- Sleep tracking, cycle tracking
- Several workout modes, GPS
Samsung's approach to fitness means heavily relying on Samsung Health. That's no bad thing, it's become a fully featured offering that not only gives you insights on all of the key health metrics, but also gives access to training plans and workout sessions right within the app. Some of those are free and included, others are premium additions from third parties like FIIT.
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro does get a lot of this right, including - arguably - the most important thing: heart rate. Where some older models, and other watches, struggle with high intensity interval (HIIT) workouts, or any workout where your heart rate suddenly changes, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is responsive and accurate. There's no waiting around for the heart-rate reading to 'catch-up'.
This means it can more accurately estimate how many calories are burned during the workout, and how intense they were. And - afterwards - it automatically measures your recovery heart-rate.
Of course, you do get the usual GPS-based workout options too, including running, walking and cycling. What's more, the Pro even lets you load up routes on to your wrist to follow up mountains and hills, including a track-back feature to use in case you get lost.
Auto-workout detection is another of Samsung's strengths. It reliably kicked in every time we were walking for more than 10 minutes, whether that was in the hectic rush of the morning school run or the dash through a large airport to get to a connecting flight.
Our only real issue with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro during testing was with sleep tracking. It's certainly not alone in this problem, but it would often automatically log sleep when we weren't actually asleep. Sitting on the sofa with a pretty low resting heart rate in the evening would often be tracked as sleep. So, sadly, it wasn't something we could reliably use to monitor exactly how well we were sleeping.
- 590mAh battery
- Up to 80 hours typical usage
- Wireless charging
Battery life is possibly the one single downside of any 'proper' smartwatch. All the interactivity, the animations, the all-day tracking and the vibrant display take their toll. Usually. With the Watch 5 Pro, that's not necessarily the case. Samsung rates its 590mAh battery as good for 80 hours typical usage on a full charge, or just over three days in real numbers.
Based on our own usage, we'd suggest this isn't a completely unachievable number. Even with the always-on display activated, we'd comfortably make it over 2.5 days before we got a low power warning. That's with using it connected to our main smartphone, for notifications, and with using it to workout around 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes at a time. With always-on deactivated, we suspect three days on a full charge would be easily achievable for us.
Of course, if you're using it to track much longer activities, with GPS and listening to music at the same time, you'll find the battery life will be less. It's still not quite up there with the likes of the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro or Garmin Epix/Fenix lineups, but that's the trade-off you make when you have a watch with a vibrant, smooth display and interactive apps and notifications.
Recharging is simple enough though, you just snap the magnetic charger on the back with it lying on its side. Simple.
Having spent a couple of weeks with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, it's hard to escape the feeling that - currently - from a features and performance standpoint, this is the best WearOS watch we've seen on the market for some time. In fact, maybe the best ever.