Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: The near-perfect Android smartwatch
While Smart Wearables have come a long way in the past five years, they have yet to fully break the “in between” reputation and spread into the mainstream. Some may call it technological bottlenecks and limited functionality. However, when it comes to Android smartwatches, the Samsung Galaxy Watch always stands as an outlier and a prime example of the best smartwatches Android has to offer.
Last year’s Galaxy Watch 4 was already pushing the boundaries, and Samsung has tweaked an already great product with its latest iteration. We got our hands on the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and used it for over 2 weeks to see if there were any cracks in its shell. Here is our comprehensive review.
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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: Design and display
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 comes in an elegant rectangular box. Inside the box, you’ll find a smartwatch, a wireless charger, and a quick start guide. Galaxy Watch 5 does not come 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.
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The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 comes with a sapphire crystal instead of the Corning Gorilla Glass found in the previous iteration. The sapphire crystal easily withstands rough use, and the display didn’t show a single scratch during two weeks of thorough testing. The armored aluminum frame is quite sturdy and holds everything together.
The Galaxy Watch 5 weighs 34g (44mm version) with dimensions of 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8mm. The silicone strap hugs the wrist beautifully and provides a comfortable and snug fit. During exercise, the band does not itch even with a lot of sweat.
Moving on, the 1.4-inch Super AMOLED display doesn’t have a rotating bezel around it. While we enjoyed the physical aspect of the rotating bezel, the new dial design looks much cleaner. The rotating bezel functions can now be done with the digital bezel, but the touch sensitivity will take time to get used to. The brightness of the display is ideal for bright outdoor environments. There is also a range of dials to choose from.
On the right side of the frame you will find two physical buttons with a microphone located between them. These two buttons can be customized 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 return to the previous screen. A small speaker is located on the left side of the frame.
The barometric pressure sensor finds its way to the top of the bezel, and the optical heart rate sensor and pressure vent can be found on the far side of the dial. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has an IP68 rating, which means it’s waterproof up to 50 meters. The watch holds up well during swimming and during sweaty workouts.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Review: Performance
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is powered by the Exynos W920 chipset and comes with 16GB of storage (7.5GB of available memory) and 1.5GB of RAM. The dual-core 1.18 GHz Cortez-A55 processor outperforms its predecessor by 20%.
Operating system duties are handled by Android Wear OS 3.5 in conjunction with One UI Watch 4.5. The user interface is quite smooth and intuitive, offering access to the main functions with just one swipe. The keyboard is also well integrated, and you won’t have to reach for voice commands that often. Swipe down from the home screen to display the Quick Panel and swipe up to display the Apps screen. Swipe left to view notifications, while swiping right gives you access to all health tiles and features.
The home button and back button can be customized from within the Galaxy Wearable app. While the home button offers plenty of customizable options, you can only use the bottom button to go back to the previous screen or to view recent apps. You can also customize several different watch faces from within the app, then quickly switch between them by long-pressing the watch’s home screen.
The library of smartwatch apps is constantly growing, but we’d love to see some more advancements in this area. There are no apps available for WhatsApp or Gmail yet. However, you can manage your emails on the watch using Outlook, which is 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 many complaints to make.
Samsung keeps raising the bar in this regard with each iteration of the Galaxy Watch. Thanks to the state-of-the-art BioActive sensors, the Galaxy Watch provides continuous health monitoring with incredible accuracy. This sensor package can track your sleep, monitor your heart rate and blood oxygen levels, and provide an analysis of your body composition.
The optical heart rate sensor is quite accurate and provides readings that are consistent with medical equipment. The blood oxygen monitor also provided readings that were consistent with the home oximeter. The watch also features a useful period tracker for women.
What really impressed us was the Galaxy Watch 5’s sleep tracking feature. The sleep data it produced was remarkably accurate. You can even turn on the SpO2 tracker and snoring detection for more comprehensive data. A full breakdown of your sleep is available in the Samsung Health app. Here you can see how much time you spent in deep sleep and REM sleep, along with other metrics.
The bioelectric impedance analysis sensor is capable of measuring body fat percentage and skeletal muscle mass. We can’t speak to its accuracy, but we can only hope that Samsung keeps improving this feature.
When it comes to fitness tracking, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 supports tracking more than 90 exercises. We took the Watch out for a run and it automatically started tracking distance, pace, heart rate and calories burned. You can easily pause a workout by simply pressing the back button. The Samsung Health app provides a larger breakdown of data for each workout.
After being thoroughly impressed with the health and fitness tracking features, we were a bit disappointed with the Galaxy Watch 5’s battery life. The Watch 5 comes with a 410mAh battery that barely lasts a day with moderate use. If you want to buy a Galaxy Watch solely for fitness tracking, you’ll need to charge it once a day.
With light to moderately heavy use, we found we had 15-20% charge left at the end of the day. If you want to track your sleep activity, you’ll need to charge the watch before going to bed.
Fortunately, the Galaxy Watch doesn’t take long to charge. The 10W wireless charger can charge the smartwatch 30% faster, taking just 30 minutes to reach 0 to 45%. Thanks to the USB-C connector, you can easily plug it into your smartphone and charge your watch on the go.
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The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 leaves little room for debate when it comes to claiming the title of “best Android smartwatch on the market.” BioActive sensors cover an incredible amount of detail to provide comprehensive data when it comes to health and fitness monitoring. The intuitiveness and accessibility of smartwatches make gaming really fun. The only aspect we think the Galaxy Watch 5 can improve on is battery life.
Easy to use interface
Incredible health and fitness tracking
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