Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: premium smartwatch packed with features

I’ve been a fan of Google’s WearOS and Samsung’s TizenOS for a number of years. So when I switched to the older Galaxy Watch 4, I was excited. But one thing I quickly realized, the smartwatch has a limited battery life. Fast forward a few months and Samsung launched the Galaxy Watch 5, which shares the same design as the Watch 4. But is the Galaxy Watch 5 a worthy upgrade to consider? And that’s a watch good enough for those looking to get their hands on a WearOS device? Here’s my review of the Galaxy Watch 5 for the 44mm LTE version.

Specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: 1.4 inch SAMOLED screen | One UI 4.5 based on Android Wear 3.5 | Exynos W920 chipset | 1.5 GB RAM | 16GB internal storage | Bluetooth 5.2 | 410mAh battery

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: What’s different?

The Galaxy Watch 5 has a sapphire crystal display. It is available in two variants – 40mm and 44mm. While the 40mm version shares the same internals as the 44mm model, the only difference is the battery. The smaller variant gets a 276mAh battery, and a 410mAh battery supports the 44mm version.

It also comes with an improved BioActive sensor. Another change is the addition of the skin temperature sensor, which is currently unusable. Some features like EKG and blood pressure are still not available in India, which is disappointing. Samsung hasn’t revealed why it’s not bringing this to India for now, which is a shame. Rival Apple’s premium watches have already enabled the feature in the country.

Galaxy Watch 5 The Galaxy Watch 5 features an improved BioActive sensor. (Image credit: Anurag Chawake/Indian Express)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: What’s good?

The Galaxy Watch 5 has one of the best displays you will see on a smartwatch. The 1.4-inch SAMOLED screen is sharp and easy to read even in direct sunlight. If you mainly use the clock indoors, setting the brightness to less than half should be more than enough.

I’ve used the Galaxy Watch 5 in heavy rain and found the watch to be responsive even when I was driving with gloves on or when the screen had large drops of water on it. Swiping and navigating the wet screen was a breeze.

The Galaxy Watch 5 has two physical buttons on the right side, with the speaker placed on the left. The top acts as a home button with a long press activating the voice assistant (set to Samsung Bixby by default). The bottom button acts as a back button, but long-pressing it does nothing.

Those new to Samsung’s version of WearOS will find that the user interface is easy to understand and has a minimal learning curve. Just like Android, it comes pre-installed with the Google Play Store, allowing users to download multiple apps like YouTube Music, Spotify, and Google Keep.

Launching the Play Store on the Galaxy Watch 5 will bring up a list of apps installed on your phone, which can also be downloaded to the watch. The software is refined for the most part and runs without hiccups. The watch can store many watch faces even when not connected to the phone.

Another useful feature is the ability to install apps that are not available on the Play Store. While you need to follow some steps to enable sideloading on the watch. But I found it worth the effort.

Galaxy Watch 5 side view The Galaxy Watch 5 has two physical buttons on the side. (Image credit: Anurag Chawake/Indian Express)

I used Google Maps on the watch and found the on-screen navigation directions accurate. For example, the watch gave me vibration feedback a few feet before I had to turn, which was helpful. In addition to directions, the watch can also display a map view, but this isn’t useful when driving.

Calls are another area where the Galaxy Watch 5 excels. While the speaker may not sound loud in public places, the voice is clear and audible when you are in your room or in a quiet place. Microphone quality is enabled on other flagship devices, with the watch blocking out most background noise around the home or office.

I also downloaded some music and transferred it to my watch. When you open the Music app on the watch, you have two options – you can either listen to the songs through the watch’s speaker, or you can connect the watch to your wireless headphones or earbuds. I connected my neck strap and TWS to the watch and it worked fine.

Speaking of fitness tracking, the Galaxy Watch 5 performs well on that front. On my daily bike ride, this one had readings similar to the Watch 4. While I don’t have any medical kit to compare, the heart rate tracking is definitely improved over the Galaxy Watch 4. The automatic workout recognition feature is accurate most of the time and automatically begins workouts like cycling, running, and walking a few minutes after you start it. Another interesting thing is that the watch automatically paused the workout when I stopped cycling or took a break to drink some water.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 The Galaxy Watch 5 is also clearly visible in direct sunlight. (Image credit: Anurag Chawake/Indian Express)

The training screen shows data such as heart rate zones, distance traveled, calories burned, average speed and more. The Galaxy Watch 5 is also accurate when it comes to step count. Those interested in fitness tracking might also appreciate the body composition feature. It shows data like skeletal muscle, fat mass, body fat, body water weight, BMR and BMI.

Sleep tracking is also mostly accurate, with the Galaxy Watch 5 pinpointing when I fell asleep and when I woke up. The Galaxy Watch 5 now charges at speeds up to 10W and takes 90 minutes to reach 100 percent. The previous version supported 5W charging.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: What’s not good?

While the Watch 5 was good at tracking my nighttime naps, it struggles when it comes to naps. My Honor Band 6 could tell if I fell asleep for even 15-20 minutes, but the Galaxy Watch 5 doesn’t start counting naps until they last longer than an hour.

I found the blood oxygen reading to be inaccurate and the results are nowhere near my medical SpO2 monitor.

Although Samsung increased the battery of the Galaxy Watch 5 (44mm version) by 50mAh, the real battery backup is more or less the same and I still had to charge this one until the end of the day. But remember, I’ve made extensive use of many features, such as: B. GPS to track my workout or just travel somewhere, the always-on display and continuous heart rate tracking. All this also negatively affects the battery life.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 It comes with OneUI 4.5 based on WearOS 3.5. (Image credit: Anurag Chawake/Indian Express)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Should you buy it?

Yes, the Galaxy Watch 5 is an iterative upgrade over its predecessor. So if you have the Watch 4, it might not make much of a difference. Of course, if you want the latest WearOS watch, the Galaxy Watch 5 is a solid choice, and the base variant starts at Rs 27,999, which isn’t high for a premium watch. If you think LTE connectivity is a must then you might consider it, although it costs Rs 35,999.

The Galaxy Watch 5 remains one of the most solid “Android” alternatives to the Apple Watch, offering a good combination of fitness and smart features. Budget devices often struggle to deliver the second aspect well, and that’s WearOS’s advantage. But for those with a Galaxy Watch 4, the upgrade makes no sense and isn’t surprising. For smartwatches, upgrades will be incremental for some time.

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