Samsung has made yet another decent smartwatch. But, thanks to the marketing push to make this an adventure watch, it falls a little flat.
If you’re looking for a new smartwatch and you’re on Android, your options are plentiful. Are you the adventurous outdoorsy type? Or are you more interested in workout tracking and checking your calendar? There are options for both crowds and everyone in between at varying price points.
Many of Samsung’s past offerings have featured at or near the top of our Top Ten Smartwatches. The Watch 4 Classic currently holds the top spot. But where does the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro fit in? Has Samsung done enough to displace its previous champ? That’s what we’re here to answer.
At face value
Unlike its predecessor the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, the Watch 5 Pro only comes in one size – 45mm. The rest of the physical dimensions are almost identical; the Watch 5 Pro is half a millimetre thicker, meaning the sensor array sits closer to your skin for more accurate readings.
You might overlook that at first glance. What you will notice is the absence of a physical rotating bezel. We were fans of its implementation on the Watch 4 Classic so we’re sorry to see it go. There’s still a software version available. A bit of a lip around the screen edges to help guide your finger. But that’s never going to feel as responsive as a tactile option. We found ourselves reverting to swiping instead of trying and failing to ‘scroll’ to the face we wanted.
That slightly protruding lip has another function. It, like the rest of the body, is made of titanium which is rather strong stuff. It gives the watch a premium feel and adds to its durability. That’s also helped with the use of Sapphire glass. Scratches are a thing of the past.
We found the Watch 5 Pro to be a little bulky. We didn’t mind this much as we drive a Watch 4 Classic daily. But if you’d rather opt for something lighter or less obtrusive then you might want to look at the Watch 5 (non-Pro). That one comes in a 40mm size, weighs nearly half as much, and features a slimmer construction.
The only other gripe we had was with the Watch 5 Pro’s magnetic D-Buckle Sport Band. This is a one-size-fits-all approach with a magnet holding it together. It looks rather sleek but, if you spend more than an hour at a desk with your wrists down at a keyboard, that magnetic D-Buckle will start to dig into your wrist. This watch isn’t aimed at office workers though and the strap is easily replaceable. Still, it would be nice to not have to spend extra for comfort.
Under the hood
Internally the Watch 5 Pro is practically the same as the Watch 4 Classic, with one or two exceptions. The display is the same 1.4in Super AMOLED panel. It’s a great display that does well even in direct sunlight.
You get the same Exynos W920 chipset with the same 16GB of storage and 1.5GB of RAM and Bluetooth connectivity has been upgraded to version 5.2. We’re hoping to see an upgrade to this chip in the next iteration. It was skillful enough in the Watch 4 Classic and gets by in the Watch 5 Pro. We found it struggled a little to cope when running a few things at once — like music playback and auto-workout tracking. Touch response became a little sluggish in that instance. We don’t think music playback with workout tracking is too much to ask for from a smartwatch that calls itself ‘Pro’.
The only real internal difference is the inclusion of a body temperature sensor and a larger battery. The extra sensor would’ve been a really cool feature to use if it was enabled. At the time of review, it didn’t appear to be functional yet. We couldn’t find any menu or setting to enable or track our skin temp and we didn’t see that data bundled in with any other metric. We hope this is functional in the near future.
You sure it’s a Pro?
The other major upgrade is the battery size. As mentioned, we use a Watch 4 Classic daily and will admit it is rather tedious to charge every second day. With the Watch 5 Pro, that’s extended. Samsung claims you’ll get 80 hours on a single charge but you’ll need to make some sacrifices if you hope to reach that.
With the always-on display and continuous heart rate monitoring enabled, notifications on, and sleep tracking active, we saw on average around 60 and 65 hours between charges. Your routine and requirements might be different so your mileage may vary. Especially if you plan to use GPS tracking.
While that is an improvement over last year’s models, there are plenty of other options that’ll last a week if you desire more battery. Luckily there’s fast charging support that’ll allow 0-45% in 30 mins. But that’s only if you’re charging with a 25W charger, which of course, isn’t included.
While it’s good to see Samsung making progress here, we still don’t think it’s good enough to justify the ‘Pro’ moniker.
Software and features
Here’s where the Watch 5 Pro attempts to lure you in with a few extra goodies over the Watch 5 non-pro and the Watch 4 Classic. New, to Samsung’s smartwatch offerings at least, are GPS route tracking and a track back feature that’ll guide you in retracing your steps to your starting point. It’s good to see Samsung finally bring staple fitness watch features to the table. There’s also automatic exercise tracking that’ll kick in if it detects you took the stairs a little fast.
The software experience is where the Watch 5 Pro offers slightly more than most of the Android-based competition. WearOS 4.5 means you have access to Google’s stable of apps and you can even integrate your watch with your smart home setup. But a lot of the nifty features, like ECG, require that you use a Samsung phone with the Samsung Health and Samsung Wear apps.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro verdict
So, should you buy Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 Pro? Well, if you’ve got a Watch 4 Classic and don’t yearn for better GPS tracking or battery life, then the upgrade is a hard sell. The Watch 5 Pro feels more like a smartwatch with a few sports features tacked on than a fully-fledged fitness watch. If you spend a lot of time outdoors you might find more joy in something else. But if you’re just looking for some smart tech on your wrist and you have a Samsung phone, this is what you’re after.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro starts at R10,000.