Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro Full Review

When it comes to smartwatches for Android smartphones, there really is one standout brand – Samsung. Its Galaxy Watch series has grown from strength to strength, fusing cutting-edge design with the impeccable build quality, as well as hardware and software to match. 

The all-new Galaxy Watch5 Pro takes it up a notch, while considered a minor upgrade (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), contains important little improvements and enhancements that matter to the user. On that note, there is certainly plenty to love about Samsung’s flagship smartwatch, and it’s especially true if you’re a fitness freak or one of the more adventurous types.

 

 

Elegant design built tough.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Galaxy Watch5 Pro is that it’s BIG. Not quite as big as a certain fruit-flavored model, but definitely not for those with tiny wrists. On the contrary, its 45mm case size, which is the only size it comes in, is still a tad smaller than other competitor sports watches such as from Garmin or Polar. Funnily enough, when it’s on the wrist, it doesn’t look or feel quite as big as it sounds on paper. Weighing just 47g, it’s offered in either black or grey case color options.

With a case built from titanium and sporting a scratch-resistant Sapphire Crystal face, you don’t have to guess that the Watch5 Pro is all about durability. Make no mistake, this watch is meant to go everywhere with you and is made to take the punishment no matter what extreme activity you partake in. For peace of mind, it boasts 5ATM, so go swimming with it, why don’t you? In addition, it has IP68 dust- and water-resistance certification and meets MIL-STD-810 durability standards.

Unlike the Watch3 and Watch4 Classic, the Watch5 Pro does not feature a rotating bezel, which may disappoint some “bezel aficionados.” But in all honesty, the touch bezel works pretty well, though not perfect. The titanium bezel with a raised edge makes it easy to run your finger along the ring while it gives you haptic feedback. Sans a mechanical bezel, Samsung has kept the watch cleaner and minimalistic.

Moving on, there are two physical buttons on the side of the watch, which have a solid, tactile feel to them. On the top is a Home key, while right below it is a Back key. You’ll see a little pinhole in between the buttons, which is the built-in mic awaiting your Google Assistant or Bixby command, or for your voice chats.

On the underbelly, you’ll find the Samsung BioActive Sensor, which is a collection of familiar sensors: the Optical Heart Rate, Electrical Heart Signal, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis sensors, as well as a Skin Temperature sensor. Under the hood, the sensor extravaganza continues with the accelerometer, barometer, gyro, geomagnetic, and light sensors.

To keep the watch on your wrist, the Watch5 Pro comes with a silicone sport band with a D-buckle. It’s a little finicky to install, especially if it’s your first time dealing with a clasp-type mechanism. Reading the user manual (I know, it’s a rarity) certainly helped! The silicone strap itself has a nice, soft feel to it, and I like that it doesn’t attract dust and grime like some straps I’ve encountered on other smartwatches.

I’d highly recommend you buy a tougher band if you’re into more extreme sports, as the default silicone band, as comfortable as it is, may not withstand more punishing environments and applications. Since it’s using a standard 20mm lug, you should have no problem finding a suitable alternative.

 

A technological marvel, software in progress

When it comes to hardware, the Watch5 Pro is up there with the best. Let’s start with the display. Samsung, being the display tech experts that they are, have integrated the best possible display on the Watch5 Pro – a 1.4-inch 450×450 pixel Super AMOLED touchscreen display that’s gorgeous, super bright, and sharp. It’s perfectly bright enough for the outdoors, and the touchscreen is as responsive as they come.

The watch is powered by Samsung’s own silicon – the Exynos W920 dual-core chip mated to 1.5GB of memory and ample 16GB of flash storage. Connectivity-wise, you get 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/BeiDou, as well as optional 4G LTE cellular connectivity. Samsung has also upped the battery to a 590mAh cell, the biggest so far in a Galaxy Watch. Bigger is certainly better; thanks, Samsung.

On the software side of things, the watch runs Google Wear OS, which means you get the best of Android with your favorite Google services like Play Store, Google Maps, Google Wallet, Google Assistant, Google Fit, Messages, and more. And since it’s a Samsung watch, you’ll also have access to the brand’s own little collection of apps and services, including Samsung Health, Bixby, Samsung Pay, and more. In terms of watch faces, the default ones look great, but of course, you can add new ones or modify existing ones with different elements, via the Galaxy Wearable app.

If you’re new to the Samsung Watch platform, there is a little bit of a learning curve, but overall it’s fairly intuitive, especially when it comes to navigation. Swipe left to find your tiles (or widgets), swipe right to check your notifications, swipe up to see your apps, and so forth. Pressing the Back key returns you to the previous screen, or you can swipe right from the edge of the screen.

Overall, the Watch5 Pro features nice hardware and software integration with room for further improvements. 

Features, features, features

Without a doubt, the Watch5 Pro is all about health and fitness. And in this department, it attempts to do everything, although not perfectly. As mentioned earlier, to enjoy the best experience of the watch, it’s best paired with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. 

As an example, the Samsung Health is the center of everything that you do with the Watch5 Pro, but only Samsung phone owners get to enjoy the EKG feature.

When it comes to fitness tracking, the watch can track over 90 different exercises, which is impressive. This includes activities such as walking/running, cycling, elliptical training, rowing machine, dynamic workout, and swimming which can be automatically tracked by a new feature introduced to the Watch5Pro – Automatic Workout Detection (AWD). The fantastic thing about this is that you can pretty much wear and forget the watch while you go about your activities. This feature intelligently and automatically activates as long as you have the watch on your wrist, and your activity must last for at least 10 minutes before AWD prompts you.

For instance, when I was walking about the mall the other day, the watch prompted me after 10 minutes, “Are you walking?”

While automatic, this feature can be toggled on/off on your watch. Simply head to Samsung Health on your phone and get into Settings. You can also customize the activities you want the watch to detect automatically.

A new feature that completely blew my mind is the Body Composition tool. Thanks to the BIA sensor on the watch, it can act like a smart scale that measures body fat, skeletal muscles, and more. Incredibly useful if you don’t have a smart scale at home.

As you may know, the watch also offers advanced sleep monitoring, a useful feature that provides you with a detailed analysis of your sleep activity. Everything happens automatically, so all you need to do is wear the watch to sleep. The watch tracks how much time you sleep in different sleep stages, when you were awake, how you slept, and can even detect if you are snoring (as well as monitor your blood oxygen levels while you’re catching z’s). 

Access insights from the watch itself or via the Samsung Health app. Based on your sleep activity, the watch gives you a sleep score that’s calculated based on total sleep time, sleep cycles, movements and awakenings during sleep, REM sleep, and more. A brand new feature to complement the insightful sleep tracking features on the Watch5 Pro is Advanced Sleep Coaching. As with other features, you can activate it via the Samsung Health app, and it will analyze your sleep patterns for a week. Subsequently, it will build a personalized 4-week coaching plan that provides you with valuable tips and guidance to improve your sleeping habits. 

Now, for those into hiking and biking, the new GPS route tracking feature could prove useful. The watch supports GPX (GPS Exchange Format) files and lets you use turn-by-turn route navigation and trackbacks. It is useful, however, does require a bit of a convoluted method to create and get GPX files onto the watch. On that note, you may need to subscribe to a third-party service to create GPX files. Take a look at this tutorial to get GPX files onto your Watch5 Pro. It’s also a little odd that there’s no support for trail running or mountain biking, but perhaps this could be added at a later stage. It’s a good start, nonetheless, so let’s hope Samsung continues to build and enhance this feature.

 

Performance

Over the course of the review, I found the Watch5 Pro pleasant to use on a daily basis. It goes about its business without much fuss and certainly works well with my Samsung Z Fold4. I like that most of the features are automatic, which means it’s something I can wear and forget. 

My favorite features are the Automatic Workout Detection, advanced sleep monitoring, and the surprising Body Composition tool. And the fact that it supports a plethora of activities is a bonus.  Battery life was consistent throughout, giving me around two full days of use, with me having to plug it in on the third day. The user interface is fairly intuitive, and I do like the watch faces. With improvements Samsung has injected into Samsung Health and the Galaxy Watch series, I’d say the platform is maturing nicely. 

Verdict

At RM1,899, I’d say the Watch5 Pro is an excellent buy. Backed by better smart features than most smartwatches, it’s also more affordable than most flagship multisport GPS watches. As Samsung intended, this Pro piece is targeted at the niche crowd of active, adventurous people, but that’s not to say that it can’t be the watch for everyone else (if your wrist fits). In my opinion, it’s the best smartwatch for Android devices in the market today.

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