Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: peak of Android smartwatches

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

MSRP $279.99

“The Galaxy Watch 5 is removed from an exciting upgrade over the Watch 4. But in the event you’re getting your first Wear OS smartwatch or upgrading from an older model, it’s probably the greatest available in 2022.”


  • Lightweight, comfortable design
  • Robust health tracking
  • AMOLED screen looks excellent
  • Quick access to Google apps
  • Very fast charging speeds


  • Skin temperature tracking not yet available
  • Falls in need of battery life claims

To date, 2022 has been a yr of iterative updates for much of Samsung’s portfolio, and the Galaxy Watch 5 is probably the most effective example of that. the Galaxy Watch 5 and its predecessor side by side, it’s difficult to inform what’s different. Each smartwatches have the identical chipset, nearly an identical designs, similar health features, etc.

But look somewhat closer, and also you begin to see what makes the Galaxy Watch 5 tick. It boasts a bigger battery, faster charging, a more durable design, and improved accuracy for health tracking. None of those are groundbreaking upgrades, but they once more prove that Samsung is amongst the most effective within the business for Wear OS watches.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Design

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 laying on a bench.Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The iterative nature of the Galaxy Watch 5 is seen immediately in its design. The Galaxy Watch 5 is available in 40mm and 44mm sizes, with my review unit being the previous. The one real physical difference with the Watch 5 is the 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor on the underside, which is larger than before to get you more accurate health data. The Watch 5 can be barely heavier, with the 40mm model weighing 28.7 grams in comparison with the 25.9 grams of heft for the 40mm Watch 4.

Otherwise, the Galaxy Watch 5 is virtually an identical to its predecessor. But that’s removed from a foul thing in my book. The aluminum casing is sleek and minimalistic, just how I personally prefer my smartwatches to look. The 2 power buttons are splendidly clicky, the 20mm watch bands may be easily swapped out with some other styles you’d like, and the Watch 5 feels extremely comfortable to wear throughout a full day of use. Even with the heavier body in comparison with the Watch 4, the Watch 5 has never been uncomfortable or fatiguing to wear. It’s considered one of those smartwatches you throw in your wrist and quickly forget it’s even there.

The 44mm Watch 5, and even larger Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, can be found in the event you prefer an even bigger watch. But as someone with very tiny wrists, I like that Samsung retains the 40mm size to cater to folks like myself who can’t comfortably wear big watches. It’s something that many other Wear OS options are likely to overlook, so it’s great to see Samsung having something available for people of all wrist sizes.

Just like the Watch 4, you possibly can swipe on the bezel surrounding the Watch 5’s display to scroll through apps or navigate menus. It’s a fantastic idea and is great when it really works, but I often found myself fighting with the feature. Sometimes, the touch bezel navigates easily and takes me where I expect. Other times, nonetheless, it either doesn’t register my finger or scrolls far too quickly — forcing me to fiddle with it to get to the page I need. It’s higher than nothing, but I’d have much somewhat preferred a rotating crown/slug, or for Samsung to resurrect the rotating bezel it’s so intent on killing.

Beyond that, there’s not rather more to say in regards to the Galaxy Watch 5’s design. It’s removed from essentially the most inventive or original-looking smartwatch, however the execution in (almost) every regard is top-notch. With a snug on-wrist experience, great buttons, and simply swappable watch bands, there’s little to complain about here.

Galaxy Watch 5: Screen

Someone wearing the Galaxy Watch 5, looking at the app drawer.Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Something else that leaves little to complain about is the Galaxy Watch 5’s screen. The 40mm model gives you a 1.2-inch 396 x 396 screen, while the 44mm ramps things as much as a 1.4-inch panel with a 450 x 450 resolution. No matter which size you select, each versions feature a Super AMOLED display with “full color, at all times on” functionality.

Samsung is known for delivering a few of the most effective screens on smartphones, and that expertise carries over just as well to smartwatches. After wearing the 40mm Galaxy Watch 5 for somewhat over every week, I’ve been thoroughly completely happy with every aspect of its screen. Colours are brilliant and punchy in the easiest way possible, the ambient light sensor routinely increases/decreases brightness if you need it to, and the Watch 5 gets brilliant enough that it’s easily viewable even in direct sunlight. I used to be apprehensive about having difficulty viewing the screen while walking the High Line in Manhattan with the sun beating down on me, but even then, I never had an issue reading the Galaxy Watch 5’s display.

Always-on screen on the Galaxy Watch 5.Joe Maring/Digital Trends

And as hinted at above, the Galaxy Watch 5 supports an always-on display function. It’s not turned on by default, but you possibly can easily enable it from the Settings app. Most watch faces show pops of color of their always-on mode, and in the event you open an app after which put your wrist down, a basic white clock shows the time over it.

My one and only grievance in regards to the Galaxy Watch 5’s display is the responsiveness of its always-on screen. After lifting your wrist to have a look at the watch, you have got to attend a beat before the display switches from always-on to its fully engaged mode. Removed from a deal breaker, it’s considered one of those things I notice throughout the day.

Galaxy Watch 5: Performance

Quick settings panel on the Galaxy Watch 5.Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Powering the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is Samsung’s Exynos W920 chipset, 1.5GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. If those specs sound familiar to you, that’s because they’re the exact same as they were on the Galaxy Watch 4.

For essentially the most part, the Galaxy Watch 5 is an incredible performer. Apps open quickly, menus (sometimes) scroll easily, and opening Samsung Pay or Google Assistant using the physical buttons is instantaneous. But a 100% seamless experience isn’t provided by the Watch 5.

During my time wearing the Galaxy Watch 5, I’ve often noticed little inconsistencies with the UX. Swiping right down to view the fast settings pane often takes multiple tries. When scrolling through my tiles, it’s not unusual to see glitchy animations. The Watch 5 at all times does what I ask of it — and frequently does it in a short time — but it surely all still feels somewhat rough around the perimeters. The Exynos W920 is a superbly fantastic chip for the watch, but I can’t help but wonder if things would have been higher with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1.

Galaxy Watch 5: Battery life and charging

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, sitting on its charger.Joe Maring/Digital Trends

If you happen to read any of Samsung’s marketing for the Galaxy Watch 5, you’ll see the corporate claiming that its latest smartwatch can get 40 to 50 hours of battery life per charge — a completely massive hop over the 18 hours of endurance Apple guarantees for the Apple Watch Series 7. Combined with a battery increase from 361 mAh within the Watch 4 to a 410 mAh cell within the Watch 5, all of the makings are there for legendary endurance.

In practice, the Galaxy Watch 5 has totally acceptable battery life, but it surely’s nowhere near the 40 to 50 hours Samsung claims. Most of my days with the Watch 5 weren’t very intensive. It tracks my steps throughout the day, receives a gentle stream of notifications from my Galaxy Z Flip 4, and has the always-on display enabled. With this use — combined with a couple of Google Assistant questions — I ended someday with 41% remaining after 14 hours and 12 minutes of use. Following just below 7 hours of sleep tracking, I woke as much as the Galaxy Watch 5 with 18% battery remaining after 22 hours and 37 minutes of total usage.

If you happen to plan on using the Watch 5 for actual workouts as a substitute of basic step tracking throughout the day, prepare for the battery to empty even faster. After recording six outdoor walking sessions — totaling 1 hour and 27 minutes — combined with frequent notifications and an always-on screen, the Galaxy Watch 5 had 24% battery remaining following 17 hours and 24 minutes of usage.

That is fantastic battery life, and higher than what I see with my Apple Watch Series 7. You would possibly have the ability to squeeze out 50 hours of use in the event you disable the always-on screen, limit your notification intake, keep the brightness to a minimum, etc. But in the event you plan on using the Galaxy Watch 5 with the features which can be available, expect closer to 24 hours of use and never rather more. It’s good endurance, just in no way within the ballpark of what Samsung is promoting.

Where Samsung’s claims do hold true is charging. In accordance with Samsung, faster charging support means the Galaxy Watch 5 can rise up to 45% extra battery after just half-hour, due to 10-watt charging speeds. Interestingly enough, I discovered the Galaxy Watch 5 to charge even faster than that.

After charging for 12 minutes, the Galaxy Watch 5 consistently gains over 20%of  battery life. After half-hour of charging, my Galaxy Watch 5 often gets over 60% battery back — far beyond the 45% claim Samsung makes. To get the watch from 0 to 100%, you’ll have to wait around 1 hour and 12 minutes. This was all done using my 61W RavPower charging brick and the included charging cable that comes with the Galaxy Watch 5. Your mileage may vary depending on the charging adapter you employ, but when you have got something more powerful than 10W, the Watch 5 seems to make the most of it and not using a problem.

Annoyingly, the Galaxy Watch 5 still uses the more restrictive WPC charging tech as a substitute of Qi, meaning it only charges with the included charger within the box or an authorized one from Samsung. Unlike your phone or wireless earbuds with wireless charging, you possibly can’t just place the Galaxy Watch 5 on any charger and expect it to work.

Galaxy Watch 5: Software

Holding the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. The weather app is open.Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 ships with Wear OS 3.5 and Samsung’s One UI Watch 4.5 software layered on top. The interface is just about an identical to the Watch 4’s, featuring a wide range of gestures so that you can get around. The fundamentals are as follows:

  • Swipe right down to view your Quick Settings
  • Swipe as much as see your apps
  • Swipe right to view notifications
  • Swipe left to cycle through tiles (aka widgets)
  • Press and hold on the watch face to pick a latest one

After familiarizing yourself with the assorted gestures for a couple of minutes, navigating One UI Watch 4.5 is a chunk of cake. Every part is within sight from the watch face, the software is visually pleasing to have a look at, and you possibly can fully customize the 2 physical buttons to open apps, trigger a voice assistant, and more. Google Assistant can be available right out of the box — something that wasn’t available on the Watch 4 until months after release. And it really works thoroughly! I press and hold the highest button, the Assistant pops up immediately, and it answers my questions/commands inside a second.

One UI Watch 4.5 isn’t a big change from One UI Watch 4.0 that shipped on the Watch 4 last yr, but there are a few meaningful changes. You’ll be able to now reply to messages using a full QWERTY keyboard that supports tap and swipe typing. Swipe typing has been somewhat difficult to tug off, but tapping away at characters – combined with generous autocorrect — has been a surprisingly good experience. You can even now change your approach to input at any time. Simply swipe up from the keyboard and switch to voice dictation, handwriting, or emojis at any time when you’d like.

Keyboard on Galaxy Watch 5.

Google Assistant on Galaxy Watch 5.

  • 1.
    QWERTY keyboard
  • 2.
    Google Assistant

Higher input isn’t the one latest thing in One UI Watch 4.5. This latest version of the software supports dual-SIM switching if you have got multiple SIMs in your Galaxy smartphone, easier access to accessibility features, and more customization options for Samsung’s included watch faces.

All of this works incredibly well and at last makes Wear OS feel like a completely realized smartwatch platform. Apart from one remaining pain point: apps.

It’s been a protracted time since I wore a Wear OS watch as my every day wearable, and I used to be hoping that the app selection can be improved in comparison with my last time with the platform. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

The Joe Maring/Digital Trends

To Google and Samsung’s credit, having quick access to apps like Google Maps, Google Assistant, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, and Samsung Health is great. However the minute you begin in search of third-party applications, it’s disappointingly barren.

Whenever you open the Play Store on the Watch 5, you possibly can quickly tap the Apps in your phone button to see which of your phone applications have Wear OS equivalents. The one non-Google and Samsung ones I discovered were Outlook and Bring (a grocery list app I take advantage of). There’s no Starbucks app, Delta app, United app, Telegram app, Authy app, Facebook Messenger app, ESPN app — you get the purpose. Wear OS has been around since 2014, and despite being in the marketplace for over eight years, its app selection continues to be extremely lacking. That’s not a fault of the Galaxy Watch 5 specifically, but somewhat a bigger problem for Wear OS that Google has yet to search out an answer for.

Galaxy Watch 5: Health tracking

The Galaxy Watch 5, showing the health tracking widget.Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Health tracking is a significant component of just about every smartwatch today, and the Galaxy Watch 5 isn’t any different. The three-in-1 BioActive Sensor on the underside of the Watch 5 powers its health-tracking feature set. This includes step tracking, auto workout detection, manual workout tracking for 90-plus exercises, and built-in sleep tracking with a Sleep Coaching platform that creates personalized sleep programs. There’s also 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, SpO2 tracking, an ECG app for A-fib detection, and the identical Bioelectrical Impedance Evaluation sensor from the Watch 4 — allowing you to see your body fat, skeletal muscle, body water, and other stats inside seconds.

The brand new health sensor this yr is a skin temperature sensor, but on the time of publication, I actually have nothing to say about it. That’s since the sensor isn’t actually available for Watch 5 owners to make use of. It’s an interesting addition and one that ought to hopefully be activated soon, but Samsung hasn’t provided an ETA for when that’ll be. Considering how long it took for Google Assistant to reach on the Watch 4, don’t be surprised in the event you find yourself waiting months to make use of it.

While that sounds overwhelming, Samsung does a very good job of presenting every thing in an easy-to-digest manner. The predominant Samsung Health app on the Watch 5 houses all your data in a single place — including your every day activity, steps, sleep, heart rate, etc. You can even use quite a few health-related tiles, including a sleep tile, body composition tile, exercise tile, and more for quick access to those stats next to your watch face.

Body composition on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.Joe Maring/Digital Trends

During my time with the Galaxy Watch 5, all of the information it collected seemed quite accurate. My heart rate was at all times inside range of what I expected it to be, step tracking looked good, automatic workout detection worked flawlessly, and sleep tracking performed just as well. The Galaxy Watch 5 shows how long you slept, how long you spent in various sleep stages, calories burned during sleep, and your minimum blood oxygen level. It’ll even work together with your Samsung Galaxy phone to trace your snoring in the event you’d like.

I can’t speak to how robust the Galaxy Watch 5’s health platform is for a serious or skilled athlete, but as an informal fitness one who enjoys a couple of walks and runs throughout the week, I’ve been completely happy with the Galaxy Watch 5. From tracking a workout and my sleep to my fat mass, it collects loads of information.

My only suggestion to Samsung can be to do something more with that data that I can actually act on. It’s neat seeing my body composition, what my every day activity looks like, and the way I’m shifting between sleep stages at night. But because it currently stands, neither the Samsung Health app on the Watch 5 or my Samsung phone offers meaningful insights into what all of those numbers mean. The information is there and presented clearly, but the main points behind all of those numbers could possibly be explained higher.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is out there for pre-order now and can officially go on sale on August 26. Pricing starts at $280 for the 40mm model with Wi-Fi. Adding LTE to the 40mm Watch 5 increases the value to $330. There’s also the 44mm Galaxy Watch 5 with the identical Wi-Fi and LTE configurations, which retail for $310 and $360, respectively.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Our take

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 sitting on a succulent.Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Identical to the Watch 4, the Galaxy Watch 5 is again probably the greatest Wear OS watches you possibly can buy. However the Watch 5 mainly holds onto that crown because its predecessor was so good, somewhat than since it does anything latest or exciting. From the design and display to the chipset and health-tracking sensors, a lot of the Watch 5 is a repackaging of what worked with the Watch 4. If it felt like Samsung had peaked with its smartwatch formula last yr, that feeling is much more pronounced with the Watch 5.

That’s not an exciting description on paper, but it surely finally ends up serving the Watch 5 quite well in every day use. Every part that was great in regards to the Watch 4 continues to be here. And combined with the improvements that Samsung did make — just like the larger battery and faster charging — you again find yourself with probably the greatest smartwatches to pair together with your Android phone.

Does that mean everyone should rush out and buy the Galaxy Watch 5 this very easy? No. If you happen to have already got a Galaxy Watch 4, there’s no point in upgrading to its successor. And in the event you’re OK waiting a bit longer, it’s value seeing what Google has up its sleeve with the Pixel Watch coming this fall. But in the event you do need a smartwatch in your Android device and wish to purchase one today, the Galaxy Watch 5 is amongst the most effective we will recommend.

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