Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Review: Best Android Smartwatch Money Can Buy?

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is one of the best Android smartwatches on the market.

Android smartwatches have peaked, and Samsung has played a significant role in the upbringing of the industry. For years, the Galaxy Watch series has been the go-to choice for people looking for a reliable watch that can show accurate health and fitness data. Samsung finally made way for WearOS with the Galaxy Watch 4 series launch after having used their in-house operating system — Tizen, for a long time. This can be seen on the Galaxy Watch 5 series as well. While one may think there’s no more room for improvement, the South Korean company feels differently.

At a starting price of Rs 27,999, the Galaxy Watch 5 retails at a slightly higher price than its predecessor. However, unlike last time, the Galaxy Watch 5 is also available in a Pro variant with route navigation features and a bigger battery. After having used it for over a week, here’s why we feel that the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is among the best Android smartwatch on the market.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Review: Pricing and availability

The Galaxy Watch 5 is available in 40mm and 44mm sizes with Bluetooth and LTE variant options. It comes in a 40mm case with Bluetooth and retails for Rs 27,999, while the larger 44mm case variant is available for Rs 30,999. As for LTE variants, the 40mm case is available for Rs 32,999, with the 44mm case priced at Rs 35,999. For this review, we have the highest variant with LTE. The Watch 5 comes in three colour trims – Sapphire Blue, Graphite and Silver. The 40mm variant is also available in a Pink Gold colour variant.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Review: Goodbye physical bezel

The Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro have different selling points in terms of design. The former targets young folks who are more into fitness, while the latter seems more suited for casual use. We have the Sapphire Blue colourway of the Galaxy Watch 5, and it’s probably the most attractive and soothing colour of the lot. The watch feels and looks quite premium while also giving off sporty vibes. The strap is made out of good quality materials, and even after wearing it daily for more than a week, we did not feel any irritation on our skin. The strap, even after going through multiple workout sessions and showers, did not collect residue. It’s a standard 20mm strap that can be switched for another if you want to mix and match things. The straps can be removed using the quick-release pins at the watch’s back. The Galaxy Watch 5 weighs 33.5 grams with the straps, and you can barely feel the watch on your hands. However, it can be a bit uncomfortable while sleeping if you are someone who tends to switch positions a lot. We felt that for the initial days but then got accustomed to it.

The right side of the watch features two physical buttons and a microphone. The placements are quite similar to the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. The top button has a red ring around it for distinction. It acts as a home key, while the bottom button acts as a back key. Both have satisfying tactile feedback. The speaker grille is neatly hidden under the case on the left side. The back side of the watch holds Samsung’s BioActive sensor. This helps in monitoring heart rate and SpO2. Samsung says they have designed the curvature of the underside a bit differently than its predecessors so that the sensors make good contact with the skin. This is said to bring more accurate readings. The watch is comfortable to wear, and the fit is snug. However, because of the changes made on the underside, it now slightly protrudes from your hand.

While the Galaxy Watch 5 can be more of an incremental upgrade to the Galaxy Watch 4, it brings some important changes, especially in the durability department. Samsung has walked away from Gorilla Glass protection for the Watch 5 series and is instead using sapphire crystal glass for the display. Technically, it’s a crystal, not glass, so it’s more durable — something the adventurous folks will appreciate. The Galaxy Watch 5 sports a 1.2-inch SuperAMOLED display at the front with a resolution of 396×396 pixels.

The colours on display look really good, and the touch response is decent, but the software seems to have some flaws — we’ll get back to that in some time. One of our gripes with the Galaxy Watch 5 has to be the removal of the physical rotating bezel. This has been replaced with a touch bezel, something we saw with the Galaxy Watch Active 2 a couple of years ago. While this works flawlessly, the satisfaction of rotating a physical bezel was something that we loved to fidget with. Besides, the click it provided was also delightful. Sadly, this has been removed on both the vanilla and Pro variants.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Review: Runs on WearOS but still feels like Tizen

The Galaxy Watch 5 is powered by the same Exynos W920 processor used in its predecessor. The Watch 5 runs in Google WearOS which means you can download third-party apps from the Google Play Store instead of downloading them from the Samsung Store. Besides, you won’t have to be stuck with Samsung Health and can instead use Google Fit and other Google apps. There’s no change on the software front in comparison to the Galaxy Watch 4. Arguably the only new thing included in this year’s edition is a bunch of watch faces. The new designs look quite stunning.

After waking up the watch, the digits show some graphical changes, which indicate you can now interact with the watch. Besides that, you can customise most of the watch faces according to your liking. Gestures, too, are similar to that of the TizenOS. Swiping down brings the quick toggles, and swiping up brings up the app list. Swiping to the right shows you all the recent notifications, and swiping left gives you access to all the tiles, such as workouts and stuff. Stock apps such as Calendar, Clock, Messages, and Maps are available. With the help of the Google Play Store, you can download more apps that support WearOS.

During our review period with the Galaxy Watch 5, we noticed that the software had slight delays when swiping through the UI. This is something we hope can be fixed with an update. Also, while the Galaxy Watch 5 runs on WearOS — the residue of Tizen can be clearly seen. To start with, instead of using the WearOS app, you’ll require the Galaxy Wear app to pair your watch to a smartphone. The second hint would be logging in to Samsung Health to record your sleep data and track workouts.

Adding to the caveats, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 cannot be paired with an iPhone. Samsung’s in-house Bixby is still part of the ecosystem and can be enabled by long pressing the home button. We tried installing Google Assistant, which is unfortunately restricted to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the UK and the United States of America as of now. Indians are pretty much stuck with Bixby.

In our day-to-day life, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 worked pretty well. Replying to messages on the watch itself is relatively easy. It gives you a bunch of keyboard options, including swipes, voice-to-text and normal input. We found all of them to be accurate. The Galaxy Watch 5 delivers all the notifications on time, and we were also able to attend calls directly from the watch. The speakers were loud enough, and the person on the other side was content with the microphone quality. The Watch is IP68 rated for water and dust resistance. Taking it for showers is not an issue at all. You can take it for swimming as it tracks your laps too. We used the Galaxy Watch 5 to listen to some songs using YouTube Music, especially in the shower. It also allows you to download music for later.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Review: Up for a run?

If you are someone who is into fitness a lot, this watch could be a game changer for you — similar to almost every other edition of the Galaxy Watch. The watch has a bunch of workout presets on it — ranging from running, cycling, and walking to circuit training and more. The Galaxy Watch 5, without a doubt, counts the steps accurately and even counts them in the activity tab without you having to start it manually. The watch also logs in active time and calories burned throughout the day. For example, if you are walking for about 10 minutes, the watch automatically detects the movement and starts the activity. This also happened when we were out dancing, so that could cause some confusion for the watch, nevertheless you are possibly fulfilling your daily step count, so it’s a win-win situation. 

The Galaxy Watch 5 also monitors your heart rate and blood oxygen. We found them to be very accurate when compared to medical instruments. SpO2 readings can take some time since they require you to stay absolutely still. Even after sitting like a statue, the Watch 5 showed an error. On the other hand, heart rate monitoring can be set to record manually, every time, or every 10 minutes. Sleep monitoring is absolutely accurate and very consistent. Unlike Apple’s watch, you don’t have to set a bedtime mode manually. The Watch 5 detects when you fall asleep and wake up on its own. However, the scoring system can be a bit confusing. Even after spending about nine hours on a bed, we scored 71. This indicates that even a slight change in your REM, deep, and light sleep can take a toll on the scores. 

Nevertheless, we slept like a baby. This year, Samsung has introduced a sleep coaching feature into the Health app. It aims to help you sleep better by logging in to your records and analysing them. It offers a 4-week course to improve your sleep. Besides this, Samsung Health can also record if you are snoring. However, this requires you to keep the phone close to your mouth throughout the night, which we weren’t very comfortable with.

The Galaxy Watch 5 also has a feature that can compute your body composition. This feature is available in the Galaxy Watch 4 series as well. It essentially calculates your body fat, skeletal muscle, fat mass, BMI, and other data similar to instruments found in a gym. Globally, the Galaxy Watch 5 records ECG and blood pressure, too. Sadly, that’s not activated here yet.

MySmartPrice has reached out to Samsung for some clarity on that, and we’ll update the review once we get a response. Unfortunately, Google Assistant and ECG haven’t been available in Galaxy Watches in India since the Galaxy Watch 4 series launch. We expect Samsung to have fixed those by now, but sadly that does not seem to be the case.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Review: Improved battery life

We have been using the Galaxy Watch Active 2 daily since its launch, and the battery life of that was very poor. However, Samsung has come far since that, and with the Galaxy Watch 5, they’ve promised 50 hours of runtime for the 44mm variant. A lasting battery is crucial for smartwatches, as charging them can be a bigger drag than charging a smartphone. It packs in a 410mAh battery for the 44mm variant, while the 40mm variant has a 284mAh battery. During our review period, the watch could run for 2 days, always on display enabled, and the heart rate monitor turned off.

Our day usually starts a bit late, at around 9 or 10 am and with the battery charged to the brim, we could see the watch still running at 50% at midnight. We used the watch for GPS, music, notifications, and calls. Of course, the battery gets a slight scare when you start tracking activities with the GPS and heart rate monitor enabled at all times. But we were still content with its battery life. With the always-on display disabled, you can get the Galaxy Watch 5 to last well over 3 days. The raise to wake up feature works flawlessly, which is also doable.

Samsung bundles a USB Type-C to a magnetic puck cable inside the box for charging. The Galaxy Watch 5 took somewhere around 1 hour and 30 minutes to charge from the dead. With 10 minutes of charging, the watch can take you through the night with sleep tracking enabled, so that’s good.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Review: Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is the best Android smartwatch on the market. If you are already using the Galaxy Watch 4, upgrading to the Watch 5 wouldn’t make much sense considering the upgrades are incremental. The display is fantastic, and the colours pop well. The sapphire crystal glass is an excellent addition to the display, although we haven’t had any accidents with the watch to test the durability of the screen. WearOS on the Galaxy Watch 5 was a good decision as it opens up opportunities for customisation and increases the use case. Besides, you don’t have to be stuck in a particular ecosystem.

Tracking your activities has always been one of the selling points of the Galaxy Watch series, and they have pretty much aced it here too. Sleep tracking on the watch is commendable. The battery life has slightly improved, and after switching to USB-C, the charging is also slightly faster, so that’s good. ECG and blood pressure readings would have been a good addition to this entire package, but sadly that does not seem to be available in India as of now. Removing the physical bezel is a big letdown for us, as the touch bezel does not feel natural.

At a starting price of Rs 27,999, the Galaxy Watch 5 proves to be a worthy purchase. This will be one of our recommendations for people looking for an all-rounder on their wrist while also not making a hole in their wallet.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

₹27,999
8.4

DESIGN

8.5/10

DISPLAY

8.5/10

BUILD QUALITY

8.5/10

FEATURES

8.5/10

BATTERY LIFE

8.0/10

APP FEATURES

8.5/10

VALUE FOR MONEY

8.5/10

What Is Good?

  • Amazing display
  • Decent battery life
  • Excellent sleep monitoring
  • Good quality microphone, speaker

What Is Bad?

  • No ECG and blood pressure readings in India
  • Google Assistant cannot be installed in some regions
  • Slightly laggy UI at times
  • Removal of the physical bezel

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Robin is a reviewer at MySmartPrice who fiddles with everything tech and gaming. In the past, he has worked in the video field with some of the known names in the industry including NDTV Gadgets 360, Dhananjay Tech, and more. Besides gawking at newly launched smartphones, you can find Robin spend his free time playing first-person shooter games or FIFA. Spoiler alert: he's a noob at both. He's also an avid football fan and will be friends with anyone who loves Real Madrid.