If you’re looking at the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 (or the Watch 6 Classic) then the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro also needs to be part of your consideration.
Despite launching two new smartwatches, Samsung has kept the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro on sale as part of its current line-up.
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is pitched as a smartwatch designed for the outdoors. And while we don’t quite recommend it for life in the wilderness, it features a significantly bigger battery than the Watch 6 duo.
And that might mean, for many people, it’s the best Samsung Galaxy Watch to buy right now.
Read on for all the key decisions, and our take on which is the best for you.
Price and comparison
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro costs $449/£429 but is already available for less than $400 on Amazon. So if you bide your time and do your research, there are good deals to be had.
In terms of the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, it costs $429/£399 for the larger 47mm version, which feels like the natural competitor here.
So, there's very little difference in terms of price – but a fair amount in terms of functionality.
The standard Galaxy Watch 6 fairs a little better. It costs $299/£289 so a fair chunk of change less than the Watch 5 Pro.
Design and screen
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro comes in a single 45mm size. The watch case is also made from titanium, so it's lightweight given the big battery inside. It tips the scales at 46g, which is around the same as the standard 44mm Galaxy Watch 6 and 10g less than the 47mm Watch 6 Classic.
The display is a 1.4-inch AMOLED with a 450 x 450 resolution display.
The Watch 6 Classic (47mm) and Watch 6 (44mm) boast a 1.5-inch AMOLED. (You get 1.3-inch on the 40/43mm versions) so it's larger than the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
Reduced bezel sizes and better screen-to-body ratio of the Galaxy Watch 6 pair make more a better experience, although the differences in real-world usage are fairly minimal.
Wear OS 4
The key addition to the Galaxy Watch 6 and 6 Classic is Wear OS 4, and it’s the updated OS that’s delivered many of the new features, such as heart rate zone training and improved sleep tracking.
The Galaxy Watch 6 and 6 Classic ships with Wear OS 4 and all of these new features out of the box.
But the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro will get Wear OS 4 in the coming months.
That means that if you choose the Watch 5 Pro you’re going to get all of these shiny new features. But the ETA is still unknown, and Wear OS watches have a poor track record when it comes to getting timely updates.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro features an enormous battery capacity. Samsung included a 590mAh capacity battery that it says should deliver a typical usage time of up to 80 hours, which is just over 3 days. It also quotes 20 hours of GPS battery life. This is realistic, based on our testing, but of course depends on exactly how you use the features.
Conversely, the Watch 6 Classic and Watch have smaller 425mAh batteries. Samsung says that you can get 40 hours between charges – but only 30 hours if you use the always-on display. Given that an hour workout can deplete the battery by around 20%, it means that battery life can be less than a day, which isn’t great.
The upshot is that if battery life is a concern, it makes the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro the best choice, over the newer Watch 6.
The key differences in features are part of Wear OS 4, so the Galaxy Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic benefit from improved sleep tracking and heart rate zone training.
The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic provided some of the most accurate sleep tracking we’ve tested during our review period. It tracks both time in bed and actual sleep, with a sleep score, and a chronotype feature that aims to help you better understand your sleep habits. There’s also a sleep coach, which is a four-week plan designed to help you get better rest.
We were also impressed by the heart rate training zone feature – which is underpinned by the excellent accuracy of the Watch 6 sensor.
It’s easy to start a zone-based workout, and while setting up your run you can choose a zone to workout in. It could be more user-friendly by assisting in the choice of heart rate zone for real-world outcomes (e.g. endurance building or fat burning). But overall, it’s not only easy to set up a workout but also follow along using the excellent interface.
There have also been improvements to Samsung Wallet for carrying boarding passes, tickets, and bank cards.
All of these features will come to the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, but as we mentioned earlier, a date for that update isn’t set. If you want them now, then it’s best to choose the Galaxy Watch 6.
However, if you’re looking for mapping and navigation features, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro does have some unique features.
You can upload GPX files and maps via the Health app, which can be created or downloaded from services such as Komoot. With the added battery life, it means the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro can be a partner for off-the-beaten-track outdoor runs or workouts. But we’d certainly choose something like a Garmin Fenix, Instinct 2X or dedicated sports watch if you have these kinds of activities in mind.
Health and activity tracking
If you’re wondering about health and sports features, then the performance is pretty much the same across these two devices – apart from sleep and zone training, which we covered earlier.
Both the Galaxy Watch 6 and Watch 5 Pro have ECG, blood pressure (validated by a cuff), and the BIA body composition sensor.
Both have GPS on board – and standard five system GPS – but not multiband, which offers the best accuracy. That powers the same selection of workout profiles, with a host of sports on board. These will also be recognized automatically, too.
We found good levels of heart rate accuracy within steady workouts across Watch 5 Pro and Watch 6. If you start jumping about and doing HIIT then you will find inaccuracies, but running workouts are tracked with aplomb.
Likewise, there’s also stress tracking, blood oxygen tracking, and general heart rate monitoring on board as well.
With so little in price between the Watch 6 Classic and Watch 5 Pro, it feels like the extra battery life will suit most people.
We're big fans of the Watch 6 duo, but battery life anxiety is sadly still part of the mix. Especially if you want to use the excellent on-board sleep monitoring.
But buying the Watch 5 Pro means waiting for the new features to land with Wear OS 4. And no-one can tell you how long that wait will be. So if sleep tracking or heart rate zone training are high on your wishlist, it could be better to choose the Watch 6.
How we test