Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review

Our full verdict on Samsung's most outdoorsy smartwatch yet
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
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The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro aims to supercharge the company's smartwatch range with bigger battery life numbers and a renewed focus.

Instead of releasing another traditional-looking Galaxy Watch Classic, like in previous years, the company has instead taken a punt on something it hopes will appeal to the outdoors crowd.

The Pro, then, is an aspiring sports watch in a smartwatch body - kind of like the new Apple Watch Ultra, which releases in mid-September.

And at $449 / £429 - or $499 / £479 for the LTE version - it comes in pricier than the standard Galaxy Watch 5.

For that jump in price, there's a new health sensor, longer battery life and features you won't find on the standard model.

We spent weeks putting Samsung's latest flagship model through its paces - here's our comprehensive verdict.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Design and screen

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro on wrist

For the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, Samsung has essentially ripped up the design script used to deliver the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.

You don't get two size options here, and it simply doesn't feel as showy as the Classic. You're still using a combination of physical buttons and touchscreen to interact with the Watch 5 Pro, but the physical rotating bezel, which has become a well-liked feature on Samsung's most recent smartwatches, has gone.

There's now a digital version, but it's a feature that feels less relevant now that Samsung has moved to an operating system that doesn't seem to embrace it in any kind of useful way.

Samsung has also decided to scale the size of the bezel, offering one that only slightly protrudes over the screen and acts as a guard for the touchscreen display. The display uses sapphire crystal to provide some extra scratch resistance, as well.

samsung galaxy watch 5 v galaxy watch 5 size comparison

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 (left) and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro (right)

The watch case is also made from titanium, which is a move away from the stainless steel used on the Watch 4 Classic. It's now a 45mm case, which makes it bigger than both Galaxy Watch 5 models, and it's also 1mm smaller than the largest Watch 4 Classic model.

Samsung partners up the case with a 20mm removable strap it's calling a D-Buckle band. It's made from a sweat-resistant fluoroelastomer material and uses magnets in the buckle to keep it in place.

We'd say the band was initially awkward to get to the appropriate length and, even then, the end of the band had a habit of slightly poking out from underneath the other end of the strap on our skinny wrists. It has stayed put and remained comfortable, though, and it hasn't caused any irritations.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro buckle

Something Samsung rarely gets wrong on its smartwatches is the display. Its AMOLED screens are some of the best in the business and it's no different on the Watch 5 Pro.

It's a 1.4-inch, 450 x 450 resolution display, which is actually the same size as the one included on the larger, 44mm Galaxy Watch 5. It's also a display that can remain always on, though this does come at the expense of battery life. You have a good range of brightness, too, and the raise-to-wake gesture support certainly feels more responsive than it did on the Galaxy Watch 4.

It felt fine to view indoors and outdoors, but, as is the case with AMOLED screens in general, it doesn't excel in bright outdoor light.

Samsung hasn't budged on the level of waterproofing you can expect on its new Watch 5 Pro, either. You're getting something that's good to be submerged in water up to 50 meters, meaning you can put both pool and open water swimming modes to the test.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro on wrist

We should also quickly mention an optional extra that Samsung is serving up in some regions - one that gives the Pro further protection against bumps and scratches.

It's a £12 plastic case cover that clips onto the watch, which, despite cutting around the buttons and offering some decent protection, does mean you lose that titanium finish to a cheaper overall look.

All in all, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a real departure from the Watch 4 Classic, and it feels closely aligned with the Galaxy Watch 5.

It's not an especially memorable design, and it doesn't scream outdoor watch, either. So, while we're generally happy with the look, the decision to move away from the Classic look will no doubt disappoint those who liked the idea of a Samsung smartwatch with some traditional watch styling.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: WearOS and smartwatch features

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro wear os features

If you're looking for a strong smartwatch experience, complete with slick software, good notification support, and access to good quality apps, you're going to be largely happy with what you'll find on the Watch 5 Pro.

That's as long as you're an Android phone user, because, once again, Samsung is not showing any love to iPhone users. From an Android point of view, Samsung's smartwatch skills are arguably the strongest, and they do get better with Google's Wear OS, but the leap from what we got on the Watch 4 to the Watch 5 doesn't feel all that huge based on our time with it.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro app experience

It's running Wear OS 3.5 with Samsung's Watch UI laid on top. Swiping all directions from the main watch face screen gets you to the same places as it did on the Watch 4, and you need the Galaxy Wearable, Samsung Health and Samsung Health Monitor phone apps to get the most out of all of the onboard features. If you don't own a Samsung smartphone, you're also not going to be able to use the blood pressure and ECG features tied to the Samsung Health Monitor app, either, which is a real shame.

As we say, we've struggled to find anything remarkably different from the Wear OS we used on the Watch 4. The most notable difference is the addition of Google Assistant, which is a significant upgrade on Samsung's own Bixby smart assistant (which is still there), handling all our queries and requests in a reliable fashion after a pretty quick and easy setup on our phone.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro messaging

The notification support on the Watch 5 Pro means you can view images sent in messages, and you can use quick replies to respond, too. However, it feels like the kind of support Samsung's watches offered pre-Wear OS.

You've got Samsung apps like Pay and the Galaxy Buds Controller, as well, and Google Play Store access means you can grab revamped Wear OS apps like Strava and music apps like Spotify for offline listening.

We should also note that we had the Bluetooth-only model to test, but there's also LTE support for the Watch 5 Pro if you want that added cellular connectivity (for an added price).

Overall, the Watch 5 Pro is very good as a smartwatch, but, in terms of offering anything radically different from what we saw on the Galaxy Watch 4, that's simply not the case here.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Mapping and navigation features

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro mapping and navigation

Before getting into the sports, health and fitness tracking abilities, we're going to talk first about one feature that separates the Watch 5 Pro from the Watch 5 - the ability to upload routes and benefit from turn-by-turn navigation.

As we understand, the Pro is getting this feature because it has the level of battery to support them, though you can access third-party apps like Komoot on the Watch 5 and receive similar support for a small cost.

This support is baked into the 5 Pro, though, and it's designed primarily for hikers and cyclists. To upload routes, you need it to be in the pretty popular GPX file format. You can turn activities logged in Health into those GPX files, or you create them on sites like MapstoGPX.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro map

The place you need to import those route files to in the Health app takes a bit of discovering, so that's something that definitely needs to be addressed. However, once you've imported, you can sync over to the watch and it'll appear on a dedicated Tile. Here, you can see the mapped route and details like distance and elevation gain.

Hit 'Start' and you can start following the route. Locking into GPS signal takes place after you start tracking, and then you'll have a fairly detailed map with a green line pointing you in the right direction, along with literal directions, and the watch will vibrate when you need to prepare to turn.

You can also use the touchscreen to pinch and zoom into maps, and the navigation support generally works fine.

It's surprising, though, that it's really geared up for hikers and cyclists, when trail runners and road runners would eat up a feature like this, as well. Maybe Samsung will consider adding that support in the future, but it probably should've been there in the first place.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Sports and fitness tracking

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro sports and fitness tracking

While that routing support isn't geared towards runners, there's still plenty of support available when you jump into a workout tracking mode. You do, of course, have access to third-party sports and fitness apps through the Google Play Store, and there's plenty available from Samsung's own apps, too - though we'd argue you're not getting a fantastic experience here.

Core exercises like running, cycling, and swimming (pool and open water) are covered, and then there's a host of different profiles for activities like cricket, circuit training and archery that offer more basic duration and heart rate data. Samsung does also include some rep counting modes for exercises like crunches, but we're not convinced it's very reliable. In one session, it started counting reps before we'd got down to perform the first crunch.

For runners, you can now create interval workouts, and the ability to adjust the two main data field screens. There's a dedicated running coach mode that's designed to help you focus on improving speed, building endurance or simply receiving guidance, as well. It feels like Samsung's answer to Huawei's running courses feature on its smartwatches, but it doesn't feel quite as slick or as impressive.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro run tracking testing

GPS tracking compared: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro (left) and Garmin Epix 2 (right)

In terms of the core running experience, there's not a huge amount of difference from the Watch 4. We put it up against the pricier Garmin Epix 2 and its multiband tracking mode, finding that the GPS performance came up pretty short on all but one run we tested it.

Heart rate tracking performed okay for steady-paced workouts, but it did have a habit of posting high real-time readings at the beginning of workouts, which clearly skewed overall data. Despite Samsung using a sensor setup it says includes a larger surface area to improve accuracy with the Pro, we didn't find performance hugely different from its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro hiking tracking testing

Exercise HR compared: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro (left) and Garmin Epix 2 with chest strap (right)

Putting it to the pool swimming and general cardio workout test, it still all felt very familiar to what we experienced on the Watch 4. On the whole, accuracy was good for pool swims, offering similar distance and average pace data compared to the reliable swim tracking on a Garmin watch.
The screen is locked during sessions, and you can tap to view data. However, there's a lot crammed onto that display, which does make it hard to quickly absorb data during swims or glancing at the screen when underwater.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro swim tracking testing

Pool swim tracking compared: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro (left and center) and Garmin Enduro 2 (right)

Heart rate performance for cardio workouts is more of the same, meaning it struggles at high intensity - and the support for external heart rate sensors isn't here to improve on that.

Samsung has added a new real-time recovery mode, which kicks into action a few minutes after an intense workout and it's now assessing sweat loss after a workout to recommend hydration needs. These are nice extras to have, but, ultimately, they don't make up for the performance of the core sports tracking.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro steps tracking testing

Step tracking compared: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro (left) and Oura Ring 3 (right)

Samsung's basic fitness tracking skills are generally good here, counting steps and nudging you when you've not been active. There's a dedicated activity tracking Tile (widget), though it's certainly no match for the slickness of Apple's activity rings. There's also automatic exercise recognition for activities like walking, which works well - and, if you care about all levels of exercise being accounted for, it does a good job on that front.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro sleep tracking testing

Sleep tracking compared: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro (left and center) and Oura Ring 3 (right)

Samsung says it's delved a little deeper into sleep tracking with the Watch 5 and the Watch 5 Pro. It'll still capture sleep duration, generate sleep scores and offer sleep stage breakdowns, but it will also now coach you to sleep better. It needs five days of weekday sleep and an entire weekend of sleep data to get those readings before it starts to get coaching.

From an accuracy point of view, we pitted it against the reliable Oura Ring 3, and sleep duration was generally within 10 minutes of the Oura. Total sleep time totals were similar, too, and sleep stage breakdowns were largely in the same ballpark, with deep and light sleep stages generally within one hour of the Oura.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review

In terms of that coaching, you'll be served up a four-week course and a sleep symbol to indicate what type of sleeper you are. Then, on each day of the plan, you'll be given bite-sized information about things like circadian rhythms or the importance of healthy sleeping habits.

There's nothing groundbreaking here, but the presentation of that coaching is strong and it feels like it could offer some guidance and some useful added knowledge about what can influence that sleep time.

All told, is the Watch 5 Pro the best smartwatch we've used for tracking exercise? Sadly not. There's a lot promised here, but, in truth, the likes of Huawei and Amazfit offer a level of performance that's higher than what you're getting here from a tracking and accuracy point of view.

It's certainly a better fitness and sleep tracker, but we can't help but feel that Fitbit's approach to software would be well suited here, given that it's set to play a part in the future of Wear OS.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Health tracking

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro blood pressure monitoring

Samsung has really ramped up its health-tracking skills recently, though. As mentioned, these more serious health monitoring features require a Samsung phone to access the key Health Monitor app that unlocks the data.

The Pro includes the BioActive sensor Samsung debuted on the Watch 4, giving you a PPG, ECG and BIA sensor to track heart rate, stress, blood oxygen, medical grade heart and body composition. Samsung says it's increased the surface area of the sensor array to improve accuracy here, as well.

While not live just yet, Samsung has also introduced an infrared-powered temperature sensor, but, given it's not been put to use yet, it's not clear how data will be presented on the watch or in Samsung's Health companion app.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro heart rate tracking testing

Daily HR compared: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro (left) and Garmin Epix 2 (right)

Starting with what you can see in that Samsung Health app, you can capture heart rate ranges throughout your day to pinpoint low and maximum heart rate readings. It's a similar story for blood oxygen levels, and real-time measurements can be taken of heart rate and blood oxygen levels, too.

We found resting heart rate data and ranges in line with Garmin's continuous monitoring. On-the-spot readings against a dedicated pulse oximeter typically saw Samsung's readings around 4-5bpm higher in comparison.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro blood pressure tracking

Blood oxygen data didn't feel hugely reliable, as the ranges recorded at times suggested worryingly low blood oxygen levels. On one set of on-the-spot readings against a dedicated pulse oximeter, it recorded a 74% reading compared to a 98% one. When readings tended to get closer, the Pro was still around 3-4% off the pulse oximeter.

Samsung is also using that PPG heart rate sensor - and, specifically, heart rate variability measurements - in order to generate stress readings, helping you pinpoint the calmer and more stressful parts of your day.

That's integrated with its guided breathing exercise feature, which is now pretty commonplace on smartwatches. The presentation of the data isn't all that engaging, however, and isn't a feature we found all that massively useful to dive into.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review

BMI data compared: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro (left) and Garmin smart scales (right)

Delving deeper into that BioActive sensor, and, with the body composition analysis, readings are nice and swift, letting you see data like weight, body fat and skeletal muscle.

You do need to input your weight first for every reading, and, when we compared readings to a set of Garmin scales, we found that readings for things like BMI and skeletal muscle mass were similar but never identical.

Samsung lets you set targets to help achieve goals, as well as see trends for each metric over longer periods to help you see where things fluctuate. It feels like a feature, though, that could do with some more useful and actionable insights.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review

The ECG sensor works in the same way as it did on the Watch 4, which means placing your finger lightly on the electrodes built into the top physical button.

From there, it will classify your measurement and tell you whether there may be signs of atrial fibrillation. We compared the readings on a clinical-grade pulse oximeter and found readings at most 1-2bpm out, so it felt like reliable data on the whole.

Blood pressure monitoring also requires the same calibration process as the Watch 4 using a cuff-style monitor, which, once done, means you can then you can take readings without it.

After completing that setup, initial SYS and DIA readings were generally in line with a Kinetik blood pressure monitor, and heart rate readings pretty much matched up on every reading. There did seem to be a bigger disparity in the SYS and DIA numbers days later, though, and we definitely found the number of attempts it needed to take a reliable reading grew, as well.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Battery life

The Galaxy Watch 4 wasn't much of a battery powerhouse, but it did offer slightly more than the Wear OS norm - and definitely offered more than an Apple Watch. The Watch 5 Pro promises a bigger battery than the Watch 4 and the Watch 5, and we'd say it does deliver that.

Samsung has 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. We'd say based on our testing that the Watch 5 Pro has the ability to get to that 80 hours, but it really does entirely depend on the features you're putting to use, as ever.

On a normal day using it without the always-on screen mode and without any sort of sports tracking, the battery dropped by 15-20% using it from 9am - 10pm. As soon as you add sports tracking into the mix, or you use the screen in always-on mode, that significantly drops.

With the always-on display in use, you can get just over a day, and, when prompted to turn to Samsung's power saving mode to take things further, we only got around 1-2 hours extra.

In sports tracking mode, a 30-minute run with the screen not set to always-on and with navigation features in use, the battery dropped by 9%. With the screen set to always-on in that same tracking and navigation mode, the battery drop-off was 11%. This would suggest a somewhat shorter GPS battery life than the one Samsung quoted, though that number, we imagine, doesn't factor in the mapping and navigation support, which isn't designed for runners.

So, there are battery gains made here compared to the Watch 4, but features like sports tracking, the always-on mode and the new mapping features are going to really drain that battery.


Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
By Samsung
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro delivers welcome battery improvements, the same great core smartwatch features as previous Samsung smartwatches and a shift in design that feels like a step in the right direction. You'll find better sports tracking support elsewhere, however, and there aren't huge changes to discover on Wear OS when compared to the Watch 4. It's a great smartwatch for Android users, but, with new Wear OS watches on the horizon, Samsung's time at the top of the Wear ladder could be under threat.

Hit
  • Improved battery life
  • Good smartwatch features
  • Useful health features
Miss
  • Middling sports tracking
  • Temperature sensor not live
  • Health features need Samsung phone