Casio G-Shock DW-H5600 review

Classic Casio packs power – but niggles abound
Wareable Casio G-Shock H5600 review photo 11
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Casio G-Shock DW-H5600
By Casio
The DW-5600 is a serious wearable device wrapped up in the form of a classic Casio watch – and it offers a true fitness watch experience in something understated and cool. If you’re looking for a best-in-class wearable, the poor app and ecosystem and overcomplicated data mean this is no Apple Watch or Garmin killer. But if this is about aesthetics, and you can look past some annoyances in the software, integrations, and annoying buttons, it has plenty of upsides.

  • Solid running tracking
  • Looks great
  • Accurate sleep tracking
  • Buttons hard to press
  • App isn’t great
  • No integrations with Apple Health/Google/Strava


The Casio G-Shock DW-H5600 is a classic-looking digital wristwatch with a serious amount of smart tech under the hood.

In many ways, it’s the ultimate collaboration. A classy-looking retro wearable packing the kinds of features people want from a smartwatch: health tracking, fitness tech, and smart notifications. And it’s the latest Casio to be Powered by Polar, with algorithms from the sports tech giant.

We saw a similar with the G-Shock H2000 earlier this year, which brought Polar algorithms to the party – and offered some brilliant tracking. However, it was let down by a clunky app, and some bizarre quirks in the setup.

We’ve had more of the same here. But is the G-Shock DW-H5600 worth a look?

Price and competition

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The Casio G-Shock DW-H5600 costs $299/£269 – so it’s a lot more than your average digital watch. But it does pack a fair amount of features.

But what else could you get for the same money?

Well, a 40mm Apple Watch SE is accessible for the same amount, and a 44mm for closer to $329/£300. 

In the Android camp, a Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is again, around the same price. 

And as we mentioned, the Casio G-Shock GBD-H2000 comes in at over $300/£300, but is a different beast in terms of design and feel.

Design and screen

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The Casio G-Shock H5600 is just a total digital watch throwback, and we love it. And what’s more, so many friends and acquaintances dug the design.

It boasts the classic octagonal case, which measures 51mm and weighs 59g. That may sound big, but it’s way smaller than a classic G-Shock (e.g. the Mudman or H2000), and far more wearable and manageable.

The screen itself is a monochrome MIP LCD, exactly what you’d find in a classic Casio. It’s easy to read and refreshingly basic, although it does struggle to fit lots of data on the screen, so notifications are pretty basic.

WareableCasio G-Shock H5600 review photo 1

There are four buttons positioned in each corner, just like old-school Casios. By default, they make a digital bleep on every press, which is a lovely dose of nostalgia, if a little annoying in quiet rooms. You can turn this off in the settings. 

However, the buttons are very small, and thanks to being depressed into the corners of the watch, super tough to press, We found ourselves having to dig our nails in to make sure it worked, if you have big digits, this could be really difficult.

It makes navigating the watch a bit of a chore. It’s not something that would stop us from recommending the H5600 if it fits the bill for you.

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We had the DW-H5600MB-1ER version which features a stainless steel surround, which finishes the look off nicely. We were surprised, however, to find this attracted a lot of scratches in a short space of time, which seems at odds with the G-Shock attitude to toughness. So perhaps it’s best to choose the DW-H5600-1ER instead, which just uses the toughened polymer case material instead.

Features, OS, and ecosystem

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But the Casio G-Shock DW-H5600 is packed with features – and is Powered By Polar, so it uses the fitness giant’s algorithms and experience. 

On the health and fitness front, the DW-H5600 packs a heart rate monitor, and can also keep tabs on workouts. 

It doesn’t have GPS built-in (a miss at this price point really) but it will track distance if you take your smartphone along for the ride, which should provide ‘good enough’ accuracy.

The Polar algorithms used here power offer sleep tracking (Nightly Recharge) as well as Cardio Status – and the in-workout heart rate and analysis as well.

Aside from fitness tracking, the DW-H5600 also provides a smattering of smartwatch features and will display notifications from your smartphone. It’s an all-or-nothing approach, and we felt it was akin to drinking from a firehose of prompts and alerts – and even notifications that were muted on our iPhone appeared on the wrist. 

As we mentioned, the screen isn’t really big enough to show rich notifications, so one has to question its usefulness. You could stop notifications at source and turn all apps off on your iPhone if you want to make the Casio feel more useful, but you can’t even choose to allow only calls.

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It’s the first warning sign of an app and ecosystem that’s lacking on the software side.

We’ve never had to read a manual to pair a smartwatch before, but somehow that’s been necessary on the H5600 and the H2000. Once paired, the watch required two full updates (one took nearly 20 minutes) before any of the features would work.

Once you're through this initial pain, everything does settle down. However, we still experienced some frustrating quirks.

Run data took an age to appear within the Lifelog, and we started to think it might have disappeared altogether.

We complained about the Casio app in the H2000 review – but it’s the same story here. Of the three tabs in the app, all useful data is condensed into a ‘Lifelog’ on the third page. 

The first tab is called Home and is a bunch of Casio ads and social posts, and it feels insane to present this to people trying to use their smartwatch.

On the You tab you can see your data day-by-day, including any sleep tracking and workouts. The data is quite intense, as we’ll come onto.

If you go to war with the on-watch menus, you’ll cycle through the following widgets, which can be reordered in the Casio app:

  • Notifications - a list of unread notifications
  • Heart rate - a live HR reading showing max and min for the day
  • Blood oxygen - spot check for blood oxygen readings
  • Breathing exercise - very basic timer for breathing with guided in/out animation
  • Stopwatch 
  • Timer 
  • World time - can be set to another location in the app
  • Almanac - sunrise/set time
  • Cardio Status – whether you’re training/detraining/maintaining fitness
  • Lifelog - the day’s steps, calories, and active time
  • Nightly recharge - sleep tracking data
  • Activity log - workout records
  • Time and date

Overall there’s plenty here to enjoy – and all within the wrapper of a classic Casio G-Shock.

The quirks and general build of the app need work – as do elements such as pairing, updating, and notifications.

But we’re assuming that people come to the DW-H5600 for the design, brand, and aesthetics first and the smart stuff second. And with that mindset, it’s good enough.

Sports tracking

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There are just three sports modes built into the DW-H5600 – running, gym, and walking – which may surprise those considering a purchase based on Polar’s tracking credentials.

Gym tracking is an open, non-GPS workout that tracks heart rate, calories, and duration and is designed for open sessions, as well as HIIT, classes, and functional fitness. You could also use this for activities such as indoor cycling.

Walking is surprisingly powerful, with distance, speed, time, and step counts. It would be a fun watch to take on a hike, just to track your progress.

There’s surprisingly no mode for swimming, despite the watch being water resistant to 200m.

The running profile is very complete and offers pace/distance/time, heart rate, and heart rate zones.  We took it for a couple of runs and were impressed with the experience overall, as we were with the H2000. 

Live workout data is easy to read, despite the small display, and you can cycle through data screens using the bottom left buttons.

As we mentioned, there’s no GPS built-in, so you’ll need to take your smartphone with you. We found GPS accuracy usable, but it was around 100m short over 5K and 200-300 short over 10K. 

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With phone-connected GPS, you’ll always run into accuracy issues at points. Taking a phone and putting it in a waistband or bag is a recipe for dodgy GPS data because the line of sight to the sky is interrupted. If you’re a stickler for distance accuracy, this isn’t the right smartwatch for you.

Heart rate accuracy was also strong, and we tested against a Coros Heart Rate Monitor and found the two, in general, to be close in terms of real-time feedback. 

We found Max HR data to be within 2bpm of the Coros, and around the same for average HR too. 

Overall, it’s a solid and impressive heart rate tracking performance on a watch which, frankly, you’d forgive for producing “good enough” data. 

The analysis will also show the Cardio Load and Energy Used and how much this dips into carbs, protein, and fat reserves.

You will also get a readout on the watch of how the workout affects your cardio – and this is then transferred to the Cardio Status widget, which is a Polar data point.

Here you will see Improving/Maintaining/Detraining status, which should give you a guide on how your training is affecting your fitness.

The strain and tolerance numbers felt a little abstract. If you have to Google what a stat means it’s not a great sign of top usability. Strain is the month’s total training load, and tolerance is last month’s, so you can see if you’re pushing or slacking off.

If you head over to the app, there’s a little more detail.

One downside is the lack of ability to send workout data to other platforms, such as Strava, Apple Health, or Google Fit. This usually negates the issues of having workout data live within apps such as Casio’s and would be a welcome addition here.

Health tracking

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In terms of health tracking, there’s not too much on the Casio DW-5600, outside of sleep which we’ll come onto.

It will track daily steps (accurately against an Apple Watch across 19,000 steps in the day), daily heart rate range, and energy. You can also quickly tab between day, week, and month views, and see averages for each.

You'll also get resting heart rate data and HRV in the Nightly Recharge data, and this checked out with our established baselines from Whoop. As with much of the Casio experience, the data is sound, but the presentation is raw, and unless you're really tuned into your heart rate variability then it won't make too much sense, or be useful in any way.

There’s a spot check for blood oxygen saturation from the watch itself, and you can see that within the Nightly Recharge as well.

There’s no stress tracking built in, but there is a guided breathing app, which feels very basic. 

It’s a basic overview of daily activity and not really in the same postcode as the best fitness trackers and smartwatches out there. But if you’re looking for a classic watch that ‘does more’ it fits the profile.

Sleep tracking

Sleep tracking power has been firmly handed over to Polar – and it’s a decent experience overall. But like the Cardio Status feature, Nightly Recharge is one of the more confusing and opaque sleep systems we’ve used.

Sleep duration was close to that tracked by Whoop, with deep/light/REM time also similar.

It also tracks HRV and breathing rate and establishes normal baselines. However, as with much of the Casio experience, it does nothing to present this data in a user-friendly way and leaves you to make sense of the data yourself.

It records the quality of your ‘sleep charge’ with a rating of your sleep out of 100. It’s simple and easy to use. We did see some weird data here, with an excellent night’s sleep (backed up by Whoop) being rated at 57/100. 

Also presented is your ANS Charge (autonomic nervous system), which again we had to Google to understand the meaning of the data.

The ANS Charge relates to how your body reacts in the early stages of sleep. It’s quite complex, and studies your heart rate and breathing, and so is the score. We got bad nights of -4.1 but also good nights of +3. 

It’s all very hard to comprehend, even for those experienced in wearables, and it doesn’t seem to have a direct correlation to the improvement of sleep.

In terms of accuracy – we were generally happy with these health metrics during our testing. It’s just quite complicated, and not very user-friendly overall, and that sums up the entire H5600 experience in a nutshell.

Battery life

The DW-H5600 features solar power, which assists in offering decent longevity. We found around 7 days of use, depending on how often we worked out. It means there’s no battery anxiety around using the H5600, although more than a dumb watch.

Charging was a little temperamental, and the giant clip used to plug in the DW-H5600 sometimes didn’t register, so the smartwatch wasn’t charged when we returned. You need to be careful, and make sure the watch doesn’t move after you set it charging.

Getting a complete charge took between two to three hours, so it’s not exactly rapid – but at least you don’t need to do it too often.

Should you buy it?

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If you love the design of the G-Shock DW-H5600 and looking for a classic-looking Casio watch, which also boasts solid health and fitness smartwatch features, then buy this with our blessing. It’s a fun watch to own and doesn’t feel like a computer on the wrist – and backs up its features with solid workout and sleep tracking smarts. 

There are some serious usability quirks here and the app is poor, so if you’re serious about your training data, or getting proper smartwatch skills, you should probably buy an Apple Watch SE or Garmin instead. 

TAGGED Smartwatches

How we test

James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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