Apple Watch Series 8 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: which is better?

It's the battle of Apple vs Android-powered smartwatches - which is best? Apple Watch Series 8 or Samsung Galaxy Watch 5?

Apple Watch 8 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
(Image credit: T3 / Apple / Samsung)

With the Apple Watch 8 imminent and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 still distinctly new and appealing, you may be wondering which of the best smartwatches you need in your life.

With neither smartwatch exactly cheap, it's a tough one to figure out by yourself. That's why we're here to compare them and pit both smartwatches against each other. 

That way, you can quickly know exactly which smartwatch suits your needs the best.

Apple Watch 8 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is already available. It's priced at $240/£269/AU$499 for the 40mm Bluetooth model or $270/£289/AU$549 for the 44mm Bluetooth model. The LTE versions retail for $290/£319/AU$599 for the 40mm version or $320/£339/AU$649 for the 44mm edition.

The Apple Watch 8 launches September 16. It starts at $399/£419/AU$679 for GPS and $499/£529/AU$789 for cellular. As always with Apple Watches, prices will vary depending on the watch strap choice and the size of the Apple Watch 8 you go for with 41mm and 45mm models available.

Winner: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is the cheapest smartwatch of the two, regardless of if you need cellular or a Bluetooth model.

Apple Watch Series 8

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch 8 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: design

The Apple Watch 8 has a distinctive rectangular screen that has been favored by Apple right from the start. Depending on the size you choose, it has a 1.57-inch or 1.73-inch display with a resolution of either 352 x 430 or 396 x 484. An OLED display, it's also an always-on display so it's easy to glance at. 

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has a circular screen, more like a conventional watch. The 40mm model has a 1.2-inch always-on OLED display with a 396 x 396 resolution, with the larger model increasing to 1.4-inch and a 450 x 450 resolution. Its casing is made from armor aluminum. 

Both watches promise to have a tougher display than before, while they both also offer IP68-certified protection against dust and water. There's also swim proofing up to 5 ATM.

Winner: The Apple Watch Series 8 is the best-looking smartwatch. Period.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

(Image credit: Samsung)

Apple Watch 8 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: features and performance

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is focused on offering the best experience for anyone who is health conscious and active, while the Apple Watch 8 is more of an all-rounder. 

The Apple Watch 8 has typical fitness and workout tracking including the much-loved Activity Rings method of encouraging you to do more throughout the day. It monitors how far you run, walk, as well as complete other exercises like Tai Chi and Yoga, as well as HIIT. 

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 does this too, but it goes further. It has more advanced sensors which means it does a better job of things. Even when it comes to sleep tracking, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has better insights with a month-long sleep plan drawn up to help you sleep better. 

It also uses your sleep cycle to improve your connected smart home. SmartThings integration can help your lights dim when it notices you falling asleep. You can control your smart home with the Apple Watch 8 but it's not smart enough to detect when you're falling asleep and react accordingly. 

The Apple Watch 8 does have one unique feature though -- car crash detection.  If you're in a severe car crash, it can automatically connect you to emergency services and notify your emergency contacts.

Winner: If you're really worried about suffering a bad car crash, the Apple Watch 8 may be more appealing but, for most, it's the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 that offers more practical day-to-day functions.

Apple Watch SE 2022

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch 8 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: sensors

Both watches have a lot of sensors going for them but the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 beats the Apple Watch 8 to the punch. The Apple Watch 8 has everything from a blood oxygen sensor, ECG facility, along with notifications if your heart rate is unusually high or low. 

Like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, it also now has a temperature sensor that's aimed at people who ovulate. It has one sensor on the back crystal near your skin, while the other is under the display, ensuring a high level of accuracy. It can sample wrist temperature every five seconds overnight and detect differences as subtle as 0.1 centigrade. 

The Apple Watch 8 also has new motion sensors to help with crash detection, able to detect extreme impact, with the microphone also spotting unusual noises. 

However, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has sensors you're probably more likely to use every day. It has Samsung's BioActive Sensor which includes sleep tracking, along with heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring. It also includes a body composition analysis tool for tracking water retention and bone density. Samsung says it will lead to more personalized workouts and a tailored approach when setting goals.

Winner: It depends on your situation but most people will prefer the extensive fitness tracking sensors of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 than a temperature sensor or car crash detector.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

(Image credit: Samsung)

Apple Watch 8 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: interface and user experience

One of the most crucial deciding factors when choosing between the Apple Watch 8 or Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is your phone choice. The Apple Watch 8 needs the iPhone and won't work with any Android phones, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 will only work with Android phones. 

Both offer either an iOS or Android-friendly experience so they pair up nicely with your phone choice, both literally and figuratively. 

When it comes to battery life, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 promises up to 50 hours. It also has a new USB-C-based charger that means you'll get up to speed more quickly. 

The Apple Watch 8 has improved on the past thanks to a new low-power mode. In standard mode, it achieves 18 hours with that number increasing to 36 hours when low-power mode is active. It's still a fair way off the might of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 though. 

Winner: Longer battery life continues to be the holy grail for smartwatches and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is a big success story.

Apple Watch Series 8

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch 8 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: verdict

 Both the Apple Watch 8 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 are well-designed refined versions of their predecessors. Ultimately, your decision-making process is likely to be heavily down to the smartphone you already own.

However, if you can go for either Android or iOS, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 continues to have more features than the Apple Watch 8. Thanks to its extensive health sensors and body composition analysis tools, it simply has more going for it on a daily basis than the Apple Watch 8. 

The only unique feature the Apple Watch 8 has over Samsung's is its car crash detection tool. Useful, yes, but hopefully not something anyone will need daily. 

With better battery life and a lower price tag, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is hard to say no to.

Jennifer Allen has been writing about tech for nearly a decade. Her specialisms include fitness wearables, Bluetooth speakers, and all things Apple.