Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: smart and powerful

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 looks excellent while being smart enough to monitor all you could need

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
(Image credit: Samsung)
T3 Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is an incremental upgrade if you already own the 4, but there's no denying it's the best Android smartwatch around right now. Stylish to look at with a vibrant display, it's packed with comprehensive fitness tools.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Lightweight design

  • +

    Extensive fitness features

  • +

    Reasonable battery life

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Incremental upgrade compared to the previous model

  • -

    Optimized for Samsung phones

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A year after the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is upon us. Predictably, it's more refinement than revolution. That's hardly surprising given the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 remains one of the best smartwatches around so why not add to it rather than change too much? 

As before, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is an Android-only device. iPhone users will have to stick with an Apple Watch or something else iOS friendly. However, there's no better smartwatch for Android fans than this one. Samsung users will find a few extra features, but whatever your choice of device, you'll be happy with what's here.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 offers as feature-rich an experience as the Apple Watch 7 we used previously. It looks good and includes fantastic health-focused features you can't get elsewhere. 

Read on to find out how the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 hits all the right notes.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review images

(Image credit: T3)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 became available on August 26. Available in two sizes -- 40mm or 44mm -- it's also available in either Bluetooth-only or Bluetooth + LTE cellular configurations.

The 40mm Watch 5 starts at £269 / $279.99 / AU$499 with the cellular version costing £319 / $329.99 / AU$599. The larger 44mm Watch 5 costs £289 / $299 / AU$549 and £339 / $349 / AU$649 for the LTE/cellular edition. 

Notably, it costs slightly more than when the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 launched in 2021. 

As with pretty much all smartwatches, you have a variety of colors to choose from including Boa Purple, Graphite, Pink, Gold, and Sapphire Silver, with plenty of watch straps to add on.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review images

(Image credit: T3)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: features and design

At first glance, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is the same as its predecessor. It offers the same 1.19-inch or 1.36-inch circular AMOLED display with a resolution of 396 x 396 or 450 x 450. Dimensions-wise, it's identical too at 40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8 or 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8. It'd be easy to get these two mixed up.

Under the hood, it's the same too with the same Exynos W920 processor and 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. So far, so overly familiar? 

Fortunately, that's all good with us. The screen stretches across the watch face as before and looks suitably vibrant in all situations. On the cloudiest days and the brightest ones we could find during a dreary Autumn, it looks good on your wrist and to glance at. It's also more robust than before thanks to using Sapphire Crystal Glass which should help its chances in the case of a knock or fall. Samsung reckons its glass is about 1.6 times stronger than before. 

There's also an IP68 water-resistance rating again. That means it can handle being underwater for up to 30 minutes at a distance of up to 50 meters. 

On the right-hand side of the watch are two small buttons that tread the line carefully between being easy to tap while not feeling obtrusive. Yes, this is a watch that feels comfortable throughout the day and into the night too. 

The sweat-proof silicone strap that comes with it is prone to picking up dust as before. Still, it's suitable to start with before you delve into the vast world of buying your own watch straps for different occasions.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 weighs a fraction more than the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 at 29g or 32.8g compared to 25.9g or 30.3g, but that's thanks to it packing a bigger battery. The increased capacity makes a difference too which we'll get into later.

Sensors-wise, it's a similar trend of offering an optical heart rate sensor, ECG support, and Samsung's body composition analysis tool. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 adds a continuous SpO2 monitor and skin temperature sensor too. It's a well-rounded way to keep an eye on how you're doing throughout the day.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review images

(Image credit: T3)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: software

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 uses Wear OS with Samsung's Watch UI making it feel more distinctive than an average smartwatch. It's highly intuitive to use. 

Upon booting it up for the first time, you're guided through the basics which come down to swiping in different directions to open additional sections of the watch. These include notifications, checking your fitness performance for the day and so forth. The app icons will be familiar if you've used a Samsung Galaxy phone before. While the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 works with all Android phones running Android 8 or above, Samsung Galaxy owners get extra features. These include alarms that sync up across devices, contacts and Do Not Disturb hours. 

It's simple to dive into the Galaxy Wearable app to change your watch face or add new tiles. It's an effortless watch to customize to your liking. With access to the Google Play Store, you also have plenty of options for adding third-party apps such as Strava or Spotify. However, you're good to go out of the box with what's already there.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review images

(Image credit: T3)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: fitness features

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5's greatest strength is its plethora of health and fitness features. If you've been looking at what the Apple Watch series can provide and want more, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is that watch. It's more akin to a high-end Garmin (outside of GPS-related features), thanks to Samsung's body composition analysis tool. It takes a brief amount of prep. 

Move the watch further up your wrist, ensure you're doing it on an empty stomach (ideally first thing in the morning), and you can soon see your body fat percentage, skeletal muscle, body water, and BMI. It doesn't match the accuracy of calipers for measuring body fat. But it's far more convenient to do and more satisfying to see the results on the screen. 

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 doesn't offer sleep tracking accuracy entirely on par with something like the Withings Sleep Analyzer that fits under your mattress. But it's still more accurate than most Fitbits or Apple Watches. It analyzes your sleep stages, tracking when you've hit REM sleep, deep or light sleep. It also offers data on your blood oxygen levels at the time and provides advice. 

This is all before you get into the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 tracking over 100 workouts. In our tests, it was better at automatically detecting a workout, such as a walk or run than the Apple Watch Series 7. The GPS was highly accurate while we traveled too.

However, many users will need more than the Galaxy Wearable app to see the full results. Needing to install Samsung Health and Health Monitor is a minor nuisance. Still, it's not quite as ideal as simply using one app to check everything. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review images

(Image credit: T3)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: battery life

With a higher capacity battery, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 lasts longer than its predecessor. We found it lasted around 36 hours on our regular working days that involved a short 30-minute walk. That number will change depending on how you use it, though. 

The battery dipped faster on more active days, especially with longer GPS-enabled walks involved. That's not ideal if you want to rely on its sleep-tracking facilities. On the plus side, its quick charging capabilities are far improved. It can hit 45% battery life in about 30 minutes, so sticking it on charge before bed won't take up too much time (or mean you miss out on too much tracking).

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review images

(Image credit: T3)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: verdict

If you're a Samsung Galaxy phone owner, this is an essential smartwatch to buy. It pairs up beautifully with the existing ecosystem and will provide a fantastic experience while looking great too. 

If you have another type of Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is still strongly worth considering. You might miss out on a few features and will have to download a couple of extra apps, but these are small concessions to make. Battery life could still be a little better but quick charging means you'll be able to track your sleep without missing out on tracking your goals throughout the day. 

Of course, iPhone owners will need to steer clear, which is a shame. The body composition analysis tool continues to be a very attractive part of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 package. One that Apple would do well to learn from with future revisions.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: also consider

Apple Watch Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

If you're an iPhone owner looking wistfully at this review, there's always the Apple Watch 8. A good watch indeed, it offers almost all the benefits of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. Looks-wise, you may even prefer it, although you'll miss out on the body composition analysis tool and more advanced sleep tracking. 

For Android owners, there's the Google Pixel Watch. Incredibly stylish, it taps into the Fitbit ecosystem for tracking your fitness levels which means it's straightforward to use. You'll only get 24 hours of battery life from it but it does have quick charge functionality. 

For the more fitness-conscious, there's also the Garmin Venu. It has an attractive AMOLED display, unlike most other Garmins while still boasting extensive fitness features. An impressive battery life of up to 5 days will delight everyone who hates to rely on power sources all the time too.

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