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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro review: The best Android smartwatches you can buy in India today

No Google Pixel Watch, no problem.

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro review: The best Android smartwatches you can buy in India today
Watch 5 Pro starts at Rs 44,999. Watch 5 starts at Rs 27,999. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro, Samsung’s flagship smartwatches for 2022, aren’t all that different from their predecessors, the Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic. Surely, there are some differences here and there. The marketing speak, too, is a bit different this year. But they are all too familiar, still, whether it be in the way they look or how they function. This also means that the Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro are holding on to – pretty much— everything that made the previous models so likeable while in some areas, they’re just as frustrating.

To be fair, this was mostly expected. The Watch 4 was the start of something new— and potentially ground-breaking — what with Samsung partnering with Google to bring Wear OS to these smartwatches for the first time. They were still “Samsung smartwatches” largely but the fact that you could now install apps on them straight from the Play Store was surreal and the promise that you would be able to access even more apps on them in the future, was every bit as exciting.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro review
Watch 5 Pro on the left, Watch 5 on the right. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The groundwork was laid. The Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro simply build on that to give you a slightly more refined package that’s as compelling, if not more. That is not to say that Samsung hasn’t made any tough choices. Easily the most controversial bit about its new smartwatches is that there is no longer an option to get an actual rotating dial. It is completely software-driven in this generation. It is okay that the Watch 5 does this (same as the Watch 4) but for the pro to also follow suit, that decision could prove divisive.

The reasoning, while it might not seem that obvious, is simple. It’s right there in the branding itself. Samsung is going after an all-new TG with the Watch 5 Pro— the pro-athlete and enthusiast crowd, the likes who would much rather go for something more specialised like say a Garmin than anything else. The design and build, too, are aligning with this strategy.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro review
Watch 5 Pro is more durable with a casing that’s made of titanium. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Watch 5 Pro is more durable with a casing that’s made of titanium (versus stainless steel in the Watch 4 Classic) and there’s a distinct raised lip to protect the display (which now uses Sapphire crystal) in place of the rotating dial to brace for any potential impact. It comes in only one size (45mm), though, unlike the Watch 4 Classic that comes in two— 42mm and 46mm. The screen size is 1.4mm. Bigger is better in the case of “pro” multi-GPS smartwatches, the kind that Samsung is hoping to replace, but it’s obvious that it wants to –also— keep the Watch 5 Pro appealing for more regular buyers.

The Watch 5 Pro, still, is big and clunky and is definitely not suited for tiny wrists. The bundled magnetic D-buckle sport band, while it looks classy and offers more precision while wearing compared to a relatively more conventional sports band (that comes with the Watch 5), too, may be fairly substantial for these people. Luckily, you can swap it with any other 20mm strap. But generally speaking, it would have been nice if there was another Watch 5 Pro option with a smaller dial. (The Watch 5 becomes the only option in such a case. It is available in 40mm and 44mm sizes. Unlike the Watch 5 Pro, there are no significant changes in design there from last year— it has an aluminium casing and a completely flat display.)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro review
Watch 5 has a flat display. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The pro Watch 5 is also getting a couple of “exclusive” features, turn-by-turn route navigation and track back, that you’d normally associate with professional GPS watches. While the term route navigation is self-explanatory, track back lets you return right back where you started from. We feel the implementation could have been a bit better, though.

For instance, turn-by-turn navigation works only for cycling and hiking, not running, for some reason. Also, you need to jump through multiple hoops to even enable it in the first place (you’ll need to first log an activity inside the Samsung Health app on your smartphone, select it from history, download the route as a GPX file, and import it to the watch). For what it’s worth, everything works as advertised once all the checks are in place. Generally speaking, GPS distance tracking on the Watch 5 Pro was fairly accurate during our testing expect may be for some fringe cases which were an exception rather than the rule. Heart rate tracking, too, was on point mostly.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro review
Watch 5 Pro comes with a magnetic D-buckle sport band. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

A bigger chassis –and pro branding— naturally means there’s more space to fit a bigger battery. The Watch 5 Pro, to that effect, gets a sizeable 590mAh battery (even as the Watch 5 makes do with a smaller 284mAh/410mAh battery depending on the size). Battery life is good, not great. The Watch 5 Pro should last a day and a half for most users though your mileage will vary basis of use. The Watch 5 can pull a day, but it’s definitely not meant for endurance.

Rest of the hardware and software is common between the Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro, more or less. Some of it is same as last year, too, like the core chip. This is Samsung’s 5nm Exynos W920 — dual Cortex-A55 cores, Mali-G68 GPU— which is paired with 1.5GB RAM and 16GB of storage. Running the show is Wear OS 3.5. Both watches are slick and powerful, with barely any lag or stutter in day-to-day use.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro review
The bioelectric impedance sensor has been improved. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Samsung says the Watch 5’s bioelectric impedance sensor –which was first introduced in the Watch 4— offers improvements so it can measure body composition more accurately than before. This works similar to a smart scale by sending an electrical signal through your body — when you place your middle and ring fingers on the home and back keys which have embedded electrodes— and then measuring the impedance to estimate metrics like body fat percentage, skeletal muscle, and body water. It, just like SpO2 tracking, is for reference purposes only.

Samsung’s sleep coaching feature is worth mentioning. It’s a nice way to keep tabs on –and visualise— your sleeping patterns. You’ll need to log 7-nights of sleep on the Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro following which you’d be assigned a 6-week programme to gradually improve your sleeping habits. Samsung will assign a cutesy animal avatar indicative of your stats, which we feel, is quite a fun and engaging way to ease into things. The Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro can also detect snoring.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro review
Samsung did add a new infrared temperature sensor inside these watches. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

While much of the hardware inside the Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro remains same as last year’s models, Samsung did add a new infrared temperature sensor inside these watches. It doesn’t do much at the time of writing, at least nothing that was quantifiable in our testing. Samsung says it would help improve sleep tracking accuracy. ECG and blood pressure measurement still don’t work in India. Google Assistant, too, isn’t supported yet so Bixby remains the default voice assistant on the Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro for Indian users, at least for now (globally, Google Assistant is supported on these watches).

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro | Should you buy?

With the Watch 5 Pro, Samsung is setting course for a new journey, even though much of what’s inside it, is incremental. The styling and positioning –as well as the feature set— indicate it wants to attract endurance athletes or at least those who want to get into it, much like what Apple is trying to do with the Apple Watch Ultra. The Watch 5 Pro is not quite there yet, but it’s a good start, and probably the only mainstream tool in the market that can allow more people to get serious about health and fitness.

The Watch 5 is the more incremental update between the two and while it’s good, it’s not an instant no-brainer like the Watch 5 Pro or even the Watch 4.

The 40mm Watch 5 with Bluetooth price in India is set at Rs 27,999. A version with LTE will set you back by Rs 32,999. The 44mm Watch 5 with Bluetooth price in India is set at Rs 30,999. A version with LTE will set you back by Rs 35,999. The 45mm Watch 5 Pro with Bluetooth price in India is set at Rs 44,999. A version with LTE will set you back by Rs 49,999.

Samsung continues to sell the Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic at the time of writing which is to say it’s the go-to brand, now, if you’re looking to get a no-compromise Android smartwatch across price points, by a long mile. With the Pixel Watch confirmed to not launch in India, the Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro are, without a doubt, the best Android smartwatches you can buy in India today and the near future.

Also Read | Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review: Best Android smartwatch ever

Pros Cons
Premium design and build Watch 5 Pro comes in only one dial size
Sharp display Watch 5 mostly same as Watch 4
Fast and fluid Wear OS Battery life could be better
Plenty of features Google Assistant not available in India
Accurate heart, GPS tracking

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First published on: 19-10-2022 at 18:09 IST