Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: Value champion in the Android smartwatch space
Galaxy Watch5 was launched on August 10, 2022, alongside Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
- The Galaxy Watch 5 is available in Bluetooth & Bluetooth and LTE variants.
- This review is for the 44mm LTE & Bluetooth variant priced at ₹35,999
AdvertisementSamsung recently launched a bunch of devices at the Galaxy Unpacked Event. We saw two new foldable devices, TWS buds and wearables as well. Diversifying their smartwatch portfolio we now have a regular Galaxy Watch 5 and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. The Pro variant, as the name suggests, comes with some additional features like a larger battery and a rugged build. As lucrative as that may sound, it is in fact a niche device to be considered mostly by the users who have a use case for it. The device that conducts a more mass appeal is the regular Galaxy Watch 5. I have been using the Galaxy Watch 5 for a week now. It has been with me for my daily errands that involve shoots and my weight training sessions as well.
Here is my comprehensive review.
Price & Availability
The Galaxy Watch 5 is available in 2 sizes, both of which offer Bluetooth or Bluetooth & LTE. The smaller variant with a 40mm dial size starts at ₹27,999 for the Bluetooth-only variant. While the Bluetooth & LTE variant is priced at ₹32,999. The bigger 44mm variant starts at ₹30,999 with only Bluetooth. While the Bluetooth & LTE variant is priced at ₹35,999. You can buy the Galaxy Watch 5 from Amazon, Samsung’s own website and offline electronic stores.
Design and fit
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 carry forwards the legacy of classic Samsung Galaxy watches while refining the recipe. Starting with the obvious, we don’t have a rotating bezel on the Galaxy Watch 5, like we didn’t have one on the Galaxy Watch 4. This might have been a hard pill to swallow last year, but now we are accustomed to it. Replacing the rotating bezel means we get a very neat and minimalistic-looking dial which sports a unibody design. The design has grown on me over time. And made me acknowledge that I prefer a circular dial over a square one like the one on my Apple Watch SE.
There are two hard press buttons on the dial, both customisable. They do complement the design well. I will share my opinion on the useability in the UI section of the review.
The variant with me comes in a Sapphire colour which is a metallic shade of blue. The paired straps are of matte blue colour as well. This is a colour which definitely took some time for me to adjust to. Not because it looks bad but because it stands out. Especially if you wear basic clothes like I do, and don’t prefer going all fancy. If you are planning to buy one, I would recommend going for the graphite colour option, which is all black or you can mix and match bands anyway. I like my wearables to be in a universal colour which can go well with all my clothes.
The Galaxy Watch 5 sports an armour aluminium frame that promises drop resistance and protection against scratches. So far, in a week of usage, I am yet to come across any major scratches that will make me skip a heartbeat. However, as is the case with most smartwatches, it will take micro scratches if it’s on your wrist 24x7.
The watch also comes with IP68 certification which makes it water resistant upto 50 meters. I did not take it for swimming, but it did go through some sweaty gyming sessions and also a sauna. In both cases the smartwatch worked perfectly well, I could easily interact with the display as well and the response time was quick.
With all those protective measures, Samsung has maintained the weight of the Galaxy Watch 5 at a respectable 35 grams. The dial is light and sits comfortably on the wrist, not jamming your movement, even while you are exercising. However, I would like to point out here, that if you have skinny wrists, then you should opt for the smaller 40mm variant. Especially if you plan to wear it while sleeping.
After the design, it’s time to talk about the display. The Galaxy watch 5 features a 1.4-inch Super AMOLED screen, which spoiler alert - is amazing. It is a virtually bezel less panel which is aptly bright and also features an always on display option.
The always on panel takes minimal amount of juice from the battery, but definitely adds a quality of life feature to the usage.
The display in itself is very responsive and provides accurate color reproduction. Replacing the rotating bezel here is a digital bezel, and it works really well. Rotating your finger around the bezel provides you access to the applications on board. The digital bezel might not be as gratifying to interact with compared to the physical rotating bezel, but in no way is it less utilitarian. It makes scrolling through the interface seamless.
It hardly missed my commands, and I would easily land up at the application I wanted to interact with, without any hassles.
AdvertisementEven with this top tier display the Galaxy Watch 5’s screen suffers from the same issue that I face on all smartwatches including the Garmin Venu 2 Plus, that I recently reviewed. I cannot interact with the watch with my gloves on. I ride my motorcycle with the gloves on. Hence if I am out, I would like to tend to notifications without taking them off. I hope smartwatch brands take cognizance of this issue, and we have a solution sooner than later.
OS and User Interface
Pairing the Galaxy Watch 5 is as seamless as doing two taps. Especially if you are a Galaxy smartphone user which in my case was the Galaxy Z Flip 4. For other Android phones, downloading the companion app is one additional step.
iPhone users note that the Galaxy Watch 5 is not yet compatible with iOS devices. This is a bit disappointing, especially for me since my primary device is in fact an iPhone 12. However, if you are an iPhone user the Apple Watch SE is an alternative in the same price bracket.
Coming back to the user interface, the Galaxy Watch 5 runs on Google Wear OS with a Samsung One UI skin. This amalgamation of two behemoths on a wearable device could have gone entirely wrong, but fortunately it doesn’t. Combining One UI’s beautiful animations, easy to understand functions and quick response time with Wear OS DNA results stable and intuitive experience.
The Galaxy Watch 5 can be given your own flavor thanks to the buffet of customisation options. From changing wallpapers, to adding themes the UI lets you play around as per your style. You can even customize the colour theme of individual elements on the screen which is fun to do. This makes the interaction even more personal.
Customization also bounces over to the action buttons. The main switch with a red trim can be customized as a shortcut for upto two functions. These functions can be triggered by pressing it twice or a long press respectively. I had set the double press trigger as a shortcut to Samsung Health since that allows me easier access to my workout metrics. The long press for me was the power off shortcut.
Things are not very democratic with the bottom trigger. Since it can be customized to either be a back switch or a shortcut for the recent apps menu. I chose the former.
Next thing which stands out for me are the animations. To the point that for me, the animations here are some of the best I have seen on a smartwatch. Maybe the best. Tap on any part of the icon, and it reacts in a unique way. For example, tapping on the step counter will take a glide and show you the steps. Another favorite of mine is how the stick figures are exercising when you select a workout. I also like the haptic feedback paired with the animations. It’s not too hard to disturb you, but effective enough for you to notice it.
The utility of the UI here is also commendable. We see a bunch of apps that can be used effectively. Like the calculator app that also comes with the unit converter and a tip calculator for some reason. You also get a voice recorder on the watch, which for a journalist is fairly convenient. Since you can record a particular audio byte on a tap here. It is a niche use case, but important for me to highlight. You can also control the camera app from the watch, however it only lets you access the primary camera and not the front camera.
AdvertisementNotifications pop ups and notification management is also a strong suite for the Galaxy Watch 5. The pop ups here are subtle and show up on top of the screen like a Galaxy phone. You can either tap on them or slide them to read later. It is also easy to clear notifications here. The ecosystem is strong here since answering notifications from the watch clears them from the device as well.
You can also interact with notifications. You do get a full sized keyboard on the watch to type replies directly from the watch. And while it is as precise as it can be, you can’t write more than a sentence here. If you wish to respond in detail you can use audio dictation, which is generally more reliable.
While that was for the things I liked, it’s time I highlight the not so good things with the UI.
Starting with Bixby. I have not been very lucky with voice assistants on Android smartwatches, and unfortunately the case with the Galaxy Watch 5 remains the same. To be fair, Bixby is quick to respond but becomes sloppy in executing the tasks requested to do. To the point that I would generally give up and interact with the watch directly. This is a dud, especially for an Apple watch user like myself. There, simply saying Hey Siri will light up the Apple Watch and then you can ask for the world from it. I sincerely hope that Samsung makes it more user friendly in the future. Fortunately a saving grace is that you get Google Voice assistant here, but voice prompts are not the strongest suite there as well.
Another surprising element for me was the selection of third party applications on the watch. For example we get the outlook application on the watch, but not gmail. I tried looking it up at the Playstore but couldn’t find it either. Yes we get notifications for gmail, but not having a native app on the watch is surprising to say the least. Fortunately music apps like Spotify and Youtube music are all here.
AdvertisementBefore closing this section, I have to share some thoughts on the virtual dial situation. Swiping your finger across the top half of the dial swings past a customisable set of tiles. This will need some getting used to, and the first couple of times you might miss out on the tyle you wanted to land at. But over time with muscle memory in place, it becomes easier to handle.
Overall, the Galaxy Watch 5’s UI is solid as a complete package and definitely a step in the right direction for the wearable space.
On paper Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is loaded with every essential sensor you expect from a top tier smartwatch. And all of them mostly deliver precise data.
Starting with the Workout part of the watch. The Galaxy Watch 5 doesn’t provide a very wide variety of activities by itself like HIIT that we get to see on Garmins. But the ones that it does provide are in fact more common.
This includes weight training, indoor cycling and swimming as well. I used the watch while doing my weight training and the rep and the count was spot on. The watch counts each and every rep without missing a beat and also tells you the heart rate in realtime. This is surprising since you can see the heart rate increasing and decreasing in realtime while you lift a dumbbell. Quite impressive.
This precision in tracking is carried forward to the step counter as well. The steps increase in realtime when you are walking or running. So if by the end of the day the watch reads a certain number of steps, they are precise.
Along with the reps and step counter, the Galaxy Watch also shows you calorie count while you are working out. This gives you a realtime idea of the calories you are burning in a specific exercise.
You can always look at this data in a compiled format on the watch or Samsung Galaxy health app on your device.
Overall, in terms of workouts, even with its limited amount of workout modes, the Galaxy Watch 5 fairs well. Yes, it might not be the best choice for someone who has a very specific use case and regimen. But if you are someone who works out just to stay fit and keep a track of your health then it can be a good choice for you.
There is a Blood Oxygen saturation sensor onboard as well. The results of which are generally in line with the SpO2 medical device. Yet, I will not recommend using any smartwatch for a final verdict when it comes to Blood Oxygen level especially if you have a medical history.
You also get a sleep tracker on the Galaxy Watch 5, which is in line with what the competition is offering. The sleep tracker uses SpO2 monitor in realtime to provide you more insight into your sleeping patterns. This involves assigning an avatar depending on your sleep. It also shows the time when you were in deep sleep or light sleep. The results here are in line with what I measure on my Apple Watch. However, my Apple Watch SE doesn’t have an SPO2 sensor.
You also get a stress monitor on the smartwatch which doesn’t work in real time. But yes you can measure your stress on a tap. And if at all you are stressed it also recommends corrective measures like taking deep breaths.
There is a BioActiv sensor on the smartwatch that tells our overall health by measuring your weight, BMI and skeletal muscle. While I personally won’t rely on it over a regular check up, it does act as a quality of life feature on the product. My assessment for both ECG and Blood pressure sensor remains the same.
The GPS on the smartwatch is also precise and accurate. For my morning walks to the gym, it would show the time and distance without fail and with correct metrics.
Now, the variant with me is in fact LTE, but I used the Bluetooth calling feature instead. The connectivity on the smartwatch is reliable. The call quality was satisfactory and the person on the receiving end could communicate with me without any hassle. So if you like taking phone calls from the wrist, the Galaxy Watch 5 will not disappoint you.
Closing this section with perhaps the weakest quotient of the Galaxy Watch 5, it’s battery. The 410 mAh battery barely lasts for the day. I found myself charging the smartwatch every night before going to bed. This is another factor why you won’t really be tracking your sleep with the smartwatch. An average joe like me, wakes up in the morning and hits the gym, and then gets back to work. The only time when I am not wearing the watch is when I am bathing. Otherwise it is strapped on 24X7. Making the nights the most convenient time to charge it.
Now, if you are an Apple Watch user, you won’t be surprised with these numbers. But if you are planning to shift from a Garmin, get ready to be disappointed.
Charging speed is a positive though, with the watch supporting 10W fast charging. I used a 22.5W charger, and it took about 1 and a half hours to charge it fully.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is a value proposition when we take cognisance of the price that it is offered at. You get a well thought out Samsung UI experience with the added benefits of Google Wear OS. The necessary sensors are all here, which mostly work well. The smartwatch also looks great on the wrist. However, it is not an ideal choice for a hardcore fitness enthusiast, given the limited number of workout modes and one day battery life. Also, skip it right away if you’re an iPhone user.
Now onto a casual user, if you are planning to buy the Galaxy Watch 5, I would recommend going for the Bluetooth only variant over the LTE. It is more affordable and packs in all the features, and I feel most of us can do away with LTE since we carry phones with us all the time.
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