Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: The god of battery life
Samsung introduced a new brand of devices to its wearable family this year, with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro taking the place of what we assume would have been the Galaxy Watch 5 Classic. Personally, the Classic moniker never really conveyed that it was better than the non-Classic version, so that Pro branding was a really smart move. Does the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro live up to this? Pro name, however? I’ve been wearing it now for a few weeks and have some thoughts to share.
This is our Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review.
what is good
Samsung’s Watch 5 Pro features a 1.4-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 450 x 450 (~321 ppi). It is protected by a layer of sapphire crystal and supports the Always On display. Let me start by saying that it is important for smartwatches to have a good display in all kinds of lighting conditions.
In my experience, this Watch 5 Pro has one of the best screens I’ve used on a Wear OS powered device. It can get exceptionally bright when exposed to direct sunlight, but can also get very dark when you need it. What I liked were the device’s ambient sensors, which automatically adjust screen brightness and do a pretty good job. I haven’t had to manually fiddle with the screen brightness at all since wearing this device, as it always seems to be set to the right levels for my surroundings. I love when a smart device is actually smart like this.
The colors of the device are also excellent, usually highlighted by the face of the watch I’m using. I don’t do much photo viewing or media consumption on a watch, so I don’t think about contrast levels or white balance as much as I do on a smartphone screen, but I enjoyed looking at the Watch 5 a lot Pro. It’s a great display.
Quite frankly, I didn’t enjoy using smartwatches until recently, simply because they always seemed to perform poorly. Even navigating menus on older watches was frustrating due to a lack of fluidity. Today’s smartwatches are very different, thanks to what feels like years of tweaking by Google and its partners, as well as the introduction of more RAM and better chipsets to these devices. It’s 2022 and these devices are finally working the way I think they should.
This Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a perfect example of what I expect from a watch. I want my interactions to be fast and smooth, with the Watch 5 Pro’s Exynos W920 dual-core and 1.5GB of RAM delivering just that. Whether I’m quickly flipping through my info tiles or jumping into an app, this watch always feels fast and while I sometimes say you can’t put a price on great performance, apparently you can at $449+. Yes, of course, there are cheaper devices that can perform the same way, but in my experience, this is one of the best performing Wear OS watches I’ve ever worn.
My favorite aspect of this device is the hardware. Well, the battery is high up there too, but the hardware is so good and solid. It’s relatively heavy, weighing in at 46.5 grams, but that must be down to its large battery (590mAh) and titanium body. It’s a beautiful, traditional-style watch, and the magnetic strap feels nice on the wrist. I can also attest to the durability of the watch. I’ve given it a few good knocks and bumps, but the watch shows no signs of damage. Both hardware buttons work great and have a nice feel when pressed, and I haven’t had any major issues with any sensors or the on-board GPS yet. I’ve worn the watch for many workouts and the heart rate tracking seems really well dialed in, however, I refuse to wear this monster while I sleep. I don’t know how people do that with big watches. I tested the GPS tracking feature on a hike and it seemed to work just fine the second time around, after an initial crash on my first attempt.
Overall I’m really happy with the hardware and just to point out another thing I know we won’t get with the Pixel Watch, this Galaxy Watch 5 Pro lets me use any band I want for a personal style. The Pixel Watch won’t because it will feature proprietary band options. It’s such an Apple thing and I thought most Android companies figured it out, but I guess not.
I mentioned that the hardware is my favorite thing about the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, but right behind the hardware is the battery life. God, this thing lasts for days. I consistently get 3 days of juice from the Watch 5 Pro, but that depends on how much fitness tracking I do and whether I need GPS or not. If you wear the watch and use it to check notifications and control music playback on your phone, you’ll have days of trouble-free life. When I use it for workout tracking for more than 2 hours a day, I can get around a day and a half to two days. If you’re using it for running and there’s a lot of GPS usage, you might find that a lot of battery is being used. It’s silly to say that your battery life will vary depending on how you use it, but yes, that’s the case with all things in this industry. Having experienced a few Wear OS watches in my day, there’s no doubt that the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has the best battery life of any watch I’ve ever used and it’s not even close.
Samsung returned to Wear OS last year with the Galaxy Watch 4 lineup, with a special mix of One UI running. It’s the same this year, with Wear OS as the base for everything, but then Samsung’s skin runs on top. I like what Wear OS has become, being more than just an extended notification panel for your smartphone.
The layout is quite simple: you have your main screen which you can change in an endless number of ways and add/remove complications for tracking certain things, then you have tiles on the right for things like weather , health tracking, apps (YouTube Music , Spotify, etc.), ECG, stress levels, and much more. If you swipe down from the top, you can access the system toggles like on an Android phone, and a swipe up brings up the app drawer. Because it matches an Android phone, it’s pretty easy for anyone to pick it up and use it if they have even the most basic understanding of Android user experience.
And with Wear OS, Google Play and access to many apps. While I personally don’t download a ton of miscellaneous apps because it’s pretty easy to use, I appreciate the variety of apps we all have access to. Be it golf apps, map tracking apps, financial apps and everything in between, I think Samsung’s re-embracing of Wear OS has been a great boon to users. There’s more cohesion in the ecosystem, which is important when trying to avoid Apple’s total dominance in the US market. While access to apps is still great, I’d say the apps themselves could still be a bit more polished. When scrolling through Google Play on the watch, it seems the average Wear OS app rating is around 3 stars, which means that many leave a bit to be desired. I experienced this myself with the YouTube Music app. Personally, I think it’s mostly hot garbage, often unresponsive when I try to interact with it. When you’re in the middle of a run, the last thing you need is for your watch and music to stop working, so I’ve been frustrated on several occasions. I don’t blame the watch, however, I blame the janky app.
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is super expensive at $450 for the WiFi model ($499 for the cellular version), but it’s honestly one of, if not the best, option for Wear OS buyers. The hardware feels outstanding, the software is increasingly advanced compared to other experiences, and the battery life is unmatched by other Android smartwatches. Typically, I wear a Wear OS watch for a few weeks, review it, and then put it back in the box. This is not the case for the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. I’ll be using this thing for a while, that is until it’s time to test the Pixel Watch. I already know pretty much what to expect from this device, so my gut tells me I’ll be wearing the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro again in no time. If you pick up this watch from Samsung, I bet you’ll feel the same too.