Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: Not ‘Pro’ enough, but still the second best Android smartwatch

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: Not ‘Pro’ enough, but still the second best Android smartwatch

One of the things we snarky tech reviewers often joke about is that smartphones have overused the “Pro” naming scheme to the point the word has lost its meaning. When every smartphone is a Pro, and the differentiating factors between Pro Android phones and the non-Pro variant is a curved screen and maybe a zoom lens, maybe it’s time companies come up with another moniker.

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Samsung is doing the same with its newest smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. For the record I love this watch — I think it looks great, and it lets me respond to chat messages or access a functional voice assistant directly on the wrist, which are two of my biggest “needs” from a smartwatch. But there’s really not much that separates the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro from the standard Galaxy Watch 5. The Pro watch is bigger, made of tougher materials, and has longer battery life — that’s about it. I’m not saying these things don’t matter, but a smartwatch probably needs to offer more than that to be called Pro, right?

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The Galaxy Watch 5 series are still the best smartwatches for Android though because the competition is still lagging in features. If you aren’t using an iPhone and you want a smartwatch, you should probably get one of the Galaxy Watch 5 — the question is do you really need this Pro model, or will the excellent standard model suffice?

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro


Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Price and Availability

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is available now, priced at $449 for the WiFi model or $499 for the WiFi + 4G LTE model. If you order from Samsung.com, you have several trade-in options to lower the price to $209; there are also financing plans.

      The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro offers a large, vibrant display, at least three day battery life, and a premium design crafted out of sapphire crystal and titanium casing.

        Pros:

        Cons:


    Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Specifications

    Specification Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
    Materials & Size
    • 45mm
    • 20mm D-Buckle Sport band
    • Titanium Case
    Dimensions & Weight
    • 45.4 x 45.4 x 10.5mm
    • 46g
    Display
    • 1.4-inch AMOLED display
    • 450 x 450p resolution, 330PPI
    • Sapphire Crystal Glass (2x stronger than Galaxy Watch 4 series)
    Processor
    • Exynos W920 Dual-Core 1.18GHz
    Memory
    • 1.5GB RAM
    • 16GB internal storage
    Battery & Charging
    • 590mAh battery
    • WPC-based wireless charging
    Sensors
    • Accelerometer
    • Gyroscope
    • Barometer
    • Ambient Light Sensor
    • Optical Heart Rate Sensor
    • Electric Heart Sensor (ECG)
    • BIA (Body Composition Analysis)
    • Continuous Sp02
    • Skin Temperature Sensor
    Connectivity
    • Bluetooth 5.2
    • Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz & 5GHz)
    • GPS
    • NFC
    • LTE
    Durability
    • IP68 rating for dust and water resistance
    • Waterproof up to 5ATM
    • MIL-STD-810H certification
    OS Wear OS powered by Samsung
    Colors
    • Case:
      • Black Titanium
      • Gray Titanium
    • Band:
      • Black
      • Gray

    About this review: Samsung loaned me a Galaxy Watch 5 Pro for testing. The company did not have any input in this review.


    Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Hardware and Design

    • The 1.4-inch, 450 X 450 AMOLED display looks great and gets bright enough for usage under sunlight
    • Titanium casing with a raised lip
    • Silicon band with deployant clasp fit more wrist sizes better than typical notched straps

    Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

    The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro only comes in one size — 45mm — and it’s a relatively big size. I like how it looks on my wrist, but friends have said it looks a bit oversized. The 1.4-inch, 450 X 450 AMOLED screen looks great and is protected by not just sapphire glass, but also the raised lip from the titanium casing. This probably makes the screen harder to crack than other smartwatches, but I haven’t been able to test it as I (luckily) haven’t fallen off a bicycle or clanged my wrist against things in the past week.

    Galaxy Buds Pro 5

    My model comes with the grey color silicon strap secured by a deployant clasp, and I like that it allows for a more precise fit on my wrist. With other smartwatches, my wrist size sometimes falls between two notches — meaning, it’s either a bit too tight or too loose.

    The strap and clasp of the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

    Samsung’s done away with the rotatable bezel in previous years’ Classic model, while many people including myself liked the tactile feeling of physically twisting a bezel, this change is likely for the better, as the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is now entirely one piece with no moving parts, which improves durability. The digital bezel is still here — you run your finger along the edge of the screen to cycle through the UI, and the haptics do a solid job of recreating that tactile feeling.

    Galaxy Watch 5 Pro without the straps

    The watch has two hardware buttons, and the long-press or double-press triggers can be customized. By default, a long press of the top button triggers Bixby, and the bottom button brings up Samsung Pay. I got rid of both right away and replaced them with Google Assistant and Spotify.

    The watch is equipped with every sensor you can think of for a smartwatch, including the basics like accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, but also both optical and electric heart sensors and BIA (Body Composition Analysis). The latter was introduced in last year’s Galaxy Watch 4, and it essentially detects the wearer’s body fat percentage by sending electrical signals through your body. There’s also an infrared skin temperature sensor, which is new for this year’s watch, but it’s not available to use at launch.

    Powering the device is the dual-core Exynos W920 chip with 1.5GB RAM and 16GB of storage, these numbers remain unchanged from the Galaxy Watch 4. The Exynos chip was an upgrade for the Watch 4 last year, so it’s okay that it remains the same this year. Also unchanged is the IP68 rating.


    Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Setup and Software

    • You setup using Samsung’s own app, not Google’s WearOS app
    • Samsung’s app is too segregated, you have to download and install a series of plug-ins just to access basic functionality

    The Galaxy Watch 5 is technically a WearOS watch, but the software still feels very much like Samsung’s Tizen-era smartwatches. In fact, you can’t set up the watch using Google’s WearOS app, you must use Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable. The watch’s UI is mostly fine — having access to Google Maps, Assistant, and the Play Store is a huge bonus — but I have one big gripe. To access many basic functionalities, like running an ECG (electrocardiogram), the watch prompted me to download an additional app on my phone. Worse, the app needed to be downloaded from Samsung’s app store, not Google Play.

    This isn’t unusual for Samsung devices, by the way. In order to take advantage of some simple Galaxy Fold UI customization, you have to install Good Lock and then install several plug-ins within the app too. I don’t know why Samsung can’t just have one app that does everything the product advertises. You wouldn’t need to install a separate app just to check ECG on the Apple Watch.

    Otherwise, the companion app is fine, it shows me detailed information on my sleep and exercise data. Samsung’s watch face selection, while still lacking compared to what’s available for the Apple Watch, is better than most Android options.


    Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Performance

    • Accurate fitness tracking as far as I can tell
    • Can respond to incoming text messages directly on the wrist
    • Much zippier than most non-Samsung WearOS watch
    • 3-4 day battery life

    galaxy watch 5 pro

    I’m long past the days of being very active or participating in sports — age and busy work life have taken their toll — but the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro can track steps, and automatically measure more strenuous walks quite well. The latter kicks in automatically whenever I walk faster than normal for an extended period of time. The number of workouts available to select is overwhelming, and just like with every other smartwatch, it is packed with pointless exercises to pad the overall count — do we really need a workout dedicated to arm curls?

    I did do one HIIT session wearing both the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and the Apple Watch 7 and Samsung’s wearable kept track of my heart rate and cardio zone accurately as promised, and produced similar numbers as Apple’s device.

    There is a new tracking feature that’s sort of “Pro” — the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro supports GPX (GPS exchange Format File), which is a file that keeps geographic information during hikes and cycling, but I didn’t get to test this. Truth be told, I think even $50 Xiaomi fitness bands these days do more than a good enough job of tracking our workouts, I don’t need to pay well into three digits for a smartwatch to tell me how many steps I’ve walked or how long I slept.

    Battery life and using the watch as a daily tool

    Instead of fitness tracking, I’ve always felt like the biggest reason a smartwatch can justify its existence (to me, at least) is if it can let the wearer check their phones less often. And the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro can do this, because I can receive and respond to most messages, whether it be Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat, or Telegram.

    This may sound simple enough for readers who’ve been using Apple Watches, but the ability to respond to messages directly on the wrist is a rarity in the Android space! Most smartwatches from Chinese brands like Xiaomi or Huawei cannot do this (I can only read the message, I can’t interact with it). Fitbit only allows me to pick from a series of canned responses like “On my way!”. Most WearOS watches technically can respond, but most of them run on such outdated hardware with terrible voice dictation that the effort is not worth it.

    voice dictation on the galaxy watch 5 pro

    Even Samsung only really figured this out starting with last year’s Galaxy Watch 4, the first Android smartwatch in which I can read and respond to a WhatsApp message directly on my wrist without ever touching the phone.

    You can respond to messages via voice dictation, on-screen keyboard, or scribbling. I’d say voice dictation works best, but the other two options get the job done too. I receive probably over 100 text messages a day, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro at least allows me to take care of a third of them without needing to touch the phone.

    I receive a lot of text messages, and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro allows me to read and respond to them without touching my phone

    Otherwise, the watch zips around the UI and can do things like launch apps much faster than many other WearOS watches I’ve tested in recent years. Having access to things like Google Maps, which will alert me of navigation directions on my wrist, is highly useful. Battery life can go at least three days, likely more. I marked my first battery cycle and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro lasted 92 hours, which is almost four full days. My second battery cycle didn’t go as long, needing a charger after three and a half days. These are big improvements over previous Samsung wearables.


    The biggest argument against the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the standard Galaxy Watch 5

    Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

    You should buy the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro if: 

    • You want the most feature-packed smartwatch on Android, regardless of the cost
    • You are a fan of Samsung’s Galaxy Watches but find battery life lacking in other models

    You should not buy the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro if:

    • You don’t like big and bulky watches
    • You don’t need the extra features the Pro model brings over the non-Pro model

    Ultimately, I think the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s performance is excellent, but most of the stuff I love are really basic things that shouldn’t be noteworthy in 2022, like the ability to respond to WhatsApp and ask Google for directions.

    This is more of an indictment of how poor the Android smartwatch market is. Huawei makes in my opinion the best-looking and most premium-feeling smartwatches around, but what good is all that if I can’t interact with notifications, use voice assistant or even start a Spotify session? Fitbit watches, as recently as earlier this year, still take like 10-15 minutes to pair to a new watch and the UI lags when doing the most basic tasks like changing watch faces.

    But there is one other watch that can mostly match the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s performance — the non-Pro model which is much cheaper at $270 for the WiFi model.

    The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro offers a larger display, sturdier build (while also being thicker and heavier), longer battery life, and GPX support, but is this worth an extra $180? I think for most people, that’d be a no. Samsung probably needs to add even more features to really earn the name Pro — and the extra cost — next year.

    Whatever the case, the best non-Apple Watch on the market right now is a Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 series. Perhaps Google can change this in a few weeks.

      The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro offers a large, vibrant display, at least three day battery life, and a premium design crafted out of sapphire crystal and titanium casing.

    About author

    Ben Sin
    Ben Sin

    I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.

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