The lack of real competition is why the Galaxy Watch 5 gets crowned “The best Wear OS smartwatch”

The lack of real competition is why the Galaxy Watch 5 gets crowned “The best Wear OS smartwatch”

After the tremendous success of its first-ever Wear OS watch, the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung is back with a sequel. The new Galaxy Watch 5 is an incredibly minor update over its predecessor. It uses the same design, the same Exynos W920 processor, the same display, and almost the same sensors (except the new temperature sensor). While the Galaxy Watch 5 does not offer much improvement or new features over the previous generation, it is still the best Wear OS watch.

The Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 are Samsung watches through and through

We have to call the Galaxy Watch 5 the best smartwatch for Android not because it is flawless and a perfect product, but because of the lack of real competition and power imbalance in the Wear OS space. It’s no wonder Samsung didn’t feel the need to add anything noteworthy to the Galaxy Watch 5 beyond marginally better battery life and charging speed (and a temperature sensor that has no practical use as of now). Because it had no incentive to push the envelope. For nearly a year, Wear OS 3 was exclusive to the Galaxy Watch 4 series. This ensured that when the Galaxy Watch 5 series comes out, there won’t be any viable alternative smartwatches running the new software on the market.

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Just like its predecessor, the Galaxy Watch 5 is a Samsung watch through and through. Sure, you can connect it with any Android phone, but you won’t get the full experience. Features like ECG and blood pressure monitoring don’t work when the watch is paired to non-Samsung phones, and you have to resort to using a modded Samsung Health app to work around this. You also can’t reprogram the Samsung Pay button to launch Google Wallet. Not to mention, there is also a painfully long setup process that requires installing half a dozen Samsung apps. If you want to buy a Wear OS 3 smartwatch that works with any Android phone without any limitations or restrictions, there’s no viable option right now — unless you can afford the exorbitantly expensive Montblanc Summit 3. Your best bet is to wait for the upcoming Pixel Watch.

    The Galaxy Watch 5 is the best Wear OS smartwatch on the market, offering a stunning design, durable build, and powerful performance.
    The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is aimed at fitness enthusiasts, packing a more durable design and a bigger battery than the standard Galaxy Watch 5.

Wear OS smartwatch options continue to be limited

When Google and Samsung introduced Wear OS 3 last year, it instilled new hope in the Android wearable platform. But fast forward to 2022, and the only Wear OS 3 watches you can buy right now are the Galaxy Watch 4, Galaxy Watch 5, and the super expensive Montblanc Summit 3. Besides the highly-anticipated Google Pixel Watch and the TicWatch launching this fall, we haven’t heard from other companies about their plans to launch a Wear OS 3-powered watch this year. It also doesn’t look very promising that big smartphone OEMs like Xiaomi, OnePlus, and Motorola haven’t shown any interest in releasing a Wear OS smartwatch so far.

If the redesigned Wear OS platform remains in the hand of a few OEMs and Google continues to give preferential treatment to Samsung, we might never see the wearable platform reach its full potential. Lack of competition is not good for consumers, nor for the future of Wear OS.

If Google continues to give preferential treatment to Samsung, we might never see the Wear OS platform reach its full potential.

Before the Galaxy Watch 4 came, Mobvoi’s TicWatch 3 Pro was considered the best Wear OS smartwatch. With its interesting dual-screen and dual processor setup, it provided the perfect blend of powerful performance and multi-day battery life, something no other Wear OS watch had achieved before. It was the first Wear OS smartwatch that ticked all the boxes: smooth performance, fantastic battery life, stellar display, and great health tracking.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and TicWatch Pro 3 with red and white cloth in background

Mobvoi TicWatch 3 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

If Google hopes to see Wear OS achieve greater popularity and success, it must not take the route of exclusivity and preferential treatment. The task ahead of Google is to bring more OEMs on board and give them equal access and support they need to get more Wear OS-powered smartwatches to the market.

We have been waiting for Wear OS to finally take off ever since the launch of the platform in 2014. There’s always this illusion that better Wear OS watches are just a generation away, that this next update will finally fix everything wrong with the platform and that this upcoming processor will finally address the performance and efficiency woes.

Qualcomm’s new wearable chip brings us hope, yet again

On a more positive note, Qualcomm’s new wearable chip looks really promising and might finally lure more players to join the Wear OS league. Unlike older Snapdragon wearable chipsets that were just repurposed mobile chips built on highly inefficient and outdated process nodes, the new Snapdragon Wear 5 Plus is designed for wearables from the ground up.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+ vs Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 comparison table graphic.

Qualcomm says the new chip brings dramatic generational improvements, including 50% better battery life, double the performance, and 30% smaller size compared to the Snapdragon 4100 platform. So far, Mobvoi has confirmed that its next TicWatch launching this fall will pack the Snapdragon W5 Plus.

With Qualcomm finally announcing a powerful wearable chip and Google finally bringing its own smartwatch, we’re once again tempted to assume a positive outlook on the future of Wear OS. Whether this turns out to be yet another illusion or a turning point that leads Wear OS to success, only time will tell.

About author

Kishan Vyas
Kishan Vyas

A loyal Android user since Android 2.1 Eclair. Direct inquiries to [email protected]

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