The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is Samsung’s latest and potentially best smartwatch yet. It's certainly pitched as the wearable companion most ready to climb Mount Everest, or at least a steep hill with you, and it's the best Samsung for the job.
It's interesting both Samsung and Apple, with its new Apple Watch Ultra, have taken their most recent premium devices in similar directions. However, in my time with the Samsung, I found it to be undeniably impressive for a regualr smartwatch, but I don't belive Garmin, Coros and Suunto GPS watch users are likely to be swayed.
As befitting the new “Pro” distinction, the watch is bigger and better than the rest of the Watch 5 line, with a bigger battery, more powerful capabilities, and exclusive features. However, even though the battery is impressive compared to the rest of the models in the range such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, it's still far short of what most dedicated fitness watches can do. It's in a similar price range to the Forerunner 745, for example, which lasts around three times as long.
In its favour is everything a regular smartwatch packs: a full-colour, beautiful AMOLED screen, third-party apps, calls, notifications and other true smartwatch connectivity. It could probbaly run Doom if you had a mind to do it. The Watch generally uses its increased power to add more fitness credentials, with additional GPS features including new route generators for endurance workouts, and a reinforced case ensuring the 5 Pro is squarely aimed at the adventurers and athletes.
Otherwise, the Watch retains all its younger sibling’s more holistic health kits, including improved sleep tracking and body composition, alongside great smart functionality courtesy of Wear OS, taking and receiving calls, music controls, and an Exynos W920 dualcore 5nm chipset powering the whole thing. It certainly seems like everything you want in a fitness-orientated Wear OS watch, even if it's not going to replace truly specialist tools.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Price and availability
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro was released on August 26 alongside the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. In the US, it's set to cost $449.99 for the Bluetooth version and $499.99 for the LTE 4G version. Compared to $279.99 for the Bluetooth version of the standard Watch 5, and $329.99 for LTE, that’s quite a jump for the leap in design quality, bigger battery and enhanced GPS features.
In the UK, the Watch 5 Pro is set to cost £429 (Bluetooth) and £479 (LTE). In Australia, the Watch 5 Pro costs AU$799.99 for Bluetooth and AU$999.99 for LTE.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Design and screen
- Big and chunky, with sturdy construction
- AMOLED screen butter-smooth
- Great UX and companion app
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a bulky, but eye-catching device. The first thing you notice is the screen: It's clear and bright and we found it buttery-smooth to swipe through. It’s a big 1.36” display ringed by a raised bezel on the titanium casing to protect the watch from impact. It certainly took up a lot of real estate on our wrist, but as someone used to wearing chunky Garmins, it didn’t feel unnatural. Those used to smaller smartwatches, however, may feel as though it's too big.
The Sapphire crystal glass and titanium casing is also said to be twice as durable as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, ensuring it’s well-equipped to take on an adventure. Fittingly, for Samsung’s toughest watch yet, the slight raised bezel gives it a little more protection, adding to its outdoorsy nature, but I'd struggle to call it “rugged” as I'd still worry about catching the watch screen on the corner of something, whereas I'd throw other dedicated watches through the ringer with reckless abandon.
The silicone strap with a hinged d-buckle band is exclusive to the Watch 5 Pro, as this sporty band is not available with the standard Watch 5. It’s a utilitarian piece of kit, and it looks sleek with the Black Titanium colorway watch we tested, but it's not something I'd wear for a formal occasion. Leather bands are on their way in the near future.
The Watch 5 Pro is IP68-rated water resistant, so it can be submerged for over 30 minutes for depths greater than one meter. This is a step up from many common-or-garden smartwatches, and adds to the watch’s fitness cred. Your Garmins, Suuntos, Amazfits and even Casio digital watches should all be able to withstand the rigors of seawater, whether you’re attempting your first triathlon or going for a surf with some friends for an hour. The Watch 5 Pro can effectively join those ranks.
The UX is satisfyingly designed, too. The watch comes with a smorgasbord of different face options, the familiar heart-shaped equivalent of the Apple Watch’s activity rings, and even the activity profiles offer small animations when selected, which is a lovely touch. For example, the little stick-figure runs when the “running” profile is selected, and swims when you swipe over to the next activity format. The two buttons on the watch side aren’t just there to echo Garmin, but also act as sensors, by which bioelectric impedance analysis scans can be performed by pressing your fingers to them for a minute. More on this later.
The companion app, Samsung Health, is similarly well-designed. When I took this watch for a run, or went into the app on my phone to check my sleep metrics, I was impressed at how deep the data runs and how simple it was to access, showing you your day at a glance. It covers as much ground as Fitbit Premium or Apple Health might, and data nerds won't be short of graphs to look at. All information is presented in an accessible way, something I can't say for all of its rivals.
- Design score: 4.5/5
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Features
- Loads of improved health goodies
- Route trackback feature requires GPX files and pre-loaded routes
- Sleep profiles ensure actionable sleep tracking advice
The Watch 5 Pro offers a wide variety of health goodies, more so than the standard model. Exclusive to the Pro is the “route workout” GPS function, allowing you to plan your route (which you can share with your friends to run the same route together at different times, comparing times as if you were racing). This is done with GPX files, so we can't imagine too many people will bother uploading their own routes into Samsung Health, but this watch is really for go-getters and weekend warriors: just the sort of people who might do such a thing. Garmin allows you to generate GPX route files in-app, something missing from Samsung Health.
It's worth noting you need a Samsung device and the Samsung Health andSamsung Wear apps to make the most of the Watch 5 Pro, as everything is served through that Health ecosystem. No access to Samsung Health? You can still record information, but the detail you'll be able to see, and your access to some features, will be severely limited.
The route workout function offers turn-by-turn navigation courtesy of haptic vibrational cues so you don’t have to look at your watch during runs and cycles, and Track Back to stop you getting lost. Simply activate Track Back, and the watch will guide you back to your starting point by the safest possible route.
It all sounds very Garmin, and it’s nice to see these kind of features on a Wear OS watch. I personally loved seeing full-color maps on the watch, and found the haptic feedback easy to follow, although the route I took in London was by and large a straight road with few bends.
What we were able to check out was the Watch’s body composition feature, which is said to have been improved since the Watch 4 debuted. This is the aforementioned bioelectric impedance analysis scan, the same method smart scales use to determine your body composition. Simply place your fingers to the buttons and start the feature on your phone, sending a current of electricity traveling through the body, moving at different speeds through fat, muscle, and bone. The current calculates these speeds and estimates the ratio of fat, muscle and bone in your body.
This time, you can set body comp targets, and the watch will help you stay motivated and reach those goals through movement reminders, activity tracking and regular BIA testing.
Both the Watch 5 and the Watch 5 Pro get improved sleep tracking, too: as is common in most smart fitness watches, the Watch 5 and Pro both monitor your sleep in terms of how much time you spend awake, in REM, light, and deep sleep, and offer you a total “sleep score”. The watches also take regular blood oxygen levels and monitor your snoring.
Otherwise, the watch offers all the usual bells and whistles such as notification, call accepting/rejecting, and even automatic fall detection functionality. Third-party apps are accessible via the Play store easily enough, and up to 16GB of RAM is enough to store plenty of music.
- Features score: 4/5
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Battery life
- Battery life is said to last 80 hours
- Accurate during our testing with moderate use
- Falls far short of the fitness watch crowd
The Watch 5 Pro offers a 60% bigger battery than the Watch 4, thanks to a 590mAh battery, compared to the Watch 5’s maximum 410mAh for the 44mm version. What that means in terms of the watch’s time between charges is around 80 hours, essentially double that of the Watch 5.
However, if you're making full use of the always-on-display and increased power of its GPS and activity tracking tools, we’re simply not sure if that impressive figure will pass muster. Our Watch 5 Pro unit lasted around 72 hours with light-to-moderate GPS usage and near-constant automatic tracking, with the watch detecting walks and runs and serving me Whatsapp notifications on the reg. I charged it on a Tuesday, and it was at 10% battery by Friday morning.
I work a desk job, so the watch only had to content with my commute and the occasional run. If you're on a weekend adventure, hiking, cycling or running for long periods, I would estimate the watch's usability time to drop to 40-50 hours, great from a smartwatch perspective, but this falls far short of the dedicated fitness watch crowd Samsung wants to take a piece of. If you're a regular adventurer who's not bothered about Wear OS, why wouldn't you get yourself a Coros or Amazfit which lasts ten days rather than four?
- Battery life score: 3.5/5
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Performance
- Health and GPS tools are very accurate
- Endurance athletes get comprehensive metrics
- Sleep tracking is actually useful
During our tests, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro's GPS accuracy matched my phone's during a run, with a time difference well within my margin of error. The Watch 5 Pro's GPS credentials are impressive, with access to Glonass, Beidou and Galileo satellite networks, but I'm more impressed with the running metrics.
The watch offers a suite of well-designed fitness metrics including measuring vertical oscillation (whether you bounce up and down rather than moving forward on your run) and upper-body stiffness, based on the Watch's internal gyroscopes. I had nothing to measure these with to validate their accuracy, but the way the graphs are broken down so you can see each stat during each minute of your run was so impressive. Proper runners are going to get a lot out of this.
The BIA sensor was very easy to use, giving me a reading very quickly during my initial tests. I checked its accuracy by comparing it to a set of smart scales, the Wyze Scale X, and the watch was very accurate indeed, coming within 2% of every metric – certainly good enough for everyday health purposes.
I’m also genuinely impressed that, unlike many of its contemporaries, Samsung gives you actual guidance on improving your sleep, rather than simply overloading you with unusable data. Assigning you a sleep profile represented by a cute animal (coincidentally, just like Fitbit’s new feature), it’ll offer you one of eight 28-day sleep coaching programs, using your sleep analysis report to help guide you through processes to improve your sleep.
I was a “sensitive hedgehog”, a little jittery and easily prone to stress (that tracks), but other sleep profiles include “sun averse mole” that sleeps during the day, and “exhausted shark” that rarely sleeps at all. I’ve previously wondered about the usefulness of sleep tracking data without actionable advice, so using the data served to help you make a positive change is a great move.
- Performance score: 4/5
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: Verdict
After handling the watch for over a week, we can tell you it's the best fitness-orientated Wear OS watch we've tried. It’s certainly not cheap and the metrics and fitness tools are both great and accurate. The battery life is good for a smartwatch but pales in comparison to a dedicated fitness tool. The screen is beautiful and the construction is sturdy and the watch is big, but the titanium case and raised bezel isn't quite what we'd call rugged.
It’s clearly got the power and chops to best all its contemporaries and might even go toe-to-toe with the Apple Watch Ultra in terms of performance, although we'll have to wait to find out if it really can hold its ground with Apple's best.
But will true outdoor enthusiasts will ditch their Suuntos and the best Garmins in droves and embrace Wear OS? We don't think they will. This is an outdoors watch for people who already want a dedicated smartwatch, not a specialist tool for triathletes and polar adventurers. Samsung might ham up its rugged, extreme credentials, but this is for weekend warriors who want a lifestyle watch that can rough it when the time comes.
If you're an active person without being an extreme athlete, and you're looking for a watch that can take you from the office to the trail, this is the watch for you.