Samsung made one of the most significant changes to its smartwatch lineup last year. The Galaxy Watch 4 ditched Samsung’s Tizen OS in favor of the Android-powered Wear OS. This meant users could finally get Android apps and ultimately even use Google Assistant on their smartwatches.

The company usually releases two new models of its smartwatch. It has a different strokes for different folks approach for the lineup. Nowhere is that more evident than the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Though it has the same technical specs as the Galaxy Watch 5, the Pro is aimed at people who live adventurous and active lifestyles.

Is it all that Samsung makes it out to be? Can it be the perfect companion on your hiking, biking and spelunking adventures? That the question we’ll be answering in our Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review.

TL;DR

Design

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a smartwatch that announces its presence on your wrist. Available in just the 45mm size, it’s far from a discreet smartwatch that slips under the cuff. The titanium body isn’t just extremely durable but also lends a look of understated sophistication. The durability credentials are further backed up by the device’s IP68 water and dust resistance rating as well as its MIL-STD-810G certification. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is far from delicate.

Feels nice and sturdy with an overall refined appearance

The new D-Buckle Sports Band deserves an honorable mention here. It goes a long way in improving comfort when wearing the watch for extended periods of time. This is just another example of how Samsung takes inspiration from long-standing solutions that have existed for conventional watches to elevate the smartwatch experience.

Unfortunately, one of those solutions that the company previously embraced has now been shown the door. As Galaxy Watch fans had fears, the physical rotating bezel is missing from the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. You get a thicker inner curved bezel as well with a digital rotating function that’s never going to live up to the satisfying clicks and complete control that the physical bezel provided.

This touch-based navigation is good enough but it could be much better. At times, there is a slight delay when rotating at a certain rate and speed. It won’t be as seamless if there’s been a lot of sweat buildup after exercise. That’s just one of the quirks of the digital bezel, something that Galaxy Watch Active users are all too familiar with.

Despite it’s rugged outlook, Samsung does offer options to personalize the look of your Galaxy Watch 5 Pro using bands and watch faces. The company has introduced several new watch face with enhanced complications for ease of use.

Performance

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro basically has same internal specs as the Galaxy Watch 4. It’s powered by the Exynos W920 chipset and paired with 1.5GB of RAM with 16GB of internal storage. Given its “Pro” designation one would have thought that it would at least have more RAM and storage than the regular Galaxy Watch 5, but sadly that’s not the case.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see that the software and hardware are in complete harmony. There’s hardly any lag when navigating through the difference screens or launching apps. Fitness tracking features are quick to fire up and immediately start doing what they’re supposed to. It’s safe to say that you won’t find this smartwatch lacking in the performance department.

Marriage of convenience between One UI and Wear OS working well

One UI makes this device distinctly Samsung while Wear OS brings unmatched app compatibility and Google Assistant, which most users will definitely be swapping out Bixby for. Look out for Google Maps voice navigation support that’s due to arrive later this year.

One UI Watch 4.5 brings new accessibility features and more customization for other visual elements. You’ll need to use the smartwatch with a Galaxy device for the best possible user experience even though the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro can be paired with any Android device running version 8.0 or up. There’s no support for iOS.

Display

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s 1.4-inch Super AMOLED 450 x 450 resolution display is absolutely gorgeous. There’s always little to fault when it comes to Samsung’s smartwatch displays and it’s no different this year. It’s also protected by sapphire crystal for added durability. Samsung says it’s 60% compared to the Gorilla Glass found in previous models. This is a step in the right direction as users will not have to worry too much about accidentally damaging the display.

One of my most favorite things about the smartwatch is how the 1.4 inch OLED display delivers in clarity and touch response.

Excellent haptic feedback also deserves a special mention

It alone had me navigating around the Watch for the sake of it and also made it feel far less annoying when getting notifications from my Galaxy Fold 4 as an extension to it as most of the time my phone is on silent and or vibrate only during working hours.

Interface

The One UI Watch 4.5 interface delivers an exceptional standalone software experience. The notifications are quick and easy to access with great haptic feedback. Navigating and swiping through the interface is smooth and quick. The app grid at the bottom can be easily accessed and rearranged. Swipe from the top to access quick settings for important tasks such as adjusting brightness, network connectivity, and enabling do not disturb mode.

There are new keyboard inputs that aim to make the experience of typing easier. While it helps, typing on a device with a 1.4-inch display is never going to be a fun experience. Dictation and handwriting will be more useful if you want to shoot quick texts using the device.

You’ll feel right at home

If you’ve been using Samsung smartwatches for a few years now, you’ll feel right at home with the interface of the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. If this is your first time, the controls feel very intuitive and easy to grasp.

Health and fitness

This is where the Pro really comes into its own. Let’s get all of the stuff you’d expect to be on there out of the way. It has all of the same sensors as the Galaxy Watch 4 and thus provides heart rate and electrical heart signal monitoring, ECG, blood pressure monitoring, body composition, sleep tracking, and blood oxygen monitoring. Samsung did say that the sensor package has been upgraded and now sits closer to the skin for greater accuracy.

The only new addition to this package is the infrared temperature sensor. It doesn’t accomplish much at this point other than just providing a temperature reading. Apparently it’s supposed to improve sleep tracking but we’ve yet to see that being implemented. This sensor will be open to developers so third-party apps will be able to leverage it to provide additional health and fitness features. That’s going to take some time, though, so we can’t make any observations on it for now.

The sleep tracking with snore detection is what worked really well and actually impressed me as it was accurate in knowing when I slept and how long for, giving a nice detailed breakdown of my sleep stages in the Samsung Health app. It shows you a detailed breakdown of the total amount of time you snored and also a recording of the times it picked it up. Trust me, hearing a playback of yourself snoring is both scary and embarrassing but I appreciate how well it works on the Watch 5 Pro and the detailed breakdown it gives in the app.
Track Back is a great new feature that Samsung has introduced with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. If you’re mid-hike on a trail and would like to return back to where you started from, this feature will guide you back to that same point. It works as advertised but if you do go off path when returning, the watch may not pick that up. So if you’re hiking somewhere with multiple routes, be extra careful.

This watch is for the seriously outdoorsy folk

The ability to load GPX files to navigate routes is a welcome addition. You can load routes for hiking and cycling, share saved routes and even share them with your friends. Simply download the GPX file on your phone and import it into Samsung Health. The app automatically syncs it to the watch and you’ll then see a Route tile on it.

In addition to these exclusive hiking navigation features, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro does a great job of auto-tracking select workouts. You can also rest assured that all of your gym sessions, whether cardio or strength, can all be accurately tracked with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro as well.

Battery life

Samsung wanted this to be the smartwatch you take on your outdoor adventures without battery anxiety. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has a big 590mAh battery that delivers impressive longevity. It’s safe to say that the battery life expceeded expectations. The faster charging times are also appreciated. I just wish wireless charging wasn’t such a big hassle.

We all use our devices differently so your mileage will certainly vary with the battery. However, battery endurance is noticeably better on this device. For the most part, it would be good for two full days with two full nights of sleep tracking without requiring another charge. This included outdoor GPS-tracked and indoor workouts in addition to general navigation.

Battery life is just insane

It was even possible to stretch it out to three days by disabling Always-On Display and auto brightness. If you’re not tracking workouts or otherwise stressing out the watch, it will easily sail to four days on a single charge. That’s just insane coming from one of the older models. With battery life being one of the concerns preventing people from buying smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro absolutely smashes that out of the window.

Verdict

This is perhaps the most capable smartwatch that we’ve seen yet from Samsung. With exceptional build and design, a great display, improved durability, enhanced health and fitness features in addition to awesome battery life, there’s not much more you could ask from a premium smartwatch.

The question remains, should you buy it? At $449.99, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. There are other smartwatches out there that provide similar hiking-focused features for less. However, they don’t provide everything else that the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro does, and remain unable to utilize the full potential of the Samsung Health ecosystem.

Buy it only if your lifestyle will enable you to fully capitalize on its advanced functionality. Otherwise, a simple Galaxy Watch 5 will suffice. It will have the same specs and software experience, just with a smaller battery. For someone who has the lifestyle to utilize everything that the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has to offer, there’s no better device on the market right now.



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