Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: The best Android smartwatch and a great fitness tracker

The Galaxy Watch 5 is still the best Android smartwatch you can buy – the only major criticism we can give it is that it’s more or less the same. It has the same sleek design and impeccable build quality, with an attractive round face, rather than the more technical rectangular design of the Apple Watch. It also has most of the same specs, meaning it doesn’t feel noticeably faster or more responsive than the Watch 4.

There’s a more durable type of sapphire crystal that covers the display, although it will still take a few months of constant wear and tear before the benefits of this become apparent. Beneath the glass is the same bright and vivid OLED touchscreen as before, which wakes up when you raise your wrist or receive a notification, and brightens and dims imperceptibly to match the surrounding lighting conditions, so it still looks natural.

Galaxy Watch 5 vs. Galaxy Watch 4

So what has changed? Well, there’s a bigger battery inside, which partly addresses the main complaint we had with the Galaxy Watch 4. Everyone’s mileage will vary depending on how they use their watch – from Things like always-on display can be turned off to extend battery life further, and allowing the Google Assistant to constantly listen to its wake word will drain it faster. But swapping the 40mm Galaxy Watch 5 for the 40mm Galaxy Watch 4 and changing nothing else to our routine resulted in a noticeable improvement in battery performance.

Battery life

In our tests, the Watch 5 comfortably reached 24 hours on a single charge, that is, with overnight sleep tracking and around 30 minutes of outdoor exercise. Connecting to our phone while working out means Watch 5 can share GPS signal and mobile data, which saves battery. Use the built-in GPS or opt for the 42mm or LTE version of the watch with a bigger battery, and you’ll have a totally different experience. On our wrists we see a small battery boost – not enough to rush out and upgrade the Watch 4, but it’s there.

The larger battery capacity means the Galaxy Watch 5 is slightly thicker, but it hides it well with an imperceptibly more rounded back plate. Samsung is touting this change as giving the watch a larger surface area and therefore more contact with your skin, leading to more accurate biometrics. In practice, you won’t notice any huge difference in health data from the already excellent sensors.

fitness tracking

Samsung’s wearable tracks the basic daily metrics you’d expect, such as heart rate and steps, but it’s also designed to monitor blood oxygen levels (a measure of your overall fitness) and track the quality of your sleep, among other things, listening for snoring. Like last year, the Galaxy Watch 5 has “bioelectrical impedance analysis” which attempts to measure body composition by running an electrical signal through your insides for a few seconds.

We’ve always found the Galaxy Watch 4 to give reliable results that differ from other body composition tests we’ve done – notably on the Withings body+ smart scale (£89.95, – but they’re at least regularly different. If you stick to one way of measuring your body composition rather than switching between different tools, you’ll be able to track any physical changes as you progress through a fitness regimen or fitness change. regime.

If you have a Samsung phone – and only If you have a Samsung phone, the Galaxy Watch 5 can also track blood pressure and use an electrocardiogram to record your heart’s weak electrical signal to detect possible issues, such as atrial fibrillation. Aside from headline-grabbing news stories about life-saving smartwatches, health experts still doubt the value of healthy people getting regular screenings for heart issues and dismiss these ECG features as gimmicks. . Some cardiologists believe that regular ECG screening might even do more harm than good by causing anxiety and misdiagnosis. But where Apple is going, others must follow.


Aside from the usefulness of ECG measurements, knowing that a few Galaxy Watch 5 features are only accessible on Samsung smartphones takes the shine off for other Android users. The setup experience on non-Galaxy phones is also a little weird, requiring you to install three apps for a full interface with the watch. You have the Galaxy Wearable app and the Galaxy Watch5 plugin. You also have the Samsung Health app, which is beautifully designed and one of the best health apps, but jealously guards all the data your watch produces and refuses to share. It is not possible to easily sync your health data with other apps such as Google Fit without the use of a Fourth app, a third-party app called Health Sync, made by a guy in the Netherlands.

Like Apple, Samsung sometimes likes to design its phones and watches as if no other company in the world exists. But the reality for anyone who doesn’t have a Galaxy device or who already uses Samsung Health is accepting a bit of a hoop jump when it comes to navigating watch features. Samsung has at least softened up on this in recent months, allowing greater control over which payment apps and virtual assistants you can use and what certain buttons do.

Galaxy Watch 5 vs. Pixel Watch

One of the main reasons Samsung might be easing those restrictions now is for the soon-to-be-unveiled Pixel Watch, which might reduce some of the rough edges Galaxy Watch owners have with non-Galaxy phones. Not much is known about Google’s first smartwatch, but we can be sure the wearable will be designed to pair seamlessly with Pixel phones, and would at least aim to be the watch of choice for consumers. Android users more generally. Google is barely a blip on Samsung’s radar when it comes to phone sales, but a new challenger could present the Galaxy Watch with competition in a race for the clothes it’s so far dominated.