Samsung hosted its annual Unpacked event on Aug. 10 where we got our first look at many new devices in the company’s lineup, including two new foldable phones in the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Z Galaxy Fold 4 as well as the new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro premium wireless earbuds. We also saw two new smartwatches for the first time: the consumer-oriented Galaxy Watch 5 and all-new, rugged Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. There’s plenty in each watch to talk about, so let’s dive in.
How to preorder the Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro
The Galaxy Watch 5 will start at $279.99 for the regular Bluetooth versions and $329.99 for one with LTE. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro will be more costly, priced at $449.99 for Bluetooth and $499.99 for LTE. Both are going up for preorder today, Aug. 10, and will go on sale Aug. 25.
As always, Samsung is having some special promotions through its online store to celebrate. Those who preorder one of the new watches will be eligible to receive a Wireless Charger Duo, savings of up to $125 with a Galaxy Watch trade-in and a $50 Samsung credit. If you order from Best Buy, you’ll get a free $40 gift card with a Watch 5 or a $60 gift card with a Watch 5 Pro.
Samsung also says it will be selling a special Golf Edition that can help give golfers directions and recommendations while on the course. It’ll come with custom watch faces, a lifetime membership to the Smart Caddie app and a unique two-tone band. It’ll cost a bit more than the regular Watch 5, starting at $329.99 for the Bluetooth models. It’s available exclusively through samsung.com.
Check out all of our Galaxy Unpacked coverage
The Galaxy Watch 5 iterates on the Watch 4’s design, while the Watch 5 Pro delivers on durability
On the surface, the Galaxy Watch 5 isn’t much different than the Galaxy Watch 4. It offers a very similar aluminum design that comes in the same 40mm and 44mm sizes. There are some new colors this time around — the 40mm gets Graphite, Pink Gold and Silver, while the 44mm model comes in Graphite, Sapphire and Silver. Respectively, the two sizes come with 1.2-inch and 1.4-inch Super AMOLED displays with resolutions of 396 x 396 and 450 x 450.
That’s identical to what the Galaxy Watch 4 offered, but what the new version improves on the outer displays. Samsung uses its new Sapphire Crystal glass, which is 60% harder than before, helping to further prevent cracks and scratches. It’s also worth pointing out that Samsung is now branding the aluminum body as “Armor Aluminum,” which is the same material you’ll see on the new Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4 phones.
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is Samsung’s toughest watch yet, with a titanium body and an even stronger Sapphire Crystal display. The bezel is raised around the screen to add some extra protection, and it comes with a more rugged band selection. It offers the same 1.4-inch Super AMOLED display as the 44mm Watch 5, but it’s only available in that size, along with a much beefier form factor that’s thicker and heavier than the standard watches. The Watch 5 Pro felt noticeably heavier than the standard Watch 5 in our short hands-on time, but not to the point where it was uncomfortable to wear.
In addition, all three variations of the Watch 5 come with 5ATM and IP68 certifications (meaning they can handle a quick swim or shower) as well as military-grade drop protection.
Smarter health features
The Galaxy Watch 5 series uses the same 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor that debuted on the Watch 4, which combines optical heart rate, electrical heart signal and bioelectrical impedance analysis sensors into a single unit. This powers all of the normal fitness features you’ve come to expect like heart rate tracking, body composition monitoring, electrocardiogram (ECG) support and blood oxygen levels. Samsung says the Watch 5 is now capable of obtaining more accurate readings from those sensors when on your wrist. In addition, the company added a new temperature sensor that uses infrared technology so you can stay on top of your wellness.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro adds a new fitness feature: GPX compatibility. GPX is a file format that can track routes, waypoints and more by recording data captured by a GPS. With the Watch 5 Pro, Samsung uses the technology to track Route Workouts, perfect for when you’re taking a hike or bike ride and want to remember the path you took. Your watch will also provide turn-by-turn directions to help you on your way back.
When it’s time to recover from a workout, Samsung says the new Galaxy Watch 5 series offers an improved suite of tools like customized recommendations on water consumption based on sweat loss and post-cardio heart rates. Sleep tracking is also better on the Watch 5, thanks to new Sleep Scores that monitor stages of your downtime and provide insights on snoring, blood oxygen levels and more. New Sleep Coaching features are also on board to help guide you on a path to better sleep.
Bigger batteries, slightly new software, identical specs
The Galaxy Watch 5 series comes with bigger batteries across the board. According to Samsung, the 40mm and 44mm Watch 5 models have 284mAh and 410mAh cells, respectively, which are 13% larger than the Watch 4 series. That’s pretty reassuring to hear — the Watch 4 series didn’t exactly do that well in the battery department, so any improvement is welcome.
On the other hand, those who want the best battery life might want to look at the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Samsung says that the watch comes with a 590mAh cell, 60% larger than what was available in the Watch 4. That might translate to multiple days of usage on a full charge, but we’ll of course have to test that to tell whether it’s true.
The software shipping on the Watch 5 series is Wear OS 3.5 with Samsung’s One UI Watch on top. According to the company, the updated interface will support a “fuller” typing experience, easier ways to make phone calls and a new suite of accessibility features. It’s not a major upgrade like Wear OS 3 was for the Watch 4 last year, but at least there’s some new stuff.
What’s not changing are the under-the-hood specifications. The Watch 5 series comes with the same Exynos W920 dual-core processor as last year as well as 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. Bluetooth 5.2, LTE and the same Wi-Fi standards are also returning, so don’t expect any major upgrades in connectivity.
The Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro look like solid upgrades over last year’s Galaxy Watch line, but at least on paper, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to justify a year-over-year upgrade for many people. However, the Watch 5 Pro could appeal to those who want a smartwatch that’s more robust than regular watches and lasts longer on a charge.
We’ll have a review of the new Galaxy Watch 5 smartwatches soon, so stay tuned.