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Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 Pro feels more “Plus” than “Pro”
Samsung's Galaxy Watch is going Pro.
Samsung’s priciest smartwatch offers solid hardware, smart software, and a ton of health-tracking tech. What’s here is good, but the results feel “plus” rather than “pro”.
Samsung's interest in the smartwatch space seems to be set in stone, but its appetite for innovation is anything but.
The biggest Android smartphone brand in the world is always keen to take on the Apple Watch with its own version, but Samsung's vision for what that looks like is always changing. Sometimes, the company puts the classical aesthetics of the timepiece front and centre. Other times, the framing around the Galaxy Watch veers closer to the unapologetic tech-fetishism of its biggest competition.
This time around, Samsung's overall strategy seems relatively conservative. The new Galaxy Watch 5 isn't a huge departure from last year's Galaxy Watch 4. It's the comfort pick for those seeking a companion to their shiny new Galaxy S22 or Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Those who want the best wearable Samsung can make? They're all but bound to end up staring at the spec sheet for the new Galaxy Watch 5 Pro sooner rather than later.
How much does the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro cost in Australia?
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro will cost you $725 outright. That recommended retail price is a solid $230 above and beyond what Samsung is currently charging for the standard Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.
Relative to other comparable smartwatches, that asking price is a tall one. It's far above what an affordable or entry-level option like the Apple Watch SE will cost you. It's even more expensive than the standard Apple Watch Series 8 commands. Still, it can pay to shop around. Here's a quick round-up of pricing for the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro in Australia.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro - Design and features
Where the standard Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 comes in two sizes, those looking to pick up the pro-grade up-sell don't get a choice. It's the single 45mm size or nothing. That alone is going to make Samsung's best smartwatch of the year easier to recommend to some people than others. Those who prefer a thinner fit are out of luck.
Still, with this increase in size comes a buff to the quality of screens you can find on Samsung's snazziest smartwatch. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has a larger 1.36-inch Super AMOLED screen coated in enhanced Sapphire Crystal Glass that's both bigger and tougher than the glass found on the regular Galaxy Watch 5.
On top of looking a little nicer and being a tad larger, Samsung's pro-grade smartwatch also feels more premium to handle. Those who opt for the more expensive Galaxy Watch 5 Pro are getting a wearable made of titanium rather than the aluminium body found in the standard. That material difference does make for a more robust feel, though it also makes the wearable feel fair bit chunkier as well.
Where the standard Galaxy Watch 5 weighs in at 32.8 grams, the Pro comes in at 46 grams. That's a difference of something like 40% on paper, and you can definitely tell the difference in practice. Even if it didn't weigh me down, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro was rarely something I forgot I was wearing.
For better or worse, Samsung hasn't tried to even pretend to reinvent the wheel here. If you didn't like how the company's previous smartwatches required you to set up extra apps and extensions on your smartphone, you're probably not going to like it here.
As opposed to something like the Apple Watch Ultra, it’s very easy to confuse the Galaxy Watch Pro for its more mundane counterpart. Even if it comes with a larger screen and it made of sterner stuff, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro tells much the same story as that of its more mundane counterparts. It's just writing in a bolder font.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro - performance and battery life
It’ll be intriguing to see if the arrival of the Pixel Watch does anything for the Galaxy Watch, but right now it feels like Samsung probably have nothing to look about. There's a clarity and consistency here that Google's debut smartwatch can't quite match, even if it is more eye-catching to look at.
If an Apple Watch is off the table, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is still the next best option out there it comes to both features, performance and durability. Samsung has left little on the table here, opting to cram every bell, whistle and health sensor they can into this thing.
The main attraction here is Samsung's 3-in-1 BioActive heart-tracking sensor, but the list also includes a temperature sensor, accelerometer, barometer, gyro, a geomagnetic tracker and a light sensor that's used for ECG and blood pressure measurements.
You’re stuck integrating it with Samsung Health if you want to use all this data to the fullest, but the fact that the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro runs on Wear OS opens up new app-based possibilities that didn’t necessarily exist for earlier incarnations. For the most part though, what's here is bolder in font than in form.
The setup process for the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is more-or-less identical to the one for this year's Galaxy Watch 5, which itself isn't all that much of a departure from last year's Galaxy Watch 4. If you've used a Galaxy Watch before, you'll be right at home. Samsung’s digital bezel lives on in diminished fashion for those who remember it still exists.
Otherwise, the software interface is primarily oriented around the touch-sensitive display on the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Swiping right takes you to your notifications. Lurching left takes you to any number of preset tiles. Nudging upwards gets you access to all your apps. A swipe downwards gives you the settings. It’s all fairly intuitive, though the tutorials following your first-time setup do come off as a little too eager to hold your hand.
Beyond the quirks and character of the user interface itself, much of what makes up the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro experience is the sense of gentle familiarity running through it. It’s one thing for the bones of this hardware to look as similar as it does to last year’s model, but quite another for the meat to feel as familiar as they do.
Like other smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is geared around both passive and active fitness tracking. The wearable supports over 90 workouts, plus automatic activity tracking whenever it detects a variable amount of activity on your part.
Though neither is particularly unique or new, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro did impress me with how accurate it was when it came to this kind of set-and-forget fitness tracking. I would have been more impressed if it could detect more nuanced or specific styles of workout, but you've got to start somewhere.
Beyond the essentials like dedicated workouts, sleep and heart rate tracking, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro offers up a few other new tricks. For many, the most intriguing of these is route tracking. This is genuinely a neat feature, though I have to admit I’d probably have rated it more if I had the chance to try it out before Apple taught one of its own watches how to pull off the same trick.
As for battery life, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro delivered slightly more than I expected. I’d usually make it through two or so days on a charge with regular usage. If I wasn’t hitting up the gym as much, a third day might even be on the cards.
That said, this facet of the performance here feels like a function of the bigger battery more than anything else. If longevity is something you care about, you’re still probably opting for something cheaper like the TicWatch or a Fitbit Versa.
As nice as it is, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro shines as brightly as it does briefly. The battery live rises above the bar set by past devices, but not by so great a margin that you'll want to celebrate it.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro vs Apple Watch Ultra
The Apple Watch Ultra is going to be overkill for most everyday consumers, but if you're a power user pitting it against Samsung's own high-performance smartwatch then the former comes out ahead on several fronts.
The most significant of these is durability. Where the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro taps out with 50 meters of water resistance, the Apple Watch Ultra is graded for depths of up to 100 meters and extreme temperatures of up to 130 degrees. Apple's high-end smartwatch also gives you a little more screen to work with, though it is heavier as a result.
Last but not least, Apple gives those who shell out for the Ultra their choice of a watchband that suits their individual needs relative to the one-size-fits-all offering from Samsung.
As for areas where the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has the edge, the most notable one is price. Samsung's priciest smartwatch is still significantly cheaper than the Apple Watch Ultra. Depending on how you like to use your high-end smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro might be able to offer better battery life. However, if money and bulkiness are no object and you're looking for the beefiest of smartwatches then the Apple Watch Ultra is going to fit the bill better than Samsung's finest.
Is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro worth buying?
These days, everything in the tech world is either a pro or a plus. Samsung has opted to go ultra in the past, but it's not quite there when it comes to the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. This disconnect invites an awkward question.
Just what's so special about the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro?
If we go by the design alone then Samsung’s argument for what a professional smartwatch is boils down to the notion that more is more. Power users get a few more pixels, a bigger battery and the peace-of-mind that comes with more robust material design. If you took a look at this year's Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and came away wanting. This one's for you. You want more? Samsung will give you more.
The problem is that this year’s Galaxy Watch 5 is already working within the same framework. This year’s second-best Samsung-manufactured smartwatch is already all-in on being more rather than trying anything new. For some, maybe more is enough.
The fact that a lack of originality or innovation are the loudest complaints I can muster here says a lot about how clean and polished the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is at a basic level. But when Apple is setting itself a new bar and going all out with the expensive and overkill Apple Watch Ultra, Samsung’s best effort can’t help but feel a little outclassed.
How does the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro compare?
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|IP68||No||From 46g||See it at Amazon|
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|IP6X||No||From 26.4g||See it at Amazon|
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|IP6X||Yes||From 42.3g||See it at Amazon|
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|IP6X||Yes||61.3g||See it at Amazon|
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|N/A||Yes||36g||See it at Officeworks|
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|IP68||Yes||40.9g||See it at Amazon|