The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is for people who like to work out outside and want more than a regular Samsung watch can offer. It lives up to its promise of being a tough, sporty device, but Garmin fans probably won’t switch because it’s still a smartwatch and not a performance tool.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the newest and possibly best smartwatch that Samsung has made so far. It’s marketed 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 that Samsung and Apple, with its new Apple Watch Ultra, have both gone in the same direction with their latest high-end devices. But when I used the Samsung, I couldn’t deny that it was impressive for a regular smartwatch. However, I don’t think users of Garmin, Coros, or Suunto GPS watches will switch.
As the new “Pro” label suggests, the watch is bigger and better than the rest of the Watch 5 line. It has a bigger battery, more powerful features, and special features that the other watches don’t have. But even though the battery is better than the ones in other models in the same line, like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, it still can’t do what most fitness watches can. It costs about the same as, say, the Forerunner 745, which lasts about three times as long.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a big piece of tech that stands out. The screen is the first thing you notice. It’s clear and bright, and it’s very easy to swipe through. It has a big 1.36-inch screen that is surrounded by a raised bezel to protect it from drops. It took up a lot of space on our wrist, but since we were used to wearing big Garmins, it didn’t feel strange. But people who are used to smaller smartwatches might think it’s too big.
It’s also said that the Sapphire crystal glass and titanium case make it twice as durable as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. This means that it’s ready for an adventure. Fittingly for Samsung’s toughest watch yet, the slightly raised bezel gives it a little more protection and adds to its outdoorsy feel. However, I wouldn’t call it “rugged” because I’d still worry about catching the watch screen on a corner of something, whereas I’d throw other dedicated watches through the ringer with reckless abandon.
The silicone band with a hinged d-buckle is only available on the Watch 5 Pro. The standard Watch 5 doesn’t have this sporty band. It’s a useful piece of gear that looks good with the Black Titanium colorway watch we tried, but I wouldn’t wear it to a formal event. In the near future, leather bands will be available.
The IP68 rating for water resistance means that the Watch 5 Pro can be submerged for more than 30 minutes at depths of more than one meter. This is a step up from many regular smartwatches and adds to the fitness credibility of the watch. Digital watches like Garmins, Suuntos, Amazfits, and even Casios should be able to handle being in salt water, whether you’re doing your first triathlon or going for an hour-long surf with some friends. The Watch 5 Pro can join them pretty well.
The Watch 5 Pro has more health-related features than the regular model. The Pro is the only one with the “route workout” GPS feature, which lets you 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 don’t think too many people will bother to upload their own routes into Samsung Health. However, this watch is really for go-getters and weekend warriors, the kind of people who might do this. In the Garmin app, you can make GPX route files, which is not possible in the Samsung Health app.
To get the most out of the Watch 5 Pro, you need a Samsung phone and the Samsung Health and Samsung Wear apps. This is because everything is done through the Health ecosystem. Samsung Health is not available? You can still record information, but you won’t be able to see as much detail and won’t be able to use some features.
The route workout function has haptic vibrational cues that tell you where to turn so you don’t have to look at your watch while running or cycling. It also has Track Back so you don’t get lost. Just turn on Track Back, and the watch will show you the safest way to get back to where you started.
It all sounds very Garmin, and it’s nice to see these kinds of features on a Wear OS watch. I liked that the watch had full-color maps and that the haptic feedback was easy to understand, even though the route I took in London was mostly straight with few turns.
During our tests, the GPS accuracy of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro matched that of my phone when I went for a run. The difference in time was well within my margin of error. With access to the Glonass, Beidou, and Galileo satellite networks, the Watch 5 Pro’s GPS is impressive, but I’m more impressed by how well it tracks running.
Based on the Watch’s internal gyroscopes, it can measure vertical oscillation (whether you bounce up and down when you run instead of moving forward) and upper-body stiffness. I had no way to check how accurate they were, but the way the graphs are set up so that you can see each stat for each minute of your run was so cool. People who know how to run will get a lot out of this.
During my first tests, the BIA sensor was very easy to use and gave me a reading very quickly. I checked how accurate it was by comparing it to a set of smart scales, the Wyze Scale X. The watch was very accurate, coming within 2% of every metric, which is good enough for everyday health purposes.
I’m also really impressed by how, unlike many of its competitors, Samsung gives you real advice on how to improve your sleep instead of just giving you a lot of useless data. It will give you a sleep profile that looks like a cute animal, just like Fitbit’s new feature, and offer you one of eight 28-day sleep coaching programs. These programs will use your sleep analysis report to help guide you through steps to get better sleep.
After using the watch for more than a week, we can say that it’s the best fitness-focused Wear OS watch we’ve tried. It’s not cheap at all, and neither the metrics nor the fitness tools are any good. The battery life is pretty good for a smartwatch, but it isn’t as good as a fitness tool. The watch has a beautiful screen, is well made, and is big, but the titanium case and raised bezel aren’t what we’d call rugged.
It’s clear that it has the power and skills to beat all of its competitors. It might even be able to compete with the Apple Watch Ultra in terms of performance, but we’ll have to wait to see if that’s true.
But will real outdoor lovers give up their Suuntos and best Garmins in droves and switch to Wear OS? We think they won’t. This is an outdoor watch for people who already want a smartwatch. It is not a specialized tool for triathletes and polar explorers. Samsung may brag about how rugged and extreme it is, but this watch is for weekend warriors who want a stylish watch that can also handle rough situations.