Samsung attempted to appeal to a wide audience of potential buyers with last year’s Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. Whether you wanted a large watch strapped to your wrist or felt unwilling to let the rotating bezel die, there was something there for you. With the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, Samsung is attempting to sway a much narrower market: fitness freaks. The sort of buyer who springs for a Garmin watch over the latest from Fossil or Mobvoi, who finds the best of Fitbit just a little too casual.
Designed for the outdoorsy person in all of us, the Watch 5 Pro is built to survive a rugged lifestyle. If a chunky titanium body and crystal glass-covered display aren’t enough to win you over, the massive battery Samsung squeezed in here might be enough. However, whether it’s worth the additional cost over the 44mm Watch 5 remains to be seen.
While Samsung falls a bit short in its attempt to take down Garmin, if you're looking for multi-day battery life on a Wear OS watch, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the one to beat.
- Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
- Battery Life: Up to 5 days
- Operating System: One UI Watch (Wear OS 3 powered by Samsung)
- Onboard GPS: Yes
- Offline Media Storage: Yes
- Water Rating : 5ATM/IP68
- Sizes: 45.4 x 45.4 x 10.5 mm
- Display: 1.36" (450 x 450), 330PPI Always-on AMOLED display
- CPU: Exynos W920 (Dualcore, 5nm)
- RAM: 1.5GB
- Storage: 16GB
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 / Wi-Fi 2.4GHz & 5GHz / GPS / NFC / LTE
- Durability: MIL-STD-810H
- Health sensors: Heart Rate Monitor, BIA, Continuous SpO2
- Price: $450
- Weight: 46.5g
- Workout detection: Yes
- Exercise modes: Yes
- With sapphire crystal glass and a titanium body, this thing is built to take a beating
- Easily reaches three days of battery with mixed usage
- Looks and feels like a premium smartwatch
- GPX maps only support hiking and cycling
- This chunky, heavy design won't be for everyone — or fit everyone's wrist
- The default band is clunky and cumbersome
Design, hardware, what’s in the box
If we’re entering the era of big smartwatches, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro serves as a herald of what’s to come. You’ll need a medium-sized wrist for this smartwatch to blend in, and even then, I worry it might be too attention-grabbing. Generally, I don’t mind big watches, and I think the Watch 5 Pro falls into the “large, but not too extreme to wear” category.
If anything, the downside to Samsung’s design here isn’t the circumference — it’s the weight. You are always aware that this thing is on your wrist, no matter the time of day. For some people, it might make sleep tracking all but impossible. While I had no issues falling asleep while wearing the watch, I can’t say I loved how it felt.
Overall, it’s a cool looking watch — especially in the all-black colorway I’m testing. It’s rugged enough to survive a drop or two, but it won’t look out of place at a fancy restaurant. Samsung has struck a good balance here, even if it came at the cost of the rotating bezel. That feature, previously seen on Samsung's lineup of Classic smartwatches, is nowhere to be seen here.
Unfortunately, I can’t say I care much for the band, which uses a design concept I’ve never seen before. In theory, it’s a smart idea: rather than using a standard watch strap, Samsung opted for a magnetic clasp that keeps the watch always ready to be worn. Just slip your wrist through the whole, close the clasp, and the watch is back on — it’s that simple.
However, this design limits you from easily adjusting the watch. I prefer it tighter on my wrist when exercising than I do during the rest of my day, but to tighten the band, you have to take the entire gadget off. Once it’s in your hands, lift the metal latch that keeps the two ends connected, pull the band through like the band on the back of a baseball cap, and close the latch to keep it in place. Because there’s no way to predict how any particular setting will feel once it’s on your wrist, you might need to go through this three or four times to find the right measurements, repeating the “guess-and-see” process any time you want to make a small adjustment.
It’s not all bad. I like the magnet — its click is incredibly satisfying, and it really stays in place once it’s on your wrist. It’s the fastest I’ve ever been able to put on or take off a watch, too, as it simply slides right off once unlatched. Overall, though, I’m not in love with it, and I’ll probably spend some time trying out other, more traditional bands in the coming weeks.
Although I suspect many potential buyers will find themselves enjoying the magnetic latch system much more than I did, there’s one more thing to keep in mind: reverse wireless charging. Samsung’s Wireless PowerShare feature is a great way to power up your watch while traveling without bringing a dedicated adapter. You'll probably have to take the band completely off to use it with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. The way the band protrudes from the device means it can’t always lay flat on your phone while attached. While I could get it working using a standard Galaxy S21 (with some ultra-precise placement), other reviewers have been unable to charge using a (much larger) S22 Ultra. It’s a massive design oversight sure to frustrate more than a handful of buyers.
The rest of the Watch 5 Pro is similar to what you’d expect from any of Samsung’s recent wearables. The two side buttons feel a little mushy, but they’re easy to click while navigating through menus. There’s no rotating bezel to speak of, so you’ll have to settle for relying on a virtual wheel around the outside of the display. It’s not as satisfying, but it gets the job done. And finally, the haptics feel excellent to my wrist, buzzing away as I receive my daily onslaught of emails and text messages.
In the box, you’ll find the watch with the usual assortment of paperwork and a USB-C (!) 10W charging puck. It’s a significant upgrade compared to the cable included with previous generations.
If you’re looking to upgrade from an older Galaxy-branded watch — even last year’s Galaxy Watch 4 — the screen might be one reason why. While no great improvements to the panel have been made, it’s now covered in sapphire glass, which should stand up better to scratches over time. Samsung says the Watch 5 Pro’s glass, in particular, is even stronger than on the standard Watch 5. Combined with the recessed design, it should stand up to even the most adventurous of outdoorsy types. I can’t speak to how durable the sapphire screen is over years of abuse, but I did accidentally (for real, accidentally) swing it into a doorknob a few days into my review period. No scratches, no cracks.
The 1.4” 450x450 AMOLED display feels about as big as I’d want on my wrist. It’s sharp, vivid, and looks phenomenal indoors. Outside, I found it a little hard to read, especially when navigating through the UI. It quickly smudged from fingerprints and grease, making the screen look dim and foggy — a real problem when you’re checking your distance on a run. The always-on display function works great, though it’s disabled by default. A quick bedtime toggle makes going to bed easy, without any bright lights blinding you at 3 AM.
Software and performance
Although the Watch 5 Pro ships with Wear OS 3.5 and One UI Watch 4.5, there really isn’t much new to the software compared to last year’s Watch 4 series. Samsung’s OS upgrade brought along a (tiny) QWERTY keyboard for typing and limited dual SIM support, but that’s about it. This experience is, more or less, the same one Google and Samsung launched last year, but considering we’re just starting to see Wear OS 3 arrive on rival wearables, that might still be enough.
This smartwatch is my first experience with Wear OS in nearly three years, and in some ways, I think that might match how many buyers are coming to this device. If you haven’t used Google’s wearable platform in a while, you’ll likely be surprised by just how far it’s come along in its current iteration.
Generally, I think Google and Samsung have built a solid foundation for everything smartwatches are good at. Tiles have gotten much better since the last time I tried them out. I really like how it makes the entire OS feel like it’s right at your fingertips, and navigating through them with the virtual rotating bezel controls is great. Everything’s just a swipe away. Similarly, quick settings is easy to get to, and the available shortcuts are expansive enough that it keeps you out of the actual settings menu for most actions. Most importantly, the whole thing feels buttery smooth. Outside of my first day with the device, I didn’t notice any sluggish behavior. No frame drops, notifications were on time, and the watch never overheated.
With my praise out of the way, I want to highlight a few issues that could use some work. First off: apps. Many third-party apps are still missing from Wear OS, even a year after Google and Samsung worked to revitalize it. Where are clients for messaging apps like Facebook Messenger? What about food trackers like Lose It? No category has it quite as bad as podcast apps — outside of Spotify, your choices for well-known podcatchers are slim.
Not every app worked as expected, either. Google Wallet should’ve prevented me from having to set up Samsung Pay, but thanks to the recent name change, I — along with dozens of users on Reddit — can’t add our payment cards to the watch. I’m going to be hard-pressed to trust Google with my driver’s license in the future if it can’t even handle setting up a payment method that’s already on my phone.
I have a handful of other minor complaints surrounding Wear OS at large, though they can all be fixed in future software updates should Google and Samsung feel like improving their platform. The Watch 5 Pro has a bunch of new watch faces in addition to the pre-existing lineup, but I didn’t find most of them to be anything to write home about. I also think Wear OS needs a new passcode lock screen. Some kind of protection is required for mobile payment services — plus, it’s just a good idea in general — but the numbers are so incredibly small, it’s just too easy to type in the wrong combination.
Overall, I think Wear OS is in a good spot right now. If Google can get more developers on board — and maybe add a damn podcast app while it’s at it — I’ll feel more than satisfied with what’s here.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a smartwatch, not a fitness tracker, but I want to focus specifically on its status as a competitor with Garmin. If you want to know all about the sensors included here, AP's Ara Wagoner did an excellent job in breaking all of it down in her review of the smaller Watch 5.
Samsung has positioned this watch to rival that company’s selection of exercise-focused watches — at least, on paper. It’s a savvy marketing move — Garmin has largely been left alone to monopolize the market that finds Fitbit a little more than lacking. Whether it holds up to that promise is an entirely different conversation.
Overall, general fitness tracking is — unsurprisingly — great. Although you can download Google Fit or third-party apps from the Play Store, I stuck with Samsung Health’s pre-loaded exercises. Starting an exercise is quick and easy, and auto-tracking is perfectly reliable. Although I didn’t rely on it for runs, it kicked on like clockwork when out on a walk. Ten minutes in, I’d get a request to start tracking my exercise.
I spent most of my time with the watch testing its fitness tracking prowess by running, my favorite summer activity. I prefer to run without a phone in my hand or my pocket — it’s easier to focus on the path in front of me — so I loaded up the watch with some playlists from Spotify, paired my Pixel Buds, and headed out. GPS tracking was, unfortunately, imperfect. On a run in the park closest to my house, my path matched the trail nearly perfectly. When I drove out to a neighboring town to try another trail, the watch’s records weren’t quite as accurate. These errors likely only affected my distance by a fraction of a mile, but reviewing the path in Samsung Health, it’s noticeable.
I was initially excited to try out GPX maps for running, essentially charting a course on my watch before heading out of the house, but currently, it only supports hiking and cycling. Most GPX map solutions are paid, though you can route some trails yourself using online tools. It’s a cool idea, but I’d like to see Samsung add running to the list. You can’t keep the map open while tracking another exercise — it auto-tracks hiking or cycling in the background, depending on what the map is programmed around.
It feels like a real missed opportunity to compete with Garmin’s runner-friendly watches, which do support running with GPX trails. The idea of loading up the watch with predetermined trails while I’m traveling in other cities sounds perfect, but as it stands, the Watch 5 Pro won’t support it. That said, if you prefer to spend your time outdoors exploring the woods than running down the street, I think those features will do you well. I made a GPX map exploring the area around my house — more of a walk than a hike, but whatever — and the experience was flawless. Navigation and tracking, all rolled into one simple package.
For close to $500, I expected the 5 Pro to better adapt to lots of exercises, not just hiking and cycling. I’m really hoping it gets more features down the road to support other ways of keeping in shape, but I can’t suggest anyone buy it in the hope that these tools evolve. As it stands, Samsung’s watch is no better than any other fitness tracking for running.
If you aren’t buying this watch for its rugged design and focus on outdoor activities, you’re probably buying it for the massive battery Samsung squeezed in here. While the 44mm Watch 5 uses a 410mAh battery, the Watch 5 Pro includes a 590mAh cell — one of the largest we’ve seen in a Wear OS watch to date. With this wearable, Samsung claims 80 hours of battery life on a single charge, but in the real world, results were much more of a mixed bag.
For context, my watch is paired with a Pixel 6 running all of the various Samsung software you’ll need to download during setup. It’s possible that pairing this watch with a Samsung phone will give you better results than I’m seeing, but I haven’t tested it.
On average, I’ve seen at least two full days of battery life during my first week with the watch. That’s far below the rating Samsung provides, though it’ll really depend on what you’re doing throughout the day. I’ve kept the always-on display active at all times except for when I’m headed to bed, which certainly has an effect on battery life. I’ve also avoided relying on Samsung’s battery saver mode, even when the watch prompted me to enable it below a 20% charge.
Under these conditions, the watch is performing about as well as I’d expect. The biggest drain on battery life is activity tracking — those GPS-only runs where I’m blasting music could drop the battery as low as 20 percent, though it’ll depend on the activity length. If you’re comparing this to Garmin’s watches, it’s not going to come close. That said, Wear OS gives this device much more functionality than anything on a running-focused wearable. It’s a trade-off prospective buyers will need to consider if they haven’t already.
This is after about a day of light usage with the always-on display enabled, without recording any exercises.
If you’re living a more average lifestyle than someone trying to run every day while reviewing a smartwatch, getting three days out of a single charge here is totally doable. The Watch 5 Pro has the best battery life of any of Samsung’s Wear OS watches, rivaling the older Tizen-based wearables of yore. Just remember that fitness tracking will take a chunk out of your battery — even the massive cell in this watch can’t withstand the blow.
Thankfully, 10W charging makes a big difference here. It might sound slow on smartphones, but at this size, you can easily gain back 20 percent or more while tossing it on the charger during a shower. That’s more than enough to make it through a night out.
Should you buy it?
Depends. Are you buying this watch as a fitness-first wearable, something that can go toe-to-toe with the best of Garmin? Or are you buying it while on the hunt for the best smartwatch, something generally used for notifications and general health and wellness tracking? I think most of the Pro-exclusive features are too niche to appeal to most buyers. Unless you’re a die-hard hiker or cyclist, the massive battery is the real reason to consider the Watch 5 Pro.
As much as the battery life is great, I’m not sure if it’s worth $140 more than the 44mm Galaxy Watch 5. I haven’t tested the base model, but the battery life there should be enough to get you through more than a full day of use. It’s not the marathon runner this variant is, but you’ll save a solid chunk of cash.
Outside of hiking and cycling, I’m not sure fitness enthusiasts will get a lot out of the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro that isn’t available on Samsung’s cheaper gadgets. I’m holding out some hope that this watch gets some additional fitness-focused features down the road — including support for running with GPX maps — but until then, a Garmin-killer the Watch 5 Pro is not.
Buy it if…
- You want the biggest battery in a Samsung wearable and don’t mind paying a premium for it.
- You’re a die-hard hiker or cyclist.
- You need a rugged smartwatch to survive everything you’ll throw at it.
Don't buy it if…
- You don’t mind throwing your smartwatch on a charger every night or two.
- You prefer running or other exercises over hiking and cycling.
- You don’t want to drop up to $500 on a smartwatch.
Q: How does the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro compare to the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic?
Although the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro isn't a direct successor to last year's Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, it does fill the spot as Samsung's highest-end smartwatch. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro features a much larger battery that should last significantly longer on a single charge. On the outside, a sapphire crystal display and a titanium body should keep the Watch 5 Pro safe during even the most strenuous workouts. Unfortunately, these materials also make the watch substantially heavier, possibly feeling less comfortable on your wrist throughout the day. The biggest change, however, comes from the lack of a physical rotating bezel on this year's model. You'll have to make due with the virtual zone around the outside of the screen.
Q: How does the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro compare to the Galaxy Watch 5 (44mm)?
If you're stuck choosing one of Samsung's two large smartwatches this year, the Galaxy Watch 5 (44mm) is well worth a look. It uses a similar sapphire crystal display, a lighter aluminum build, and a smaller body overall. It's lacking GPX map support and includes a smaller 410mAh battery compared to the 590mAh battery in the Pro. But at $140 cheaper, I think it's well worth considering for anyone who isn't committed to hiking or cycling. Its battery should last well over a day in regular use without the added weight — and cost — of the Watch 5 Pro model.