Live Science Verdict
Samsung's Galaxy Watch 5 is a looker, and has plenty of features — but lacks staying power.
Plenty of available apps
Lots of sensors
A real looker
One-day battery life
Why you can trust Live Science
Samsung's array of smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch line up, has long been synonymous with quality — in a sea of cheaper devices, the Korean manufacturer's offerings have always remained close to the top of the pile thanks to sleek designs and plenty of app offerings.
Display: 40mm - 396x396 (Round)
Dimensions: 39.3 x 40.4 x 9.98 mm
Colors: Graphite, Silver, Pink Gold, Sapphire
Water resistance: 5ATM, IP68
NFC Payments: Samsung Wallet
Sensors: Heart Rate, Temperature Sensor, Echocardiogram, Gyro, Light Sensor, Accelerometer
Storage: 16GB internal storage
The trouble is that the Galaxy Watch 4 was so good, the company has struggled to truly push on with its fifth iteration, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. It's the best Samsung Galaxy Watch so far, but it's only slightly ahead of its predecessor — making for a tough prospect for an upgrade if you have the last model.
If you're new to Google's Wear OS, though, you'll find a ton to appreciate with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. Whether it's a chassis packed to the brim with sensors, a great display, or just the sheer volume of available apps, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is one of the best fitness trackers around.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Design and display
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 comes in two versions, with 40mm and 44mm display. Our review focuses on the 44mm, but the two are almost identical outside of the slightly larger dimensions on offer here.
Despite the large display, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is lightweight — drastically so when compared to a prior Apple Watch Series 7 we've used. On one side of the watch you'll find two physical buttons that are used for navigation in conjunction with the touchscreen, and they both click satisfyingly. The Galaxy Watch 5 model doesn't come with a crown of any sort, though. Instead, there's a digital bezel around the device — we'll get to that shortly.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is available in five colors. We've tested the blue version, but the straps can be easily removed with small pins. It's a nice touch that the color can be found on the side of the chassis, too.
What separates the strap here from many competitors is just how soft it feels on the skin. It eschews the plasticky, rubbery hybrid of so many smartwatches and feels more premium — both on your wrist, and when touching it. The display holds up its side of the bargain, too — it's plenty sharp, and the circular shape helps it stand out from its competitors and peers. Another perk is that it comes with a Super AMOLED panel, making it bright enough to read in direct sunlight.
All in all, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is a great-looking, comfortable smartwatch that's easy to wear for long periods.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Features
Despite the name, the Galaxy Watch 5 is a little halfway between being a Google tracker and a Samsung smartwatch. You'll need to install Samsung's own Galaxy Wearable app to get the setup process start up, as well as a health extension. Once you're in, though, you can actually run everything without a Samsung account.
After you've completed the setup process, and the watch has taken you through a guided tour of the OS, you can start tracking your health and fitness metrics.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is equipped with an ECG and heart rate sensor, but it also comes with a body fat tracker. Of course, this feature isn't quite as reliable as those plates you can stand on at the gym, but that's perhaps to be expected given that the watch is positioned on your wrist. Moreover, the Galaxy Watch 5 can be used in conjunction with an Apple Watch Ultra on the other wrist. This allows the devices to sync up their stats for calories, steps, and distance, and therefore confirm the accuracy of their readings.
The Galaxy Watch 5 also comes with options for Bixby or Google Assistant, depending on which voice assistant you prefer, as well as Google Wallet and Samsung Pay options for NFC payments.
And if you're a runner, you'll appreciate the built-in GPS that allows you to leave your phone at home, and 16GB of storage means you can keep some apps handy without it, too.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Performance
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 offers excellent performance throughout, and with its W920 chip paired with 1.5GB of RAM, it runs smoothly while navigating the OS, starting and stopping workouts, and switching between apps.
Our biggest bugbear with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is its battery life. It's not that it's bad, per se, but it's certainly lower than Samsung's own estimates. We were able to get a full day, but you'll likely need to charge it up pretty regularly — especially when factoring in some data-intensive workouts. The 44mm version is reportedly better than the 40mm one, owing to a larger battery, but with our testing of the former, we can only reiterate the need to charge daily in either case.
Charging is pretty brisk, thankfully, but there's no power brick in the case. Instead, you'll find the charging puck connected to a USB-C connector. That means you may need an adapter, depending on your current array of plugs.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: User reviews
Amazon's customer reviews place the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 at a 4.6 out of 5 stars rating, which is certainly impressive. Many users point to the value for money and ease of use, and one reviewer even said that the device has helped them make lifestyle changes necessary for managing a neurological condition.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5?
If you're looking for a smartwatch for your Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is pretty much as good as it gets with the caveat of that disappointing battery life.
If you're not a big sleep-tracker, or you're fine charging every night, it's an excellent choice — particularly if you have a Samsung phone.
If this product isn't for you
If you want to save a lot of money and battery life is your most pressing concern, check out the Amazfit Bip 3 Pro, which offers a staggering two-week battery life and costs just £70 — but suffers from a less premium feel.
Lloyd Coombes freelance tech and fitness writer for Live Science. He's an expert in all things Apple as well as in computer and gaming tech, with previous works published on TopTenReviews, Space.com, Dexerto and TechRadar. You'll find him regularly testing the latest MacBook or iPhone, but he spends most of his time writing about video games as Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com. He also covers board games and virtual reality, just to round out the nerdy pursuits.