We frequently assume that smartwatches made for Android phones would function with all Android phones because the Apple Watch only functions with iPhones. However, this is not the case with the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 as it’s not compatible with both iOS and Android.
It is unreasonable to expect Samsung, a maker of Android phones, to create smartwatches that are compatible with every other manufacturer of Android phones. But if any business other than Google can pull it off, it’s Samsung, particularly given that the Galaxy Watch line is powered by Wear OS 3.
It’s some how sad that the Galaxy Watch 5 only functions fully with Samsung Galaxy phones in spite of this. It prevents essential features from operating with other Android phones, which reduces its appeal and likely raises the price of the watch.
However, if you own a Samsung phone, this smartwatch should be your first choice. It has a sleek design, great health and notification features, and clever integration with Samsung’s smart home and earbuds products. It stands out mainly because there isn’t much competition. Even the greatest Fitbits aren’t as advanced as other Wear OS devices. This feature lacks smartwatch functionality and are slow and old.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is very reasonably priced, has excellent software, and is loaded with technology, starting at $279.99/£269/$299.
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Design and Build-up
Even though the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 looks exactly like the Galaxy Watch 4 from 2021, it is still an extremely attractive wristwatch. If you already own that watch, you probably won’t be eager to upgrade for aesthetic reasons. But I’m happy that Samsung has steadfastly remained committed to producing enticing circular watches.
Although it is also available in 44mm, I only reviewed the 40mm Watch 5. It was the small-only pink gold model, which is a fantastic size and has the appearance and feel of a slightly bulky smart watch.
The straps are carefully designed and have curved ends that hug the wrist where they attach to the watch’s black body. The black inner display’s left and right sides are framed in pink gold brushed aluminum, which looks and feels just as upscale as you’d imagine.
The watch comes with a matte silicone strap in the color of your choice that is pleasant next to the skin. It’s sticky enough to prevent the watch from slipping when you are sweating from activity. Furthermore, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 strap end can be tucked in through a slot in the typical buckle clasp.
It’s comfortable enough to wear all day. But, I still thought it was too thick to want to wear at night for tracking my sleep, as I do with most full-on smartwatches.
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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Display and Sound
The 1.2-inch OLED screen on the 40mm (1.4-inch on the 44mm) band looks fantastic. This is because Samsung decided to base the entire operating system on a black background. The deep black that mixes into the touch-sensitive ring surrounding the display’s exterior means that colors stand out against it.
Instead of the physical rotating bezel that was originally included on older Galaxy Watches. That serves as a digital bezel similar on the Watch 4. When I purchased a Galaxy Gear S2 in 2015, I was a major fan of the latter because Samsung’s wrist-based OS was based on circles. Instead of sliding a finger across the screen to select apps and navigate the tiling information displays.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 follows the same reasoning and OS design, but utilizing a touch-sensitive bezel to perform these tasks is less natural. I couldn’t see where I was going through menus because my finger was partially covering the screen. The haptic feedback, at least, is pleasant.
The bezel was also unresponsive as it didn’t respond until a second after I started swiping on it. This caused the menus to flicker quickly and move past the selections I needed. It’s not a precise tool, so I switched to simply swiping on the screen.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has a speaker for taking calls, conversing with a voice assistant, and hearing spoken stats when using the workout modes. However, since this is a smartwatch, audio takes a backseat. On my first run with the watch, I learned about the latter, and I don’t like it. I quickly switched it off because I would rather review the statistics later in the Samsung Health app and on the screen.
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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Software
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 follows in the footsteps of the Watch 4. This was the first model in the Galaxy Watch series to use Google’s Wear OS 3 rather than Samsung’s Tizen operating system.
Thanks to One UI 4.5, the brand’s variation of Wear OS 3, everything on the Watch 5 still looks and feels extremely Samsung. This is not a terrible thing because Samsung has beautifully improved the user interface. It makes perfect sense to have a watch face serve as the home screen, with app tiles to the right and notifications to the left accessible by swipes to the right and left, respectively. In essence, Wear OS is the current industry standard for Android smartwatches.
You can choose the apps you want to have there, in as many or as few numbers as you choose. With a swipe up from the home screen, you can access a mini app drawer containing both Samsung’s apps and any third-party ones that could be accessible.
Price and availability
The 40mm Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 reviewed here costs $279/£269/€299 for the Bluetooth-only variant, and $329/£319/€349 for the Bluetooth and 4G model.
It costs $309/£289/€329 for a 44mm Bluetooth version or $359/£339/€419 for a 4G version.