Review: Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro is a stellar watch with top style and performance

The Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro
Could it stand up to the billing I gave it as the star of Unpacked 2022? Photo credit: Newshub

At the much-hyped recent launch of the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 and Fold4 mobile phones, it was one of the more understated devices that caught my attention.

Last year's Samsung watches were interesting, but let down by their battery tech and probably suffered from a lack of development time on WearOS instead of the previously used Tizen software.

The Watch5 Pro, however, promises so much - including a bigger battery, a more stylish look and being better suited to those who enjoy an active lifestyle.

So could it stand up to the billing I gave it as the star of Unpacked 2022? Or is it destined to be a another letdown?

I've been using the Galaxy Watch5 Pro for over a week now and here are my thoughts.

The good

The first thing that struck me about the Watch5 Pro was just how smart it looked, with a traditional rounded design and a strap that wouldn't look out of place on an expensive dress watch.

Straps have long been the bane of my life with watches - some gave me rashes, others were either too tight or too loose. Not here.

Thanks to the magnetic clasp and the ability to minutely adjust the strap size, I've got the perfect fit. Even better, it's a standard strap setting - so any 20mm watch strap of your choice should fit it. Apple, take note!

The battery life is also seriously impressive, compared both to Samsung's previous efforts and the contemporary offerings of its competitors, too.

The 590mAh battery is good for over three days providing you're just going about your business as normal. Drop that by up to a day depending on how much GPS you're using while tracking your exercise, but it's still better that most of its competitors, Huawei aside.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

It's also pretty fast at charging - in just over an hour I went from being at around 10 percent to 100 percent. That means I can head to bed, put it on its charger while I read and then put it on as I turn out the light so I can take advantage of the sleep tracking functionality.

And so to one of the most important aspects for me: the tracking of exercise. I found the GPS accuracy and auto-detection of exercise to be right up there with the very best. 

I have established routes that are well trodden and measured, and the Watch5 Pro was easily within the tolerances for those walks and runs.

I also tried the auto-detection function out as I have an amazing ability to forget to turn on tracking - it did so every time and accurately picked up when I started and stopped my morning dander.

One feature I didn't use that I appreciate is 'track back', which uses the GPS to help you retrace your steps. This can come in handy if you're wandering around somewhere unfamiliar.

As I walk and run in big circles, it's not up there with my 'must-have' functionality but it's still useful to have.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

I also found the estimation of calories burned to be well within my acceptable range. I use that data to adjust the number of calories I eat on a daily basis, so it's important to me that it's accurate.

I'd be very comfortable using that number as the basis of my daily meal planning.

One of the benefits of being on WatchOS and part of the Samsung family is that you're not going to go short of apps for the phone and the integration is fantastic.

Whether it's Spotify for your favourite running playlists, or a podcast app so you don't miss your latest true crime drama, there's plenty there to make sure you can fill up the 16GB of available space.

You also get both Samsung and Google apps on your phone for ensuring the watch is tailored to your needs and that your health data is recorded and able to be properly analysed.

The Watch5 Pro comes in at 45mm - the perfect size for me. It means I can read the screen easily on the run and without glasses.

If your wrists are smaller or you need something more dainty, then the standard Watch5 might be a better option, although it lacks the bigger battery.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

The pro version is designed to last too, with a sapphire crystal glass front and titanium frame, making it twice as hardy as last year, Samsung claims.

As with all electronic devices, you need to be careful while using them. But I'm comforted that the setup means an accidental drop onto the floor isn't going to make my $749 watch unusable.

Last but not least, the Watch5 Pro is IP68 water resistant to 50m. I do love a watch that I don't have to worry about ruining if I happen to forget its on and take a dip.

Oh, one thing to note - the physical bezel of the previous generation is gone. I didn't particularly like or need a moving bezel around the face and I'm perfectly happy with the virtual bezel that means you can drag your finger around the screen. Just be aware if it's important to you.

The bad

While I loved the default watch face and the ability to change colours and what details are shown, I found the rest of the available selection slightly underwhelming.

A couple of others are acceptable, with the one that looks like an old-fashioned digital watch perhaps the next best. But they just lacked the impact and quality of both Apple and Huawei's efforts here.

The closing clasp also has misaligned a few times while I've been wearing the watch. Usually you get a satisfying magnetic, metallic crack when the two sides are brought together.

However if there's a slight misalignment then that doesn't happen and the strap doesn't close properly you have to push the ends together.

A bit of a fiddle has resolved this on every occasion, but it's still a touch annoying.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

One time it happened and I hadn't noticed and the watch popped open. Thankfully I wasn't doing anything that meant dropping the watch could have caused issues.

Perhaps the biggest flaw is with one of the things I was looking forward to the most, the ability to import GPX files.

Those GPX files plot GPS coordinates on a map so that you can follow a predetermined route. Unfortunately in this iteration of the software that's only available for hiking and cycling.

That's a decent start, but running really is a big miss here. There's nothing like heading out into the wild woods of West Auckland on a trail run - but I like to preload my watch with runs that others have done and rated so I know what I'm in for.

I'm going to presume this is a relatively easy thing to be added with a software update, otherwise I think Samsung might just have missed the mark here.

Finally, I'm not overly impressed with some of the figures the watch spits out at you, primarily the body fat percentage.

We can debate whether it's a good thing to be included or not - but the fact it is included means it should be accurate.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

My reading is significantly higher than that of my expensive scale I use to monitor my weight, by a factor of around 40 percent. That's not great.

I think if you use it solely for trending purposes then you can get some useful information from it, but it seems flawed to me.

The verdict

If last year was a good step forward, then this year's Watch5 Pro is much more of a giant leap. And I think it's almost reached its destination.

There are only a few minor annoyances stopping me from making this watch the only device I wear on my wrist.

I appreciate the aesthetics, for sure. I feel it's one of the few on the market that gets that wearable smart devices should be appropriate in both professional and personal situations.

At $749, of course, it's still a decent investment. However with a design to be seen as a more Garmin-like product than just as an integration with your phone it certainly doesn't feel overpriced compared to the alternatives.

Having recently fully migrated from Apple to Android I'm left with just a few options. Oppo's smartwatch is fine, but the battery isn't great and it's a bit square and blocky for my liking.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

Huawei provides amazing battery life and a great screen - but so few usable apps that you're really left with little option to extend the functionality.

With a Samsung phone paired with a Samsung watch I really should have the best of both worlds. And it feels like I do.

It just so happens I'm in the market for a new watch to replace my dying Garmin, which has been endlessly abused over the last few years. I don't think you need to guess what I'll be buying.

It's still early to say for sure, but I think I was on the money calling this the star of Unpacked 2022.

Now, who do I speak to at Samsung to get GPX files for running unlocked in the software so I can throw the Garmin away?

Newshub was supplied with a Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro for this review.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro
Photo credit: Newshub