Sunday, July 21, 2024
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This old Samsung smartwatch still tugs at my heart strings


The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro against some leaves.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

When I put on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, I promptly forgot about the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. I know it exists because Samsung still sells it, but it has been entirely replaced in my mind by the latest stunning Samsung smartwatch.

But the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is still a current model that Samsung actively sells, so was I right to ignore it? I’ve been wearing it again to find out if you should buy it or politely pass it by in favor of the Watch 6 Classic.

Still so good to wear

A person wearing the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

After putting the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro back on, I was reminded of two things. First, the strap is superb. It’s flexible and light and has a brilliant magnetic “D-Buckle” clasp that keeps it secure. It’s adjustable, so it’s never too tight or too loose; it doesn’t bother me even when I wear it overnight, and it looks excellent. It’s a watch strap to rival the best you’ll find on many traditional watches around the same price.

Don’t Miss

Second, I still like the funky design. It doesn’t look like the Watch 6 Classic (which looks more like a traditional watch), but it doesn’t look like the ordinary Galaxy Watch 6 or an Apple Watch Series 9 either. It’s entirely its own thing and suitably different from any other smartwatch. It’s a bit boring in all-black, and the choice of mature watch faces is also pretty limited (I’ve settled on the cool Perpetual face), but it does make a statement on my wrist.

I’ve also happily worn it to track my sleep. The titanium means it never feels too heavy, it hasn’t become hot and sweaty, and despite the sheer size of the watch, it hasn’t got caught up on anything. The same applies during the day, so the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is definitely a 24-hour smartwatch. It’s unfortunate Samsung didn’t jazz up the design a little by refreshing it with a different color scheme or two to match the high-quality materials and individual look.

Using the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro every day

The D-Buckle on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Based on how it looks and wears, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro doesn’t deserve to be forgotten. It’s also equally as capable on a technical level as the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, as it has the enhanced sleep tracking system, it will take your blood pressure and a body composition reading, plus it runs Wear OS 4 with One UI Watch 5 and has the same health and fitness features too. It’s a top-of-the-range smartwatch when you examine it on paper.

Except it doesn’t always operate like a top-of-the-range smartwatch. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro uses an Exynos W920 processor and not the Exynos W930 chip inside the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic and the standard Galaxy Watch 6. This is the hardware difference you should pay the most attention to, as it genuinely affects the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s performance. It doesn’t react quickly enough when you use the smartwatch, and it is noticeably laggier than the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic.

The problem is smartwatches aren’t like smartphones, which are used often. Smartwatches sometimes sit mostly inactive on your wrist. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro hates to be woken up from its slumber, and it’s frustratingly slow to get itself ready for action. This impacts the raise-to-wake gesture, so it often doesn’t show notifications, then tapping the screen won’t show them either, and I’m forced to swipe to see them. By this time, it has woken up, but it’s a bit too late, and I question why I bother looking at all.

Not much has changed

A person holding the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Once the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is going, it’s not horrendously slow, but it’s not as zippy as the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. The battery life is good, and it’s easy to get two days of battery life out of it even when you track sleep. I’ve put it on charge quickly in the morning for a short time, and I’ve never had any concerns about it running low on power. I’ve treated it like I treat the Oura Ring’s charging, a situation made possible by the Watch 5 Pro’s relatively long use time.

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s software-driven facsimile of the Watch 6 Classic’s wonderful physical rotating bezel is no match, even though it works adequately. It can never replace such a tactile, pleasing action. Unless you absolutely need GPX file support and the Track Back feature — which remain Watch 5 Pro exclusives — the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is the only Samsung smartwatch you should be spending so much money on.

Even more than a year after the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro launched, I quickly came to the same conclusion I did in my original review. This isn’t a smartwatch you buy because it’s the best at anything; it’s one you’d buy because you love the look and the way it feels on your wrist. It’s a heart-not-head purchase. However, the big problem now is the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is both a heart and a head purchase.

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro makes me sad

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro colors.
Galaxy Watch 5 Pro Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Coming to this conclusion makes me a bit sad. I quite like the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and its oddball looks, plus the fact you really don’t see many out in the world. Titanium is a superb material for a watch, even compared to stainless steel, and it closely matches all the health and fitness features found on its newer siblings. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro doesn’t feel “old” in any way. I’ve genuinely enjoyed wearing it again and have no technical reason outside of its sleepy nature to replace it with another smartwatch.

But if it were my money, I’d buy the cheaper $360 47mm Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, and the only sensible recommendation to make is for you to do the same. The operative word is “sensible,” as the $500 Galaxy Watch 5 Pro wasn’t a sensible purchase in 2022, yet I wouldn’t try that hard to talk you out of it if your heart was set on one. It’s like a lot of traditional watch purchases. You don’t know why you like the look; you know it’s too expensive, but you also know you’ll love it on your wrist, so you buy it regardless.

That’s the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. There are better, cheaper Samsung smartwatches available, and you honestly should buy one of them. But if you’ve truly fallen for the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, you probably won’t regret buying it.

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