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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review: Slight improvements only

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
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Quick verdict: Samsung’s updated Galaxy Watch 5 matches style with improved battery life, but it’s predictably best suited for Samsung phone users.


  • Sleek style
  • Good battery life
  • Wide range of watch faces and apps

  • Default band won’t fit all wrists
  • No rotating bezel – boo!
  • Android only

In this guide

  • Review
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

Over the many years it's been making smartwatches, Samsung's taken the classic tick-tock approach to development. Some years, you get big sweeping changes; some years, you get smaller scale refinements.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 most definitely fits into the smaller scale refinement end of the spectrum because, in a lot of ways, it's just building incrementally on the work the company did to produce the Galaxy Watch 4.

However, incremental upgrades aren't automatically bad, and Samsung has clearly listened to criticism of the Watch 4, especially in regards to battery life.

If you've got the prior model, there's not a huge scope for upgrading. Die-hard Samsung fans will enjoy how seamlessly the Galaxy Watch 5 folds into their everyday phone usage, but for the wider Android market, it's worth considering your other smartwatch options, especially Google's Pixel Watch.

Buy Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 products

Design: Pleasant and stylish, but the rotating bezel is sorely missed

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The Galaxy Watch 5 is available in 2 sizes, with either a 40mm or 44mm watch face and a variety of colour options.

Samsung has long split what colours you can get across different sizes. Opt for the 40mm and you can pick between silver, pink gold or graphite, while 44mm buyers can pick between graphite, sapphire and silver. Samsung provided me with the sapphire 44m model for review.

Straight away out of the box, I hit one small issue if you prefer a larger watch face but don't have thick chunky arms.

The default band that ships with the Galaxy Watch 5 felt just a little loose on my wrist relative to the way that I'd normally prefer to wear a watch, with a noticeable air gap in play.

It didn't massively affect its ability to read from its sensors that I could detect, but it also didn't feel quite right on my wrist.

That probably means that in Samsung's world, I'd be better off opting for the 40mm model – or more pragmatically, if this wasn't a loan watch, that I'd punch a hole in the band to make it fit me a little better.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Samsung does offer a range of bands to change up the design, and those may well solve my fit issues, but I could only go off what Samsung sent me.

There's even a bespoke studio option if you want to design your own style.

Still, this is an area where there's not a great deal of difference between the Galaxy Watch 5 and its predecessor, right down to the omission of Samsung's classic rotating bezel.

Annoyingly, there's no option for it at all this year because even the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro doesn't make use of it.

Tastes can vary here, but I always felt that it was a defining and unique feature for Samsung to make use of, and I miss it badly. That's about as subtle as I can get, Samsung. Get onto it for the Galaxy Watch 6.

Performance: Slick enough, but little has changed

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Setting up the Galaxy Watch 5 will depend on the smartphone you're planning to pair it to.

If you're an iPhone user, forget it.

Go buy an Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen instead because while it's Bluetooth-based, Samsung's latest smartwatches won't talk to iOS at all.

If you're using an Android phone not made by Samsung, it will pair, but you'll need to download Samsung's Galaxy Wearable App from the Play store to do so. If you're using a Samsung phone, you'll get a pop-up asking you to pair because everything the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 needs will already be on the phone.

How much power does a smartwatch really need? Samsung's answer to that question seems to be "as much as we've already provided" because underneath the display of either the 40mm or 44mm models, you'll find the company's own Exynos W920 processor, 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage space.

That's absolutely identical to what it packed into the Galaxy Watch 4 a year ago.

Disappointing perhaps if you were thinking that an upgrade should be faster, but the practical reality here is that I rarely felt like I was hanging around waiting for a response from the Galaxy Watch 5 during my review period. Maybe Samsung has a point here.

Although maybe it doesn't because, at the time of writing, it was pretty easy to score the Galaxy Watch 4 at a significant discount to the higher asking price of the Galaxy Watch 5. That's no doubt end of line stock, but if you've got the choice, it's worth knowing that the performance between the models for most apps should be identical.

Where Samsung has made performance changes is in the sensors that live on the bottom of the watch body, specifically around a skin temperature sensor that could have utility in certain health fields. For now, it's only used for aiding sleep tracking.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

With regards to sleep tracking, I hit a very particular problem. The looser fit of the Galaxy Watch 5 band on my wrist meant that I found it very difficult to get to sleep with the Watch on.

I'm not a huge fan of sleeping with a watch on in the first place, and while that's a personal quirk, I do need my sleep. As such I could only test its ability to track my sleep to a very limited extent. It does work, at a battery life cost, but I'd definitely want a more neatly fitting watch before I made it my permanent sleep partner.

Where I did use the Galaxy Watch 5 a lot more was for fitness tracking, especially as it's quite decent at picking when you're working out even if you forget to engage a specific tracking mode.

You do often lose a little data from the start of your workout this way, but it's better than nothing. Tracking was very good for outdoor GPS running and walking, and passable for indoor treadmill running.

Samsung also provided me with the opportunity to take a single boxing fitness class while wearing the Galaxy Watch 5. With disclaimers in mind, Samsung paid for the class I took.

Taking a boxing class while wearing the Galaxy Watch 5 taught me 2 primary lessons. Firstly, that taking a boxing class if you're a middle-aged journalist who mostly thumps a keyboard is a great way to bruise up your wrists big time. I don't think I'll be returning to the sport of kings any time soon.

Secondly, I can attest that the Galaxy Watch 5's IP68 water resistance definitely works.

No, I wasn't boxing underwater or anything wacky like that. It's simply the fact that I basically drowned it in my own sweat when I was done hitting the heavy bag.

Which is gross, for sure, but it didn't stop the Galaxy Watch 5 from working, and it didn't seem to fire up random apps due to the movement of moisture across the display either. There's no specific boxing facility within the Watch 5's user interface, but it did detect that I was working out just fine as an unspecified exercise.

Battery: Better than last year, not quite the best

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

One of my complaints against the Galaxy Watch 4 was that it could only reach towards Samsung's claimed 40-hour battery life if you treated it very lightly indeed. Regular usage saw that drop to a day, sometimes less.

Samsung's claims for the Galaxy Watch 5 haven't changed, with the same 40 hours claimed battery life. It's got better scope to get there, too, with battery capacities bumped up to 284mAh and 410mAh for the 40mm and 44mm models respectively.

It's basically impossible to use a smartwatch in a regulated way to assess battery life, so any battery tests have to lean more towards the anecdotal.

In my review time with the Galaxy Watch 5, it tended to last longer than I noticed with the Galaxy Watch 4, although I'd still say that 40-hour figure is a little on the optimistic side. I only tested with the Bluetooth-enabled model, but it's not as though the LTE-capable variant has a larger battery, so expect less battery life there.

As is the style right now, you get a charging cable with a magnetic puck on it for charging, but no actual charger in the box. It's USB-C connected, so you'll need a compliant charger or spare USB-C laptop port to keep the Galaxy Watch 5 charged.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5?

  • Buy it if you're already in the Samsung ecosystem and want an up-to-date WearOS device.
  • Don't buy it if you need longer battery life or a bigger set of fitness coverage routines.

If you're a big fan of everything Samsung and you're already in the ecosystem all the way, then the Galaxy Watch 5 is a decent buy, but it's not your only option.

Google Pixel Watch retails at around the same price point, and it's got a tighter set of fitness routines thanks to Google's Fitbit ownership on board if that's important to you.

Pricing and availability

The Galaxy Watch 5 sells in Australia from $499. The 44mm Bluetooth model used in this review retails from $549.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5



Display Resolution
396 x 396
Water Resistance Depth


Heart Rate
Sleep Tracker

How we tested

Samsung loaned me a 44mm Bluetooth Galaxy Watch 5 to review. I tested it paired with a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and a Google Pixel 7 Pro, evaluating its general smartwatch features, fitness tracking and, to a lesser extent, its sleep tracking.

As a product reviewer, I've got more than 20 years of experience covering the consumer tech space, including a wide array of smartwatches and fitness wearables released in that time frame. I'm a multi-time Australian IT Journo award winner, including winner of the 2022 Best Reviewer award.

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