There is a little that the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is missing, but it is hard to hold that against it. It is the best experience that any Android smartwatch is offering users, as things stand.
Alongside its new range of foldables, Samsung announced the Galaxy Watch 5 at its Unpacked event on August 10. While the company said that the watch will be available in stores from August 26, it was only limited to certain regions‚ I finally got my hands on the smartwatch on September 1, after what felt like an eternity.
Before I could try it myself, I scoured the internet for anything and everything that I needed to know about the device so that I would be not in for any surprise and knew exactly what the watch was capable of.
Well, things did not go as planned — I was still let down in bits and pieces, which is not to say that the watch is not a good wearable device. So after almost three weeks of usage, here is my review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 as a first-time smartwatch user.
The Galaxy Watch 5 comes in two sizes — 40mm and 45mm — and in Bluetooth and LTE versions. I bought the 40mm Bluetooth version, which has a 284 mAh battery as compared to the 247 mAh in the Galaxy Watch 4. Samsung claims that the battery can last up to 40 hours on a single charge, but that was not the case with my watch.
I had to charge the watch overnight if I wanted to wear it to work on a 100 percent charge. While this is not a deal-breaker, it does become irksome if you’re on the go and do not want to be stuck to the wall, waiting for your watch to charge. The reverse wireless power sharing on my Samsung Galaxy S21+ was a saviour when my watch did run out of charge. The 4.5W charging speed, while very slow, gets the job done.
The super AMOLED display on the watch is sharp and bright, even in broad daylight. The WearOS 3 topped with OneUI Watch 4.5, is very comfortable to use. The watch comes pre-installed with various Samsung and some Google apps and does not require a lot of third-party apps — but that comes down to personal preference. The only other app I installed was Spotify, because obviously. If you are a premium user, you can also download songs on the watch, so you don’t always have to connect your phone when you want to listen to music. The watch also plays songs on speaker, which was pretty neat.
As someone who does not always have pockets which can fit the 6.7-inch S21+, being able to check notifications and text on the watch made life very easy. While there is no dedicated WhatsApp or Instagram app on the watch, you can still see texts and reply to them instantly. I had my doubts about typing on such a small screen but it’s smooth as butter with several input options, including dictation and handwriting.
Taking or making calls is also very convenient on the device, unless someone calls you on WhatsApp, in which case, the watch will only give you the option to hang up — you will have to pick up your phone to answer the call. I also found the WhatsApp call notification a little finicky and not always accurate. Nothing that cannot be fixed with updates.
Samsung had heart rate sensors on its phones — from Galaxy S5 to the Galaxy S9 — and it was one thing I could brag about, especially to my friends who had iPhones. With the coming of wearables, Samsung stopped the support because you now have a watch to do that. The late and lamented smartphone feature was really useful in letting me know my heart rate, stress levels and blood oxygen levels, but since I moved to a Galaxy S21+ from the Galaxy S9, I lost that option.
Also Read: Apple introduces a new Watch Ultra along with the Watch Series 8 and a second gen Watch SE
With my Galaxy Watch 5, I can track all my vitals again and more. The watch tells me my body composition, how many calories I burned while walking my dog, asks me to start moving when I’ve been sitting for too long at work, detects auto workouts and even has the option of recording the routes. The watch also has the option to track your sleep in case you want to work on your sleeping schedule.
Now, these things are not new. What is interesting is that the watch is capable of measuring ECG and blood pressure — which is not something that a lot of smartwatches offer and something I was most excited about (for no particular reason). Sadly, the features are not available in India due to government regulations.
Another thing that I was really excited about was Samsung Pay on the watch. I use it almost every time I have to make a payment, either through my debit/credit card or through UPI. This feature is also not available in the region. Another feature that is not supported in India, which a lot of people are going to be bummed about, is Google Assistant. My guess is that the last one will eventually be available in the near future because you can download the app on your watch but it won’t set up.
The temperature sensor that Samsung raved about during launch is still inactive. Other than that, the watch is great. It comes in four colour options — Graphite, Silver, Sapphire (44mm) and Pink Gold (40mm) — with silicone straps out of the box and some really cool customisable watch faces. The flatter sensor on the bottom makes for a snug fit.
Would I recommend the watch? Maybe. The Pixel Watch is right around the corner and who knows what that is going to offer. So, if you’re not someone who is ensconsed in the Samsung ecosystem, maybe wait this one out. But if you are looking for an upgrade, you cannot go wrong with this watch.
It is available on almost all online and offline retailers and starts at Rs 27,999.
First Published: IST