The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro debuted at Samsung's August Unpacked event and just as the rumors indicated it is a ruggedized version of the Galaxy Watch 5, which matches up quite nicely with the long-standing rumors of an Apple Watch Series 8 Pro. While Pro seems like the most likely option, it could also be the Apple Watch Max, Sports, Extreme, or Explorer Edition.
We have only leaks and rumors to work from for the new rugged Apple Watch, but the quality and quantity of sources throwing their support behind its existence seem like far too much smoke for there not to be fire. It's interesting to see Samsung and Apple both suddenly look to address this market after years, so let's take a closer look at exactly how the two "Pro" smartwatches should stack up to one another.
Galaxy Watch 5 Pro vs. Apple Watch 8 Pro: How tough are they?
Let's start with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro since we have concrete specs and have even had the chance to go hands-on with it already. The titanium chassis is the biggest upgrade compared to the aluminum in the standard Galaxy Watch 5. Both models moved to a sapphire crystal display this year, which Samsung claims is 60% tougher than previous Galaxy Watch displays. Finally, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has a slightly raised bezel in order to better protect the display from bumps and scrapes.
Titanium leads the speculation for the Apple Watch Series 8 Pro as well with Mark Gurman offering the most detailed description in his July 10 newsletter for Bloomberg. He indicates that it features a "heftier and rugged case made from a premium, non-aluminum metal material" that is "probably titanium." That is a logical conclusion, although given that Apple already makes a titanium Apple Watch it will have to make a more clear design break from the standard model to stand out as ruggedized unless Apple is discontinuing the titanium case option for the standard Apple Watch 8. Apple also already uses a sapphire crystal display on both the stainless steel and titanium Apple Watch models, so it's unclear how or if it will one-up that feature.
So based on what we know so far, the durability should be roughly even between the two watches with the wildcard being how aggressively Apple tweaks the actual design of the Apple Watch 8 Pro compared to its familiar design.
Galaxy Watch 5 Pro vs. Apple Watch 8 Pro: What else makes them 'Pro'?
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro features the same 1.4-inch circular display as the 44mm Galaxy Watch 5, but it measures 45.4mm and weighs considerably more at 46.5 grams compared to 33.5 grams. That weight is largely attributable to the 590mAh battery inside the 5 Pro, compared to just 410mAh in the Watch 5. Samsung claims that will allow the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro to last for up to 80 hours on a single charge. That extra battery life is crucial for the extensive GPS usage anticipated for Galaxy Watch 5 Pro users that may be relying on Google Maps on the watch for directions on top of activity tracking long bike rides or runs.
The Apple Watch Series 8 Pro is similarly rumored to feature a larger 50mm frame, up from 45mm in the largest current model. However, the Apple Watch may do a better job of justifying that larger chassis with a larger display to match at 1.99-inches. Battery life claims have been less definitive with rumors merely indicating that it will outlast the current Apple Watch Series 7. Given the projected size increase it shouldn't be difficult for Apple to fit a much larger battery, given that Apple has been stuck at 18 hours on a charge for the Apple Watch for a few years now it has a ways to go to match the Watch 5 Pro.
Galaxy Watch 5 Pro vs. Apple Watch 8 Pro: How much do they cost?
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro starts at $449 for the Bluetooth model and $499 for the model with LTE. That's only $20 more than the 45mm aluminum Bluetooth Apple Watch Series 7 and $30 cheaper than the equivalent cellular model. Comparing it to the titanium Apple Watch Series 7 Edition really underlines the price difference with Apple coming in $350 higher.
Turning once again to Mark Gurman of Bloomberg's July 10 newsletter, he projects the pricing for the Apple Watch Series 8 Pro to be even higher than the current titanium Apple Watch at $900 to $999. Given the other enhancements to this model compared to the current titanium-clad Apple Watch that is to be expected. While Apple has held its price point with Apple Watch it hasn't showed any signs of backing down based on its competitors more affordable pricing so it would be difficult to believe this is the moment that it will do so.
With both Wear OS and watchOS now excluding their respective iOS or Android owning counterparts from support, you need to pick your entire mobile ecosystem rather than being able to select your preferred phone and smartwatch.
Based on what we already know about the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and the most credible rumors regarding the Apple Watch Series 8 Pro the overall features and durability should be pretty close, while the pricing should come down considerably in Samsung's favor.
Choosing to pair the new $1,799 Galaxy Z Fold 4 with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro would come out more expensive than all but the highest projections for the Apple Watch Series 8 Pro and a top-tier configuration of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but any other Samsung phone including the Galaxy Z Flip 4 teamed with the Watch 5 Pro would come in for hundreds less.
If everything plays out as expected with the Apple Watch Series 8 Pro I think Samsung has a strong case for the superior combination with something like the Galaxy S22, S22 Ultra or the aforementioned Galaxy Z Flip 4. With that said, you probably already know where you stand in the Android vs. iPhone debate, and you aren't likely going to leave one platform or the other due to the availability of a rugged smartwatch. Ultimately I'm just happy to see competition in wearables as that should be a win for consumers in the long run and I can't wait to see what Apple actually has up its sleeve with the Series 8 Pro.