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Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro: Samsung beats Apple Watch 8 to the punch

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro were unveiled at Samsung's Unpacked August event today and Samsung's wearables look to build on last year's momentum with enhanced hardware, new and better health tracking features, and a rugged new high-end model that may steal the thunder from the rumored Apple Watch Series 8 Pro.

Today's announcement made it clear that Samsung is dedicated to establishing the Galaxy Watch as the premiere smartwatch for health tracking, an uphill battle as we are seeing that focus from many of its competitors. Galaxy Watch was the only name that mattered in Wear OS last year, but with the Pixel Watch and numerous others arriving over the next several months the Galaxy Watch 5 has a much greater challenge, so let's take a look at what the new models have to offer.

Health Tracking is the core of Galaxy Watch

While the Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro are full-featured smartwatches, it is clear that Samsung, much like Apple, has put its full weight behind health tracking as the primary focus for its wearables. Samsung's President Dr. TM Roh said, "We're dedicated to giving our Galaxy Watch community the tools, data and resources needed to not only understand their overall health and wellness better, but to coach them on their journey." 

Samsung is hardly alone in this focus, we've seen the Apple Watch shift to a clear health tracking first device over the last few years, but Samsung is beating Apple to the punch in a few regards with a temperature sensor and it retains some unique advantages like its body composition analysis that is designed to help with healthy weight loss.

Samsung touched on improvements to One UI Watch 4.5 offering an improved typing experience, easier calling and more intuitive use overall, it is clear that health and fitness tracking are the north star for Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Galaxy Watch 5

The changes to the Galaxy Watch 5 are fairly subtle, but meaningful. This includes a 13% larger battery and 30% faster charging, allowing you to get up to eight hours of sleep tracking with just an eight-minute charge. Battery life is one of the biggest hurdles for Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch as they push the 24/7 health narrative including sleep tracking while still needing to charge daily.

Samsung also introduced a sapphire crystal display for the first time this year, which it claims is 60% harder than on Galaxy Watch 4. This is a massive improvement and as someone that is regularly doing home improvement and activities like mountain biking and hiking that can occasionally lead to my watch getting bumped and scratched, it's great to hear it'll be less likely to come away unscathed. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

A new temperature sensor adds another dimension to the BioActive Sensor (heart rate, electrical heart signal and bioelectrical impedance analysis) to give you a clearer picture of your overall health. We've seen this feature on the FitBit Sense already and it's one of the rumored features for Apple Watch 8.

The overall design of the Galaxy Watch 5 is essentially unchanged with just a subtle tweak that increases the surface area making contact with your skin to improve the accuracy of the sensors. 

The Galaxy Watch 5 will be shipping August 26 and starts at $279 for the Bluetooth version and $329 for the LTE model. Pre-orders placed by August 25 will be eligible for a Wireless Charger Duo, $75 off Galaxy Watch 5 with eligible smartwatch trade-in and $50 in Samsung store credit.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro replaces the Classic and takes it in a new direction as the rugged and outdoor-enthusiast focused model in the lineup. What makes it more rugged? It features a titanium casing (versus aluminum on the Galaxy Watch 5) and a more protective protruding bezel to keep that new sapphire crystal display from getting dinged up. 

Beyond its rugged durability the battery life of the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the other standout feature with a 60% larger battery than the Galaxy Watch 4 that the company claims can last up to 80 hours on a single charge. Whether you are cycling, running, hiking or any other outdoor activity this should allow the Watch 5 Pro to track even your longest workouts.

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is also notably larger than the Galaxy Watch 5 at 45.4mm and 46.5 grams compared to 44mm and 33.5 grams for the Galaxy Watch 5.

That enhanced durability and added battery life bumps the price of the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro up to $449 for the Bluetooth model and $499 for the LTE model. It will also be shipping starting August 26th and pre-orders placed by August 25 large eligible for a Wireless Charger Duo, $125 off with eligible smartwatch trade-in and $50 in Samsung credit.

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.