Samsung goes big on battery with the Galaxy Watch 5 series

After weeks of leaks and rumors, Samsung finally announced the $279.99 Galaxy Watch 5 and $449.99 Galaxy Watch 5 Pro today at its Unpacked event. And while there weren’t too many surprises, it seems the company took criticisms about the Galaxy Watch 4’s poor battery life to heart. Both the Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro boast bigger batteries, faster charging, and increased durability to boot.

With the Galaxy Watch 5 series, Samsung once again is shaking up its smartwatch lineup. While the Galaxy Watch 4 series rebranded the main Galaxy Watch and Watch Active lines from the Tizen era, this year’s event introduces a new model altogether: the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Whereas the vanilla Galaxy Watch 5 is the entry-level flagship, the Pro is meant to be a more premium version aimed at outdoor enthusiasts. Neither has Samsung’s iconic physical rotating bezel, though they both have the more subtle touch bezel. For physical bezel fans, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic will remain as a midtier option between the Watch 5 and the Pro.

The Galaxy Watch 5 comes in 40mm and 44mm, while the Pro comes in a single 45mm size. All the watches are powered by the same 1.18GHz Exynos W920 processor, with 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The Galaxy Watch 5 lineup also has an improved version of the 3-in-1 BioActive sensor first introduced on the Watch 4, which enables ECGs, heart rate, and body composition analysis. Samsung says that the improved sensor adds more advanced sleep tracking features to the Watch 5, including personalized sleep coaching. You also get built-in GPS, contactless payments, optional LTE, Bluetooth 5.2, and Wi-Fi. Both watches also feature 5ATM and IP68 dust and water resistance.

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro on a table
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is aimed at outdoor enthusiasts.

New this time around is a body temperature sensor. Doug Wegener, Samsung Electronics America’s head of wearables and accessories, told The Verge that the temperature sensor will add another data point for sleep tracking, but that’s about it for now. According to Wegener, adding the sensor was meant to give developers more options in designing new health and wellness features.

The big hardware gains this time around have to do with battery life. The Watch 5 has a 13 percent larger battery — 284mAh battery in the 40mm Watch 5 and a 410mAh battery in the 44mm. That should translate to about 40 hours on a single charge. The Pro has an even larger 590mAh battery that’s rated for 80 hours, or 20 hours of continuous GPS usage on a single charge.

Aside from adding bigger batteries, Samsung also improved charging speed. It claims that you can go from zero to 45 percent battery in just 30 minutes. For folks interested in sleep tracking, the company says you can get eight hours of battery in just eight minutes.

The color options for the 40mm Watch 5 side by side
The 40mm Galaxy Watch 5 is available in graphite, pink-gold, and silver with a purple strap. The 44mm version is available in graphite, sapphire, and silver.

We’ll have to see in testing how much mileage these bigger batteries actually get, especially with power-guzzling features like the always-on display and Google Assistant enabled. After all, Samsung promised 40 hours of battery life last year, but both the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic fell well short of that estimate. Still, if all Samsung does is nail battery life, it’ll go a long way toward fixing the gripes we had with the Galaxy Watch 4.

Otherwise, the Galaxy Watch 5 is an incremental update. The main design changes are a more durable sapphire crystal display and a curvier back so the 3-in-1 sensor makes better skin contact with the wrist. The more meaningful updates will come from software. The Watch 5 series will ship with One UI Watch 4.5, which adds a host of new accessibility features, a better typing interface, and dual-SIM support. Apps like SoundCloud and Deezer are also coming to Wear OS 3, as is the ability to use voice navigation on Google Maps directly from the wrist. And after months of waiting, Samsung Galaxy Watch owners can finally use Google Assistant on their watches. (Don’t panic, Bixby lovers. Samsung promises all five of you that Bixby’s still available on the Watch 5 and Pro.)

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro on a wrist displaying fitness metrics
The Watch 5 Pro is available in black or gray titanium.

The flashier updates are reserved for the Pro given that it’s the new model and it’s aimed at a completely different audience (aka, the Garmin and Polar crowd). It’s more durable, with a titanium case and a harder 29GPa sapphire crystal display compared to the Watch 5’s 24GPa display. It also has a snazzy new magnetic clasp.

But outdoor enthusiasts will probably be most stoked by the Pro’s mapping features. You can now download GPX routes for hiking and cycling, complete with turn-by-turn navigation. It also has a track-back feature so you can return the way you came. While this is a staple on multisport GPS watches, it’s not something you generally find on an advanced flagship smartwatch. Even so, Samsung’s ability to lure away Garmin lovers will really come down to whether the Pro can actually deliver on a multiday battery.

The Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro are available for preorder starting today and will ship starting August 26th. The Watch 5 starts at $279.99 while the Pro starts at $449.99. LTE versions cost an extra $50. Both watches will also have a Bluetooth-only Golf Edition that starts at $329.99.


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