While I was spending some quality time with the new Samsung Galaxy Watch5, I came to the amusing realisation that I wear a watch more often than my wedding ring. Not because of any particular sartorial preference, but simply due to functionality over form. I sleep in my watch. I shower in my watch. If I worked out - which I don’t, because organised exercise appals me - I’d do it wearing my watch, not my ring.
My wedding ring, while a beautifully designed declaration, cannot tell me how I slept. It can’t tell me how many steps I’ve failed to do, or what’s in my calendar, or who’s ringing me so I can avoid them.
When I’m not wearing my ring, I notice, obviously. It’s not like my husband ceases to exist, but more like one of those dreams where you’re back in your old high school, it’s Speech Day - and you’re naked. It’s uncomfortable, but it’ll be over soon. I’ll wake up, the ring will be in its usual place, and I’ll remember how very, very long ago high school was.
When I’m not wearing my watch, however, I could very well be stuck in an abyss thousands of light years from anyone on earth, let alone someone I’m married to, and how would I know?
When you’re constantly wearing a piece of technology that orients you in time and space, and keeps the people you love and the information you need literally at your fingertips, you could be forgiven for becoming slightly unhinged without it. So it’s a good thing that’s not going to be an issue in Samsung’s Galaxy.
I’ve been using a Huawei Elegant GT2 for the past couple of years, so trialing the Galaxy Watch5 was a big change.
The first thing I noticed out of the box was the feel of it. The soft matte strap was a really pleasurable contrast to the metal I’m used to and overall it was lighter. (It’s worth noting that due to the Watch’s connector design, Samsung’s official bands are wider around the wrist but only 20mm at the connection. So, while compatible with third-party straps, you may want to double-check that connection size).
A push of one of the two side buttons and we were in business.
Last year, Samsung transitioned from in-house software to Google’s Wear OS, giving them a head start on the latest version on the Android wearable platform, Wear 3.0. They have of course put their own spin on this with Samsung apps and integrations, but it’ll work with non-Samsung Android smartphones too.
They’ve kept their own processor for fast, smooth use, and it’s a massive leap over the slow, old, inefficient off-the-shelf options available to other Wear OS partners – as well as, obviously, my older Huawei GT2. I definitely noticed the speed, clarity, and responsiveness of the Sapphire glass screen.
Like with your phone, Smart Watches fuse form and function and are becoming yet another way of expressing individuality, and the experience here is fully fledged and highly customisable. The Wearable app offers a bunch of standard faces, plus I spent almost an evening downloading and fiddling with different options from the Play Store to get a feel for how I could design and organise the main screen to see the information I wanted most often, in the most accessible way.
I was impressed with just how much I could do on the watch without ever having to grab my phone. Check notifications, reply to messages, answer and make calls directly with the built-in mics and speakerphone, manage music through Spotify, make payments, as well as easily accessing Google Assistant for voice commands.
The improved biosensors also meant fantastic health tracking, with sleep and activity highly accurately recorded. (I also enjoyed the congratulatory notification every time I moved, even if it was just walking to the printer. I’m a millennial, I need the validation).
The only major complaint I had was battery life, which was markedly lower than I was used to, about 2 days with regular feature use.
Pleasant hardware, efficient, customisable software – probably the best choice for a reasonably-priced, full-featured smartwatch for Android, particularly well synergised with Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
- 40mm – Graphite, Silver, Pink Gold
- 44mm – Graphite, Silver, Blue
- Voice assistant – Bixby is on board along with Google Assistant – control smart home, use your voice for messaging
- Apps – download new apps from the Google Play Store
- Maps, navigate from your wrist with turn-by-turn directions
- Watch faces, download your new favourite from the Play Store
- Payments – Google Pay on your wrist
Advanced health and fitness tracking
- Sleep tracking + coaching – log a full week of sleep and it will offer a six-week programme to improve it
- Heart rate
- BMI/body composition
- 90 exercises/activities supported
- Biometric sensors built into the side buttons for easy scanning
- Samsung BioActive sensor on the underside, redesigned to sit closer to your skin for better accuracy
- Sapphire glass screen for enhanced durability
- IP68 sweat and water resistant
- MILSTD810H durability
- Larger battery, faster charging than previous model – up to 45% charge in 30mins
Optional standalone 4G LTE connectivity via eSIM – currently only compatible with Spark, Spark wearable plan required
To see more of the new Samsung Galaxy range, head over to the Samsung brand store.