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Forget the foldable phones, Samsung's latest watch was the star of Unpacked

Newshub logo Newshub 11/08/2022 Mike Kilpatrick
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Earlier this week I was privileged to get a sneak peak at Samsung's new range of devices it unveiled at its Unpacked 2022 event overnight.

For many, the stars of the show were the Galaxy Z Flip4 and Fold4, unique mobile phones in Aotearoa that make a statement when one pulls them out.

The Fold4 in particular is very interesting, with a new camera that elevates it to flagship level, as well as improved multi-tasking capabilities that transform this into a true personal/work hybrid.

But there was something else announced that got me more excited. So much so, I've spent much of the day with my finger quivering over my mouse button ready to click the pre-order link.

That beauty is the new Galaxy Watch5 Pro, which appears to mark the first time Samsung has taken the outdoor enthusiast seriously.

There's no shortage of devices out there that cater to that market, but it says something that - despite the jump in technology - I've still tended to rely on my trusty old Garmin for such purposes.

But it's just a little boring, I guess. It's also harder to read on the go than brighter and better smartwatch screens, particularly now my eyesight is getting worse.

It's also started throwing regular wobblers, draining the battery in hours instead of the days I'm used to. All of which has got me pondering the next move, particularly as the replacement cost is well over $1000.

The Apple Watch is decent, but I'm not a massive fan of the square shape and with a full-time move to Android looming it's just not worth it without the integration with my phone.

Oppo's watch is also a little square for my liking, but I might be able to get over that if it had a better battery life. Which certainly isn't a problem with Huawei's range of wearables - they really are unbeatable when it comes to battery.

However, Huawei's apps are limited and they're just not as configurable as I'd like.

That opens the door to the Watch5 Pro. When I reviewed the Watch4 last year I felt it was a good step forward for Samsung, ditching the Tizen software for Wear OS 3 instead.

But it felt a little underdone, with small things like a less-than-ideal battery eating away at the positives - despite the Watch4 Classic looking better than any other on the market.

I concluded with the line: "I'll be keeping an ear to the ground for Watch5 rumours over the next year or so - it wouldn't surprise me if in 2022 and 2023 Samsung releases the best overall smartwatch."

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It's early days, but I think I could be proven correct.

I only had a few minutes with the Watch5 Pro, but it screams quality. The D-Buckle sports band makes it incredibly easy to put on and take off, and is both comfortable and secure.

More importantly, it's had a massive boost in battery life, with a new larger 590mAh battery that should last around 80 hours of general use, or 20 hours of non-stop GPS use.

That's more than enough to see me through a trail run or two as well as the rest of the day.

Last year's watch didn't carry enough juice to allow me to use sleep tracking, which I've become more interested in recently as getting a good sleep has suddenly become a problem.

Apparently the new sleep coach will tell you which kind of sleep animal you are and offer you personalised coaching to help get a better night's rest.

The Korean tech giant said users can get eight hours of battery in just eight minutes of charging with the Watch5 Pro. That's perfect for putting on the charger while I'm reading or having a shower.

The sapphire crystal display and the titanium casing also make it more durable than last year's models - again, an important feature given my ability to fall over while exercising has never been more evident.

Throw in the ability to import GPX files for the first time - which allow me to download trail runs from the internet and preload into the watch - 5ATM and IP68 dust and water resistance and turn by turn directions, well, I'm virtually sold.

It also comes in an incredibly stylish grey titanium cover as well as the normal black.

Too often smartwatches look okay when you're in casual gear, but clash at more formal occasions. I can state with certainty I could wear the Watch5 Pro with a tuxedo and it wouldn't look out of place.

The only mutterings of unhappiness I heard were from those who loved the rotating bezel on the Samsung Galaxy watches.

I've never been a massive fan. It's been replaced with a touch bezel that was quick and easy to use and that's more than enough for me.

It's a pretty great package for what I consider a pretty reasonable $749, the same price as last year's Watch4 Classic cost when released.

As I wrote last year: "If you're a Samsung fan, with a Galaxy phone in your pocket, it really is a no-brainer. They integrate well and will do everything you want from a smartwatch, so why wouldn't you?"

Nowadays I am that fan with a Galaxy phone in my pocket, so I guess it's time to practise what I preach.

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