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Is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro a good fitness smartwatch?

Android Police 10/29/2022 Ted Kritsonis
© Provided by Android Police

Quick answer: Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has fitness features capable of tracking exercises and daily activity. However, for more hardcore athletes, hikers, and adventurers, the Watch 5 Pro won't replace your Garmin watch for GPS accuracy or in-depth workout training.

When Samsung launched the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, the company positioned it as the sort of wearable that an active crowd could readily use to track their very active lifestyles. The Pro carries on from Samsung's prior Watch Active models which always emphasized exercise and fitness tracking, especially as the Watch 5 has access to more third-party fitness apps through Google Play than through Samsung's app store.

If you're considering one of the best Android smartwatches with durability in mind for your workout routines, Samsung built the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro to handle whatever you throw at it. However, the bigger picture is more complex when it comes to fitness tracking.

What makes the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro different?

If you compare the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro to the Watch 5, some key differences stand out. The Pro's 45mm screen will show more of your workout map or workout statistics compared to the Watch 5's 40mm and 44mm models. Also, Samsung claims the Watch 5 Pro can last 80 hours on a charge, but fitness tracking will consume the battery much faster, which makes the extra-large battery on the 5 Pro more attractive for those with longer workouts or all-day hikes. This 590mAh battery is 60% larger than last year's Galaxy Watch 4, and even if you have a few hours of workouts, the Pro will still last an entire day.

The biggest loss to many Samsung fans is, without a doubt, the Watch 5 Pro ditching the physical rotating bezel that was so popular in navigating the One UI Watch interface. While the raised edge helps you scroll via the "digital bezel" that still relies on accurate touch input, which is often iffy when you're in the thick of a workout and your hands are all sweaty. That raised edge also protects that sturdier sapphire crystal glass against bangs and bumps, rather than having the glass cover the entire top of the Watch 5.

What fitness activities can the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro track?

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro also differs from its counterpart in that it supports GPX, which stands for GPS Exchange Format File. GPZ files contain visual information for routes, trails, tracks, and waypoints. However, there are two crucial catches, the first of which is GPX on the Watch 5 Pro only works for hiking and cycling at this time. It won't work for walking, running, mountain biking, and other route-based physical activity until or unless Samsung updates the watch to broaden support.

The other caveat is that you can only add GPX routes from Samsung Health, Strava, or other GPX-supported apps, most of which are paid apps via subscription or fee. You have to get those GPX files onto the phone you've paired with the Watch 5 Pro to transfer them to the watch from Samsung Health. Once there, they appear on the watch itself when you tap and select the Route tile.

Samsung Health on the Watch 5 Pro can track over 90 different exercise types. However, it can only automatically detect workouts for a handful of types: walking, running, swimming, elliptical training, rowing machine, and dynamic workout. If the Watch 5 Pro detects consistent movement for 10 minutes, it automatically logs it as a workout and keeps tracking until you're still for a few minutes. For the modes that have it, it's very, very nice, but for all other exercises, you will need to manually start and stop them on the watch to track and log the activity.

How does GPS on the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro compare to other brands?

Among other Android smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is about as good as it gets. The build quality is better than Mobvoi and Fossil, and its software is more consistent and reliable than any other Wear OS watch on the market today — though the upcoming Google Pixel Watch might bring some competition on that front. Most importantly, Samsung's fitness tracking is robust and consistent, exactly what you need if you're serious about your physical activity.

That said, the Watch 5 Pro is also $450, so it's not aimed at the regular Android watch market, but more towards dedicated fitness smartwatches like Garmin. No one does GPS tracking and mapping quite like Garmin, and its focus on reliability, durability, and detail make them a tough competitor for the Watch 5 Pro. Sadly, Garmin doesn't have the app support that Google Play on the Watch 5 Pro has, and many of Garmin's advanced features require a subscription. For hardcore athletes, Garmin takes the edge, but for casual fitness and a better app/notification experience, go with the Watch 5 Pro.

Beyond that, there's a bevy of wonderful fitness trackers that offer a more compact profile than the hulking Watch 5 Pro, but the vast majority of those are half the price of the 5 Pro — or less. If you're into golf, one of Garmin's specialties, Samsung has a Watch 5 Pro Golf Edition equipped with features not otherwise available on the standard model. One is an app called Golf Buddy Smart Caddie, which has a shortcut on the default watch face. You can also track the clubs you used and how you hit the ball. Maps can show you the course, while a compass points you to the center of the green.

Will the Watch 5 Pro hold up to your exercises and activities?

The titanium housing and Sapphire Crystal glass make the Watch 5 Pro more durable than you'd think, especially given the design here is much more minimal than most large, fitness-oriented watches. Titanium is lighter than stainless steel, which helps the Watch 5 Pro feel less noticeable on your wrist. The watch is 5ATM swimproof (up to 50 meters) and IP68 dustproof and water-resistant, so unless you're into diving, it should physically hold up quite well. The larger battery should help it last longer both in day-to-day use and over time when the battery starts to degrade.

On the software side, Samsung has promised four years of updates for the Watch 5 Pro, so it should continue to receive security patches, bug fixes, and new features with successive versions of One UI Watch. This is important given that Wear OS is still being refined and polished a year after Google and Samsung unveiled their joint overhaul of the operating system.

Oils and dead skin cells will accumulate on the bottom of the watch — and the fitness sensors there — so be sure to clean the back of your Watch 5 Pro regularly to avoid the oils eating away at the finish or interfering with the BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis) sensor used to measure body composition.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
Source: Samsung

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro was designed as a premium smartwatch and capable fitness watch. The new GPS path-retracing feature for running and biking will help those training for a race or just trying to outrun their worries.

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