I’ve been using Wear OS smartwatches for a couple of years now. It all started with the Fossil Gen 5, then I moved on to the next-generation Skagen Falster Gen 6. I now use the Wear OS 3-toting Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition, which I enjoy, but its shortcomings are starting to weigh on me, to the point where I find myself eye-balling the Galaxy Watch 5, and the Cyber Monday deals (opens in new tab) are making it harder to ignore.
Not only is Samsung slashing the price by up to $70, but you can also get up to $165 off on top of that with an eligible trade-in for the base model or a whopping $240 trade-in credit for the Watch 5 Pro.
Now, as a Samsung smartphone user, I have been oddly against the idea of owning a Samsung smartwatch. I can’t put my finger on the exact reason why, but I think it has something to do with how Samsung-centric the experience has been. I’ve gone to great lengths to limit Samsung’s influence on my smartphone, making Google Assistant the default instead of Bixby, using Google Wallet instead of Samsung Wallet, and sticking with Google Fit while largely ignoring Samsung Health’s existence.
But things have started looking up for Samsung’s smartwatches, and newer updates have made it easier to Google-ify the Galaxy Watch 5. For example, besides the Pixel Watch, Samsung’s smartwatches are the only Wear OS 3 devices to support Google Assistant. We also now have more apps like Google Maps, Google Wallet, and YouTube Music. Sure, the UI is basically a Wear OS with a Tizen skin, but I can probably learn to love it.
On the surface, the Galaxy Watch 5 is easily the best Wear OS smartwatch you can buy. It comes with 1.5GB of RAM, 16GB of storage for apps and offline music, a sleek design with a few different color options to choose from, and it’s powered by a pretty modern chipset for fast performance. Battery life is much improved, and things only get better when you look at the even higher-end Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, with its titanium build and massive 590mAh battery.
Another reason I am considering the switch is Samsung’s health and fitness features. There are a lot, and while fitness tracking may not be as robust as what you’ll find on Garmin watches or the like, even if it’s a step above what I can get from my current smartwatch, then I’m sold. There is some basic automatic workout detection, sleep tracking, and monitoring of certain health metrics, but my colleague Michael Hicks explains in his Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review, Samsung takes things up a notch with its health and fitness capabilities. It can detect the cadence of certain workouts like jumping jacks, offers sleep coaching, and lets me quickly check my body composition using the BioActive Sensor. There’s also an ECG monitoring that is only available for Samsung phones.
And while I don’t care for Samsung Health, the new Health Connect service should make it easy to sync much of the data to Google Fit. Improvements to battery life and LTE connectivity are also big pluses to me, and they’re things that I don’t get to take advantage of with a Fossil smartwatch.
When comparing the Fossil Gen 6 Wellness and the Galaxy Watch 5, I note how Samsung is likely the better option for most people, although I didn’t realize I was also talking about myself. I’ve tried to avoid getting on the Galaxy Watch train for quite some time, but I don’t think I can avoid it any longer. I already have a Samsung smartphone and earbuds, so I might as well complete the package with the Galaxy Watch.
Now I just have to decide between the Galaxy Watch 5 and the Watch 5 Pro.