I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m growing tired of the Apple Watch.
Sure, it’s one of – if not the – best fitness smartwatches on the market. But in nearly seven years, it has remained typically Apple; safe, gradually iterative, and a bit too strait-laced.
That’s no wonder; it’s working for Apple, big time. Think about how many Apple Watches you see every single day – they are literally everywhere.
But I’m bored of it. And that’s partly why I decided to check out the new Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro.
Needlessly long, hard-to-remember naming conventions aside, I’m impressed so far. In fact, I think the Watch5 Pro delivers, big time, in a few areas that could keep me from the Apple Watch for quite some time.
Apple isn’t going to launch a circular Apple Watch any time soon – we’ve got more chance of them finally dropping the infuriating Lightning connector from the remaining devices on which it continues to fester.
Despite this, I think devices like the Watch5 Pro highlight why the Apple Watch is due a design overhaul.
Samsung’s new flagship smartwatch is big; seriously chunky, in fact. But that chunkiness is growing on me (not literally), and more importantly, I absolutely love the fact that it features a traditional round face. It’s how watches are supposed to look and function, and it doesn’t appear to have any detrimental impact on its duties as a smartwatch.
Notifications are handled nicely, complications look great, and it just looks far more pleasing on my wrist than the 80s calculator watch inspired Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch 7 was a weird, suspicious device. Something wasn’t right about its launch, and I’m convinced that Apple wanted to reveal something far more revolutionary, design-wise. Perhaps we’ll see that this year.
Two-day battery life (and then some)
One of the most impressive things about the Watch 5 Pro is its battery life. This is easily a two-day watch for most people, with plenty of room to spare.
I’ve been consistently ending day two with at least 20% battery remaining. That’s with a few workouts thrown in and a good deal of playing around with my new toy. For that reason, I think you could potentially get three days out of it with lighter use.
I know of people who can squeeze two days out of their Apple Watch, but I’ve never been able to do that consistently with mine. My experience with the Watch5 Pro suggests that the battery tech is available now, and that Apple really needs to catch up.
If the rumours about an Apple Watch Pro are true, I’m concerned about what that means for the pricing.
Rob and I discussed this on the latest episode of Eight or Sixteen, and my co-host was shocked to hear that I could envisage a £1,000 Apple Watch Pro emerging at the company’s September 7th iPhone event.
There’s solid reasoning behind my theory. This is Apple. They do this kind of thing. I can genuinely see Tim and co. slapping a daft price tag onto the ‘pro’ version of the Apple Watch if it really is a thing.
If they do as I suspect, that’ll be a crying shame, because despite a slightly clunky OS (more on that later), the Watch5 Pro’s superb build quality, lovely design, and the presence of that ‘pro’ moniker clocks in at £429. Which is entirely reasonable.
Although I’ve not used it in anger yet, the ability for the Watch5 Pro to track workouts via the all-new Route Workout and Track Back features is clearly aimed at a very specific crowd. And I think I reside within it.
By default, the Watch5 Pro logs the exact route you undertake and displays it neatly alongside a huge array of fitness data. This includes all the usual pace, heart rate, and elevation data, but it also throws in splits, advanced running metrics, VO2 Max stuff and even estimated sweat loss.
The Apple Watch tracks most if not all of this data, but the iOS Health app remains completely impenetrable. The combination of the Watch5 Pro and Samsung Health’s intuitive approach to fitness analysis is a winner.
Track Back is equally useful. This feature helps you retrace your steps via an easy-to-follow map interface on the Watch5 – perfect for someone like me who will typically run in one direction when in unfamiliar territory.
watchOS 9 looks like it builds on what is currently just an adequate set of running features – but it needs the Garmin-bashing watch to complete the package. The Watch5 Pro pretty much nails that role for a casual runner like yours truly.
I’ve quickly warmed to the Watch5 Pro – faster than I ever thought I would, in fact.
Granted – there are some rough edges (not literally – thanks to that circular frame). You see, this is my first experience of Google’s Wear OS and, well, it’s clunky.
Some of this is surely a result of the many years I’ve spent using watchOS, but the latter really is several iterations ahead in terms of usability and responsiveness. By comparison, Wear OS is a bit sluggish and hampered by a user interface which is far from intuitive.
I can look past that for now, though. I’m a light smartwatch user; I track workouts, keep an eye on notifications, and rely on complications to check the weather and quickly start timers. I rarely stray beyond that stuff, and for this use case, the Watch5 Pro is a breath of fresh air.
Over to you, Apple.