I’ve tested smartwatches from just about every manufacturer—Samsung, Fitbit, Fossil, LG, Huawei, Mobvoi, Withings, etc.—and nothing really comes close to the polish and performance Apple has delivered.
Apple haters will scoff at that notion, but the truth of the matter is, if Apple offered an iPhone-free version of the Series 5 watch, it would instantly become the best selling Android wearable.
Nothing under the Wear OS umbrella even comes close, and even Samsung’s Tizen-based watches pale in comparison to the seamless, frictionless experience the Apple Watch brings. If anything, it’s so good it’s becoming old hat at this point, and its deficiencies are becoming more glaring.
Does the price worth it?
All that superiority comes at a steep price. The Apple Watch Series 5, like the Series 4 it replaces, starts at $384 and tops out at $1,350, depending on your choice of size, connectivity, and finish. But if you want the best, it’ll be worth every penny.
You might be happy with a $199 Fitbit Versa 2 or $279 Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, but you’ll be sacrificing something, whether it’s the ECG monitor or an ESPN app. But most importantly, you won’t love it like an Apple Watch Series 5.
Check out the video review!
For me a watch was to tell time and that was the most important thing. I did not want to be bothered with charging, syncing, Bluetooth connections and basically managing another high maintenance device. Then my sister bought me a Pebble.
Hard to imagine a more dysfunctional product, but it did tell the time and held a charge for up to a month with an always-on clockface. Getting alerts on my watch was handy… when it worked.
Went through several upgrade cycles with Pebble until they went under, then went on to the Pebble heir apparent, Fitbit Versa. More functionality but much worse battery life (5 days) and watch not always on…another dysfunctional product.
You would like the ‘always-on clock’ function
When the Versa broke, I did consider the Versa 2. Seemed to have a lot of the same issues as the original. Then I saw that the Apple Watch Series 5 had an always-on clock face and I jumped in. I wont give you the most technical review, as that can be googled quickly anywhere. What I can do is give the perspective of someone upgrading from the Pebble/Versa environment.
What the Apple Watch Series 5 brings that is the most significant is the always-on clock face. As a physician in patient rooms, the worst thing you can do is deliberately lift up your arm to get your watch to come alive to see the time or look at pages or texts.
I have never once done this and had someone not comment that they thought they were wasting my time, so I just stopped checking my watch. Always on is just a social must-have feature, or you are that douchy guy who is obviously checking the time while talking to people.
On the Versa the motion needed to turn on was so poorly designed and deliberate that you would have to repeatedly and deliberately flick your wrist to see the time.
I am so glad that thing broke. Other cool but less important features include a really good compass and women’s health tracker. I’m sure that there are plenty of dudes out there like me who like to pretend to have a cycle and track it on our watches so… just sayin. Yee-haw.
Technical Details – Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS)
|Case Size||40mm, 44mm|
|Features||Built-in GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS, S5 with 64-bit dual-core processor, W3 Apple wireless chip, Barometric altimeter, Capacity 32GB, Optical heart sensor, Electrical heart sensor, Improved accelerometer up to 32 g‑forces, Improved gyroscope, Ambient light sensor, LTPO OLED Always-On Retina display with Force Touch (1000 nits), Digital Crown with haptic feedback, Louder speaker, Ion-X strengthened glass, Sapphire crystal and ceramic back, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.0, Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, Up to 18 hours of battery life, Water resistant 50 meters, watchOS 5|
|Whats in the box||Case, Band, 1m Magnetic Charging Cable, 5W USB Power Adapter|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Power||Up to 18 hours of battery life|
Battery life is still an issue
While other smartwatches issue warnings that using the always-on display will negatively impact battery life—for example, the Fitbit Versa 2 will last for three days with the always-on display active versus five days with it off—the Apple promises that the Series 5 watch gets the same 18 to 20 hours of battery life that the previous five generations of watches got with or without the always-on display.
Not going to get into all of the other heath features which are not new to this model. The battery is new in some way. Tear downs show a new design which likely helps to account for the same battery life with the always-on screen. I want at least a week of charge though. Let’s go, Apple.
Compared to the Versa, Fossil and others, this is just a polished, well made device. The quality is apparent immediately. The 40mm version is a thin, appropriate wrist size. The band is really comfortable and easy to swap out.
The connection to iPhone is perfect – no disconnects and really excellent haptics. I have yet to explore all of the apps and features but navigating the watch is no different than an iPhone with regard to gestures – swipe down for alerts, swipe up for control center.
I am really glad that my Versa is sitting in a midden pile decomposing. I regret that I did not get an Apple Watch sooner. Battery life is still annoying as there is now yet another device to manage charging for, but if you can deal with that then there is no reason to buy a different smart watch.
There’s no question that the Apple Watch Series 5 is the absolute best smartwatch money can buy. It has an incredible screen, excellent app support, and the strongest set of sensors and features you’ll find anywhere. It’s expensive for sure, but when you consider Tag Heuer sells a $1,700 Wear OS watch without LTE, the price doesn’t seem quite so outlandish.
I purchased a very handy nightstand device for charging my phone and watch. The watch is so easy to pop on and off and just drop onto the stand that the charging issue is really a non-issue, much to my surprise. Now when I charge my phone at night, which i routinely do, the watch drops right alongside it. Easy-peasy.