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Apple Watch 7 vs. Galaxy Watch 5, Which One Is Better

The Series 7 is an update model of the Series 6, but with a larger screen and a brighter always-on display. For now, we think it still beats the Galaxy Watch offering in a few key areas, but it’s closer than ever. Honestly, though, it really depends on which platform your phone runs on—for iPhone users, the Apple Watch is the clear winner—and Samsung’s offering won’t work on your iPhone. For Android users, things get a little murkier. While we’d still say the Apple Watch is more feature-rich and easier to use, the Galaxy Watch is more closely related to the Android system, bringing more ways to interact with the watch from an Android phone.

So, if you’re in the market for a smartwatch, it’s likely you’re looking at either the Apple Watch 7 or the new Galaxy Watch 5 — here’s why we think the Apple Watch Series 7 just ekes it out over the Samsung option. 

Screen And Usability For Both Watches

Both of these devices have small screens; they have to fit on a wrist after all. Only one of them has the most usable screen, however.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has a screen that is fine. Our colleagues at Android Central got to have a hands-on play at the launch event and report that it’s bright, crisp, and, crucially, round. This roundness makes the watch more like your traditional watch in appearance, but also makes it trickier to use. See, we as cell phone consumers are used to tapping and swiping on a square or rectangular screen, making some of the gestures required for a circular screen feel unnatural. 

Unfortunately, this year, one of the best features of the circular screen is gone. Last year’s Galaxy Watch 4 Classic had a very handy rotating bezel, like you’d find on a Rolex or other classic timepieces, that you can use to navigate menus and interact with certain apps. With this year’s lineup, it’s not even an option. Instead, you have to use the interactive part of the outer bezel, the stationary touch sensor, which makes it both less satisfying and more difficult to use while on the move. However, it will be stronger than the previous model, and Samsung claims the new sapphire crystal is 60 percent stronger than the previous model.

Apple Watch Series 7Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
DisplayIon-X Strengthened glass with RetinaSapphire Crystal with Super AMOLED
Outer materialAluminum frame with sapphire crystal backAluminum case
dimensions45 x 38 x 10.7 mm44mm: 43.3 x 44.4 x 9.8 mm 40mm: 39.3 x 40.4 x 9.8 mm
ProcessorS7 64bit dual coreExynos W920 Dual-Core 1.18GHz
Memory1GB RAM1.5GB RAM
Storage32GB internal16GB internal
OSwatchOS 8.7WearOS 3.5 with One UI Watch 4.5
SensorsAccelerometer, gyro, heart rate, barometer, always-on altimeter, compass, SpO2, VO2maxSamsung BioActive Sensor (Optical Heart Rate + Electrical Heart Signal + Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis), Temperature Sensor, Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Light Sensor
ConnectivityGSM / HSPA / LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/nLTE29, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4+5GHz, NFC, GPS
CompatabilityiOS 15 or higherAndroid 8.0 or higher
Battery lifeUp to 18 hoursUp to 40 hours

The Apple Watch screen is better. For one, the square screen is more conventient, and although it has rounded corners, it feels like there’s more usable screen real estate on offer. Apps look and feel better to use, and you can enter apps by clickign the tiny little app icons. Swiping around the Apple Watch feels more natural and easier, as well as bringing Apple’s bright always-on retina display to your wrist. We have yet to compare them side by side, but the Apple Watch’s screen certainly feels and looks more premium when viewed in a vacuum.

One of the best features of the Apple Watch is the Digital Crown on the side. It’s a great way to interact with your watch, letting you swipe across app screens and watch faces without having to put greasy, sweaty workout fingers on the screen. So the Apple Watch 7 with its extra physical interaction and better use of the screen is a winner for us in the screen and usability section.

Different System: OS and UI

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Apple Watch use two completely different operating systems. The Apple Watch uses Apple’s own operating system, watchOS, which has been around since the first-generation Apple Watch launched in 2015, and is visually very similar, save for a few updates. Samsung, on the other hand, is using Google’s Wear OS, which was only featured in last year’s Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. While Samsung has printed its own UI on top, called One UI Watch 4.5, it’s still a relatively new OS to the company.

Apple Watch and Watch OS are very mature now. Gestures are simple and intuitive to get exactly where you want to go with very little movement. The icons, though small, pan across the screen, and when they’re in the center of the screen, grow larger in the app drawer, making them easier to tap. It’s full of things and little details that show Apple has long figured out ways to make the Watch as easy to use as possible. Combined with the digital crown, the Apple Watch has one of the best user interfaces in the business. It’s smooth, fluid and simple.

It is also uncommonly customizable. It sits primarily on the face of the watch and lets you customize the look and feel of your watch as you strike the time. You can add tiny widgets, called complications, to the screen to track things like fitness goals and sleep schedules. Clocks can be analog or digital, with different fonts and numbers to indicate the time. They’re little things, like usability quirks, but they make the watch feel premium and personal.

Wear OS has been behind for a long time, and while it’s catching up, it hasn’t caught up to watchOS. Certain actions and weird UI decisions require too much swiping. In last year’s Galaxy Watch 4, it was slightly improved by the addition of Samsung One UI, but even then, it couldn’t stand up to the competition. Compared to previous years, the Galaxy Watch experience is good, but not as good as the Apple Watch.

Health And Exercise Tracking Features

The ability to track a variety of useful metrics is one of the reasons customers buy smartwatches. From blood oxygen levels and generating electrocardiograms, both watches offer some great features for those looking to track their health. However, one of them requires a year of extra functionality.

The Galaxy Watch 5 packs some pretty impressive sensors under its hood. There’s Samsung’s BioActive sensors, covering optical heart rate, electrical cardiac signals, and bioelectrical impedance analysis, followed by temperature sensors, accelerometers, and barometers. These may not mean much to you, but together they make Samsung’s latest watch a handy little device.

BioActive sensors will measure heart health while providing accurate information about blood oxygen and heart rate while exercising. The sensor will provide feedback on sleep tracking and give you a picture of your health with what Samsung calls “holistic health insights.” Other sensors will count steps and even measure how much you sweat and how much you need to hydrate. Wouldn’t it be annoying if your watch kept telling you to drink a drink? Maybe. But it’s cool.

The new sensor is the temperature sensor that Samsung wants to talk about — it will measure body temperature separately from ambient temperature, allowing app creators more ways to measure the body. What will this mean? More variables to give you those “holistic health insights,” presumably.

The Apple Watch also has a lot in common when it comes to sensors — it will measure heart health and heart rate, as well as blood oxygen and steps. What it doesn’t have is that cool temperature sensor. For all intents and purposes, you’ll find about the same as the Galaxy Watch 5 when it comes to health readings. They’re just, you know, not so “holistic”. For that extra sensor, the Galaxy Watch wins this round.

Battery Life

Battery life is a key for a smartwatch. Because you are going to wear the watch a full day and use it. This is the section where things get messy.

The Apple Watch claims that the battery can last for 18 hours, which was fairly accurate, reaching the end of the day with a little battery left over. Charging-wise, it’s very quick, juicing up to 80% in as little as 45 minutes. In fact, with only eight minutes of charging, it’ll give you up to eight hours of sleep tracking. The battery on the Apple Watch Series 7 is by no means class-leading, but it’ll happily get you through the day.

Samsung watch battery life maybe longer. Samsung claims that the Galaxy Watch 4 was good for 40 hours, and the Watch 5’s battery is even bigger, with a 15% increase in charge. What does this mean? At the moment, not very much. The Galaxy Watch 4’s battery life was generally nowhere near that 40-hour estimation, and we’re still yet to test whether the Galaxy Watch 5 is similar. It’ll also charge in eight minutes for eight hours of sleep tracking, matching the Apple Watch. Going by claims, the Galaxy Watch takes the crown of battery life, but it may have to abdicate if reviews prove those claims wrong.

Price

The Galaxy Watch wins out on price. The Galaxy Watch is $329 for the LTE version and $279 for the Bluetooth version. That’s a lot cheaper than the Apple Watch 7, where you’ll be charged $379 for the GPS version in its smallest size and then up for the bigger screens and the cellular model. The Galaxy Watch is cheaper, and there’s not much you can do to get around that.

Except you can, often. The Apple Watch Series 7 has been out for almost a year now, and thus frequently comes down in price to comparable price points. The 41mm Apple Watch GPS model’s lowest price has been $329 — the same as the LTE Samsung watch. If you want to stay up to date with the best Apple Watch prices, then make sure you have a good look over the best Apple Watch deals and sales. Is the Apple Watch worth it? We’d all say yes, but we all own the best iPhones too, so we would.

Watches Durability 

Durability is the final round. How sturdy are these two watches? You want a sturdy watch because unlike your phone that’s sat in your pocket, your watch will see far more of the outside world, mounted on your wrist. You’ll want the strongest materials, especially on that touch screen.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has an aluminum case, with a Sapphire Crystal glass coating over the watch face. Samsung’s strap is replaceable, but there are far fewer options than the Apple Watch out there to slip in its place.

The key feature is the Sapphire Crystal display. It’s harder than other materials, so it won’t scratch but it is far more likely to crack should it be knocked against a table or bus seat frame. We’re not sure how this glass will perform, given it’s a new feature to the Galaxy Watch 5, but it sounds nice. That screen, however, is proud of the case — it’s the first thing that’s going to hit anything. Whatever it’s made out of, you’ll be getting a screen protector.

The Aluminum Apple Watch uses Ion-X strengthened glass. This is more likely to scratch than it is to crack, given its softer glass. The stainless steel option of the Apple Watch Series 7 comes with a Sapphire Crystal display and has proved itself as a very sturdy option. That stainless steel is also very durable, faring better than the aluminum of the lesser model — and, likely the Galaxy Watch 5. You’ll have to pay more for the privilege, but you’ll get the more durable watch when you buy Apple’s. Still, though, it doesn’t hurt to buy some great screen protectors and cases just to be on the safe side.

Which Should You Buy?

OK, so it’s a lot closer than we thought. However, the Apple Watch wins in some very key areas. Its stainless steel option is more durable, and the watchOS UI is more functional than the combination of Wear OS and One UI on the Galaxy Watch.

This Versus is a good example of the key areas where Apple needs to improve the Series 8. Better battery life is one of the key areas. If a much cheaper watch can deliver so much battery life, Apple needs to step up its game. The price is too, Apple needs to work hard. Likewise, if a much cheaper watch can come so close to beating the Apple Watch, Apple will have to offer more features to keep the price reasonable.

Of course, with Apple’s imminent launch of the Apple Watch 8, that comparison could completely change in a few months. We know a little bit about what to expect from the Apple Watch Series 8, and it looks like it could be an even bigger upgrade. Series 7 is newer than the previous one. It would be interesting to compare the latest Apple Watch with the Galaxy Watch 5, but until then, we’ll be using the current model Apple Watch.

The biggest gain is a big one, which almost makes the comparison pointless. If you have an iPhone, you will buy an Apple Watch. Can’t be used without Apple Watch. Again, if you want all the power of the Galaxy Watch, you’re going to need a Samsung phone. Yes, the Apple Watch might be the better watch, but you can’t use it with a Samsung phone and vice versa. If only one of these manufacturers were going to make their products compatible with everyone else’s phones, they might have won — but until then, all we can say is, “These are the best smartwatches. You won’t be ashamed.” be able to use them without the correct corresponding hardware”.

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