The next-generation Apple Watch is now official and brings with it new health and fitness features, as well as new watch faces, improved sleep monitoring, and less intrusive notifications. But it’s not alone: Samsung also recently launched a wearable. Is the Apple Watch Series 8 or the Galaxy Watch 5 better? Although Apple’s effort is naturally meant to be paired with an iPhone and Samsung prefers the Watch 5 to be paired with one of its Android phones, it’s not just a matter of choosing based on the phone you’re using.
We have compared specifications and prices and added a healthy dose of opinions to help you put the right watch on your wrist. Therefore, when you look at the Apple Watch Series 8, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. It will certainly be easy to wear, have many health features, and offer the best software you can find on any smartwatch.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5’s battery lasts up to 10 hours longer, and the device is also more scratch-resistant thanks to its sapphire crystal display. The curvature of the bottom has been reshaped to fit wrists more naturally and increase the surface area of contact with the skin, improving the accuracy of sensor readings.
Neither contender does much to change things from its respective predecessor. Aside from a handful of new case color options, the Apple Watch Series 8 is physically identical to its predecessor, the Series 7. It is still a rounded square with a neat package, thin bezels, and front glass that wraps around the edges. It is still a rounded square with a neat package, thin bezels, and a front glass that wraps around the edges.
Supplied in stainless steel or aluminum, it is as elegant as you would expect, with the familiar digital crown configuration and side buttons complementing the touchscreen. In addition, there is no shortage of strap options, including sports straps for those who want to test swimming endurance. The Galaxy Watch 5 also does not upset the recipe. Like the Watch 4, it features a largely bezel-less circular display set in a metal frame with two buttons on the crown.
There is no rotating bezel option this time around, although the “virtual bezel” returns for easier UI navigation. The watch is incredibly thin in both sizes and is fully waterproof for swimming and physical activity on land (not to mention rain). Each watch comes with a rubber strap in the color of your choice, but Samsung also offers a number of leather, metal, and fabric alternatives.
Apple has increased the screen size for both Series 7 models and is using the same Retina configuration that is always present for Series 8. The company is notoriously secretive about official measurements, but a ruler reveals all. Rectangular in shape, the 41 mm Apple Watch has a display of about 1.7 inches and a resolution of 430×352 pixels. The larger 45 mm model has a 1.9-inch panel with a resolution of 484×396.
Both use the same LTPO OLED technology to produce vivid images and variable refresh rates, with brightness up to 1000 nits for daylight visibility. Each is protected by a crack-resistant glass, but only the stainless steel variant has a stronger sapphire glass. Apple might think it is fashionable to be square, but Samsung goes all out for circles.
The Watch 5 has a round screen, measuring 1.2 inches for the 40 mm model and 1.4 inches for the 44 mm model. The former has a resolution of 396×396 while the latter is 450×450, but the display density is essentially the same. This means that everything appears adequately sharp when held at arm’s length. The display is AMOLED type, with excellent viewing angles, colorful tones and impressive brightness, making it easy to read even outdoors.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 focuses on providing an optimal experience for all health- and activity-conscious people, while the Apple Watch 8 is more of a universal device. The Apple Watch 8 offers typical fitness and workout tracking, including the much-loved Activity Ring method to encourage the user to do more throughout the day. It monitors distance traveled by running, walking and completing other exercises such as Tai Chi, Yoga and HIIT.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 also does this, but it goes further. It has more advanced sensors, which means it does a better job. When it comes to sleep tracking, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 also offers better information, with a month-long sleep plan worked out to help you sleep better.
It also uses the sleep cycle to enhance your connected smart home. Integration with SmartThings allows you to dim the lights when it notices that you are falling asleep. You can control your smart home with the Apple Watch 8, but it is not smart enough to detect when you are falling asleep and react accordingly.
However, the Apple Watch 8 has a unique function: traffic accident detection. In case of a serious traffic accident, the Apple Watch can automatically connect to emergency services and alert its contacts.
Both watches are equipped with numerous sensors, but the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 beats the Apple Watch 8 on time. The Apple Watch 8 has a blood oxygen sensor, an ECG function, and notifications if the heart rate is unusually high or low. Like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, it also has a temperature sensor for people who are ovulating. One sensor is located on the back glass, close to the skin, while the other is under the display, providing a high level of accuracy. It can sample pulse temperature every five seconds during the night and detect differences as small as 0.1 centigrade.
The Apple Watch 8 also has new motion sensors that help detect drops and can detect extreme impacts, while the microphone also detects unusual noises. However, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has sensors that you will probably use every day. It features Samsung’s Bioactive sensor that includes sleep, heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring. It also includes a body composition analysis tool to monitor water retention and bone density. Samsung says this will lead to more personalized workouts and a tailored approach to goal setting.
Apple likes to indicate battery life in hours, not capacity. As with the Series 7, both variants are advertised as offering “all-day” battery life, which in Apple’s world means 18 hours under normal use. But if you prefer to work with actual capacities, these are 282 mAh for the 41 mm model and 308 mAh for the 44 mm version. New to the Series 8 is the low-power mode, which allows a longevity of 36 hours by disabling certain functions.
In reality, the Series 8 will still be a wearable that will require regular visits to the charger. But fast charging at least means that these stops can be quick. For the Galaxy Watch 5, battery life also depends on the model chosen. The smaller 40 mm model makes do with a 284 mAh battery, slightly higher than last year’s model, but not enough to provide more than a day and a half of battery life between charges.
If you exclude physical activity tracking or use the power-saving mode, it could last until the weekend. The 44 mm model, on the other hand, has a 410 mAh battery, which is more likely to last two days before needing to be recharged. Both watches, however, benefit from faster charging, so the battery should last a full day while you get ready for work.
In many ways, the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 are very similar devices. Each is an evolution of its wearable predecessor and each offers a wide range of smartwatch functions. Wrap one or the other around your wrist and you have a tool that can monitor your health, pay for groceries, and check your playlist. And read the time. When Samsung enables the skin temperature sensor on the Watch 5, the differences between the fitness tracking capabilities of each device will be minimal.
Neither has the battery life of weeks of the true endurance watches, although the Watch 5 outperforms the Series 8 by several hours. And whether you prefer the round or square model is an individual choice. Realistically, your smartphone will be a key consideration. The Apple Watch Series 8 is the obvious partner to an iPhone, with watchOS designed to work seamlessly alongside iOS. Similarly, with a Wear OS base, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is better suited for Android users.