In light of the Apple Watch Ultra, Samsung, what are you doing? An adventure smartwatch constructed in this manner. The Watch Ultra, with its plethora of useful features, sturdy build, and the usual savvy marketing from Apple, is likely to be the first choice of outdoor enthusiasts over the bland Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, which is merely a high-end Galaxy Watch 5 pretending to be a rugged wearable for explorers.
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro isn’t very pro
Samsung’s confusing marketing for the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. The titanium body and sapphire crystal make it more robust than the regular Galaxy Watch 5, but it lacks the necessary features to compete with premium brands like Garmin, Polar, Suunto, or Coros. When using a smartwatch in extreme environments, such as the wilderness, underwater, or on a mountain, there is a short list of features that must be present.
We regret to inform you that a slightly larger battery, compatibility with GPX files, and a way to route back home will not be sufficient. Nonetheless, that’s pretty much the only difference between the Pro and a regular Galaxy Watch 5.
A curious thing to note is that the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s marketing page no longer makes much of the fact that it is an adventure watch. The only information provided is a brief summary of its features and construction details (GPX, Track Back, and the components used). Yet the Watch 5 Pro was “created for those that love the great outdoors,” and it is advertised as being “ready for anything from hiking to cycling and beyond,” with many of the promotional photos featuring the watch in the dirt, on rocks, or dangling from a piece of wood.
Nothing Samsung has said about the Gear Sport is false, but the company has clearly backtracked from describing it as an adventure smartwatch. Instead, it resembles what I believe it was meant to be all along: an upscale version of the Galaxy Watch 5 with a focus on fitness and activity. There’s nothing wrong with that, and the Watch 5 Pro is a fantastic piece of hardware. However, the true outdoorsy types have never been drawn to it and it never will be.
Here comes the Apple Ultra
It’s understandable that after everyone saw the Apple Watch Ultra, Samsung wouldn’t want to promote the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s questionable adventure features. The Watch 5 Pro’s attempt to appeal to consumers looks lazy and ill-considered in comparison to Apple’s extensive list of useful features and carefully thought-out design decisions.
Even better, I think it fits the bill aesthetically. The Apple Watch Ultra appears to be ready for action with its crown guard, rugged straps, flat sapphire, and massive case, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has a distinct, surprisingly elegant design that looks great. When a plastic protective case is placed over the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, it becomes nearly identical in size and shape. And let’s be honest: no sane person would put a plastic coating on titanium.
The Apple Watch Ultra’s challenge lies elsewhere
It’s encouraging to see that Samsung isn’t trying to hype up the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro as a competitor to the Apple Watch Ultra. Instead, it has made fun of the iPhone 14 series by emulating their design with the folding Galaxy Z Fold 4. Yet Apple faces competition not just from within the company, as there is no shortage of specialized smartwatches that are ideal for exploring the world.
Garmin’s Marq range, for instance, is much more desirable and feature-rich than the Apple Watch Ultra. Instead of a generic smartwatch, Marq offers a variety of models tailored to different activities, such as exploring, driving, sailing, flying, and golf. They’re all titanium, and you can choose from a variety of straps and bracelets to create the perfect look.
The products are extremely compelling, if somewhat pricey, and take a very traditional watch-like approach to a sporting smartwatch by a company with real experience and knowledge in each field. However, there is no need to spend so much when other, less expensive Garmin models, as well as smartwatches like the Polar Grit X Pro, Suunto 9 Peak, or Coros Vertix 2, offer the same or more functionality. These are the products that will put the Apple Watch Ultra to the ultimate test, as every manufacturer has loyal customers who swear by their products. Apple most certainly has a comparable product, but the Ultra takes the Apple Watch in a very different direction than the standard Series 8.
When your flagship smartwatch has been the best-seller for seven years running, taking on an established but niche segment isn’t a huge risk, but it still requires careful planning and full dedication. It will be interesting to see if the Apple Watch Ultra is successful enough to be the first in a long line of adventure and sporting smartwatches, as it appears Apple has done, in contrast to Samsung.