Samsung on Wednesday unveiled its latest smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch5 and Galaxy Watch5 Pro — beating Apple (AAPL) to rolling out a watch that can measure body temperature.
The move pushes Samsung’s wearables deeper into the general health and wellness territory that has made Apple’s iPhone a massive success and seemingly bests the iPhone maker’s smartwatch in terms of high-end capabilities.
Available Aug. 26, the Watch5 starts at $279 with Bluetooth only. An LTE version will cost $329. The Watch5 Pro, meanwhile, will start at $449 with Bluetooth only and $499 with LTE. The Watch5 will come with two available watch face sizes: 40mm and 44mm. The Watch5 Pro will be available with a larger 45mm face.
The Galaxy Watch5 and Watch5 Pro’s standout feature is its ability to check temperature via an infrared temperature sensor. Samsung says the sensor is accurate even when your surroundings change. So if you go from an air conditioned room to the sweltering outdoors, the sensor should still be able to measure your temperature and not the ambient temperature.
Samsung pairs the temperature reader with a so-called BioActive sensor, which can track your heart rate, blood oxygen level, and stress levels. Apple also offers heart rate and blood oxygen sensors on the Apple Watch.
Either way, I find blood oxygen sensors to be a bit useless. That’s because they aren’t particularly good at helping you understand your overall health like a heart rate sensor. If my heart rate is wildly out of whack, I can recognize something is wrong. Blood oxygen? Not so much.
But the temperature sensor could be a big help. If I’m out for a run or lifting weights, and I find myself feeling tired more quickly than usual, I could check if I’m overheated. I generally run hot, so I imagine the Watch5’s temperature sensor will tell me I’m warm all the time.
Samsung says the combination of the watches’ sensors allows them to monitor users’ fitness activities, post-workout, and rest periods. The Watch5 and Watch5 Pro also come with Samsung’s Body Composition measurement tool. Previously available on the Watch4, the tool gives you a look at your body mass index (BMI), skeletal muscle, basal metabolic rate (BMR), and more.
Of course, none of those can diagnose any potential illnesses, and it’s unclear how you should even use this information. BMI for example has been criticized for not providing an accurate reflection of a person’s health. Samsung says the features will provide you with specially tailored goals and personalized workouts, potentially jump-starting fitness routines.
Both watches can track sleep and provide you with a score that determines your sleep stage at certain points of the night and checks on your heart rate and temperature; it can also detect snoring.
Outside of their health and fitness capabilities, the Galaxy Watch5 and Watch5 Pro feature more durable sapphire crystal displays than their predecessor. The Watch5 Pro, meanwhile, includes a titanium casing and protective bezel.
The Watch5 gets a 13% larger battery than its predecessor and can charge 30% faster. The Watch5 Pro has a 60% larger battery than the Watch4. That long battery life makes it a solid option if you’re the type of person who likes to go on long runs or bike rides, or just forgets to charge up your watch at night.
Both watches are also powered by a version of Google’s WearOS running Samsung’s One UI Watch4.5, which includes the ability to type on a full-sized keyboard onscreen and more.
Samsung is promising a lot with its latest watches. Now it just has to deliver.
More from Dan
Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.