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The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is Android Authority's pick for best wearable of 2022
If we were to identify a single trend in the wearables market of 2022, it would be something along the lines of “bigger and better.” Rather than a stream of significant software innovation, many companies turned to their tried and true formulas, then dialed it up. We had Pros, Pluses, and an Ultra, all with beefed-up specs, added durability, and rounded-out feature sets.
For many, evolution over revolution paid off. But what was the very best wearable of the year? Our editorial and reviews teams chose one device as Android Authority’s Editor’s Choice winner for the best wearable of 2022 (plus four that came close).
How we chose our winner
One of those words that are so nuanced they almost mean everything and nothing at all, “Best” is a title we don’t bestow lightly or easily. For starters, the wearables market is a complex landscape. Gone are the days of effortlessly discerning trackers from smartwatches, or high-end features from budget offerings. In short, our wristwear simply does more than ever.
From durability to display performance, sensor accuracy to third-party app support, watches and trackers are bursting with comparables. That’s why we assess every wearable we encounter from top to bottom, analyzing the value of each device for our readers. We pour hours (as well as literal sweat) into testing new launches, updates, and generational upgrades. We evaluate price points and companion apps to determine the value of the experience each device provides, not just at purchase, but over time as well.
First place can only go to the device that offers the most wholistic user experience.
When picking the Editor’s Choice for wearable of the year, the stakes are higher than ever, as are our standards. We rounded up a competitive shortlist of the highest-reviewed devices of the year from every major company and across every budget. From there, our expert content managers and reviewers voted, ranking their top five picks. The votes have been tallied, and here are the results!
Android Authority‘s Editor’s Choice wearable of the year: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
In 2021, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 took home the top spot for the best wearable of 2021. We were thoroughly impressed by the launch of the Wear OS 3 platform and found that key software updates throughout the year continued to strengthen the device’s hold in the market. In short, Samsung found its groove. This year, the company launched an even more refined and feature-packed wearable and won our first-place pick once again.
The souped-up Galaxy Watch 5 with a Pro moniker features a titanium case, a show-stopping AMOLED display with a Sapphire glass lens, and a MIL-STD-810H durability rating. It’s a testament to Samsung’s ability to evolve for niche users, while also leaning into the line’s winning formula. Sure, Samsung omitted the fan-favorite rotating bezel, but we fell in love with the device’s new D-buckle band that offers both a premium look and an even better fit.
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro proves Samsung has forged itself an admirable lead in the Wear OS arena, at least for now.
On the smartwatch front, Wear OS remains a powerful platform and the watch offers everything from phone call and contactless payment support to music storage and notifications. Google Assistant is even baked in out of the box, to the relief of shoppers everywhere. Thanks to the Google Play Store, the device offers ample third-party app support for anything not found natively. For those in the Samsung ecosystem, the watch also offers useful SmartThings integration.
Meanwhile, for hikers, cyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts, the flagship adds useful navigation features (and even better GPS accuracy) to its already robust fitness tracking suite. These include Track Back (for finding your way back to the parking lot) and a useful Route tile that leverages users’ ability to upload GPX files for turn-by-turn navigation. On the health front, the device still offers Samsung’s “BioActive” sensor trio plus on-device ECG measurements (albeit not in the US) and blood pressure monitoring for Samsung phone users.
Despite all its features and sensors, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro also boasts improved battery life by housing a 590mAh cell and offers faster charging. Users can expect about two full days with regular usage and a full charge in 90 minutes. That means more time on your wrist, whether you’re counting Zs or adventuring outside.
Second place: Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
While the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro claimed more than 25% of the total points in our vote, the next 20% of points went to Garmin’s powerhouse of a GPS watch: the Forerunner 955 Solar. And by powerhouse, we mean an eco-friendly green one, as this year the flagship device brought solar charging to the premium fitness-tracking line. With its bevy of upgraded sensors, unmatched GPS accuracy, and an endless list of sport modes, the Forerunner 955 is easily the best device on this list for dedicated runners.
Unlike our first-place pick, the Forerunner 955 is compatible with both Android and iOS phones, opening it up to more potential users. It also offers nearly two weeks of use between charges, making it a godsend for anyone who considers battery life the end-all-be-all. In fact, if harnessing the power of the sun and digging into performance stats were the ultimate goal, it would easily usurp Samsung’s crown. As it stands, the Forerunner 955 takes second place among the top wearables of 2022.
Third place: Garmin Venu 2 Plus
The Forerunner is joined on the podium by another Garmin favorite, the Venu 2 Plus. A bit of context: In 2021, the Venu 2 earned the runner-up spot for the best wearable of the year. When its successor launched at CES 2022, we immediately dubbed it the best wearable launched at the event.
Nearly a year later, we’re still smitten. The Venu 2 Plus proves Garmin can round out its reputable fitness-tracking tools with enough daily-use features (namely phone call and voice assistant support) to earn a seat at the smartwatch table.
Fourth place: Apple Watch Ultra
We don’t often celebrate an Apple Watch for its innovations since the Cupertino-based company tends to rinse and repeat. This year though, Apple dropped a massive (literally) departure from the status quo with the Apple Watch Ultra.
An eye-catching, oversized display, bright orange Action Button, durability specs you can take deep sea diving, and a temperature sensor for advanced health insights make this the most impressive Apple Watch yet, and the fourth best wearable of 2022. It also boasts the longest-lasting battery on an Apple Watch to date.
Fifth place: Fitbit Inspire 3
We’ve rarely seen a wearables list that doesn’t feature a Fitbit in some capacity, and this one is no exception. The company squeezes into fifth place with its latest budget tracker, an entry-level device with incredible value.
Between its new, colorful touchscreen display, reliable, 24/7 health and fitness tracking, data-rich sleep tracking suite, and impressive battery life, the Inspire 3 is the perfect example of a trusted brand doing the basics right. It’s also the most affordable way to dip a toe into the Fitbit ecosystem and tap into one of the best companion apps in the game. For these reasons, the Inspire 3 earns its spot on the 2022 wall of fame.
While our wearable of the year is all wrapped up, check in with Android Authority throughout the holiday season for more 2022 wrap-ups and fun end-of-year articles. We’ll also be sharing plenty of pieces looking ahead to the tech landscape of 2023.
Until then, we wish all our readers a very happy holidays!