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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 vs Galaxy Watch 6: What's the difference?

In a battle of base models, we break down the differences.
By

Published onDecember 11, 2023

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
MSRP: $279.99
Check price
Positives
Much better battery life
Full compatibility with more phones
A slimmer design
Negatives
No skin temperature monitoring at launch
No more rotating bezel
GPX file sharing not applicable to runs
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
MSRP: $299.99
Check price
Positives
Bigger, brighter AMOLED display
Snappy Wear OS 4 software experience
Sporty yet tasteful aesthetic
User-friendly quick-release strap
$100 less than Watch 6 Classic
Negatives
Mostly minor improvements over Watch 5
Unreliable touch bezel
Inconsistent GPS and heart rate data
Some features only available to Samsung phone users

Samsung’s latest smartwatches are officially the Galaxy Watch 6 series, unveiled at the Samsung Unpacked event on July 26. The devices feature a lot that shoppers will find familiar, plus some expected upgrades. For starters, the lineup repeats the company’s two-prong approach, offering a base model and a Classic model for an elevated Samsung smartwatch. If you’re interested in the standard Galaxy Watch 6 model, first find out if the newest generation is worth an upgrade compared to last year’s offerings. We break down the Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 5 to see what’s new.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 vs Galaxy Watch 6: Specs

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Display
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
44mm: 1.5-inch
Super AMOLED
480 x 480 resolution
Full color Always On Display
Sapphire Crystal

40mm: 1.3-inch
Super AMOLED
432 x 432 resolution
Full color Always On Display
Sapphire Crystal
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
44mm: 1.4-inch
Super AMOLED
450 x 450 resolution
Full color Always On Display
Sapphire Crystal

40mm: 1.2-inch
Super AMOLED
396 x 396 resolution
Full color Always On Display
Sapphire Crystal
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
44mm: 44.4 x 42.8 x 9.0mm
33.3g

40mm: 40.4 x 38.8 x 9.0mm
28.7g
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
44mm: 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8mm
33.5g

40mm: 40.4 x 39.9 x 9.8mm
28.7g
Colors and materials
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Armor Aluminum case
Sport Band

44mm: Graphite, Silver
40mm: Graphite, Gold
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Armor Aluminum case
Sport Band

44mm: Graphite, Silver, Sapphire
40mm: Graphite, Silver, Pink Gold
Battery
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
44mm: 425mAh
40mm: 300mAh

WPC-based wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
47mm: 410mAh
43mm: 284mAh

WPC-based wireless charging
Processor
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Samsung Exynos W930
Dual-core 1.4GHz
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Samsung Exynos W920
Dual-core 1.8GHz
RAM
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
2GB
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
1.5GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
16GB
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
16GB
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
LTE
Bluetooth 5.3
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
2.4+5GHz
NFC
GPS/GLONASS/Beidou/Galileo
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
LTE
Bluetooth 5.2
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
2.4+5GHz
NFC
GPS/GLONASS/Beidou/Galileo
Sensors
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyroscope
Geomagnetic sensor
Light sensor
Temperature sensor
Samsung BioActive sensor: optical heart rate (PPG), electric heart signal, bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (BIA)
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyroscope
Geomagnetic sensor
Light sensor
Temperature sensor
Samsung BioActive sensor: optical heart rate (PPG), electric heart signal, bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (BIA)
Durability
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810H
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810H
Software
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Wear OS 4
One UI 5 Watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Wear OS 3
One UI Watch
Compatibility
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Android
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Android 10

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 vs Galaxy Watch 6: Design

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 6 appear largely the same, especially at a glance. In fact, Samsung’s sporty base models have retained a consistent design for the past few years. Like the Galaxy Watch 5, the 6 is still available in two aluminum case sizes, 44mm and 40mm, each paired with a silicone sport band. Both models also feature flat displays, oversized lugs, and a single button.

However, a closer look shows the newest generation boasts the largest displays yet on a Galaxy Watch series. Both case sizes were boosted, with the 44mm model’s display measuring in at 1.5 inches and the 40mm model close behind at 1.3 inches. The devices even ship with brand new native watch faces for making the most of the added real estate. Naturally, both displays received a bump in resolution as well.

Despite their larger Super AMOLED displays, the Galaxy Watch 6 cases are slightly thinner and lighter. Samsung accomplished this by decreasing the bezels to enlarge the screens rather than increasing the case size.

Flipping the watch over, the Galaxy Watch 6 features a new button mechanism for swapping bands. This makes the process of switching up your look even easier. Fortunately, if you decide to upgrade, the watch is still compatible with the same bands as the Galaxy Watch 5.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 vs Galaxy Watch 6: Features

Watch 5 with Galaxy Watch 6 series
Damien Wilde / Android Authority

There are no new sensors on the Galaxy Watch 6, nor did we get a sweeping redesign or a packed list of internal upgrades. On paper, a Galaxy Watch 6 vs 5 comparison suggests iterative improvement. Since the Galaxy Watch 6 and 6 Classic offer nearly identical experiences besides the Classic model’s rotating bezel, all three watches should offer fairly similar experiences. Even the headlining update, Wear OS 4, is available to both series.

In 2022, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 launched with Wear OS 3 and Samsung One UI Watch 4.5. The Galaxy Watch 6 landed with Wear OS 4 (and was the first smartwatch to do so!) and One UI Watch 5. Naturally, these updates rolled back to the older model as well.

On the health front, Samsung improved heart rate tracking and users can now detect irregular heart rhythms. This heart rate accuracy is also utilized in activity tracking, where users can view heart rate zones based on their intensity. This isn’t the only improvement Samsung made to fitness tracking, as the watches also add a Track Run workout mode and a few other improvements. Both watches also offer additional health tracking tools to Samsung phone users, such as blood pressuring monitoring.

Overnight, the Galaxy Watch 6 collects additional sleep-tracking data and offers improved sleep coaching. For those who menstruate, both generations feature a temperature sensor that offers more accurate and useful data for cycle tracking. This was originally introduced on the Galaxy Watch 5 lineup and we’re glad to see Samsung keep the sensor on board. Now, starting with the Galaxy Watch 6 series, Samsung also introduced a new Thermo Check app. This app allows users to easily measure the temperature of their environment, from swimming pools to reheated meals. The app was first available on the Galaxy Watch 6 series, though it later expanded to Galaxy Watch 5 series devices as well.

There are also a number of smartwatch features users can now access thanks to Wear OS 4. With compatible phones like the Galaxy Z Flip 5, both generations offer enhanced control of the camera on your paired smartphone from your watch. For faster checkouts, the devices add the Samsung Wallet app, which combines Samsung Pay with Samsung Pass so users can make payments, save tickets, or show IDs right from their wrists. There are also several improvements to popular apps such as MyFitnessPal, Peloton, Gmail, and more.

As mentioned, Galaxy Watch 6 features a slightly larger battery than its predecessors. According to Samsung, this increased capacity, performance improvements, and a new processor should leave users with longer battery life between chargers. The Watch 6 also has an improved processor and an extra .5GB of RAM — check out all the specs in the table above.


Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 vs Galaxy Watch 6: Price and colors

  • Galaxy Watch 5 40mm (Bluetooth): $279
  • Galaxy Watch 5 40mm (LTE): $329
  • Galaxy Watch 5 44mm (Bluetooth): $279
  • Galaxy Watch 5 44mm (LTE): $329
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 40 mm (Bluetooth): $299
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 44mm (Bluetooth): $329

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 series launched starting at $279 for a 40mm Bluetooth model. For a 44mm device, users paid $329. Samsung added $50 to both price tags to add LTE to either size. A year later, these watches can be found deeply discounted. This is expected as a new generation rolls out to tempt shoppers.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
AA Recommended
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Excellent build and comfort • Improved battery life • Solid GPS accuracy
MSRP: $279.99
Subtle upgrades make a huge difference
The Galaxy Watch 5 smartwatch offers a bigger battery, more sturdy body, and more comfortable fit than its predecessor. It supports Google Assistant and Google Maps navigation, while a body composition monitor, skin temperature sensor, and improved sleep tracking makes for an impressive health-tracking product.
See price at Amazon
44mm, Bluetooth

This year’s Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 devices launched at a slightly higher price point. Again, we’re not surprised as this small bump reflects similar shifts in the wearables market as a whole. A 40mm Bluetooth Galaxy Watch 6 starts at $299. The larger 44mm model starts at $329.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
AA Recommended
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Bigger, brighter AMOLED display • Snappy Wear OS 4 software experience • Sporty yet tasteful aesthetic
MSRP: $299.99
Bigger and better.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 brings the best of Wear OS 4 and Samsung's smartwatch features to the table. A large display and full Samsung Wallet app make the Watch 6 a powerful standalone device, while integration with Samsung phones makes the Watch 6 a valuable part of your Galaxy ecosystem.

As for colorways, the larger Galaxy Watch 6 is available in either Graphite or Silver. The smaller model is available in Graphite or Gold. By contrast, the Galaxy Watch 5 launched in Silver, Graphite, Sapphire (44mm model only), and Pink Gold (40mm model only). This isn’t a significant difference as neither generation offers much choice. However, if the Barbie movie has you itching for a pink device, you may want to shop for last year’s lineup.

Of course, either model can easily add a splash of color with a new watch band. Alongside the Galaxy Watch 6, Samsung released a new fabric band to offer a more comfortable fit for sleep tracking. The company also redesigned its band mechanism to introduce a new one-click system for swapping bands.

If you’re wondering how the new watches compare to the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, the latter is still available albeit for $50 more than the Classic.


Galaxy Watch 5 vs Galaxy Watch 6: Which should you buy?

Mid Galaxy Watch 6 40mm and 44mm
Damien Wilde / Android Authority

As is often the case when comparing two similar devices, the decision mostly boils down to budget. If you don’t need the latest tech, the Galaxy Watch 5 is a fantastic smartwatch you can likely find on sale.

On the other hand, the Galaxy Watch 6 may deliver better battery life and a more convenient user experience. Unless you desperately want a rotating bezel (and can afford to pay for it), the Galaxy Watch 6 is the best value of the latest lineup. It’s roughly $100 less than the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic but offers a very feature set.

However, if you already own the Galaxy Watch 5 and are considering upgrading to the latest Galaxy Watch 6, we’d say save your money for now. The Watch 5 is not outdated yet, and the upgrades offered by its successor aren’t massive.


Which base model Samsung Galaxy Watch catches your interest? Will you be upgrading? Let us know in the poll below.

Which base model Samsung Galaxy Watch would you buy?

90 votes