CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Samsung's Next Smartwatches Will Be All About Sleep and Health Tracking

New Galaxy Watches coming later this year will be the first to get Samsung's new software, which is full of sleep and wellness updates.

Lisa Eadicicco Senior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple | Samsung | Google | Smartphones | Smartwatches | Wearables | Fitness trackers
Lisa Eadicicco
3 min read
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Samsung is doubling down on sleep, fitness and wellness features for its upcoming Galaxy Watch line. The company teased a handful updates coming in its new One UI 5 Watch software, which will debut on upcoming watches later this year. 

Such additions include a bigger focus on Samsung's sleep coach and more personalized heart rate zones. While the One UI 5 Watch update will be available on Samsung's new watches first, Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 owners in the US and Korea can register for the update's beta program this month.

The focus on sleep, health and wellness upholds a trend that's been present throughout the wearables industry for several years but became particularly prominent throughout 2022 and 2023. Both Apple and Samsung's latest smartwatches gained temperature sensors in 2022, and smart ring maker Oura just announced a suite of new sleep-related features. Google's Fitbit added the ability to continuously monitor for potential signs of stress on its Sense 2 smartwatch last year too. 

Samsung's new software will display the sleep score more prominently on the watch's sleep insights screen and will make sleep coaching available on the wrist. Sleep coaching measures a wearer's sleep trends and assigns an animal mascot based on the resulting patterns. Until the update arrives, this feature is accessible only through a user's phone. 

The change is part of Samsung's goal to surface sleep data more easily, said Hon Pak, head of the digital health team for Samsung's mobile experience business.

"Our users are telling us that it is no longer sufficient to tell them what the data says," Pak said. "They want help and insights that are actionable."

A render of the Galaxy Watch and a phone showing the new and old software

Samsung's upcoming One UI 5 Watch update will bring changes to the way the watch displays sleep data.


When it comes to where sleep tracking is going in the future, Pak sees potential in learning more about how factors like activity and stress are impacting a person's nightly rest and general well-being. He mentioned that Samsung is working on some measures around heart rate variability and stress that it's not ready to discuss yet.

"We think that the first step is bringing awareness to the interdependencies in a way that's easy to see," he said.

Battery life is also an industry-wide hurdle that limits the use of smartwatches as sleep trackers. Devices like the Galaxy Watch 5, Apple Watch Series 8 and Google Pixel Watch usually last only one to two days on a charge, making it difficult to track sleep consistently. Improving battery life in smartwatches will be especially important as wearables continuously measure more health metrics in the background, which is a direction that Pak said the industry will continue moving in.  

A finger scrolling the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro's app screen

A finger scrolling the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro's app screen.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

"Health represents probably a significant reason why people buy smartwatches," he said. "And because of that, it also drives that demand for more continuous passive monitoring."

The One UI 5 Watch update will bring other wellness-related updates too, including personalized heart rate zones similar to those offered by Fitbit, support for running and walking in the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro's route workout option and fall detection enabled by default for those who are 55 years and older. 

The expansion of Samsung's route-tracking feature is particularly helpful since the current version of the tool works only during hiking and cycling workouts. My colleague Lexy Savvides previously speculated in her review that support for walks and runs could come in a future software update. 

Watch this: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Full Review

There will also be updates to Samsung's SOS feature that make it easier to share location information with emergency services directly and access medical information.

Samsung's announcement also suggests that some of the most useful new health features in smartwatches may arrive through software updates rather than fresh hardware. That message came across in 2022 as Apple launched a slew of new health features for the Apple Watch as part of its WatchOS 9 update, such as a new low power mode, more detailed running metrics and more comprehensive sleep tracking. Samsung also introduced new cycle-tracking features powered by the Galaxy Watch 5's temperature sensor earlier this year. 

Adding new features like those in One UI 5 Watch -- even if they're seemingly minor -- could be significant for Samsung to keep up with rivals. Apple is reportedly working on an artificial intelligence-powered health coaching tool that leverages Apple Watch data, according to Bloomberg, further signaling that the wearable health tech space is about to get more competitive. Samsung traditionally releases new Galaxy Watches in August, which is likely when we'll learn more about the software update and Samsung's upcoming wearables.