The Casio G-Shock DW-H5600 is one of the best hybrid smartwatches Casio has built, but even then it still has work to do on the hardware and software front to make it a truly worthy buy.
- Great G-Shock look
- Easy to view display
- Good sleep tracking
- Heart rate accuracy
- Connected GPS just didn’t work
- Not fantastic battery life
- Fitness featuresFeatures Polar training insights, including Nightly Recharge and Running Index. Also offers Accelerometer-based workout tracking.
- Built-in heart rate monitor Can mesaure your heartbeat through your wrist, with a maximum measurement value of 220bpm.
- Water resistant up to 200 metresThe tracker can be worn while swimming without damage.
The Casio G-Shock DW-H5600 sees Casio take one of its most iconic G-Shock watches and pack it with the kind of connected smarts to appeal to fitness fans who want to track exercise and metrics like heart rate.
It’s another Casio watch that benefits from the watchmaker’s new partnership with sports watch brand Polar, offering the kind of training and recovery insights the Finnish outfit offers on watches like the Polar Pacer Pro and its Vantage series.
This isn’t the first Casio and Polar collab and likely won’t be the last, so has the union of an iconic watch with one of the big sports watch players paid off? Here’s my take.
Design and screen
- Comes in five different versions
- Uses memory in pixel display
- Water resistant up to 200 metres
The Casio G-Shock DW-H5600 is about sticking as close to the design of the non-smart 5600 G-Shock watch and at first glance, Casio’s done a really good job on that front.
There’s five different versions available including a model (the DW-5600EX), which offers interchangeable bezels and bands. I had the all-grey H5600-1 model to test with its design-dominating resin band and shock resistant case that weighs 59g, measures in with a 51mm-sized case and is 17.4mm thick. So it’s not as light or as slim as your typical 5600 G-Shock.
There are four, quite stiff-feeling physical buttons in total with the one up in the top-right to activate the backlight and the one in the bottom-right to scroll through menu screens.
Housed inside of the pretty sizable bezel is a memory pixel LCD display, which is similar screen technology used by Polar and Garmin on many of their watches.
There’s no splash of colour and the display does feel a bit on the small side, especially when you see how much space is soaked up by the bezel and that familiar protective hollow guard. Screen visibility on the whole has been fine, particularly in brighter outdoor light where memory in pixel displays really excel.
Around the back is an optical heart rate sensor, which offers continuous heart rate readings and tracking during exercise. It also powers many of the onboard Polar insights like Cardio Status, Cardio Load and Nightly Recharge measurements. That optical sensor setup also offers blood oxygen measurements.
Along with that shock resistant design Casio has made the H5600 safe for swimming up to 200 metres depth and even finds room for a Tough Solar feature, which gives you the addition of solar charging to boost things on the battery front.
You’ll need to use a proprietary charging cable to power it up and I can’t say the clothes peg-style cable is up there with one of my favourite charging cables, which I’ll get into more later.
Overall it has a nice G-Shock charm to it and while not as light and svelte as the standard version, it’s been comfortable to wear, looks like a nice normal G-Shock and while I’d definitely like a larger screen, it is at least a good quality one.
Features and performance
- Uses new Casio Watches phone app
- Works with Android and iOS
- View notifications and find my phone mode included
Casio has ditched the G-Shock Move app, which it introduced for its previous hybrid smartwatch efforts, for a new Casio Watches app where you can view things like activity tracking data, change watch faces and tinker with settings for heart rate and notifications.
The watch software is a proprietary operating system and tries to make the best of that small-ish screen estate. The top physical button gets you into the workout tracking mode, while the one below lets you see menus for elements like notifications, setting up timers and using the stopwatch and accessing features like the Almanac mode to see sunrise and sunset times. There’s also a Life Log screen to see your daily activity stats.
Without a touchscreen you’re left with some pretty stiff physical buttons to slowly scroll through menu screens, which can make trying using this watch time an arduous process to try and see something other than the time.
Notification support needs to be enabled in the companion phone app or the watch settings, where you can choose for those notifications to be displayed on part of the screen or the entire screen – you’ll definitely want to do the latter. For longer notifications you’ll need to press the stiff Mode button to scroll through them.
There’s just three watch faces to choose from, but you do have the ability to customise that watch face to display additional information, though that can only be one additional piece of data.
There’s no app storefront, payments or music features like full-fat smartwatches, so what you’re really going to use it for is notifications, which are pretty well optimised to the display, but would benefit from more screen space to spread out on.
Pairing and syncing the watch to the app can be a touch frustrating and inconsistent at times. I also had a software update issue where it caused one of the buttons to stop working, which was resolved when I could finally successfully update the watch.
Fitness and health tracking
- Inconsistent exercise heart rate readings
- Busy presentation of data in app
- Connected GPS issues
Casio has pitched this as a watch that you can track exercise, just like you would on a standard sports watch, and also have something on your wrist that will track steps and sleep. It also offers some of the training and sleep analysis software features from Polar’s watches to offer more insights into your training and make it something that will better understand how much strain you’re putting on your body and whether you’re giving it enough time to recover from training.
There’s three core sports modes covering running, walking and gym workouts. The first two offer capture metrics like distance, pace, speed and time and heart rate. From the watch those are captured using an accelerometer sensor. You can also connect the watch to the app to use your phone’s GPS to improve accuracy. The gym workout mode captures heart rate and calories burned.
As far as the walking and running modes are concerned, using the accelerometer-based tracking unsurprisingly yields unreliable results. A 10km race I used it for was clocked in at 9.33km. My attempts to improve accuracy using the connected GPS option proved fruitless, despite enabling it in the companion app. It just never seemed to work for me. Viewing those real-time metrics on the move is hard going as well, and once again the size of the screen really counts against it in this scenario.
From a heart rate tracking point of view, even for a steady paced workout, average heart rate readings tended to match up to a Garmin HRM-Pro Plus chest strap, but maximum readings were always higher – at times, 10 bpm higher than a chest strap.
Then we get into those Polar-powered features, which cover Running Index to give you a prediction of race performance, which is reliant on using the connected GPS. There’s also Cardio Load to better understand the strain you put on your body during training on your cardiovascular system, an Energy Sources screen to understand the energy source drawn upon during workouts and there’s Cardio Load Status to basically tell you whether you’re on top of your training or you might be overdoing it.
From the watch you can see the Cardio Load Status, which is based on heart rate and duration of workouts tracked. So on a long, 1hr and 30 minute run it indicated that our Cardio Load was high, yet on a tough 10km race it was medium. I never managed to get a Running Index score because of my struggles to get the connected GPS to work while it’s hard to wholly trust the Energy Used data, which is a heavily heart-rate fuelled insight based on general exercise heart rate data recorded.
As an activity tracker Casio tracks daily steps, calories burned, heart rate ranges and also pulls in Polar’s Nightly Recharge measurements, along with a breakdown of sleep stages and sleep duration. You can also capture on the spot blood oxygen measurements, but I found capturing those measurements an inconsistent process. There’s also room for some breathing exercises if you need to find a moment of calm during your day.
For daily step counts, it tended to be within 700-800 steps of Garmin’s step tracking and closer in daily counts to the Oura Ring Gen 3’s step tracking. When it’s time to go to bed, the sleep tracking fared pretty well in general. On a day I’d done a long run and headed to a festival later in the day, my sleep was short and the Casio captured similar sleep duration and similar sleep stage breakdowns to the reliable sleep tracking on the Oura Ring Gen 3.
The Nightly Recharge measurements, which takes heart rate tracked overnight into consideration, understandably informed me that my recovery was compromised, yet suggested it would still be a good day for training. I was extremely tired the next day, so this felt like a less than helpful piece of advice.
There’s some good and bad here as far as what the DW-H5600 offers in sports tracking and fitness tracking features, but it doesn’t do a good enough job of either to really make me consider swapping it for other fitness trackers and sports watches that can do a better job.
- Up to 35 hours battery life with activity tracking in use
- Power saving mode included
- Awkward charging cable
Casio expresses battery life in an interesting way. It suggests you can get up to 35 hours when using activity tracking features like heart rate. If you stick to watch mode without heart rate it can go for 1 month.
There is also a power-saving mode, which restricts the use of all of the smartwatch features and leaves you just with the ability to glance at the time and that will certainly get you longer.
In my testing, I found the battery lasted around 2-3 days and that’s with continuous heart rate monitoring and notifications enabled with workout tracking modes used on a regular basis. There’s no way to display battery status as a percentage, so you’ll just be able to see on the main watch screen if it’s high or will alert you when it’s low.
There’s no real sense of the solar charging capabilities supported here either, and based on my few days of battery life between charges, you need to be exposed to a whole lot more sunlight to make it a worthwhile feature to have.
When it comes to charging I could hand out an award for one of the most frustrating charging cables I’ve had to use on a smartwatch. The clip-style design feels like the perfect style of cable to use, but it was a frustrating process getting the cable to sit correctly on the back of the watch every time I had to charge it.
Should you buy it?
If you want a comfortable G-Shock smartwatch: Unlike other G-Shock smartwatches, the Casio DW-H5600 is a more manageable and comfortable size to wear day and night.
You want a great smartwatch for tracking exercise: You can pay less and get a smartwatch, such as the Fitbit Charge 5, that offers a whole lot more in the sports tracking department and a more reliable experience as well.
Even if it’s not as light and slim as the G-Shock model it’s inspired by, there’s still plenty to like about the design of the Casio G-Shock DW-H5600 and it’s been instantly more likeable than previous bulky G-Shock hybrids.
When you look beyond that attractive exterior, however, there’s some familiar issues with the performance of key features and a far from polished app, which shows Casio still needs to do some work to make a great smartwatch. Check out our Best Smartwatch and Best Fitness Tracker lists for more options.
How we test
We thoroughly test every smartwatch we review. We use industry standard testing to compare features properly and we use the watch as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Worn as our main tracker during the testing period
Heart rate data compared against dedicated heart rate devices
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Yes, you can shower with the Casio G-Shock DW-5600. It has a water resistant design that’s safe to be submerged in water up to 200 metres depth.
No, you cannot make calls with the Casio G-Shock DW-5600. It doesn’t include a speaker or microphone to support handling calls.