Apple Watch Series 3

As is fairly normal with Apple products the first iteration is generally best avoided by all but the earliest of adopters. Any technology company needs to get something out of the door and Apple chooses to over simplify when producing a new concept to ensure what they release is solid if not fully featured.

Watch Series 1 specs included:

  • No apps
  • Underpowered processor
  • 18 hour battery life
  • Water resistant

The original Apple Watch with its mad ‘Edition’ version in plated gold may not have stayed the course but the design has endured. With the cost of bands being considerably higher than the cost of the watch itself I find it hard to believe the watch design will be likely to change much over the coming years. Perhaps once every five or so generations.

Series 1 is being kept for 2017/18 as the low cost entry model starting at £250.

Watch Series 2 specs include:

  • Improved processor
  • Waterproof 50m
  • GPS built in

This was the watch Apple should have released the first time. And, the one I bought as my first Apple Watch. I plunked down for the Space grey aluminium with the Nylon strap. I’ll admit that the beautiful ceramic or the stainless steel is probably the finish we should all buy but the price makes it painful on a device that’s likely to need an upgrade every 2 years.

Watch Series 2 is being discontinued in favour of Series 3.

Watch Series 3 specs include:

  • Barometric altimeter
  • LTE/Cellular phone connection (EE only for launch in the UK)
  • Apple W2 wireless chip
  • Speaking Siri
  • Sapphire crystal (stainless and ceramic versions only)
  • Edition ceramic model now available in a grey version to accompany the white

I’m not sure I get the whole LTE/Cellular connection thing on a watch but if the carriers don’t actually charge any extra then it’s a function I wouldn’t mind because heading out without your phone is completely understandable if you don’t need the screen size of a phone. It just wouldn’t make me upgrade. Also, for the UK launch the watch cellular feature will only be working with EE with no mention of how long that exclusive will run for. The real shame is that carriers are aiming to charge between £5 and £10 per month to have access to your one phone number on your watch. It’s the same line with the same number accessed from an eSIM card the carrier doesn’t even need to provide. Greedy.

The barometric altimeter and promised ski/snowboard apps for automatic tracking when on the slopes would make me upgrade though this feature should still be available when watch and phone are together because the series 2 watch uses the altimeter of the phone when in range. Also, sneaky as it is, the sapphire crystal screen on the more expensive models would be a serious temptation.

Watch series 3 starts at £329 without cellular but the 42mm, stainless, sapphire glass and cellular version comes in at £649.

Watch bands/straps

I find it difficult to justify the cost of the official Apple watch straps but there are some that are fantastic. The nylon bands, including the new velcro straps, are particularly good for mixing sports and smart.

  • Sports – £50
  • Nylon – £50
  • Metal – £199 – £549
  • Leather – £149 – £699

I suspect I will be picking up one of the new nylon velcro straps and there is a increase in the range of colours available whilst they discontinue a number of the old patterns.

Watch OS4

The big changes with WatchOS4 other than faces will be all about health/fitness.

  • More Siri & Apple Music support
  • Improving the heart rate app and feedback:
    • Raise wrist to see heart rate, resting heart rate, recovery rate after workout
    • Apple watch notifies you of elevated heart rate when you are not active
    • Heart rhythm – looking for irregular rhythm and Apple Heart Study
  • New fitness modes to record many more exercise types
  • Do not disturb mode when you begin a workout
  • Person to person Apple Pay transfers will be available but not from day one.

The heart rate detection stuff is probably the most interesting because recovery rates and heart rate averages are useful data to have if you are wearing a monitor most of the day. I sincerely hope that Apple starts to play nicer with other fitness companies and its users by allowing the exporting of exercise data.

To upgrade or not…

The new watch offers little to differentiate it from the previous model and so the watch is starting to feel like it has a life span of between two and three years.

So the upgrade will all depend on which version of the older watches you are coming from and for me it’s simply down to how well the ski/snowboard mode works. The barometric altimeter is something the higher end Garmin devices such as the Fenix range have had for years and Apple need to catch up with. How easy it is to map those runs on the mountains and share with friends will likely make or break this feature.

But based on the current release schedule, I might wait a year and see what September 2018 brings. Decisions, decisions.