Apple’s smartwatches nowadays are highly popular. However, that was not the case when they first came out. It almost seemed like the company had no idea what they wanted to do when the first ever Apple Watch came out. However, knowing Apple, they bounced back with the Series 2 and Series 3 watches and the rest is history.
Apple’s new set of devices are here and while the new iPhones may have disappointed a few, the smartwatch shines yet again. The Apple Watch Series 4 builds on the success of its predecessors and continues to offer users an unmatched all-in-one experience. It has a pretty similar design to the series 3 apart from a few changes to the body alongside different size options.
Even though the watch now comes in different sizes, it’s not really a huge difference. The new sizes are only 4mm apart, which doesn’t feel like much at all on your wrist. One cool thing about the watch is that its design is compatible with previous straps. People often like to customize what they wear, so they invest in different bands for their smartwatches. It’s good to see that Apple recognizes this and doesn’t force people to buy everything again just for a newer model
Hardware wise, Apple has done a fine job. Perhaps one of the reasons for bigger versions of the watch alongside a new design was that they wanted to increase the screen size. The increased screen size is visible from the get-go and it’s not a small change either. According to Apple, the screen is 30% larger than last time which really shows.
Apart from the size, the screen itself is an OLED screen with beautiful colors as you would expect from a premium device such as the Apple Watch. There are some subtle things that you may not notice at first but you appreciate once you start noticing them. For example, the black colors blend into the watch-face glass and the screen actually goes closer to the corners of the watch than previous versions.
What this results in is a beautiful display on a watch that makes its predecessors look like bad in the process. This is quite the feat given that the series 3 watch was perhaps the best smartwatch in the world before the 4th came out. By taking up more of the watch-face, the display looks bigger even on the 40mm version of the watch 4, which is smaller than the 42mm watch 3.
The series 4 watch brings a lot of improvements to the overall hardware inside the watch. Some are major upgrades, the others are more subtle, but important nonetheless. For example, the back of the watch is no longer metal now, but ceramic in order to boost the wireless signal. They’ve also dealt with the problem of echo in previous watches too.
The microphone was placed in an awkward position in the previous versions of the smartwatch. What would happen was that there would be a lot of echoes in calls because it was placed near the speaker. However, Apple has learned from this and now the microphone is in a much better position. Now the microphone sits between the two buttons on the watch, taking it farther away from the speaker.
The speaker has also been tweaked in order to improve the sound and provide more volume. It’s a lot louder than before, there’s little to no distortion in calls and you don’t need to worry about the annoying echoing problem anymore. Another home run Apple particularly hits with this watch is with the LTE. Last time, the company ran into issues with LTE but this time they came prepared. The LTE on this device is spectacular and it makes you forget that you’re using something other than your phone.
The only issue with LTE, for now, is that it takes a bit of time to turn the feature on and use it. It may be annoying for some people who are used to quick services, even confusing. However, there’s no need to worry as it’s completely normal for this watch.
The Apple Watch 4 comes with a faster S4 processor than before while using a chip similar to the W2 chip produced by Apple. The only difference between the new W3 chip and the old W2 is that the former comes with Bluetooth 5.0 support. There’s also an accelerometer and gyroscope in the watch to sample your movements better, which helps in tracking and fall detection (which is a new feature).
Despite a lot of changes, the battery for the watch is still the same. That comes as no surprise as the battery for the watch 3 is already good. A few optimizations may have been done which sometimes makes the Apple Watch 4 the winner in terms of battery life. The watch 4, according to Apple provides 18 hours of battery life on standby and 6 hours on active heavy use. For the most part, the battery life remains a plus point of the smartwatch.
The new WatchOS
WatchOS was not a strong point about the watch until perhaps the series 2 or 3 versions came out. The latest WatchOS 5 now builds upon the foundation laid down by previous iterations and brings a ton of new features such as podcast support, improved notifications and much more.
The new watchfaces are fun, some are really neat animations that are visually appealing. There is plenty of stuff here to admire, especially the different types and numbers of watchfaces we have available, including the ‘infographic’ watchface. The only reservation with the watchfaces is that it’s incompatible with previous complications so developers would have to update their apps and thus, so would Apple.
The Apple Watch 3 was considered a decent watch for people looking for a fitness smartwatch, even though it wasn’t centered around fitness. Does the series 4 continue to make improvements in the fitness section? Absolutely. There are multiple new options now for logging different forms of workouts. New additions include yoga, hiking, tracking your walking pace.
A neat feature that complements the pace-tracking feature is that you can set a target pace. The watch can tell you if you’re walking according to your target pace or not which is a handy feature to have given different scenarios. One feature that perhaps everyone will like is the automatic workout detection feature.
Whenever you workout now, be it any type of workout; the smartwatch will notify you about your activity and give you details like the number of calories burnt, the duration of the activity etc. It will also ask if you want to log your workout, making it an overall really convenient feature. People often forget to manually ‘start’ their workouts on fitness watches, so the automatic detection feature really helps in this regard.
Health is amazing on the Watch 4
The health features on this smartwatch are perhaps what make it an all-around amazing smartwatch. Fitness aside, the watch can detect if you have any health issues. Why is this useful? It depends on the situation. For example, if you can’t seem to work out on some day or feel something’s off, there’s a chance the watch can tell you what’s wrong. From there, you can take the appropriate action and consult a doctor.
The new WatchOS 5 can detect irregular heartbeats or even low heartbeats and notify you instantly. The biggest new health feature comes in the form of the electrocardiogram (EKG) feature. That’s right, the watch can take an EKG (or ECG) using the electrodes built into the back of the watch. It creates the results into a PDF and sends them to your doctor if you’ve specified one.
However, it doesn’t end there. The new and improved accelerometer and gyroscopes of the watch work together for the new “fall detection” feature. If you trip or fall over, the watch is there to ask you whether you need to call any emergency services. The watch calls said services automatically if you don’t move for one minute after the fall. Apple has made this feature optional for some, but have turned it on automatically for people over the age of 65. It’s a really nice feature all things considered and could really help in emergency situations.
The Walkie Talkie mode isn’t that great or compelling. You connect with someone, press a button to talk and then wait for their reply and repeat. It’s not as good as any other push to talk system. As far as Siri is concerned, there is a bit of improvement that makes talking to Siri really convenient.
For example, you don’t need to push a button or say “Hey Siri” anymore. You can start talking to Siri by just lifting your wrist. The shortcuts for Siri you have on your iPhone also work with your watch. However, Siri can be quite unreliable as well. When you have a poor connection, Siri makes it really hard for you to ask her anything and often makes you wait which can be annoying.
Overall, what we got was a really decent smartwatch. The watch has everything from calls to notifications to fitness and even FDA cleared health features. Mapping, music, workouts, calls, texting, podcasts, all these features work flawlessly and better than on the watch 3.
The features that stand out on the watch are the new health features. If you want a watch specifically for fitness and health reasons then the new Apple Watch is arguably the best option out there. As far as the pricing goes, the least expensive model will cost $399. A larger size will cost you $29 more and add a $100 more for the LTE model. There’s also a stainless steel edition which will cost $200 more than the lowest but it also comes with LTE.
Even if you get the $399 model, the watch has enough to justify its price. Many people criticize Apple for their pricing and call their products overrated and overpriced. However, the Apple Watch 4 is one such product that more than lives up to its price tag.