Here it is. It’s the new Apple Watch Series 5. It’s– you know what, it’s great. I’ve used a lot of different smartwatches in my life, and this one is the best. If you have an iPhone and you can afford the $399 starting price, there is nothing better. So, like, I know. I gave away the whole review at the top of the article. But keep reading because I do want to tell you what’s new in Series 5 and what’s new in watchOS 6.
All right. So, what is new with the Apple Watch Series 5 compared to the Apple Watch Series 4 from last year? Honestly, it’s not that much, just three things. Okay, well, four if you count that Apple’s offering more material options for the casing. You can get it in aluminium, steel, titanium, and ceramic. We are using aluminium one, and physically, it’s identical to the Series 4, which was already high.
They have larger screens than the older models of the Apple Watch, and the screen is the second thing that’s new with the Series 5. It’s always on. Finally. Both the Series 5 and Series 4, are using a very special of OLED screen tech that Apple developed. It’s a low-temperature polycrystalline oxide or LTPO for short. What matters is that the Series 5 has a bunch of other chips that let it have a variable screen refresh rate, so the Series 5 can change the pixels on the screen as often as 60 times a second or as little as once per second. That lets this use radically less power than other displays.
Also, you know, your watch doesn’t need to be refreshing that often when it’s just sitting there in ambient mode, and that saves battery life. So now, instead of the screen only being off, it shows a dimmed version of your watch face, and it even still has some colour, which other smartwatches don’t do. And the, of course, when you raise your wrist, it goes ooh, full colour, just like any other Apple Watch. You can check the time without being, you know, that jerk who looks at his watch in the middle of a conversation with somebody.
You can also see our post about Apple Watch Series 4.
Now, the big question is, does that always-on screen hurt the battery life? And my answer is that it doesn’t seem to worry much. Apple claims 18 hours of battery life that every Apple Watch is supposed to get. And it does for me, even with kind of heavy usage. But it doesn’t get much more than that. Last year, Series 4 has outperformed this 18-hour battery life claim. The bottom line, you should plan on charging the Apple Watch every day. And yes, I know that there are smartwatches that last weeks or even months, but none of them can do what the Apple Watch can.
The third new thing is a built-in compass, and it works well and even gives you this neat thing called a confidence cone that gets narrower as it becomes more confident in where the north is precise. Now, if you have a magnetic watch band, that can mess with it a bit, but, you know, magnets. That’s how they work.
The fourth new thing is that there are more cellular bands on the cellular version, which means that it can do emergency calls internationally. Now, you should know that it doesn’t mean that it’ll work for regular cell phone Apple Watch stuff, though. Apple still needs to make carrier deals for that to work.
So, new materials, always-on screen, compass, and international emergency calling. All in all, that’s a minor update, but you know what? It doesn’t matter because the Apple Watch is so far ahead of the competition. I think there are a few reasons for that.
Number one is the Apple S5 chip, which is two times faster than the chip used in Apple watch series three that is Apple S3 chip. And is the best processor found in any smartwatch for now!
Another is integration. Apple lets the Apple Watch do Apple stuff with the Apple iPhone that it won’t let other companies like Fitbit or Wear OS or Samsung do, like replying to messages. Only the Apple Watch can do that.
But also, watchOS is just excellent. The new version here is watchOS 6, and it’s going to land on every Apple Watch except the very, very first one. There are usual watch faces as well as new ones. I like that you can now set more of them to be a single colour. Also, I do wish that there were more watch faces, or that there were third-party options. I could get a pretty good look on this watch, but I can’t get the perfect watch face for me.
The most significant new feature in watchOS is the App Store, which lets you install apps without having to, you know, pull out your phone, except for the first time that you use the App Store on the Apple Watch, where you have to enter your password on your phone. And then sometimes, you install apps on the Apple Watch, and it needs its, like, parent app on the phone to work for the first time. It’s not entirely independent yet, is what I’m saying.
Now, it is nice to be able to install an app in a pinch directly on your watch, I guess, but this big-deal feature is not a big deal to me. Maybe it will matter more if Apple watches become more independent one day.
Then there’s the cycles app, which lets you log and track menstrual activity. Now, this app isn’t for me, but I will say that I wish Apple had paid more attention to women’s health sooner. Still, though, talking to people at Apple, it’s clear that they put some care into this app. It’s scientifically cautious, and it’s thoughtful in its design. So, it could help you track information that could be useful for you or your doctor. But look, fertility can be a tough thing, so if you’re using it with kids in mind, you should talk to your doctor before doing anything with the information that it provides.
Let’s see. What else? Siri. Siri is here, and it can identify songs. It can also bring up search results from the web and lets you click into the webpages. And my favourite thing with the Apple Watch is that you can load little tiny, itty bitty webpages on it. It’s fun.
Ambient noise level Detector
Oh, one other thing. There is an option for the watch to detect ambient noise levels and warn you if it’s too loud for safety over a long period. It proves to me that the train that I ride every day is too damn loud.
The main thing that’s missing for me is sleep tracking, which for me and my health is much essential. There are third-party apps, though.
Okay, so, why is the Apple Watch Series 5 so far ahead? It’s not that it has an LTPO screen or a noise meter or any one of the features that I just mentioned in this review. It’s the fact that I’m talking about features in this way at all. With every other smartwatch, and I’m not talking about the Garmin, Wilderness, Hiking, Sporting, Mountaineering, whatever watches. I mean, like, wrist computers. With those things, I usually have to check whether it can last more than 12 hours or whether it can open apps in less than 10 seconds or respond to a text message or if the software is buggy as hell. All that stuff was pretty bad in the very first Apple Watch, but it quickly got turned around, so now, Apple gets to work on filling out more advanced features.
It’s like the Apple Watch Series 5 is in high school and is taking AP courses while everybody else is repeating the seventh grade for the third time. Sure, the Apple Watch hasn’t reached anything close to its full potential yet, but right now, this thing is an overachiever.
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Let me know in the comments if you’re getting an Apple Watch, and if you’re an Android user, let me know what you think you could do because I don’t have an excellent smart answer for you.