|Size||4 x 3 x 1 cm (1.6 x 1.2 x 0.4 in)|
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The Apple Watch series helped pioneer smartwatch technology. With their latest release, they are improving on past models in both design and performance while adding extra features for those looking to improve or monitor their health. But is it worth upgrading from an earlier model and does it stand up to the competition?
At first glance, a few things stand out from previous designs. The most noticeable difference is a bigger display. Reviewers found the new 40mm and 44mm designs struck an excellent balance between offering easier use and keeping a sleek appearance.
The rear of the watch is now also ceramic and sapphire glass. Reviewers found the materials comfortable against the skin and found the sensors quick to take readings.
It’s also slightly thinner, so it feels more like a watch and less like a tiny phone strapped to your wrist.
The Apple Watch Series 4 ships with a sport or sport loop band. However, bands for previous models work with the new one. So if you’re upgrading -- or don’t like the new straps -- there are plenty of options to match the watch to your personal style and tastes.
Apple chose a new screen technology -- Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide (LTPO) -- for their latest release. Essentially, the display rivals OLED in contrast and colour reproduction while still technically being an LCD and using less power. Reviewers loved the display.
There’s also a range of new watch faces. Though most reviewers found they eventually went back to the ones they preferred. New watch faces offer up to 8 slots to display additional information and keep important notifications available at a glance.
Apple developed a new chip -- the 64-bit dual-core S4 chip -- to power the watch. The new processor offered outstanding performance with minimal delays in switching between various watch features or displaying information.
The watch also includes improved sensors. Fall detection mode was a hit with reviewers. Combining accelerometer data with other sensors, the watch detects hard ground impacts and sends a series of haptic and audio notifications. If you do not respond, the watch dials emergency services and texts the emergency contact set in the watch.
You’ll also find echocardiogram readings designed to help detect irregular rhythms. While Apple is clear that this does not replace the opinion and monitoring of a healthcare professional, it’s an interesting feature that reviewers found accurate during their tests.
While most of the watch controls involve touch and gestures, there are two physical controls -- a digital crown dial and a single button -- on the side of the watch. The wheel was a hit with reviewers. Most found it accurate and easy to find when scrolling through menus or notifications.
While Apple Watch has always offered notifications, Siri integration, and speakerphone capabilities, the new speaker makes the features better than ever. Apple claims the speaker is 50% louder than previous models and reviewers seem to agree.
Depending on your needs, the watch is available in GPS-only and GPS-with-4G options. Both lock quickly to GPS and reviewers had no issues with 4G signal strength.
Other sensors on the watch include an improved accelerometer and a gyroscope.
If you’re planning to use the Apple Watch for fitness tracking, it includes a range of activities -- including two new ones: yoga and hiking. Most detect automatically based on what the sensors detect is happening. However, for low-impact or low-intensity workouts, manual tracking is likely more accurate.
Finally, the watch offers up to 18 hours on a single charge. Reviewers found this estimate accurate. There we no complaints of needing to find a charge during the day or running into issues mid-workout. You’ll need to charge it nightly if you’re active, but it should have no problems lasting through a day -- even with heavy use.
Overall, reviews are positive. Most called it the best Apple Watch model yet. Ars Technica says, “Users with older devices (Series 2 and earlier) will want to consider upgrading purely for the performance improvements. WatchOS 5 and all of its new features will run better on the Series 4 thanks to the S4 chip, and that combined with the new health features make it a worthy (albeit expensive) upgrade.”
Reviewers at iMore praised the watch, saying, “It's already the closest thing we have to external cybernetics. A connected little artificially intelligent module on our wrist that securely, privately, learns all it can about us so it can help us be and become the best us.”
No questions for the moment.