Alongside the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, another product that will hit the shelves this Friday in more than 25 countries: the Apple Watch Series 2. Apple has highlighted some of the key features of the updated wearable and slightly rebranded it—no Apple Watch Sport, because we have the Apple Watch Nike+, for example. Key features include a greater focus on fitness tracking (now with GPS), water resistance, a 50% faster processor, and, of course, watchOS 3.
After about a week of testing, what are reviewers saying about the Apple Watch Series 2? Well, “must have” isn’t among the keywords used, but still, the upgraded wearable has taken a big step toward the “techie timepiece it was always clocked up to be,” as summarized by USA Today.
Apparently, the GPS upgrade comes at a cost, hence the bigger battery—though still not officially confirmed—to retain the same 18-hour battery life. However, as noted by The Verge, it is difficult to tell when it is activated.
A 20-minute run with music playing knocked out 20% of my watch battery’s juice. While there is a bigger battery inside this slightly thicker watch, those who plan to use GPS for a daily jog won’t get longer battery life. (Apple says it designed the GPS on the Apple Watch to last through a marathon.)
I’ve noticed the display still doesn’t wake every time I raise or twist my wrist, which is annoying. And, even though the screen is now brighter and easily visible in normal daylight settings, it’s still tough to see in direct sunlight. At the end of the day this is a smartwatch with a retina OLED display, and not a reflective display like on other sport watches. It also doesn’t measure elevation when you’re recording an outdoor workout.
I think WatchOS 3 and Apple Watch Series 2 are a very simple story. Apple Watch had clear strengths but equally clear weaknesses. Apple identified what was flawed and went back to the drawing board. They identified what people liked best — health and fitness tracking — and made them even better.
Most people buy things for their wrist because they want a fitness tracker. The Apple Watch has gotten much better at its fitness chops. But it’s still missing a couple of things. First off, its more limited battery life means no integrated sleep tracking, because it’s understood that you’ll be charging your Watch on the nightstand every night. Fitbit and many other trackers include sleep functions, and smart alarms. You could find Apple Watch apps that could do this, no doubt, but it doesn’t feel practical.
The new Apple Watch ticks closer to being the techie timepiece it was always clocked up to be. I’m not suggesting Series 2 is perfect, or for everybody. For one thing, there’s the not-so-slim starting price of $369 for a 38mm case or $399 for 42mm. The good news is that you can now get a more powerful version of the first generation Apple Watch for $269 or $299 (for 38mm or 42mm sizes), a viable option if you don’t need a phone to swim with. Now dubbed Series 1, the first-gen models gain the same dual-core processor that’s in its more expensive sibling.
Important information isn’t just about fitness or closing rings. It’s whatever information is important to you—texts, emails, or other notifications that pop up on your screen.
This is where the Apple Watch becomes such a personal device. What’s important to me may not be important to you. That doesn’t matter though because the watch is so versatile, it can be a companion to both of us in different ways.