The smartwatch is no longer a gimmicky piece of tech but rather it has firmly settled itself in the market as productivity companion piece with plenty of purpose. Most tech companies now have a horse entered in the race, but their devices often only have one key focus. While there has been some impressive options come on the scene, we’re yet to see a smartwatch that can do everything – and do it well.
To date, Apple has released three Apple Watches. The first iteration immediately cornered a significant portion of the wearables market with some nifty features, while the second was basically a virtual personal trainer. The third, released in September 2017, combines the best parts of its predecessors and raises the bar again. A new version of the Apple Watch will undoubtedly drop in the next quarter, so it’s a good time to reflect on the current model. After a series of updates to its software and accessories, is the Apple Watch Series 3 still the best on the market?
The Apple Watch Series 3 retains the design of its ancestors in terms of looks, size, and shape. While some may be disappointed, current Apple Watch owners looking to upgrade will be able to re-use their existing bands and accessories. Apple has also released a new series of bands since launch.We love the Sports Loop and Woven Nylon range in particular. In previous generations the bands, though durable, would often become sweaty and uncomfortable during workouts and extended wear. Both the Sports Loop and Woven Nylon bands remedy this problem. The Sports Loop makes the watch super lightweight and wearable all day long, great for the gym or bed if you intend to make use of the sleep tracking features.
The Woven Nylon range is more of a smart casual band with a variety of colours and patterns that are great for wearing out, and because it is so lightweight and breathable, you can wear it all day. One significant difference is the stark red dot on the crown that indicates if your watch is LTE capable. It does stand out quite a bit so be wary if you like to colour-coordinate as you’ll need to choose your aftermarket wristbands carefully.
The most significant update is of course the addition of LTE capability, moving the Apple Watch closer to being a stand-alone device rather than a companion piece. While there are some definite pros here, the technology is still in its early stages, and with that, there are some cons too. Making and taking phone calls proved to be a pleasant exercise for the most part due partly to the quality of the mic and speaker. In previous models these components were average, and it is clear Apple has made a conscious effort to rectify these issues. However, messages aren’t quite as seamless. Due to the three points of connectivity— your phone, WiFi and LTE— the ease of receiving text messages depends on their format. iMessages, for example, will come through instantly, while standard text messages will be delayed as they need to be received by your phone first. If your phone is dead, you’ll have to charge it before you can receive texts again which can be a little finicky.
Just like your other devices, Siri is now fully interactive, responding to your queries in the calming tone we all know and love. The personal voice assistant is more accurate than before, perfect for when you’re running errands across town and need locations, information or even the closest coffee pit-stop. Setting reminders and alarms is now much easier too.
The Apple Watch Series 3 has also added some extra functionality for the fitness-forward. The new and improved Workout app has much more to it than ever before, with the inclusion of new fitness regimes to help you burn calories, track a session in the pool or a casual jog around the lake. Apple has also added support for skiers and snowboarders to track the speed, vertical, distance and measure the size of their descents using the built-in GPS and altimeter. Speaking of the GPS, in our opinion Apple’s is one of the most accurate, as is their step counter.
Apple music subscribers will enjoy several important updates in the app. The new interface is easier to use compared to previous iterations and syncing your music is a more straightforward process. They’ve also updated the app to finally allow users to listen to podcasts directly from the watch.
Apple’s software updates have continued to bridge the gap between the watchOS and iOS. watchOS 4 brings a mini control centre to navigate key settings, as well as a dock for frequently used apps. The updated S3 chip-set means the Apple Watch Series 3 runs much smoother and faster than ever before. Load times are almost non-existent in comparison to older models, and the rare moments where you are waiting, you won’t have to keep your eyes on the display; the watch will give you a subtle vibration to let you know it’s caught up to speed. Once again, this may sound unnecessary, but it’s small details like this that set Apple products ahead of the pack.
watchOS 5 looks really exciting with some more updates to the workout and activities app. Walkie-Talkie looks really fun and a better Siri will be welcomed too.
Apple Watch Series 3 – The Wrap-Up
In almost every aspect where past versions and its competitors have fallen short, the Apple Watch Series 3 now triumphs. At release it was best-in-class, and a slew of updates have helped increase that lead. Depending on the features and extras you’re after, the price comes in at reasonable to excessive – $459AUD to $1,969AUD. That’s not to say it isn’t worth it, though. Whether you’re after a wearable that will keep your fitness and well-being in check or something that will make your home and work life more manageable, the Apple Watch Series 3 can handle it all without fuss.