Last year, I really missed out. I didn’t buy the Apple Watch at the time, but I’ve been testing Android watches and fitness bands like no tomorrow. This year, things are a little different. Prices are on your screen for the new Apple Watch Series 2. Although Apple’s website says they start at $269, that’s actually for the 1st generation. The cheapest 2nd generation is priced at $369 for the smaller 38mm size. I did purchase the 42mm watch which you’ll see throughout the video, and that comes with the silicone band. I’ll place my links above. Click on my links, and they’ll give you the most updated prices in real-time.
After physically owning, physically wearing an Apple Watch instead of looking at photos and videos, the Apple Watch looks quite classy and modern once you wear it. The aluminum casing, the very smooth crown, and the tactile button are all quality. No scratches during the time of me testing, and just the overall feel excudes what an Apple experience is like. Just streamlined, everything flows smoothly, minimalist, yet efficient. The silicone band is a must if you’re a fitness nut, or intend to swim with this on, and yes, that’s one of the newest features, you can get up to 50 meters or 164 feet under water. Unlike the 1st generation, it was only splash resistant.
But like the previous generation, Apple graciously offers interchangeable bands, and it’s very straightforward to swap them out. Simply hold the release button on the back and slide the old out, and slip the new one on. I recommend getting the base model if you do decide to do any sport activities, and then purchasing from 3rd party vendors where you get different styles for cheaper, versus purchasing direct from the Apple Store.
Now, getting into some of it’s features, the screen is seriously bright. In direct sunlight, I had zero problems whatssoever. There’s built-in GPS which I recommend on any fitness watch as it does provide much more accurate results. And with my testing running at my very familiar park, it’s as accurate as my phone and as accurate as my other GPS smart and fitness watches. I’ll go into detail about running and working out shortly.
ANSWERING PHONE CALLS ON THE WRIST??
One of the features I absolutely love, is answering phones calls right on your wrist. Technically this isn’t new, I’ve seen this on a Sony Smartwatch that I reviewed in the past. But, other smartwatches, if they offer this feature, you usually have to get a seperate data plan for the watch itself. With the Apple Watch, it piggy backs off your phone. On the positive side, in a silent area/room, it works perfectly from my tests with my friend on the other side saying it sounds very clear yet with some distance which is pretty common with speakerphones. But this wouldn’t be a review without some flaws, while you’re driving and want that hands free experience or simply in slightly busy area, it’s somewhat hard to hear your friend, and you’re then placing your wrist against your ear to have a listen. The other flaw that I had noticed from time to time. As soon as I pick up the call from the Apple Watch, there’s a slight delay for the Apple watch to connect to the phone itself.
So I would say hello as soon as I press accept, and it doesn’t go through. Over time, I would need to create a habit of waiting maybe a second or two to ensure the recipient eventually hears me answer. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s what I noticed when I first bought the watch. But when it does work, it’s such a handy feature, especially if your phone is in your pocket or away from you.
Notifications comes through perfectly with options to respond back to text message either by quick responses provided at the bottom of the screen. Voice recognition which works very well and is possibly the fastest for full on sentences, and scribbling which surprisingly did work well, but I do wish my finger recognition could be more exact. I feel as though I have to exaggerate or perfect each letter at times to ensure the Apple Watch registers it. But overall, all the options available has been good to great. Not to mention emoji’s are available too.
But here, let’s take a look at the home screen. One of the best features is the option of having your home screens change without needing to use an App. You can indeed get more through your phone, but having several pre-installed on the watch makes it streamlined. Swiping left and right as you can see in the video, once in awhile, I don’t perform that perfect edge swipe, so the Apple Watch isn’t too forgiving, but understandably so to prevent accidental screen changes. Pressing the crown dial on the side brings up all of your apps which works great and something that would be nice to see on their iphones and iPad’s eventually as an alternative to flipping through screens. A long press on that same dial brings up Siri which works great when you want to use VoiceComands. And the button below the crown allows you to close apps or select which ones to bring forth that are already opened. Speaking of Apps, for those who are unfamiliar, Apple does have a great lineup of 3rd party app vendors. All of my social media are on there, like twitter, Instagram, etc. , all of my most used fitness apps like Runkeeper and Strava are there to initiate a workout right on the wrist. Down to apps you wouldn’t think would need on a smartwatch like Zillow and Redfin, those are on there as I’ve been browsing new homes recently. In the end, a very robust lineup of apps that I’m sure most average users will find something worthwhile to them.
As for the fitness side of things, the daily activity tracking is very good, but I believe for very much the average consumer. Everything fitness related that the Apple Watch offers is technically offered by the likes of Fitbit and other mainstream fitness bands out there. That’s being honest, thats the reality. But what I see in how or why Apple succeeds is how simple it is. On the surface, it’s not geared towards those counting steps, it’s not geared towards specifically how many calories you’ve burned, but the colorful wheel throughout the day gives you insight how much movement you’ve had as indicated in this pink color. Green is for exercise. And last the aqua color is how much you have been standing for. Steps and distance are counted, but again, the main focus is on the easy to read activity wheel.
When you do activity a run, that’s where it gets interesting. GPS kicks on, the heart rate sensor starts reading, and at your fingertips, you have distance, pace, heart rate and a timer going, just enough to see how you are performing. During a run, it’s just enough data, at least for me to ensure I’m performing as I desire. The only thing that I really saw missing from the factory was heartrate zone training from the Apple’s dedicated Activity App, and the fact that I can’t have some sort of bar chart or line graph to show my progress throughout the months all on one screen, either on the watch or on my phone. So, long-term trends, for more fitness focused individuals who likes data and numbers, the factory app isn’t ideal, but… that doesn’t mean the Apple Watch is any less, as you can use third party apps like the very popular RunKepper to track those needs.
As for heartrate accuracy, I’ve proven through two years, possibly three years of testing these things, most wrist based heart rate trackers are not as accurate as chest straps. With the Apple Watch series 2, it does a very good job at reading the very peaks and the lows, but the consistency throughout the run isn’t dynamic or as responsive as a chest strap. You can see on each run I’ve performed, the blue or somewhat purple line is very blocky. This could be due to noise when running, and I try to ensure the best fit and placement per instructions each time. But every run I’m doing, I’m getting these results. Sometimes, it’s spot on, at times, it’s completely off. In the end, I would say, it’s still a worthy Heart rate tracker for general readings, the readings are accurate enough, but if you’re looking for pinpoint accuracy, it’s not there. With the variability, I would say the readings performed as well as most other wrist heart rate trackers out there. It was an average performance.
So coming to the end here, one of the biggest gripes in the last generation was battery life. Lasting only 18hrs to 20hrs or so from some people. From my experience, and I don’t know if this is gimmick or one of those under promise and over deliver. I’ve actually been getting a day and half and on days I’m not using it so much, I can get two full days of use. With a run, with text messaging periodically throughout the day and of course checking the time once in awhile, I’ve been averaging well over the 18hrs that Apple is claiming. If you’re an owner of the series 2, let me know in the comments section below. I would be very intrigued to hear what others are getting. And the time to recharge the Series 2 from a dead battery, it was almost 2hrs to complete.
To conclude, and answering the question what’s new in the Series 2 versus the last generation, and should you upgrade… There’s a new faster processor. I don’t know how much faster, but my Series 2 has been buttery smooth. It now feature GPS, it’s now water resistant upto 50 meters, not just splash resistant. The screen is crazy bright, possibly one of the best screens in direct sunlight that I’ve tested so far on any smartwatch. One thing I forgot to mention, there’s media controls on here, better yet, you can store music on the Apple Watch itself through Apple Music and leave your phone completely in the car or in the locker, and you can listen to your music with bluetooth earphones. The overall experience has been really good and features nearly everything we want on a smartwatch. The flaws that it did have were equivalent to the flaws that I’ve seen on other devices, so it’s technically not worse than others. If you’re on the fence of an Apple Watch, I’d say, it’s surely worth a purchase if you have the money.