September 28th 2017
By Mike Flaminio
With this cycle, I upgraded from the original Apple Watch. The Apple Watch is useful, but to me not a big enough game changer for yearly upgrades. I like the fitness tracking and I use it for calendar alerts. Other notifications are helpful, but I try to avoid alert notifications. I prefer reading notifications on my own time on the iPhone, so other than phone calls, my notifications are pretty much limited to calendar alerts, Messages and weather alerts.
I got the non-LTE model. I try not to be constantly plugged into the matrix, so being reached without my phone isn't a big feature. Maybe someday the Apple Watch will be able to replace the key features of the iPhone, but so far I don't do much where I'm not in Bluetooth range of my phone. So, the added cost of the device plus extra $10 per month to Verizon didn't seem worth it.
Some of my impressions include Series 2 improvements, but they're new to me so I'll include them here.
Battery life is way, way, better. Depending how much time I spend in an exercise program, I'd expect to go two days and probably more between charges. I haven't tested that yet, but I usually end the day around 70-80%. With the new battery life, I'm wearing the watch at night for sleep tracking. Usually, I charged the watch overnight, but now I'm charging it in the evening when we usually veg out for an hour or so. I also toss it back on the charger in the morning while getting ready. I suspect I might have been able to do this with the original Apple Watch, but I didn't consider with its battery life. As I'm writing this, I've been wearing the watch for six hours and it still says 94% charge.
Performance is also much improved. The original Apple Watch did somethings well but was too laggy to be a worthwhile user experience. Using Siri for text input or queries was painful. Even unlocking the device had a lag. I'm using the Apple Watch more with its improved speed.
Screen brightness is also surprisingly better. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal, but it is noticeable. This was a change in the Series 2.
I haven't used GPS. I probably won't since I mostly exercise indoors and when walking I have my phone.
Altimeter seems like it's working. Series 3 seems more accurate at counting floors than previous Apple Watches.
Waterproof was a big consideration. I almost pulled the trigger on the Series 2 for the piece of mind and functionality of using the watch in the water. The original Apple Watch though has stood up well to splashes and going under the faucet. Now I'll just be able to keep it on while at the water park with the kids.
Siri voice support is interesting. At first, I didn't even really notice the difference in part because I seldom use it, but also since it mimics the iPhone. It seemed perfectly natural to me talking to me.
This time I got the silver aluminum watch. Last time I had the black and ended up regretting it. I think the silver looks better and give more options for bands. I prefer using a leather strap and most all third-party bands seem to have silver fittings. Silver with a leather strap seems less of a wearable gadget and more of a fashion accessory.
I still feel like the Apple Watch is a bit of a novelty compared to other fitness trackers. It's still a companion to my iPhone that brings convenience, but not much in the way of new features. I usually judge products by whether I'd immediately replace it if it broke. While nifty, I'm not sure the Apple Watch is there yet.