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Apple Watch Series 4 review: The best Apple Watch yet

By Kenny Yeo - 19 Sep 2018

Wearing experience & Conclusion

So how is it like wearing the new Apple Watch Series 4?

The new Infograph watch face is very handy.

The first thing I noticed about the Apple Watch Series 4 is how large and expansive the display is. Not only does the larger display look better, it also makes it easier to interact with and navigate. Scribbling text replies, for example, is so much easier with the larger display of the Series 4 watch. The new watch faces are also nice, especially Infograph, which allows you to have as many as 8 complications on the screen simultaneously making it easy to keep track of multiple stuff.

The other thing I noticed was performance. The Apple Watch Series 3 was no slouch but the Apple Watch Series 4 felt even faster. Apps launch with greater immediacy and are noticeably more responsive to use. The difference in performance between Series 4 and Series 3 was not night and day but the former was definitely quicker.

Otherwise, wearing the Apple Watch Series 4 feels very much like wearing the Apple Watch Series 3 except that it has a larger display, thinner case, and snappier performance. It is a real pity that the ECG capability is not available at launch since that is the biggest differentiator between the two.

 

How's the battery life?

I have only used the Apple Watch Series 4 for a couple days but I found battery life to be about the same as its predecessor. If you are a light user, you might end the day with around 60% of battery life. If you are feeling adventurous (or lazy to charge), you just might be able to squeeze two days out of it. Using cellular, however, will put a huge drain on battery life. In other words, while the Apple Watch Series 4 will have enough in the tank to last a full day, it will still require nightly charging.

 

Has the pricing increased?

Yes, unfortunately, pricing has increased substantially across all models - likely due to the larger display, more complex sensors, and better materials (sapphire crystal and ceramic case back).

Let’s take a look at the GPS-only models first. The GPS-only Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $599 for the 40mm model and goes up to $649 for the 44mm model. Last year, Apple was only asking $498 for the 38mm model and $548 for the 42mm model. This translates to an increase of S$101 across both models.

The cellular versions see substantial price hikes too. The new Apple Watch Series 4 with cellular starts at S$749 for the 40mm model and goes up to S$799 for the 44mm model. The 38mm Series 3 model with LTE was just S$598 and the 42mm model was S$648. This translates to an increase of S$151 across both models.

Here's a table showing the prices of the Apple Watch Series 4 in aluminum.

Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS) 40mm 44mm
$599 $649
Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular) 40mm 44mm
$749 $799

Here's a table showing the prices of the Apple Watch Series 4 in stainless steel. Remember, all stainless steel models are cellular models.

Apple Watch Series 4 stainless steel (Sport Band) 40mm 44mm
$999 $1,079
Apple Watch Series 4 stainless steel (Milanese loop) 40mm 44mm
$1,149 $1,229

The new Apple Watch Nike+ also comes in GPS-only and GPS + Cellular variants and are priced similarly to the aluminum Apple Watch Series 4. However, they come with exclusive Nike+ watch faces and unique Nike Sport Loop bands with special reflective threads to improve runner visibility. The Apple Watch Nike+ models will only be available on 5 October.

Apple Watch Nike+ (GPS) 40mm 44mm
$599 $649
Apple Watch Nike+ (GPS + Cellular) 40mm 44mm
$749 $799

Here are the prices of the Hermès models. Pricing varies depending on the choice from straps, but here are the starting prices of the 40mm and 44mm models. Note also that some straps are exclusive to the 40mm or 44mm models. For example, the iconic Double Tour straps are exclusive to the 40mm models. The Hermès models will be available at the same time as the Apple Watch Series 4 models, which is 21 September (this Friday).

Apple Watch Series 4 Hermès 40mm 44mm
from $1,819 from $1,899

 

Wow, that's quite a bit of a hike. Wait, is Apple still selling the Apple Watch Series 3?

Yes, they are. However, only the models with aluminum cases are offered. But you can still get GPS-only and cellular models. Best of all, they have all received significant price cuts, which makes them quite attractive. Here’s a table showing the new prices of the Apple Watch Series 3.

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) 38mm 42mm
$419 $469
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) 38mm 42mm
$569 $619

 

Is getting an Apple Watch Series 3 a good idea?

Even in the face of the new Apple Watch Series 4, the older Series 3 remains to be a very capable smartwatch.

Yes, I do think that it is worth looking at the Apple Watch Series 3 especially if you can’t stretch your budget for an Apple Watch Series 4. After all, the price hikes are quite substantial. Now, while you do miss out on some of the new features of the Series 4 watches, I don’t think that they break the Apple Watch experience. The Apple Watch Series 3 is still snappy to use and it still has numerous features that I think will make its owners very happy. I would say that the Series 3 watches offer about 80% of what the Series 4 watches do but at a significantly lower price, which makes them very compelling propositions, especially if you only want to get a watch for exercising. The Apple Watch Series 3 can track and monitor the same types of workouts as the Apple Watch Series 4.

 

What about the new Apple Watch Series 4 then?

The Apple Watch Series 4 is Apple's best smartwatch yet.

If you want Apple’s latest and greatest, then yes, the Apple Watch Series 4 is an excellent smartwatch. It is extremely well-made and it has various improvements and new features that I think most people will appreciate. The larger display and faster processor made the biggest impression on me. The large display looks great and makes the watch more legible and easier to interact, while the faster processor makes the Apple Watch much more responsive and fun to use.

Other improved features like the haptic Digital Crown, louder speakers, fall detection, and better heart tracking and monitoring are also nice to have. And Apple's focus on health and fitness is also much welcomed since it gives a compelling reason for people to want to own and wear an Apple Watch. However, the absence of the ECG function at launch - one of the Apple Watch Series 4’s key new feature - takes the shine off things. Despite that, we recognize the immense potential of this feature and we've awarded the product with our Innovation Award. If all goes well, it is likely just a matter of time before the Apple Watch Series 4 obtains proper regulatory approvals for the function to be enabled and offer yet another leap in personal health tracking capabilities.

The new watches’ high price is yet another point of consideration. As I mentioned earlier, the Apple Watch Series 4 watches are significantly pricier than its predecessors. The price hike isn’t entirely unexpected given that the new watch has a larger display, better features, and is made of pricier materials. However, it is worrying when the price hike for all models is 18% and above. Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of things to come.

Nevertheless, considering the Apple Watch Series 4’s numerous improvements, features, and outstanding build quality, it is easily Apple’s best smartwatch yet. In other words, it is also easily one of the best smartwatches you can buy today.

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8.5
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • User-Friendliness 8.5
  • Performance 8
  • Value 8
The Good
Class-leading build quality
Strong design, lots of straps for customization
Improved heart rate monitoring
Improved sensors
50-meter water resistance
Arguably the best fitness watch you can buy
The Bad
ECG feature not available at launch
Needs to be recharged every day
Costs significantly more than last year's models
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