Apple promises magic over and over again with its products, and in this case, that magic is supposed to happen when you step outside without your phone and can rest easy knowing that important calls and messages will still go through.
You can’t rest easy with the Apple Watch 3 yet, because that seamlessness, that so-called magic, isn’t there. The stutters during the handoff from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi to LTE shouldn’t happen. The music streaming? It isn’t there yet. A built-in podcast streaming option? Also not there. A reliable Siri? Nope, not in my experience.
I can’t complain about a job that forces me to continuously cycle through new wearables. As ever, I’m excited for the next thing on my plate, but, as also, Apple has set a high bar. Like its predecessor, the Series 3 is mostly a vehicle for refinement. LTE aside, there’s little or nothing here that justifies the price of upgrade over last year’s model. Apple got the smartwatch thing pretty right on its first stab, and each generation makes the product that much better.
Do you even need an Apple Watch in the first place? No. And the step back in battery life that the new features require, sometimes, makes it feel like a compromise. But, when I went for walks with just the watch, it was pretty fun. And I enjoyed the feeling of being unburdened from my phone. I even left my wallet at home.
Then I found out that the cafe down the street didn't take Apple Pay.
So, maybe the world hasn't caught up with Apple's mobile lifestyle vision yet. But if it appeals to you, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the way to go. Just temper your expectations on battery life to the extreme -- and be ready to pay up for service fees and wireless headphones to have the full experience.
I have a deep appreciation for the Apple Watch and the teams that work on all of this technology. It has changed my life and it continues to get better with every version. If you don’t have an Apple Watch and are thinking about getting healthier, do yourself a favor and get one.
For those of you that want to take a break away from your iPhone, even for a few hours, but are afraid you’ll miss something—meet Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular.
The original Apple Watch was too slow. It was too dependent on being tethered to an iPhone. The user interface was too unfocused. But it was useful in some meaningful ways — primarily fitness tracking and as a convenient display for notifications. With WatchOS 2 and 3, Apple focused the experience on fitness tracking and notifications. With last year’s Series 2 hardware, performance improved and the screen got much brighter, making it far more legible outdoors.
With the addition of cellular networking in Series 3, Apple Watch gains something essential: independence. It’s not just a cool feature. It’s aimed smack dab in the middle of the two things people like best about Apple Watch: notifications and fitness. When are you separated from your iPhone? When you’re exercising. What do you miss most when you’re away from your phone? Messages and phone calls.
Except, after I spent a week testing these new models—denoted by a red dot on their dials—the future feels even further away. You’re lucky if the battery allows you to roam on cellular for longer than half a day—especially if you’re making calls. And only a limited number of third-party apps work without the phone close by. (No Instagram, Twitter , Uber.)
Most worryingly, my colleague Geoffrey Fowler and I experienced cellular connectivity issues on three separate pre-production models, in two different states, on two different 4G LTE carriers.