- Review Price: £399
- Two sizes: 40 and 44mm
- OLED display
- 18-hour battery life
- WatchOS 5
Apple Watch 4 first look: Vast improvements everywhere
Out of the all the products Apple unveiled during its September event – which include the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR – it was the Apple Watch Series 4 that really stood out. This is because, while the bevy of iPhones received minor updates, Apple’s wearable was completely redesigned.
When the Apple Watch was first released it felt like a complete dud. It was slow, lacked focus and, for me, spent more time on the charger than on my wrist. The turnaround since that initial release has been tremendous as Apple’s spent the last few years removing superfluous features and focusing on redesigning the Watch as a fitness aid, rather than a notification tool.
Apple Watch Series 4 – Price
Here’s full pricing for the Apple Watch Series 4:
- GPS 40mm – from £399/$399
- GPS 44mm – from £429/$429
- GPS and LTE 40mm – from £499/$499
- GPS and LTE 44mm – from £529/$529
- GPS and LTE 40mm Stainless Steel – from £699/$699
- GPS and LTE 44mm Stainless Steel – from £749/$749
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Apple Watch Series 4 – Design and display
Last year, Apple took its boring-looking iPhone and modernised it by reducing the bezel and stretching out the screen. It’s done the same thing to the Apple Watch this year.
The Apple Watch Series 4 sports a larger display than before, but the watch itself is barely any bigger. See the picture below of a Series 4 vs Series 3 for yourself. Apple has switched the sizes around a bit though: 38mm is now 40mm and 42mm is 44mm. Thankfully all your old straps will work fine, as will any new straps you buy.
My 44mm review unit doesn’t feel bigger on the wrist than the 42mm Apple Watch Series 3, and that’s a good thing. Apple said the 40mm has a larger display than the old 42mm version in a body more akin to the 38mm.
The Digital Crown has been rebuilt too, adding in a haptic response when you roll it around. It’s a subtle sensation, but a reassuring one that makes it feel a lot more tactile. Apple has also ditched that crown’s garish red finish and replaced it with a nicer red ring.
Below the Digital Crown is a secondary button that’s mainly used for initiating Apple Pay. This now sits flush to the body, rather than sticking out. It is still a proper, clicky button though unlike the rumours had suggested.
All these design updates make for a watch that feels a lot more complete than before but it’s really the quality of the screen that makes the biggest difference. Thinning down that black border is significant and it helps Apple cram more information onto the faces.
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There’s a bunch of new watch faces to use too. Some are designed to look slick (the liquid metal one is ridiculously cool) while others aim is to be as information dense as possible. One particular face lets you add eight complications along with the time.
Under the hood, Apple has made a few more significant changes. For starters, it uses a new S4 dual-core 64-bit CPU that the company claims is twice as fast as its predecessor. There’s also a new W3 chip with support for Bluetooth 5.0.
Alongside these features, the Apple Watch 4 has everything its predecessor had. You’ll get integrated GPS on all versions, optional LTE connectivity (restricted to EE and Vodafone in the UK) and the same quoted 18-hour battery life as the Series 3. I’ll update this review with my real-world battery life experience once I’ve had the Apple Watch 4 on my wrist for longer than a couple of days.
Apple Watch Series 4 – Fitness features and specs
The Apple Watch has slowly morphed into a fantastic fitness tracker but with the Series 4 it feels more like it’s an all-encompassing health device. There are features here that could genuinely help someone in distress.
Fall-detection, for example, can detect if you trip and fall thanks to the improved accelerometer. If there’s no movement detected 45 seconds after a fall it’ll start a loud 15 seconds countdown and then alert emergency services, along with a couple of pre-selected ‘SOS’ contacts. This feature is automatically enabled for those over 65 but can be easily switched on for any user.
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Apple has also added an electrocardiogram sensor to the watch, that lets you quickly take an ECG without the need for a medical appointment or additional accessories.
This is a first for an over-the-counter product and Apple is rightfully hyping it up. When the ECG app becomes available in the States later in the year (it’s only received approval from the FDA so far) you’ll be able to hold your finger against the crown for 30 seconds and get a PDF detailing the results. This can then be sent to your doctor for further inspection. The app can also give you information on the rhythm of your heart.
The improved heart-rate sensor – an Apple Watch staple since the first version – will also tell you when your heart rate drops too low; another welcome addition.
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Apple Watch Series 4 might end up being the best Apple product in a very long time. Not only does it address my design concerns about the previous models, but the health features it has added are a genuine step forward for the industry. Apple Watch was already the best smartwatch going, with Apple Watch 4 it might just have made that gap even wider.