The táo khuyết Watch Series 4 makes a great smartwatch even better with sophisticated health sensors & a beautiful screen.
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ByCaitlin McGarrypublished 17 September 21Comments (3)
Sophisticated health sensors elevate the táo Watch Series 4 from fun accessory to lớn must-have device.
Big, beautiful display+
Advanced health sensors+
Faster processing power+
Useful Raise to lớn Speak Siri
Both Series 4 models are slightly larger than their predecessors (more on that later), & their displays are more than 30 percent larger. That makes a huge difference. The 40mm model’s OLED screen is 394x324, compared lớn the 38mm Series 3’s 340x272 display, và the 44mm model’s is 448x368 versus the 390x312 panel in the 42mm Series 3. That’s right: The smaller Series 4’s display is bigger than the largest Series 3. This makes every interaction easier.
The display brightness hasn’t changed from Series 3 to lớn Series 4 — both versions can hit 1,000 nits — but táo bị cắn redesigned the interface khổng lồ take advantage of all the space on the newer watch’s extra-large screen. Icons are larger and more detailed. It’s easier lớn read notifications quickly. Even in bright sunlight, I was able to see the five running metrics displayed on-screen during a 3-mile jog without squinting. That makes it seem lượt thích the display is brighter, even when it"s technically not.
Apple introduced new watch faces with the Series 4 to lớn take advantage of the sizable screen. The company filmed actual vapor, fire, water & liquid metal on a high-speed camera to lớn create the new faces, and the results are stunning. These dynamic faces are also available on the Series 3, but they’re contained to the radius surrounding the dial. On the Series 4, the effects are more dramatic: flames unfurl lớn lick the sides of the display on one face, và vapor overtakes your wrist lượt thích fog rolling in over the Golden Gate Bridge on another.
But my most-used new watch face is Infograph Modular, which puts six pieces of information just a glance away. I need instant access khổng lồ weather data, workout mode & music, alongside the date, time và battery percentage. I also lượt thích to keep my Activity rings on my watch face, so I can quickly see how badly I’m crushing the friends I giới thiệu activity data with. (Just kidding. Mostly.) Another Infograph face stuffs eight complications on the watch face, but I find that’s a little too much for me. I prefer lớn keep it simple.
Apple Watch Series 4 size
I was sitting in the audience at táo bị cắn dở Park when táo bị cắn dở COO Jeff Williams revealed the Series 4’s two sizes, và I confess that I audibly groaned when I saw the smallest option was now 40mm. Sure, that’s just two millimeters larger than the 38mm, which has been the smaller version in every other generation of táo khuyết Watches. But 2mm can make a big difference on a small wrist.
I tried the watch on in the hands-on area following the announcement, which did little khổng lồ dissuade me. This watch is too big, I decided. Why did hãng apple mess with a good thing?
But now that I’ve been living with it for a few days, I’m used khổng lồ the new size, which isn’t actually all that much bigger — at least, on paper. The 38mm Series 3 case is 38.6mm tall and 33.3mm wide. The Series 4 is 39.8mm tall and 34.4mm wide. As someone who’s worn the 38mm version of each generation of táo Watch for the last three years, perhaps it’s more of psychological change than an actual one.
Of course, I’ve also polled coworkers, friends, my husband: “Are you sure this doesn’t look lượt thích a computer on my wrist?”
They say it looks pretty much the same as the old one. My husband remarked on the new watch’s slimmer profile, which does make a big difference in look & feel. The Series 3 was noticeably thicker than past generations, và the Series 4 strips away that bulk.
The larger size is a small trade-off for the brilliant display.
Apple Watch Series 4 health features
The Series 4 is a significant step toward making the táo Watch a must-have device. Táo khuyết received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for two game-changing features: an ECG phầm mềm capable of taking electrocardiograms on the go, and an atrial fibrillation feature that alerts you when you experience five irregular heart rhythms. The atrial fibrillation feature will be available on any watch running watchOS 5 or later.
The ECG phầm mềm is exclusive to lớn the Series 4, because it relies on the electrodes running through the sapphire crystal-and-ceramic back and Digital Crown to take the reading.
Some cardiologists are concerned that the ECG tiện ích could deliver false positives that will send people lớn the hospital unnecessarily, but only time và peer-reviewed data will tell. I’ve spoken to people whose táo bị cắn Watches alerted them to lớn major health issues they would have otherwise never known they had.
MORE: The Doctor on Your Wrist: How Smartwatches Are Saving Lives
Receiving actionable notifications that tell you if your heart rate is too high or low, or your heart rhythm is irregular, is huge. Having months of heart data stored in an phầm mềm to show your doctor will be incredibly beneficial khổng lồ people who would otherwise avoid getting a checkup (or who seek out treatment only to lớn be told that nothing is wrong).
The irregular heart rhythm feature và ECG ứng dụng were not available to test at launch, but rolled out in the watchOS 5.1.2 update. I tested the watch ECG against a full 12-lead EKG in a hospital setting, & found it lớn be accurate. For more on the ECG app và how lớn use it, check out our hands-on. I also activated a new low heart rate alert (which is similar lớn the high heart rate alert that táo khuyết rolled out in watchOS 4), but so far, so good.
Another critical health feature, fall detection, is available to use right away. Hopefully, you won’t need to. The Series 4 sports an upgrade accelerometer & gyroscope that can sense when you fall forward or backward & can gauge impact to lớn determine if you’ve fallen unintentionally. Don’t try lớn fool it with a trust fall; it won’t work. I, thankfully, managed not lớn fall while testing the watch, so I assume that it works as advertised. (Sorry, not trying lớn injure myself on the job.)
Apple Watch Series 4 performance
The hãng apple Watch has improved by an order of magnitude when it comes lớn performance. Just three years ago, the Series 0 relied on your iPhone for every interaction & took ages to load anything. The Series 4 is blazing fast by comparison, thanks to lớn the fourth-gen S4 watch processor.
Launching into a run happens almost instantaneously (not including the three-second countdown lớn prepare). Downloading emails in the watch Mail app takes seconds, just lượt thích on my iPhone. I pulled up the watch’s Maps app & selected the current location on a Series 3 running watchOS 5 and the new Series 4 side-by-side. The Series 3 lagged compared lớn the Series 4.
Both models are lightning quick compared to lớn smartwatches running on Google’s Wear OS and its Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 chip. That could soon change with the new Snapdragon 3100 CPU, but hãng apple is still far ahead when it comes khổng lồ smartwatch processing power.
Apple Watch Series 4 Siri integration
The apple Watch has always had Siri around, but you had to lớn press on the Digital Crown, which was slow khổng lồ summon the assistant, or issue a “Hey Siri” command, which is a little weird when you’re out in public. The Series 4 now lets you hotline upon Siri just by raising your wrist và speaking. That’s it. Just start talking.
The faster processor makes this process relatively quick (almost faster than on my iPhone). Siri is still Siri, so you can’t ask anything too complicated. But raising my wrist & having Siri tell me the weather forecast or sending off a text khổng lồ my husband is exactly the kind of interaction I want to lớn have with a smartwatch: quick & easy.
MORE:Smartwatch buying guide
The new watch’s speaker is 50 percent louder than the past generation, and it’s noticeable. My Siri is a British male, & I nearly jumped out of my chair when he first answered a question for me from the watch.
Apple Watch Series 4 fitness và music features
The automatic workout detection is particularly useful to me, because I occasionally forget to kết thúc a run or start a spinning workout và then over up with inaccurate data (or no data at all). When I started running, the watch vibrated after three minutes lớn ask if I wanted khổng lồ launch a running workout. Then it gave me credit for the three minutes & miles that I had missed.
I also love support for offline podcast syncing, which works in táo apple Podcasts or in third-party apps. I subscribe khổng lồ podcasts in Overcast, which automatically syncs episodes khổng lồ my watch và helpfully tells me which ones are available to listen lớn only on my phone if I’ve interrupted a syncing session.
For now, táo apple Music is still the only streaming ứng dụng that lets you save songs offline on your watch. But in November, Spotify launched a watch tiện ích that will tư vấn offline music playback down the line. This could convince Spotify subscribers khổng lồ buy an táo bị cắn dở Watch.
Apple Watch Series 4 GPS or Cellular
I thought cellular connectivity would elevate the táo apple Watch to must-have status, but then I realized that I will never not have my iPhone with me. I need it for too many things, not least of which because scrolling through Instagram on a watch isn’t a pleasing experience lớn the eyes.
Apple has improved the cellular reception on the Series 4, so you’ll get better service outside of major metropolitan areas.
But now that the price of a brand new táo Watch has increased lớn $399/£399, & an LTE mã sản phẩm starts at $499/£499 (not including a data plan) the price just seems too high for what you get. I recommend the GPS model.
Apple Watch Series 4 battery life
The hãng apple Watch Series 4 still lasts about 24 hours on a charge, the same as every model preceding it. Hãng apple aims to lớn deliver 18 hours on a charge, but it can easily cruise through an entire day. That’s slightly better than my iPhone, which sometimes needs khổng lồ be charged before I go out in the evening, but falls short of the fitness-focused Fitbit Versa and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch, which both last four days on a charge.
Apple did bump up the battery kích thước in the Series 4, according to lớn an iFixIt teardown of the 40mm watch. The new battery has slightly increased capacity over the battery in the 38mm Series 3, but that doesn"t deliver a meaningful increase in battery life.
Early one morning, I strapped the 40mm Series 4 to lớn my wrist và hit the pavement for a 3-mile run. By 6:45 p.m., after a day of light phầm mềm usage, checking e-mail on my commute, sending messages & asking Siri various questions, it had dwindled khổng lồ just below 50 percent.
You can wear the watch khổng lồ sleep if you want to lớn use a third-party sleep-tracking app, but my dream is for táo to both build its own sleep app & improve battery life so I can see my sleep cycles without having khổng lồ charge the watch as soon as I wake up.
Apple Watch Series 4 verdict
The Series 4 isn’t perfect. The hãng apple Watch has been coasting on 18-hour battery life since it launched, which makes it less than ideal for tracking sleep, & that hasn’t changed with the Series 4. & many people tell me they would love an táo apple Watch but are put off by the slightly rounded square kiến thiết that táo bị cắn dở has stuck with since the beginning.
As the iFixIt teardown reveals, the Series 4 has been entirely redesigned from the inside out. If you"re using a Series 0, an upgrade is a no-brainer.
Since the day I bought the first táo apple Watch, I’ve believed the reason for its existence is health. Notifications are useful, và the watch can be a stylish accessory, but those are secondary khổng lồ the information it can give us about our bodies, right now and in the future. Hãng apple is only now unlocking that potential with actionable alerts about heart rate & rhythm. Maybe you don’t need atrial fibrillation alerts or instantly accessible ECG readings. But imagine the possibilities.