A day after the first set of iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max reviews went live, the first set of Apple Watch Series 4 have now also gone live. Compared to the iPhone XS series, the Apple Watch Series 4 offers a bigger leap in terms of design, performance, and functionality with its new edge-to-edge display, thinner chassis, and features like ECG.
So, what do the publications have to say about the Apple Watch Series 4? Let’s find out in our review roundup.
Apple Watch Series 4 Review Roundup
The new Apple Watch is all about its display. The 30 percent increase in display size might not seem like much at first but it has a huge impact.
It’s still OLED so the blacks are truly black and blend into the watchface glass. But if you pick a full-screen watchface, you’ll see that the screen also goes closer to the edges of the Watch than before, including the rounded corners.
The overall effect makes the square display on my Series 3 look dumpy and cramped by comparison — even though, until last week, it was arguably the best smartwatch screen on the market.
The battery life also far exceeds Apple’s claims which is always a good thing.
I took the Watch off the charger on Saturday morning and wandered around Oakland for four hours while disconnected from my phone. I used LTE for maps, a couple calls, and GPS for tracking my outdoor walk “workout.” I was still at 50 percent at the end of that day, and I didn’t get below 20 percent by the end of my lazy Sunday (which also involved an hour or so of GPS tracking and some LTE data).
That Walke-Talkie feature is a dud.
A lot of people were really excited about Walkie Talkie mode, but after testing it, I don’t think it’s especially compelling. Unlike those classic Nextel Push-to-Talk phones, Walkie Talkie mode on the Apple Watch is essentially just a FaceTime Audio call with a button you press to talk and little beeps and visual indicators to tell you if it’s your turn.
Ultimately though, the Apple Watch Series 4 is the best in the market.
What I can tell you is this: the Apple Watch has earned its place as the best-selling watch. It’s at least an order of magnitude better than other smartwatches and fitness trackers. Nearly everything it is designed to do, it does very well. It’s not yet a general purpose computer for your wrist, but, thankfully, Apple isn’t aiming for that anymore. The Watch is for doing little bite-sized versions of phone things like texting and listening to music, it’s for fitness, and it’s for health monitoring.
The publication’s review of the Apple Watch Series 4 is not as glowing as others, though it has more to do with the writer’s preference than anything else.
I’m not an Apple Watch devotee — after a harrowing experience getting lost in the Alps a year ago, I purchased a hulking Garmin multi-sport smartwatch with GPS to ensure I’ll never find myself cold and afraid on the side of a mountain ever again. A long weekend with the Series 4 didn’t convert me from my current monstrosity, which has 12 days of battery life, topographic maps of every inch of the US, and turn-by-turn directions. But the new Apple Watch’s sleek, compact design and hyper-high-resolution screen did make me feel pangs of shame for the rugged absolute unit of a Garmin that normally rests atop my wrist.
The reviewer, Charlie Warzel, even calls the Apple Watch Series 4 a luxury which given its steep price point is correct.
All of this these behaviors, of course, are luxuries. And for all its potential utility, that’s what the Apple Watch Series 4 is: a luxury. As such, I’d recommend it most for those who can afford a glimpse at a potential future, rather than those looking for maximum utility in the present.
The publication praises the battery life of the Apple Watch Series 4 saying it certainly lasts a day.
As with earlier versions, Apple rates the Series 4’s battery at “all day,” which certainly lines up with my own testing. Even so, I would happily trade a millimeter or two of thickness for some additional mAhs. As it stands, you should be able to get through a day’s use without worrying about finding a charger, but the peace of mind of more battery life is always welcome.
The Fall Detection is extremely good and cannot be fooled easily.
Fall detection is the other feature I’ll readily admit I wasn’t able to properly test this time out. The feature is automatically enabled for users aged 65 and over. Everyone else will have to manually enable it via the iPhone app under the Emergency SOS setting. When it detects a fall, an Emergency SOS screen will pop up — not dissimilar to those Life Alert devices from the 80s. If the wearer is unresponsive for a minute, it will send out the alert.
I can, however, attest to the fact that I didn’t register any false alerts while wearing the device. Slamming your hands on the desk or collapsing into your bed won’t set it off. Apparently stunt people and others trained at falling won’t be able to set it off, either. I tried taking a few controlled spills into my rabbit’s floor pads, with no results beyond sore hands and a confused bunny. Don’t try this at home, kids.
The slimmer chassis definitely makes the watch more comfortable to wear.
Even setting aside the fact that previous models majorly rounded down the longest measurements (like, big time), a little long division will tell you that the aspect ratios have changed every so slightly too to keep everything streamlined. The most apparent size difference is actually the thickness – the 0.7mm shaved off the back (mostly from the sensor array) makes a huge difference in terms of comfort and you feel it the moment you put one of these new models on.
Despite all the performance improvements and bigger display, you really should not rush to buy the Apple Watch Series 4.
With last year’s Series 3 introducing cellular to the mix, we got a much more obvious reason to say “yes,” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good reasons to buy a Series 4. If you have a heart condition or want more ways to monitor your health in general, definitely pick out a Series 4 model for yourself. If you find yourself wanting more information at a glance and aren’t yet satisfied with what your existing Apple Watch (assuming you have one) can do, you’re going to get a lot more out of the Series 4 and it’s probably worth the investment. If you find the idea of the Apple Watch exciting but find your current model to be a little too slow, the under-the-hood improvement themselves should justify an upgrade.
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