Smartwatches are one of those things where not everyone needs but secretly they do want one. Sure, it’s nice to have a smartwatch but it just eliminates just one less step of pulling out your phone. The only real smartwatch that is selling in the millions is the Apple Watch, meanwhile, Android Wear watches have sold a fraction of Apple despite having more features and some iOS capabilities.

I’ve reviewed my fair share of smartwatches and I tested out the Apple Watch Series 3 along with the iPhone 8 Plus and if I was an iPhone user (of which I’m not), I would definitely consider getting an Apple Watch to go along with my iPhone.

Design & Hardware

The Apple Watch comes in a few different case and band options. I was able to test out the Apple Watch Series 3 in Space Gray Aluminum Case (42mm) with a Black Sports Band. I also got to try out one of Apple’s Nylon band which is much easier to put on and wear than the Sport Band.

The aluminum Apple Watch I tested was very lightweight, probably the lightest smartwatch I’ve tested. It felt like I wasn’t wearing anything on my wrist. The only thing I didn’t like was the watch’s sports band which is made from silicone and a number of smartwatches I’ve tested have silicone bands, but they weren’t as uncomfortable as the one with the Apple Watch.

Also, that same Sports Band was somewhat difficult to put on my wrist, with Apple’s weird looping method. The band was able to keep the watch on my wrist but that’s about it. Bands for the Apple Watch are easily interchangeable so you can swap them to your heart’s content.

 

On the right side of the Apple Watch, is the Digital Crown and the side button. The side button allows you to access the most recent apps on your Apple Watch.

On the bottom of the Apple Watch is where you’ll find the heart rate sensor.

The screen on the Apple Watch Series 3 looks good, I was able to read it in all sorts of lighting situations from bright daylight to in the middle of the night. The Apple Watch Series has a new S3 dual-core processor which Apple says is 70 percent faster than previous models. For the most part, the Apple Watch Series was fairly quick to navigate around watchOS 4. You can also access Siri from the Apple Watch Series 3, thanks to the new processor.

The Apple Watch Series 3 also has a built-in speaker, so when you talk to Siri on the watch, you’ll be able to hear what she says. The watch also has support for Apple’s AirPower which is coming in 2018.

Apple says that the Apple Watch Series 3 lasts a full-day (about 18 hours) and for the most part that’s true and it has great standby time, so the battery isn’t being drained when you’re using it. I wish that Apple was able to make the battery last longer, maybe at least two days minimum because it can be annoying to have to charge your Apple Watch each night.

There’s also a new W2 wireless chip in the Apple Watch Series 3 which can help get faster Wi-Fi performance and connect to Bluetooth devices such as the AirPods. The Apple Watch Series comes with 16GB of internal storage which is four times bigger than other smartwatches and is there so you can download content from Apple Music for offline to listen to during your workouts.

New this year with the Apple Watch Series 3, is a cellular option. That means you’ll be able to use your Apple Watch independently from your iPhone. The Apple Watch I tested out was the Wi-Fi & Cellular model but I wasn’t able to test it out because, in Canada, you can only use it if you’re a Bell customer (Telus customers will be able to use the Apple Watch cellular model later this year).

With the Apple Watch Series 3 cellular model, you’ll be able to make and receive calls, get turn by turn directions using Apple Maps, book a Uber  and soon stream music from Apple Music.

The Apple Watch Series 3 in Canada starts at $429 CAD for the Wi-Fi/GPS only model, the Wi-Fi & Cellular/GPS model starts at $519 CAD and goes up from there depending on which case or band you choose, for example, the stainless steel Apple Watch Series 3 with the Milanese Loop band cost $989 CAD.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is available from Apple’s website.

Software

The Apple Watch Series 3 is running watchOS 4 which brings a couple of new features. First off is some new watch faces. There is a new Siri watch face that will automatically update throughout the day to show you thing you might need from calendar appointments, reminders, activity and more. You can now have Buzz Lightyear on your Apple Watch along with Woody and Jesse, whenever you tap the screen or raise your wrist the characters come to life with a little animation.

watchOS 4 also brings smarter activity coaching, the Apple Watch’s Activity app has gotten smarter with personal and intelligent progress updates. For the most part, the Activity app gave me regular updates throughout my day. The workout app in watchOS 4 has also been given a redesign, it can track a variety of workouts with custom motion and heart rate algorithms.

Some other new stuff in watchOS 4 includes a redesigned Music app, deeper heart rate insights, and GymKit which will allow you to connect your Apple Watch with gym equipment so all the metrics and data that the equipment is tracking, can be sent to your Apple Watch.

The rest of the OS is the same as previous versions, you can use the watch’s touchscreen to navigate or use it in combination with the Digital Crown. Personally, I feel the Apple Watch’s touchscreen was a bit small and the main home screen with all the apps in circles is a bit messy. I was using the bigger of the two Apple Watch sizes but I just found using the Digital Crown also kind of pointless, since you still have to use the screen to navigate or choose an app to open.

I prefer something like how Samsung implements Tizen in their Gear S watches with their rotating bezel, that just feels more fluid and easier to navigate than the Apple Watch.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I like the Apple Watch Series, it’s well-built and comes in a variety of case and band options to choose from. But navigating watchOS 4 is where the Apple Watch falls short. Apple hasn’t really truly change the design of the Apple Watch since it first launched in 2015 and Apple Watch should consider making the Apple Watch’s battery life last even longer than just one day.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Comes in a variety of case and band options
  • Nice display
  • Watch is super quick
  • Siri on the Apple Watch is a nice addition
  • Good selection of watchfaces to choose from

Cons

  • Battery life hasn’t increased from previous models
  • Can be pricey depending on what bands/case you choose
  • Getting around watchOS 4 is a bit convoluted
  • LTE connectivity is limited to two carriers

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