Hello all, I wanted to put a review out there of my new Apple Watch. I will take as deep a dive as I can, and I will add to this review as I find more things. A lot of this will be subjective. We all have different uses for our technology, what you will read is based on my personal experience with it. I will compare it to the experience I had with Series 0 and Series 2. I will edit later to add photos.
The Journey: (Feel free to skip over this section to the review if you know the history or are not interested)
First of all, let me begin by saying I am an Apple nut. I never wait on the lines, but I typically do the annual upgrades with most of their products. I watch the keynote presentations on new releases. I love technology. Anybody that knows me here knows I was HUGE into G-Shocks long before Apple Watches were technically possible. I had the Suunto Microsoft Spot Watch many years ago that used to push news, sports, emails, and pieces of information you could customize. I loved the G-Shocks that offered the most technology, Altimeters, Barometers, Compasses, Databanks, alarms, the more they packed into those modules, the more I wanted them.
September, 2014, Tim Cook introduced the Apple Watch that would be released in April 2015. Looking through the features during that keynote, I was impressed, but this one I wanted to see for myself before I pulled the trigger. They offered a 38mm and 42mm version of the Sport in aluminum, The Watch in Stainless Steel, and a ridiculous Edition version in solid gold varieties that priced over $10,000. They all offered the ability to swap bands with the push of a button rather than requiring a springbar tool that most of us all know and love. They had Rubber, leather, and steel options of straps.
I liked that they set up appointments when it launched to walk you through the features, and you could try them on and see everything for yourself. I was instantly sold when I felt the Taptic Engine. Rather then a vibration that everyone around you could hear....you felt a tap on the wrist. This was perfect! It took a couple of months, but I was able to get the Space Gray aluminum. I purchased the leather loop which was great to resize during the day with wrist swell, and it was never too tight or loose. I liked the watch a lot, but for me, coming from a lot of stainless steel watches, it was very light for me. At some point that year, Apple lowered the price on the Stainless Steel Space Black on the Sport band. I sold the Space gray and upgraded. The Space Black featured some of the best DLC I've had on a watch. Apple is known for quality control, this finish is very durable. I hunted down an OEM Space Black bracelet on Ebay not long after I purchased it, and I still wear it today. As with changing straps, just push a button and slide it off. There is enough friction that it will not ever slide off or move accidentally, but not too stiff where sliding them off is difficult. The steel bracelets sizing is simply pushing a button on the links and pulling, you then remove as many links as you want. They don't loosen over time, they never accidentally disengage, and this was such an innovative way to size the watch. The watch case is polished black, the bracelet is brushed DLC, and like the case of the watch, maintains it's finish. Aluminum watches have mineral glass on the front and back and SS uses Sapphire for the front, and ceramic on the back. You don't plug the watch in, you attach the magnetic charging puck. You could set the watch up for the left or right wrist and the crown on either side.
The first version of the Apple Watch was innovative, it definitely had a cool factor. Navigation on WatchOS required some learning, but once you learned it, it was intuitive. I enjoyed learning different features in each app with force touches and swipes. I had a couple friends that also bought Apple watches, and we had fun with the drawing feature, something only fellow watch owners could enjoy. I enjoy the many choices of watch faces, and the ability to personalize them. I like the complications as well. I typically use the date and calendar complications on any Face that will let me. The Watch was severely lacking in speed though. It could take up to a full minute for some apps to load. I particularly loved that when wanting to show it off to a friend at Starbucks, waiting a bit for it's app to load, and finally having to just pull out my phone to pay . The watch needed some work on both hardware and software.
September 2015, Apple announced WatchOS 2 that increased the efficiency of how the software and hardware worked together, apps sped up loading a little quicker, and added more apps, watch faces, and more functionality.
September 2016, Watch OS3 released followed by Apple Watch Series 2. It held the same design, but added more colors. They removed the solid gold Edition watches and replaced them with a white ceramic version. The OS added some more apps like Breathe and activity sharing, more watch faces, and the button changed from exclusively contacts to favorite apps. They added the scribble feature that allowed you to draw letters of your text similar to the Old Palm Pilots. Apple Watch Series 2 doubled the speed of series 0 and they offered a version with 50m water resistance, or you could get it without the water resistance but the upgraded processor and they called that series 1. The materials stayed the same on SS watches, but they upgraded the rear on aluminum watches to ceramic due to heavy scratching blocking the heart rate monitor lighting and reducing accuracy of the heart rate.
I purchased the Series 2 in Space Black. I used that watch a lot. I swim at the gym, I love being able to take a smart watch into the water. They also offered an interesting function that utilizes the speaker to use an audible tone to clear the water out of the speaker hole. Series 2 was slightly thicker than series 0, and that processor was SO much better. It wasn't perfect, though, you still had to wait for an app to load, just not as long as the previous generation. I wore that watch a lot more than series 0. It also had GPS, so on long walks, whether I had the iPhone with me or not, I could see a drawing of my entire walk. The processor of series 0 made it a bit of a gimmick, the Series 2 began making it more of a tool.
This past June, Apple introduced Watch OS4. It added more Watch Faces, more Activity features. There is a great feature that monitors your heartrate throughout the day, and if your sitting heart rate increases over 120 bpm, it alerts you. This could work to save lives! It offers more motivation throughout the day on activity, and closing the rings offers a cool animation when you do. These are the simple little rewards we look forward to. It offers more workout features, and one of the watch faces now offers a Siri face. It's one of the better looking faces that pushes data it thinks you might find helpful or interesting throughout the day. WatchOS 4 also works a little faster through higher efficiency.
This September, Apple announced Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS, and adds an LTE option that could deliver data and make phonecalls without being in the presence of your iPhone. It is 70% faster then Series 2. The processor is more efficient offering better battery life when paired, however when using LTE full time, it is expected to drain the battery much faster. Series 3 also offers a Barometer to track elevation when walking steps, hills, or mountains. Apple said the watch is only slightly thicker by the width of 2 slices of paper. To me, the size is negligible. They are offering it with more options, and they are offering more bands. They have partnered with Nike for sport models and Hermes for Stainless Steel models. They now offer sport in 3 colors, Space Gray, silver, and The gold they use on iPhone 8 and are available with or without LTE. Stainless Steel models are the same SS or Space Black and LTE only, and on Edition they now offer White and Space Gray both in Ceramic.
I am very partial towards Space Black. The black polished finish on black isn't flashy, the black screen when off and with the ink black OLED screen when it's on has all the black coming together like 1 cohesive piece. I really appreciate that Apple didn't make my previous bands obsolete, especially my DLC Steel as I wear that the most. From Series 0 to current, looks wise they are exactly the same. You are definitely not going to upgrade for the style unless you are upgrading the material from the Aluminum to the Steel or Ceramic. One of the things I love the most about the Apple Watch across the generations is you can wear it for most occasions. The simplicity with the straps allow a lot of versatility for your activity or going out at night. 3rd party straps have increased dramatically as well, so there is a wide assortment from all styles and price points to choose from. The custom watch faces that you can set them and save them in their dock add to that so you can swap bands and watch faces in seconds on the fly.
For Series 3 LTE models, Apple added a red dot on the crown which has created controversy, a lot of people do not like it and many have said they will not purchase LTE models just because of that dot. I was a little hesitant myself at first, and then when you see it, it's not overtaking the look of the watch at all. Had they colored the entire crown red, there would be room for complaints, but it is literally a small red dot, and stickers will be available 3rd party to cover it if it bothers you that much.
The processor was the big selling point for me. When I tried one on in the store and opened a bunch of different apps and navigated around, the processor took whatever I threw at it. This is so responsive, you open an app, and the longest it takes to open is 2-5 seconds tops. It swipes through watch faces with ease, there is no hesitation, no stutter, and no lag. Everything is instantaneous. I really believe this Series is what Apple had in mind from the start with the Apple Watch. I wore the Series 0 for a couple of months, and then it mostly sat. The Series 2 became a regular part of my watch rotation. I primarily wore it for work and physical activities. The upgraded processor made it more useful, but still needed work. Series 3 so far has created no frustration. Like most Apple products I purchase, it just works, and it works incredibly well. The LTE model added it's own exclusive Watch Face called Explorer. I like it, the seconds hand is at the 6:00, and the dial can be configured, and you can change the hand colors to red, white, or red with white edges. It also offers 3 complications, and shows dots in the center for reception when in LTE mode.
Over the years, I have gotten married, have 2 great step kids, and a job that keeps me very busy. Unfortunately I have fallen into the trap of not being as active as I used to. This got me to gain weight, and now I have issues with my blood pressure. I am getting a little older, and I would like to live a long life. I am going to be challenging myself with this watch. Apple has developed this watch better assistance with activity with reminders to move, and animated little incentives to achieve goals. With the increased workout options they added into it, I am no longer allowing myself excuses. They improved the data to make finding my step count, distance walked, and graphs to break down my daily activity much easier to read and find by simply scrolling down.
Notifications work the same way as they always have, but I am now able to reply to email. I wouldn't write any long replies, but the voice to text works incredibly well, and the scribble is great for quick replies when I need to be quiet. I typically keep the sound off and let the Taptic Engine notify me when something comes through. Siri now talks! You could turn it off, but it is a nice feature to have. The phone app is a nice addition as well and is impressive. The microphone and speaker holes got bigger, so it is louder, and the mic picks up your voice and sends it through clearly with virtually any arm position and the speaker is clear, no muffling. Mind you, I have only made a few calls with it to see how it worked, I wasn't in the middle of Manhattan with traffic in the background, just in my home office. I am curious though how it will work with long sleeves or a jacket. I wear the watch on my right wrist and crown on the left. The speaker and microphone are on the right side of the watch.
This technology is still very new, and growing quick. Apple tends to take a product thats out there that is limited and not very good, and they dramatically improve it, and move that product into the mainstream. It seemed like for a long time the only people I saw wearing one were when I went to the Apple Store and employees were wearing them. It seemed like overnight when I started seeing these on wrists all over. My brother in law is not a tech guy at all, he got one, and I was almost floored when my wife wanted to look at one, especially after the torture of messing with me when I got mine, she got the rose gold with lavender. Then my stepson came home with a Series 2 sport, all of his friends have them too. I walk through my office, and it is now a percentage of people that are either wearing an Apple Watch or Android Watch. The OS has grown to the point where developers are taking it more seriously, the number of watch apps has been slow to grow, but more developers are adding them. I also like that there are more complications to choose from, I can see the Mets score or news on my watch face, and many more options now. I look forward to the day Apple sells watch faces through the App Store, I think that will explode. I see this growing significantly more over the next few years. The LTE is still tied to the phone, there are still some apps that require the phone to be present. At some point, that will change, but for now, it is still ultimately an accessory. It's an extra tool for the way we communicate, and adds function and a layer of organization to our busy lifestyles.
If you have a Series 0 Apple Watch and are thinking of upgrading......it's a no brainer. If you have the Series 1 or 2 and are happy with it, it's not a must have dramatic upgrade. But if you are a gadget geek that likes the latest and greatest, or still periodically find the load times a little annoying, I would recommend. Series 3 removes all the shortcomings of the previous generations. This is all my initial impression. I will continue to update as I truly integrate it into my every day.