Review: Apple Watch Series 2
Pros: Series 2’s fitness tracking abilities give the Watch a more focused path. The awaited built-in GPS is accurate and adds another dimension to the smartwatch. Swimproof water-resistance will be welcomed by all, but swimmers will also appreciate the detailed swim tracking. Expelling water from the speaker by using the Digital Crown is smart and cool. The display is brighter, and better in direct sunlight. The processor, GPU, and vital watchOS 3 update all help the watch run quicker and smoother than ever before. Microphone performance has improved. Apple apps and features are still strong.
Cons: Though the Watch’s appeal has broadened, it’s still relatively narrow with no true “wow” feature. No notable gains in battery life or charging ability. watchOS 3 and an upgraded processor offer a great benefit to first-gen Apple Watch users as well, at a lower price. We saw some Bluetooth connection issues when playing music straight from the Watch, though they may be sporadic. Though watchOS 3 makes the watch a bit more intuitive, there’s still a bit of a learning curve for non-users. We’ll still have to wait to see how many third-party apps will prove to be truly worthwhile. Lack of elevation tracking may frustrate hikers.
Apple’s newest watch, Apple Watch Series 2, represents a shift in the trajectory of the product. While the first Apple Watch was a promising smartwatch that excelled in notifications, it was a bit scattershot in its approach. Series 2 aims to be a faster, better smartwatch with a distinct fitness focus.
The original Apple Watch offered many different case/band combinations for users to choose from, and Apple Watch Series 2 is no different. The watch starts at $369 for the smaller 38mm size, which is $20 more than the original Watch launch price. The 42mm size starts at $399, as before. Either the nylon or sport bands are offered for the base price with Apple’s Ion-X glass display (which is durable but definitely not invincible, as we’ve seen over a long period of use), and an aluminum case in gold, silver, rose gold, or space gray. You can get a stainless steel case with a sapphire crystal display and a sport band for $549, with other bands increasing the price. Apple Watch Hermès models will set you back anywhere from $1,149 to $1,399, depending on size and buckle, and Apple’s new white ceramic case with a sport band is the only watch now dubbed “Apple Watch Edition.” It’s $1,249 or $1,299. Goodbye to the options that put Apple Watch into the five-digit price range.
One other special option is the Apple Watch Nike+, which costs the same as the typical aluminum sport options, but with Nike branding. The Nike+ watch has four band options and a special Nike watch Face — it arrives in October. All Series 2 watches come with a magnetic charging cable and 5W USB power adapter, at the very least. The 38mm aluminum Watch we tested came with Apple’s nylon band, which we like very much.
Apple Watch Series 2 looks almost the same as Series 1 (the new name for the “original” Watch, now with an added dual-core processor), with a few slight exceptions. The Series 2 watches are 0.9mm thicker than their Series 1 counterparts, presumably for a larger battery and waterproofing reasons. Series 2 has a redesigned microphone, which improved phone calls in our testing. Other than that, the back of the Series 2 watch is now ceramic, as opposed to a composite back. We’ll get into the rest of the features in the following pages, and let you know if Series 2 is worth the purchase, or if you’re better off with what’s now Series 1, which Apple hasn’t left behind — in fact, it’s dropped the price.