Review: Apple Watch Series 2 | iLounge


Review: Apple Watch Series 2


Company: Apple

Model: Apple Watch Series 2

MSRP: $369-$1,399

Compatible: iPhone 5 or later

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Phil Dzikiy

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.

Series 2’s new dual-core processor enables apps to open much faster the first time they’re opened in comparison to the original Apple Watch, and slightly faster on apps that have already been opened. Keep in mind, however, that watchOS 3 and upgraded processors enable faster speeds for both Series 1 and Series 2 watches — that’s the biggest difference maker. So yes, Series 2 is faster than before, but watchOS 3 provides more of a level playing field than would have been possible before. A new GPU has also been added to increase graphical performance.

Series 2 has a display which Apple claims is not just “two times brighter than before” but also “the brightest display Apple has ever shipped on any product.” While we can’t verify that claim, the display is indeed brighter. It’s most evident in brighter sunlight. While it could be tough to see the original Apple Watch display in such sunlit situations, Series 2 is much improved — though not absolutely perfect. To be fair, we never really considered the first Apple Watch to be too dim, but the better display is certainly a benefit. The below photo was taken in low light to show the difference between the display of the Series 2 (left) and the first-gen Watch at max brightness. The Series 2 display isn’t actually blurry as seen here, it just appears that way in this photo due to its higher brightness level.

If anyone was wondering if Apple Watch would go to an always-on display in this iteration, especially with a larger battery, the answer is clearly no. We don’t mind the way Apple Watch works in that regard, but some — especially those considering other smartwatches — may still disagree.

Speaking of that battery — while an iFixit teardown revealed the 38mm Watch battery to be 32 percent larger than that in the original Watch, Apple’s technical pages note the same estimated 18-hour battery life as the original Apple Watch. iFixit surmises the GPS has a lot to do with that, and we wouldn’t disagree. So you’re still going to need to charge your Apple Watch every night with Series 2.



Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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