Review: Apple Watch Series 3 | iLounge

Review

Review: Apple Watch Series 3

A-
Highly Recommended
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular)

B+
Recommended
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS)

Company: Apple

Model: Apple Watch Series 3

Price: $329 – $1299

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Jesse Hollington

Pros: Series 3’s cellular capabilities untether the Apple Watch from the iPhone in a significant way. The addition of a barometric altimeter fills in the workout tracking gap from last year’s Series 2. New processor offers a 70 percent performance boost over Series 2 and enables Siri to offer voice responses. New W2 chip increases Wi-Fi performance by 85 percent while cutting power consumption in half and resolving former issues with some Bluetooth headphones. Cellular plan can be activated directly from iPhone in seconds without even requiring a call to your carrier in most cases. Provides almost two-day battery life when kept in range of iPhone.

Cons: Cellular data is only available on a limited number of carriers at launch, and will add $5 – $10 to your monthly phone bill. Significantly shorter battery life when used away from iPhone in cellular-only mode. Non-cellular Series 3 not available in stainless steel version. Many third-party apps don’t yet provide untethered internet connectivity. Despite cellular capabilities, Apple Watch still remains an extension of your iPhone rather than a standalone device.

As usual, the Apple Watch is available in a plethora of case, color, and band options, in each of the usual 38mm and 42mm sizes. For the first time as well, Apple is actually selling two hardware variations of an Apple Watch: The Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) and Series 3 (GPS), the latter of which provides all of the Series 3 hardware improvements with the exception of the cellular connectivity for $70 less than the (GPS + Cellular) version. GPS + Cellular models are distinguished by a red dot on the Digital Crown.

While the Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) is available in pretty much the same range of variations as last year’s Series 2 — aluminum (from $399), stainless steel (from $599), Nike+ (from $399), Hermés (from $1,149), and the all-ceramic Edition (from $1,299) — those interested in the non-cellular version are limited to the aluminum casing (from $329).

Although it can be argued that those willing to purchase the higher-end models will be more likely to want the cellular capabilities, the limited options will be particularly frustrating for those in countries where the Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) model is not yet available due to a lack of carrier support — users in those countries will be limited to a choice of only six Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) models.

Another subtle difference to note is that while all of the GPS + Cellular models include a ceramic back, the non-cellular models use the same composite back found in the Series 1, making them slight downgrades from last year’s Series 2 in terms of the materials used. For the GPS + Cellular version, however, the materials remain the same as last year’s Series 2, with the aluminum models still featuring Ion-X glass on the front, while the stainless steel, Hermés and Edition get the sapphire glass treatment.

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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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