Review: Apple Watch Series 3 | iLounge


Review: Apple Watch Series 3

Highly Recommended
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular)

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.

While the cellular capabilities of the new Apple Watch Series 3 are a big deal from a technology standpoint, after two years of wearing an Apple Watch we can understand how users may actually find themselves split on the necessity of always-available connectivity. On the one side, we can see many users with more active lifestyles who will appreciate the ability to leave their iPhone behind when working out, playing sports, or hanging out at the beach, without having to worry about missing calls, messages, or other important notifications. On the other hand those who never go anywhere without their iPhone anyway will find the cellular connectivity to be mostly irrelevant, especially in light of the price premium it carries both for the Apple Watch itself and the necessary carrier plan fees.

Of course, if you’re in the former category, the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) is probably exactly the device you’ve been waiting for, and may be well worth the expense, even if you’re upgrading from a Series 2. Even for less active users, however, there’s definitely a nice added freedom to be able to quickly run into a store or work in your back yard without needing to have your iPhone with you at all times, but that may still not be enough to justify spending the money.

For users not interested in the new cellular features, the Apple Watch Series 3 will be a far less compelling upgrade. If you’re a Series 2 owner, the performance boost will be noticeable but not significant, and features like Siri voice responses and a barometric altimeter will appeal to users with specific needs, but aren’t groundbreaking in their own right. On the other hand, even without the cellular features, the Series 3 is a huge leap in performance alone over the Series 1 and first-generation Apple Watch, and of course also includes fully untethered workout tracking with GPS and elevation.

Despite the fact that Apple sells both a cellular and non-cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 3, if you’re planning on buying the new Apple Watch we’d strongly recommend considering the cellular version even if you’re not planning to activate the cellular capabilities. There’s no requirement to activate cellular data on the GPS + Cellular model, but for $70 more you get twice the storage, the ceramic back instead of the composite one, and you have the flexibility to easily add cellular data should you decide that you want to add it later on.

Although it’s still not a completely standalone device, the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) takes a huge step in making the Apple Watch fully usable in its own right, letting you leave your iPhone behind and still stay connected to the world. While there’s room for improvement in areas such as battery life and app capabilities, what Apple has done here is impressive and definitely a game changer for active users. Those who considered but passed on last year’s Series 2 will find a lot to like in this year’s model, and for those who have been on the fence, it’s a great time to take the plunge with the new Apple Watch Series 3.



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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