Apple launched the first Apple Watch in 2015, about a year after Google launched the first Wear OS devices with LG and Samsung. Apple made up for lost time with rapid updates and new hardware variants, catapulting it into the lead. This week, Apple unveiled the fourth-generation Apple Watch Series 4, which marks the most substantial upgrade of the wearable since its inception. The screen is bigger, health features are more advanced, and the internals are improved. Any iPhone users who were on the fence will probably snap up this redesigned Apple Watch.
The new Apple Watch keeps the same aesthetic as the old one with the rounded square shape and integrated custom band. All the bands purchased for past Apple Watch variants will work on the new model, but the screen is about 30 percent larger. It goes almost all the way to the edge of the chassis, and the hardware now comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes (compared to 38mm and 42mm for older watches).
Apple’s direct control over the hardware and software are serving it well — it’s the primary reason it’s winning in smartwatches. With the larger screen, Apple has revamped every part of watchOS to show more data on the larger display, and there are new complications for watch faces. It’s also optimized for the new S4 dual-core processor, a custom Apple design that is supposed to be twice as fast. Meanwhile, Wear OS makers have been waiting on Qualcomm to launch a new wearable chip for years, and it finally did that just recently.
The Apple Watch Series 4 includes new health features as well. There’s fall detection that triggers if you take a tumble and don’t get up again after about a minute. At that point, it calls emergency services. There’s even a built-in EKG (electrocardiogram) to screen for heart rhythm irregularities. Apple has FDA certification to sell the Apple Watch as a medical device, too. Apple is really eating AliveCor’s lunch on this one. No other smartwatch makers are going to such extremes to add new health monitoring tech.
Perhaps the one thing that’s lagging behind for the Apple Watch is battery life. It remains unchanged from the previous generation model at 18 hours of mixed usage. You might be able to eke out two days on a charge, but this is still a device you’ll want to drop on the charger every night if at all possible.
The new Apple Watch Series 4 is still expensive with a starting price of $399. Consumers seem happy to spend big money on Apple’s wearables, though, judging by how many you see in the wild. The Series 3 was a success, and the Series 4 is better in almost every way.
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