Apple Watch Series 3 Review — The Red Dotted One
Apple Watch is one of my favorite devices Apple has ever created. I wear it everyday and was one of the first people to get one on launch day in 2015. I’ve learned a lot about this tiny little computer that lives on my wrist over the past two and a half years. For context, I’ve owned the original Apple Watch Sport in silver, another first generation in gold, a space black stainless steel Apple Watch Series 2, and for this generation I went with the standard stainless steel model. The standard stainless steel is my favorite of all the watches. It harkens back to classic wrist watches and makes the device feel like a substantial object on your wrist. In short, the stainless steel model feels and looks more like a nice watch. But this review isn’t about the physical design of the watch since it’s largely the same, except for a small red dot embedded in the digital crown to signify that you have the cellular model. I’ve heard a few responses to this, one was that it’s there because of Jony Ive’s love of Leica and another more plausible one was that watches have traditionally used red to denote a higher status or a special feature. So there you have it, unsurprisingly a watch obsessed guy like Jony Ive is of course going to implement classic watch design techniques with his own creation. Nevertheless, I love the red crown. I loved it when Tim Cook showed off his watch a few years ago with one. It made me think what do they have in store for the future? Well I guess we know now.
The first generation Apple Watch was incredibly slow. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone since the first iPhone and first iPad were both significantly slower than their immediate predecessors. The first generation watch could barely load apps, even with watchOS 2. Apple Watch Series 2 alleviated these issues for the most part both due to the improved processor as well as watchOS 3. But once I started tapping around my Series 3, I was stunned at how much faster it is. The difference is tangible. You can just tap things now and know that they are going to work. There’s no more game of chance with Apple Watch apps.
A Note on Cellular
I haven’t activated the cellular radio in my Apple Watch yet mostly because I’m not sure how the watch will react when switched over to a different iPhone. The other reason is that AT&T, my carrier, charges $10 a month to use the cellular on the watch. Now I’d like to point out how ridiculous this is since if you’re using the watch’s cellular that means you aren’t using your phone’s. So you are paying an additional $120 per year for the same data pool you already have. It’s the dirtiest money making scheme the carriers have pulled since the introduction of upgrade plans.
There’s also an exclusive new watch face on the cellular models that can show your signal strength called the “explorer” face. It’s pretty beautiful and looks a lot like some mechanical watches I’ve seen in the past.
This year’s major watchOS update is version 4.0. It’s a pretty massive update to the watch’s interface, changing several tentpole apps as well as core mechanics like the dock. The new Apple Music app is fantastic. The best way to explain it is to say it transforms your watch into a new generation iPod. Other apps like Workout and Phone were given fresh coats of paint or new features. There are a variety of tweaks across the system that make it more independent from your iPhone and more pleasurable to use.
Apple introduces a new collection of watch bands every Spring and every Fall, this time was no exception. Not only did we get new colors of the sport, woven nylon, leather loop, modern buckle, and classic buckle bands, we also got a brand new design. The new band is called the sport loop. It combines the excellent design of the milanese loop (my favorite band) with soft fabric that makes it ideal for working out. You can read my review of the sport loop here.
“The Most Personal Device We’ve Ever Created”
If you haven’t already figured it out, I love the Apple Watch. It’s my favorite device in my life and it should be because it lives on my wrist. I use it hundreds of time per day to check the time, the weather, my messages, my Twitter timeline, my Instagram feed, my inbox, and more. When I’m out and about I use the maps app to find my way around. It’s become an indispensable device for me. I often hear the phrase that our phones are “extensions of ourselves.” I think this is very true, but I think that the Apple Watch is even more than that. It becomes a part of you after wearing it for awhile.
Buy it. You won’t regret it. You should especially buy it if you are still using the first generation watch. If you have a Series 2, you should only upgrade if you want cellular or if you use your watch so much that the speed increase will matter for you.