Hardcore Apple Watch Fan Reviews The Series 4
The Series 4 is a really exciting Apple Watch: I personally couldn’t wait for it to come out, lots of people were more excited for it than for this year’s new iPhones and it was popular enough that the model I wanted was sold out at the Apple store I visited.
The Series 4 still has room for improvement but it definitely lives up to the hype. Today we’re going to talk about the new design, new watch faces, Siri, performance and battery life upgrades, the new health and fitness features and more.
Let’s start with the design — which is the first full redesign since the original debuted in 2015 — and which definitely does look nicer and a bit sleeker than the Series 3. I upgraded from a 42mm Series 3 to a 44mm Series 4 which doesn’t really doesn’t feel any different on my wrist but I absolutely do appreciate the more than 30% larger display.
The benefits of the larger display size were immediately clear: things are easer to read, tap and generally interact with.
A few subtle design changes I’m really into include the slightly thinner design, the now flush side button and the Digital Crown’s new and very satisfying haptic feedback when you scroll.
The speaker is now 50% louder which is great — I especially like that Siri’s answers are louder now — but it’s not yet loud enough for me to prefer making calls on my watch over using my phone or AirPods.
I railed against the ugly giant red dot on the LTE model last year so I’m glad it’s been reduced to a more tasteful outline this year and it’s also nice that all of my old watch bands still fit.
After having the Ceramic Apple Watch edition last year I decided to give the aluminum another shot this year and there are a lot of things I like about it: it’s definitely lighter and more comfortable. The downside is that I worry about it scratching more. I have flashbacks to my aluminum Series 0 which I nicked while on the treadmill… so I feel like I have to be more careful with it.
The new stainless steel gold color looks nice… I’m sure a lot of people will really like it… it just didn’t really feel like me.
Moving on to watch faces, there are 2 new exclusives on the Series 4: the Infograph and the Modular Infograph.
I said a long time ago that I wanted a watch face more lots of complications and technically the infograph watch face is just what I wanted — but it’s not quite what I had envisioned.
The Apple Watch originally ditched a circular design so it could be it’s own thing and not be held hostage to traditional analog watch designs but the Infograph face crams 8 complications around an analog watch face… apparently just because.
The Modular Infograph face is closer to what I was hoping for but it only gives me 6 complications instead of 8 and the large middle complication just isn’t supported by very many apps yet.
Still the Infograph face has been what I’ve used the most and has become my default work day watch face. Functionally it’s more useful than anything that was previously available.
The other new WatchOS 5 animated faces look nice but personally I’ll never actually use them. Even so, I definitely prefer the full screen look of them on the Series 4 vs the circular look on the Series 3.
I have to say: I am a big fan of the colorful Nike+ face though. It’s great for chilling out on the weekends or after work. Just looks good.
I think my biggest gripe right now with the Series 4 is the state of watch face complications. There just aren’t enough — some of my favorite apps don’t have complications which is a let down — and I end up filling some slots with placeholders because nothing better is available. What a waste.
Third party watch faces still aren’t supported here and I have mixed feelings. App developers have been showing off some design ideas and some are interesting and some are hideous.
There’s some good and bad when it comes to Siri which I use a lot on my Apple Watch to do things like add reminders or calendar events, check sports scores or ask simple questions.
I was excited to try the new raise to speak feature which actually was a little tricky to use at first until I figured out that it only works after you’ve literally raised your wrist and then talk… it doesn’t work if you’ve just been using the watch and then try to talk to it.
Raise to speak is definitely useful when I’m in a room full of Siri capable devices like a HomePod, an iPhone an iPad and my watch. With raise to speak I don’t have to say Hey You Know Who and have multiple devices try to figure out which one should process my command.
I have had it activate on accident a few times if I’m in the middle of a conversation and raise my wrist to look at my watch… so basically, just understand how it works.
Siri Shortcuts should work on the Apple Watch, but none have worked for me just yet… and I quit trying.
Markedly Better Performance
One of the best new features on the Series 4 is the smoother, faster upgraded performance which honestly makes a huge difference.
It’s supposed to be 50% but all I care about is that there’s almost no waiting. Whereas before I just wouldn’t do certain things because I knew it would get hung up now things happen almost instantly.
Better Battery Life
Apple says the battery life will last up to 18 hours which is a classic case of under-promise and over-deliver. Every review I’ve seen says the battery lasts much longer.
So if the battery lasts longer, why don’t we get an always on display? Well think about this: when you look at your watch do you want to see a dumbed down ambient battery saving watch face or an actual useful powerful watch face? And what’s the point of the screen always being on when you’re not even looking at it?
Health and Fitness
When it comes to the health and fitness features of the Series 4, I’m really, really excited about how proactive things are becoming.
The automatic workout detection seriously surprised and delighted me when it popped up for the first time. I credit this feature with helping me capture more data — I used to never track indoor or outdoor walks as workouts; I used to just let the steps get counted.
Having more data in turn helped me see a bigger picture regarding my fitness which in turn made me want to capture more data and actively work on getting in better shape. That’s an effect the Apple Watch hasn’t ever had on me before.
The new health tracking features are cool because they might tell you if more things are wrong with your heart early enough that you might be able to go get checked out by a doctor (which feels almost like a form of insurance somehow).
Mashable’s review said there wasn’t any sleep tracking available on the Series 4. Well, actually, I track my sleep every night using my Series 3 while my Series 4 is charging.
Other Good Things
Notifications are a grouped now which I love, I’ve had no LTE connection issues which is great and opening web pages from links people have sent you has been kinda hit or miss for me.
I got an article from The Verge to load just fine and even got a YouTube page to load even though the video wouldn’t play but I couldn’t get a MacRumors page to load… so there you go.
The biggest con I’ve seen anyone come up with is the price and I can feel the pain there since upgrades can add up fast. $29 for a larger size, $100 for LTE and $200 for stainless steel.
Look: everyone says this is the smartwatch to beat, which I definitely agree with, but in the tech world it’s not often that you’re going to get “the best” and “the cheapest” at the same time.
Also, once you’ve got an Apple Watch, you’ll almost certainly be able to sell it for a decent amount to help fund the next upgrade.
So in conclusion, the Series 4 is definitely worth owning, but is it worth upgrading to from the Series 3? Let me put it this way: I’ve tried using the Series 3 again after having used the Series 4 and it would be so painful to go back.
I have lots of additional Apple Watch Series 4 content planned including the story of trying Apple’s trade in program (hint: it was a disaster), showing you how I’ve got my Apple Watch setup and lots more! In fact, leave me a comment to let me know what Series 4 content you’d like to see!