Editor’s Note: Some early reviews of the Apple Watch Series 3 have cited issues with its LTE capabilities. Lauren Goode of The Verge noted that, when out of her iPhone’s range, the smartwatch would attempt to connect to unknown wi-fi networks instead of cellular networks. Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal also noted similar problems. Apple has since told The Verge that they are investigating a fix for this with a future software release. Either way, if you’re thinking about purchasing this LTE model, you might want to wait until this issue is fixed.
The original Apple Watch made a big splash, drawing immediate skepticism but selling out instantly. When the Apple Watch Series 2 was announced last year, Apple had become the second-largest watch manufacturer in the world (by revenue). Now it’s the biggest. Apple’s success is unsurprising, and the Watch is likely only going to grow in popularity (not size) with the highly anticipated addition of cellular functionality.
Last year’s major improvements included GPS integration and very-necessary water resistance. The Series 3 ups the ante with cellular capabilities, improved fitness functions and more.
Phoneless Calls, Texts, Emails and More
The biggest news surrounding the latest Apple Watch is the inclusion of LTE network support, which finally enables users to make calls, send texts and respond to emails directly from the watch, no phone necessary. It’s an important feature, and one that turns the watch into a veritable iPhone Lite, allowing you to leave the phone behind while going out for a quick workout or running an unexpected errand.
Adding the cellular capability means adding hardware, and that runs the risk of making the watch bulky. But Apple solved that problem by integrating the antennae right into the screen and creating a minuscule SIM card. In fact, the watch casing is only bigger than that of the Series 2 by about the width of two sheets of paper.
Heart Rate Gets Deeper
According to Apple, the Watch is the most-used heart rate monitor in the world. The updated Series 3 will now display your heart rate right on the watch face, visible with the raising of a wrist. Heart rate data is also more layered, with additional information like resting and recovery rates. Apple Watch also has the ability to notify you when it detects an elevated heart rate when inactive, which will keep you more in tune with how your heart is functioning at all times, not just during activity.
Aimed at Activity
The Series 3 Watch will include smart activity coaching, a completely redesigned workout app and new features specifically for swimmers.
Siri can talk to you from your watch for the first time, so you no longer have to look at the screen.
Music on Your Wrist
Previously, the Apple Watch required you to port over a playlist for phoneless, watch-based listening (like back in the early iPod days). Not anymore. This detail was quickly glanced over during Apple’s presentation, but the availability of Apple Music and its 40-million-song library on your wrist may prove to be the best new feature of Series 3.
The Big Question
Apple is late to the game in its addition of cellular technology to the Apple Watch; Samsung included LTE support in last year’s Samsung Gear S3. Regardless, the move is sure to make LTE a prerequisite for smartwatches moving forward. But do people really need it? It’s hard to imagine getting excited about using such a small display in an age of increasingly large smartphone screens.
The new Apple Watch Series 3 is available for preorder on September 15 and will be available in stores on September 22. It’ll cost $329 for the non-cellular version and $399 for the fully equipped model; the Apple Watch Series 1 will still be available for $249.