Apple Watch Series 3
The smartest smartwatch just got smarter!
From £399 from Apple, apple.com/uk Features Cellular connectivity, Apple Music (coming soon), W2 wireless chip, dual core S3 chip, water resistant
The Apple Watch Series 3 follows last year’s Series 2 by adding cellular connectivity to an
already-successful recipe. The Apple Watch is the best smartwatch by a country mile and so it was going to require some effort to improve on the Series 2.
There was no visual difference between the first and second versions of Apple Watch, but Apple has decided there needs to be a visual cue to mark out the cellular version of the Series 3 and so it has painted a red dot on the Digital Crown. Non-cellular versions look exactly like their predecessors.
You pay a perfectly reasonable £70 premium for cellular connectivity; starting at £399 versus £329, though there are stainless steel and Milanese loop versions that take you up to £599 and £699 respectively, and beyond.
So does the cellular connectivity work well? Yes, but there are a couple of caveats. Siri, messages and calls from the watch work really well (audio quality seems improved) and the calling experience isn’t much different than if you used the watch to call with your iPhone; while you can use the watch itself to call, things are far better when teamed with a pair of AirPods (they sync automatically if everything is connected via a single Apple ID) or another Bluetooth headset you’re using for music.
The cellular connectivity kicks in when the watch is no longer connected to your phone – in other words, out of range. Signal strength is shown on Apple Watch Control Centre, which also shows if you’re connected to your phone or a Wi-Fi network. There’s also a new watch face, Explorer, that shows signal strength in the middle of the dial.
The drawback to cellular connectivity is that it is only supported on EE in the UK at present – your iPhone will need to be on EE as both use the same number. It isn’t possible to, say, keep your phone on Three and pay the £5 per month cost to connect the watch to EE. Both your phone and watch share the same number and Apple Watch doesn’t get a SIM of its own. Instead it has an ‘eSIM’ which is automatically activated as part of the setup process in the Apple Watch app. If you’re on
EE and have an iPhone 6 or later, you can sign up for the plan using the Mobile Data option – this then guides you through signing in with your EE login and signing up for the Watch tariff in addition to your existing plan.
We’d only recommend the cellular option to those who regularly go out without their phone, and that’s primarily going to be people exercising. After all, you’re paying a £70 premium for the watch, plus £60 per year for cellular access. Apple Music streaming will also be a boon (coming shortly). Regular exercisers will also benefit from the addition of ‘smart coaching’ (basically, prompts), the Heart Rate app and an improved Workout app, but those are watchOS 4 features rather than being specific to the Series 3. We found battery life was similar to the Series 2; from a charge in the morning it will last all day and evening (if you’re not using the GPS for exercise). If you are using the GPS for exercise, expect around five hours, although more likely is you’ll use it for an hour with the GPS and then you’ll need to charge it within a few hours. Like its predecessor, the Apple Watch Series 3 is also available in Nike+ and Hermès versions, while the Apple Watch Edition also has a new grey ceramic finish in addition to the existing white version. Apple has, once again, decided to extend the life of the non-waterproof Series 1 as a budget option. If you have an Apple Watch Series 2, we wouldn’t recommend the upgrade. But if you have a Series 1 or no Apple Watch, then we’d recommend the Series 3; just think seriously about whether you need cellular connectivity.
The only visual difference between the cellular and non-cellular versions is a red dot on the Digital Crown.
Smart coaching, enhancements to the interface and cellular connectivity – Series 3 is an impressive update.