Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 2

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Macworld - - Contents - Susie Ochs

It’s re­ally hard to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween the new Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 2 mod­els and the orig­i­nals – the alu­minium and steel ver­sions any­way – un­til you place them side by side. The Se­ries 2 mod­els are ever so slightly thicker than their pre­de­ces­sors. Just a hair, not enough to even com­plain about, re­ally, and it’s cer­tainly not a deal-breaker. But from Ap­ple, a com­pany with a track record of sac­ri­fic­ing ports and re­design­ing key­boards in or­der to make its prod­ucts thin­ner and thin­ner and thin­ner, the Ap­ple Watch’s ex­tra bulk is a sign that the com­pany is still adding hard­ware fea­tures to find the best mix. In this case, GPS.

What re­mains to be seen – and isn’t a one-siz­e­fits-all an­swer any­how – is whether GPS will be worth the ex­tra cost for the Se­ries 2. Af­ter all, GPS

and 50m wa­ter­proof­ing are the only dif­fer­ences be­tween the Se­ries 2 watches and the Se­ries 1, which is still on sale. Alu­minium Se­ries 1 mod­els, for­merly called Ap­ple Watch Sport, are £269 for 38mm and £299 for 42mm, and those Se­ries 1 watches even have the same S2 chips that Ap­ple put in the alu­minium Se­ries 2 mod­els, which are £100 more. Since my hands-on time af­ter Ap­ple’s Septem­ber 7 event didn’t in­clude a chance to swim laps or go for a run, the Se­ries 2’s ex­clu­sive fea­tures didn’t have the op­por­tu­nity to im­press me.

Still, one Se­ries 2 watch called out to me from the crowded ta­ble of demo units: the ce­ramic model. Shiny and pristinely white, it looks like it was carved from solid block of uni­corn horn. I’m a lit­tle sur­prised it only comes in white, but it’s a pleas­ant throw­back to when Ap­ple of­fered a whole range of glossy white prod­ucts, from iPods to MacBooks.

The ce­ramic Ap­ple Watch Edi­tion, which Ap­ple says is four times harder than stain­less steel, was the big­gest sur­prise in Ap­ple’s key­note, both for what it is and what it isn’t: gold. While it starts at a jaw-drop­ping £1,249 for the 38mm ver­sion, the ce­ramic Ap­ple Watch Edi­tion re­places the solid-gold Ap­ple Watch Edi­tion mod­els. Fun­nily enough, that gor­geous ce­ramic watch is only sold with an off-white (sorry, ‘Cloud’) Sport Band, a £49 strap that matches the look per­fectly but didn’t seem luxe enough to me con­sid­er­ing the four-fig­ure pack­age price.

The Ap­ple Watch Her­mès mod­els, on the other hand, have the op­po­site prob­lem. For £1,149 and up, you get a stain­less steel Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 2 with ex­clu­sive Her­mès watch faces and a high-end

leather band. I tried on the 38mm size with an Etoupe Swift Leather Dou­ble Buckle Cuff (pic­tured be­low), which felt like but­ter even if it did take twice as long to put on as a watch with, well, a sin­gle buckle. But it re­tails for £1,549, and that doesn’t come close to adding up: a stain­less steel Se­ries 2 watch with a Sport Band is £549, which means that step­ping up to the Her­mès is pay­ing £1,000 more to get the fancier cuff and the Her­mès watch faces. Well, the ex­act same cuff can be had on its own for £699. That just leaves the faces, based on clas­sic Her­mès watches called Clip­per, Cape Cod, and Espace, but hon­estly, I don’t think they’re good-look­ing. I wouldn’t pay £5 for one in the App Store even if I could.

Fi­nally, the Ap­ple Watch Nike Plus is a alu­minium Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 2 in space gray or sil­ver, with a spe­cial Nike Sport Band and ex­clu­sive Nike watch face. The bands are vented all the way around and stand out thanks to Nike’s eye-catch­ing neon-yel­low ‘Volt’ colour. (Plainer black/grey and sil­ver/white colours are avail­able too, but if you’re go­ing to go Nike, go neon, I say.)

Aimed at run­ners, the Nike watch face will even nudge you to pound the pave­ment more of­ten, by re­mind­ing you how long it’s been since you last ran, how nice the weather is, or

how hard your friends are smok­ing you on the leader­boards. Keep­ing in mind that any Ap­ple Watch run­ning watchOS 3 will let you share Ac­tiv­ity rings for a lit­tle friendly com­pe­ti­tion, but Nike’s im­ple­men­ta­tion seems like a lot of fun. And the prices are the same as the rest of the alu­minium Se­ries 2 mod­els, so whether you go Nike or not is sim­ply a per­sonal pref­er­ence.

Ver­dict

I’m ea­ger to test the GPS and lap-count­ing Swim work­outs in the new Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 2, once they ship, and see how long the bat­tery lasts com­pared to my trusty first-gen­er­a­tion Ap­ple Watch. Un­til then, I think the ce­ramic watch is the best look­ing if you’re will­ing to shell out for it, the Her­mès Edi­tion isn’t worth the money (but the à la carte bands might be), and the alu­minium Se­ries 2 watches con­tinue to be a pretty good deal.

If you al­ready have an Ap­ple Watch, there’s no need to up­grade, but if you’ve been wait­ing to jump on­board, now’s a great time, and if you don’t mind for­go­ing GPS, the Se­ries 1 op­tion saves you money with­out sac­ri­fic­ing speed.

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