Apple Watch Series 2 review: The best small smartwatch in the world

The newest Apple Watch (opens in new tab) may not look very different from the Apple wearable we knew, loved, and occasionally wanted to throw out a window when an app took too long to load — but much has changed under the hood: a faster processor and GPU, built-in GPS, increased water resistance for swimmers, and what might be the unsung hero of this version — dramatically increased battery life, especially on the 38mm watch.

I've liked Apple's wearable since its 2015 origins, but painful battery life and slow-loading apps have long been a point of consternation. Does the Apple Watch Series 2 conquer these challenges? Read (and watch) on to find out!

Testing ground

Since mid-September, I've been testing four 38mm Apple Watch models: My original "Series 0" Gold Aluminum, a Series 1 Rose Gold Aluminum, a Series 2 Space Grey, and a Series 2 Stainless Steel. This review covers the latter two models, but at times, I wore all four (looking like the world's worst cartoon watch salesman) to get comparison data between Apple's various smartwatches.

Over the last few weeks, I've taken these watches wandering about New York, dunked them in the Atlantic Ocean, stuck them under a wrist guard for roller derby, and recorded more walking workouts than I've probably done since getting my first-generation Apple Watch. (Plus: My dogs were thrilled.)

The result is, I hope, a very real-world test of the Series 2's new abilities, fitness capability, and battery life. I'm not going to claim that this is the only Apple Watch review you need to read — but let's be honest, if you're reading my Apple Watch review, you're probably looking at a bunch of others, too.


Let's start with the basics. Despite its moniker, the $369+ Series 2 is, technically, the third iteration of Apple's smartwatch; it replaces the now 18-month-old original casing, which I've nicknamed "Series 0" (or "Series O," for Original — take your pick).

Instead of leaving Series 0 on sale as the entry-level model, however, Apple decided — quite rightfully, in my opinion — to offer a supercharged "tweener" version called Series 1; starting at $269, the model includes the same processor and GPU from Series 2, but packaged in the original Series 0 casing — and only in Silver, Space Grey, Gold, or Rose Gold aluminum.

A quick note: Series 1 officially lists the S1P as its system-in-package, in contrast to the Series 2's S2: This refers to a board containing all the chips for the watch. Series 2 includes GPS, which is why the two have separate names, but they both include an identical processor and GPU system.

Series 1 and 2 have also abolished some of the "titled" Apple Watch lines: The Sport joins the Stainless Steel as being referred to as, simply, Apple Watch [insert color and material here]. The Edition remains, though it now comes in a more reasonably-priced Ceramic finish, and the other new lines are both partnerships: Apple Watch Hermes and Apple Watch Nike+.

Despite the naming nonsense, the exteriors of all three Apple Watches look virtually identical. The Series 2 is a smidge thicker than previous models, but outside of physically confirming this by taking a measuring stick to the casings, I haven't noticed the difference in daily wear. We're at the point where unless the watch either gets noticeably heavier or thinner, most users aren't going to care or notice one way or the other. It's a bulkier watch than you'd get wearing a fitness device or traditional wristwatch, absolutely; but that's the tradeoff for being able to cram a bunch of batteries and sensors into a 38mm-sized casing. Having worn some of the larger Android options, I'll take "thick" over "makes my wrist look like it belongs on a 60s science-fiction show" any day.

The only differences you may notice are these: The entire Series 2 lineup has doubled the holes on its casing, going from two (for the mic and speaker) to four (two for each). Though this might seem an odd choice for a device that's supposedly more waterproof, it's actually designed with said swimproofing in mind: As with the iPhone 7, the extra holes allow the Watch's sensors to function properly when exposed to water.

If you pick up a Series 2 aluminum Apple Watch, you'll also get a nice improvement to durability: The rear casing (which protects your sensors) has been upgraded from a composite back to ceramic, like the rest of the lineup. Though a minor change, it should theoretically lower the chance of rear casing scratches that could obstruct heart rate sensors (a problem with a small number of Series 0 users).

Internally, though, the Apple Watch has been completely reengineered for speed, longevity, and — most importantly — fitness.

Zoom, zoom, zoom

On the Series 2 Apple Watch, everything is faster, smoother, and generally feels right in a way the Series 0 did not. For me, it's the watch I expected from Apple back in 2015; for many new users, it'll be a perfect entry point into the smartwatch ecosystem.

That's not to say that if you're holding onto your Series 0, it's now garbage: watchOS 3 does greatly improve app launch speed and general smoothness on the system, and I see no problems for average users being able to squeak another full year of use out of it.

It's just that Series 2 spoils you. It's like flying Virgin America/insert your airline of choice: Sitting in coach is a pretty decent experience, but once you upgrade to Main Cabin Select or First Class once, it's hard to go back.

Perhaps one of the most striking examples occurred in my Series 0 vs 1 vs 2 speed tests: After a reboot, Series 2 launched Dock-stored apps almost instantly. Series 0, launching the same app, spun slowly for an additional four or five seconds before booting. It's a small thing, but immeasurably important for user experience.

Non-dock apps boot up faster on Series 2, too, especially if they've been optimized for watchOS 3. Anything that requires a data connection is still going to hang a bit (see: Maps directions and Siri), though I have noticed requests processing faster on Wi-Fi.

Anecdotally, here are a few apps and features that repeatedly caught my eye while testing Series 2 against the other models:

  • The Camera Remote is whiz-bang fast on Series 2, and I haven't yet run into one of those awful "Cannot launch Camera" errors. There are also new Camera controls in watchOS 3, including Live Photos, HDR, and Flash, but still no way to frame and record video, or to launch iPhone 7 Plus's new Portrait mode.
  • Starting a workout from Siri is much faster, there are little to no delays when starting a workout from the Workout app
  • There's now no delay whatsoever in the Find My iPhone ping feature.
  • Switching from watch face to face with the swipe gesture is smooth and no longer feels jerky

That said, there are still plenty of areas where the Apple Watch could improve. Connectivity speeds are, unfortunately, never going to be great until the Apple Watch has a cellular radio of its own, which means that as much as I love using Siri on the Watch, it's still going to occasionally be an exercise in frustration. I appreciate watchOS 3's "I'll tap you when I'm ready" alert when it has connection issues, but it's still annoying to dictate a lengthy message, wait 30 seconds, and then be told that your Apple Watch can't connect to Siri right now.

I almost wish the Apple Watch could use some of its onboard storage to locally save those audio queries until a good connection is established; you need only run into the "Siri Not Available" error a few times before you stop relying on the Watch for audio commands. And that's a shame because Siri on the Watch is rivaled only by the upcoming AirPods for its dictation clarity.

Startup, restore, and software updates remain excruciatingly slow on Series 2 — our tests had it take a whopping 1:40 to boot. In fairness, that's a good deal better than the Series 0's dismal 2:20, but it's still not great, especially when compared to the iPhone: Our iPhone 7 boot times averaged around 0:20.

Battery life to the rescue

Startup time is pretty important when you're constantly killing your watch's battery, as I was with my 38mm Series 0. I knew using a 38mm watch was a gamble back in 2015 given Apple's battery averages and its smaller casing — and thus, smaller battery — but the 42mm just looked chunky on my teensy stick wrists. (Boyfriend watches and I don't get along, I suppose.)

After about six months wearing the 38mm Series 0, my battery life would drop to about 40% by dinner time. As such, I couldn't get through a three-hour evening roller derby practice without sending it into Power Reserve hell unless I deliberately charged it for an hour before heading out.

I got pretty good at finding charge times throughout the day, but it often screwed up my Stand hours; and sometimes, even despite the extra juice, I'd still kill the watch. If I did a morning workout or walk? Forget it. And while watchOS 3 did greatly improve the Series 0's idle time — bumping it back up to around 60% pre-workout — a good round of skating still sent me home with a dead watch.

I say all this to give context to my Series 2 experiences: Despite several weeks of pretty in-depth testing, I have yet to send either the aluminum nor steel watch to Power Reserve mode.

At first, I treated the 38mm Series 2 in the same delicate manner I'd used the Series 0: Minimum screen brightness, no Raise to Wake, letting the watch's passive heart readings dictate all non-derby activity. After one day of this? My battery life read 89%.

So I got a little more daring. I added a morning cross-training Other workout. End of day battery life? 39%.

I maxed the brightness to its 1000-nit glory, enabled raise to wake, and took it to a two-hour derby practice, doing an Other skating workout. End of day: 25%.

Okay, fine, a four-hour derby practice: 20%.

At this point, I felt a little mad with power. During a three-watch day, I subjected all of my watches to a morning walk sans iPhones — the Apple Watch Series 2 models were on GPS, the others were just "Disconnected" and searching for a connection — followed by getting Maps directions to Starbucks, sending a few Siri messages, reading some notifications, launching a third party app, using the Camera Remote, and, in the evening, skating for two hours. At 11:17PM, the Apple Watch Series 2 read 18%. (The Series 1 was at 20%; the Series 0 was long since dead.)

These are in no way comprehensive or clean-room battery tests, and shouldn't be taken as such. I've been wearing the various series watches on different wrists, for one, and have put them on at slightly different times each morning, ranging from 8AM to 11AM (though head-to-head watch tests were always put on simultaneously, starting from 100% charge).

But those caveats aside: I'm quite frankly blown away by the battery life on the 38mm Series 2 model. Apple had me awfully nervous during the Apple Watch Series 2 announcement when presenters made no mention of improved battery, and I received my review unit pretty concerned about the feasibility of wearing 38mm going forward, especially with GPS and a brighter screen providing further battery-draining opportunities.

Instead, the smallest Series 2 watch under promises and over delivers in the best possible way. Though not advertised, it does have a slightly bigger battery; the S2 processor and watchOS 3 also do a brilliant job at power management and reducing battery drain whenever possible. This is most apparent in workouts: a morning cross-training workout dropped my battery from 100% to 89%; the same workout on the Series 0 put it at 53%. Somewhat shockingly, I also saw little to no difference in day-over-day battery life on Series 2 when enabling full-screen brightness on my Apple Watch or Raise to Wake, features I'd previously avoided like the plague.

Even GPS, while demanding, isn't the battery hog I thought it would be. That's in part due to the Apple Watch's insistence on slaving to the iPhone whenever possible — if it's connected to your iPhone, it will always prefer the iPhone's GPS signal to its own. (You can force the Watch to track GPS instead by enabling Airplane mode on your iPhone, but be aware: The watch may not immediately recognize that it needs to switch over, which might give the start of your walk a very strange GPS location.) GPS also largely only flips on for outdoor walking and running workouts.

I took a Series 1 and Series 2 Watch out on a no-iPhone walk, disconnecting both from their parent devices before beginning. They both started at 100%; 44 minutes later, the Series 1 watch, lacking GPS, was at 87%, while the Series 2 was lower, at 70% — a respectable 17% difference. (By dinner time, the watches were at 73% and 59%, respectively.) I do expect longer bouts with GPS to further drain the battery, but I imagine you can still get a pretty respectable 3-4 hour workout from the watch.

If you do fall into the "I need a hardcore exercise watch with the battery to support it" category, you're going to want to do one (or all) of the following things:

  1. Get an external heart rate monitor to lighten the Apple Watch's load.
  2. If you care about workouts but not GPS, enable Airplane mode when you start a workout. Doing this with a Series 1 vs Series 2 gave me a whopping 65% remaining battery life vs 25% after 161 minutes of exercise at the end of the day.

  1. Buy the 42mm Apple Watch Series 2, which has an even bigger battery life. Friend of iMore Michael Fisher (AKA Mr Mobile) got 3+ days of usage with his 42mm watch, though admittedly sans workouts.

Yeah, I work out

Where battery is the unsung hero of Series 2, fitness is the marquee feature: "The Apple Watch is not only a great fitness device, but it's now a great fitness device for runners and swimmers!"

Sadly, I am neither a runner nor a regular swimmer. (Sorry, Apple marketing. If you ever release a proper Roller Derby workout mode, I will be all over that.) But that doesn't mean I completely ignored the watch's new fitness features. I am an avid walker — partially for exploring, partially for dog-walking purposes — and I know enough about swimming to at least be dangerous… well, mostly to myself.

See, I had a great plan to test the Apple Watch Series 2's new pool swim and open water swim options, which involved our local YMCA. When I struck out there, however, I decided that rather than leave the swim tests to the professionals, I'd go dunk in the Atlantic Ocean for a short swim session. In mid-September.

Nope, probably not my best idea. But though the water was a certain frigid temperature too foul to name on this website, it was at least warm outside, and I had a warm car to return to. And I got my brief test in and some sweet (albeit brief) footage of the initial dunking on my iPhone 7 Plus. (I did not take the Plus with me on the actual swimming workout: I didn't particularly want to test the limit of the phone's water resistance, nor did I have any great desire to lose my Jet Black iPhone in the jet black undertow of the ocean.)

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A photo posted by on

When you swim in open water, your Apple Watch will create a GPS-based swimming map for you to look at afterward. GPS signals don't penetrate water, so the Watch grabs a connection any time your hand is above water mid-stroke. This pitch sounded pretty dicey to me — that's a very short amount of time to properly talk to a satellite — but in my brief 10-minute test, it worked pretty well. (Admittedly, not hard to do, given that I swam straight out, then straight back.) The resulting workout in the Activity app also attempts to analyze your dominant stroke, distance, and pace.

All in all, a fun experiment, though I'd love to see professional athletes give this a more thorough test — surely the drag of an Apple Watch wouldn't slow down the lap time of champion swimmer Katie Ledecky.

The average non-swimming user will probably find more enjoyment over the Apple Watch's new Water lock, however: Whether you dunk your watch in bath water or dishwater, you can use the Water lock button on Control Center to forcefully eject any water that's crept into your Apple Watch's speaker. The beep-beep-beep of the speaker combined with the tiny spit of water is too close to a Star Wars droid action for me to not love it, and as much as it serves a practical purpose, it's also going to delight a lot of users (and their friends).

Of Series 2's new fitness features, integrated GPS for walkers and runners is likely the bigger selling point. I've highly enjoyed being able to leave my iPhone (and its many "PAY ATTENTION TO ME NOW" notifications) at home while walking the dogs around our neighborhood or exploring local parks, knowing I'll still get a decent route map at the end of the journey.

If you're expecting GPS to help you cheat at Fall corn mazes, however, you're going to be disappointed: While I found the Apple Watch's GPS to be fairly accurate on roads and marked trails, it has problems with off-road activity that moves quickly, relying on estimated mapping and curves to fill in the gaps. Sometimes, that works well; sometimes, it results in a lot of squiggles.

One note on GPS for older Apple Watch users: Even if you have a Series 1 or 0 Apple Watch, as long as you keep your iPhone nearby, you'll still get those nifty route maps in Activity.

What about the Series 1?

I'll have a separate (smaller) review coming soon, but essentially: If you want the speed of the Series 2 but don't care about integrated GPS, swim-proofing, a ceramic rear casing, the brighter screen, bigger battery, or the non-aluminum Apple Watch models, you'd love a Series 1. Aside from GPS, I saw very little differences between Series 1 and 2 benchmarks in my testing, including battery life; the Series 1 doesn't have the same bigger battery as the latest Apple Watch, but given that it also lacks GPS and the brighter screen, I suspect that the S1P processor does a lot of the heavy lifting here.

Bottom line

The Series 2 Apple Watch isn't the revolutionary upgrade some folks were hoping for, and that's okay. Much as I would have loved a watch with cellular connectivity, I was much more in need of a watch with impressive battery life and speed improvements. And that's what Series 2 has delivered.

Could it be further improved? Always. True all-day battery life is great; multi-day battery life and sleep tracking would be better. Heart rate tracking is solid, but still runs into problems with bent wrists and black tattoos. It is one of the few Apple products that could stand to be thinner. And as nice an upgrade as watchOS 3 is, I still yearn for custom watch faces, offline Siri, and officially-supported skating workouts. But this feels like the right step forward from Apple in the smartwatch ecosystem, especially when looked at in conjunction with items like AirPods and the new iPhone models. Iterate, highlight what's working, fix what's not.

If you don't need GPS or don't spend much time in the water, Series 2 may not be for you. Series 0 and watchOS 3 remain a good pairing, and will likely last you until the next upgrade cycle; if you're impatient but price-conscious, Series 1 is a solid upgrade, especially for 38mm users.

But even lacking in regular swimming activities, Series 2 was an easy upgrade choice for me. I can see wearing it on my wrist for several years — and it's also why I upgraded to the stainless steel version this time around. I championed the original Apple Watch for what it could be — I'm championing the Series 2 because of what it is: A great smartwatch that helps me keep my iPhone in my pocket, track my workouts, and send silly messages to my friends. It's also the best sub-42mm smartwatch on the market, hands down. It's comfortable, it looks nice on smaller wrists, and this generation actually delivers upon the all-day battery life teased in Series 0.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

  • I still like my Apple Watch 1 Sent from the iMore App
  • I waited for the second version and so far am fairly pleased. The cost was a big sticking factor but both my regular watch and fitness band needed replacing so I decided the combined cost was close enough. Apple has totally lost their minds when it comes to the 'bands', what I call straps. There is no way in **** I'll ever pay over $50 for a band. I hope the after market explodes with some good choices. Even the band that came with mine will set me back $69 to replace. The mark up on these has to be 300-400%. WTF. Hey Apple get real, clearly I'm not cheap, I just bought your watch, but I'm not stupid.
  • There are authorized third party band makers. You can get bands for less than Apple's, which, by the way, are of very high quality. $50 for a high quality band is very cheap.
  • There are a lot of third party bands out there for a significant amount less than the apple products. Of course, quality will vary, but when you can get multiple bands for the cost of one it seems worth it to me.
  • I bought an Apple branded nylon band recently for mine. Look in Amazon, you can find a band that looks exactly like mine, for about $16. But the reviews are terrible. The bands start to fall apart after a week or two, and the nylon is hard and scratchy. The edges quickly get fuzzy. Reviews of some bands show that a lug breaks off, and the watch falls off your wrist. The problem is that while some bands are going to be ok to good, some are going to be very bad. Would you buy an $8 rubber band? I wouldn't. Or a metal bracelet for $14? Or a Milinese Loop for $12? I'd be very nervous about these.
  • I purchased several bands off of Amazon .. silicone, metal magnetic close and clip close. The most I paid for any of them was $14.99, most of them being in the $8-$10 range. I change them out almost daily to match the clothes I'm wearing. I have had not a single problem with any of my bands and love the versatility they offer. I also purchased the protective face covers .. pack of 6 for about $9. Some are nice, like the rose gold colored, and the dark blue, but the others look somewhat cheesy on the watch. But for the price, hey, it works. And obviously, they were all seriously less expensive than apple's bands & face covers.
  • Really, really tempted by one now. The battery life and lack of robustness to the elements put me off the original (dare I say beta?) model but it seems Apple have fixed these with in spades. The only niggle I have is that I wish the interface was a bit more intuitive. I'm sure I'd get used to it but having had a play with a colleague's Samsung Gear S2, the rotating bezel interface on that is far easier to get to grips with, even if the support for it isn't as accomplished as Apple's wearables. Posted via the iMore App
  • Do it. I'm a first time Apple Watch owner as of this Series 2 and so far I really have no complaints. The battery hold up even to my constant playing with it and it's pretty usable (data refresh) speed for appa you keep in the dock. I held off from the original and I think this one answered all of my deal breakers. I wish for an LTE model someday but that's nit necessary.
  • Classic Buckle or Milanese Loop?
  • Buckle 100%
  • I'm glad its working out for you, but I have to say, I've never been disappointed with the battery life of my Series O watch. I heard all the horror stories, and it actually kept me away from the watch until I finally bought one this summer. Mine makes it from 5:00 AM when I get up for work, through a full day of teaching, then a couple hours of coaching, before putting it back on the charger at 9:30 PM. Only once have I been below 50% doing that. I have to say, I'm amazed you'd wear it for roller derby! I have mine under my lacrosse gloves for practice, and I'm the coach, I'd never wear it in a game! Maybe it would survive, but I cannot afford to find out otherwise.
  • I'm glad to hear yours is treating you well! Are you wearing a 42mm or 38mm? I never had battery problems when testing with my fiancé's 42mm, but the 38mm + exercise had always been an exercise in futility. I was initially very nervous to use it while playing, but it holds up like a champ! I usually put a sweat band over it to avoid scratching the screen, but otherwise, game on.
  • I've got a 42. My wife has the 38, and she usually comes home to 40% or so of battery remaining. I'm still a bit nervous to wear it while on the field, but I need the timers for drills and scrimmages. Its great to be able to have Siri set a 1 minute timer whenever I have to call a personal foul! Still, my guys have broken other players' arms through the padding with stick checks, so I'm keeping my gloves on for drills!
  • Yipe! I'm glad our contact is body-to-body only... People have broken arms and legs, but usually not by people smashing through their protective gear. o_o
  • "It's a bulkier watch than you'd get wearing a fitness device or traditional wristwatch, absolutely"
    Oddly, was surprised at how much smaller and lighter Apple Watch feels to every other watch I've worn. My wife was also surprised at how well the 42mm fit her (not too big.)
    So I would say it's not at all bulkier for a Man. Maybe for women and their tiny watches.
    Also the Garmin running watch is a lot bigger though lighter due to being plastic.
  • I love the way it actually feels on the wrist. From afar, it looks a teensy bit squat, but not terribly so. My wrists are just super-skinny, so the 42mm looks like a Star Trek communicator on it.
  • I totally understand. It's smaller and less bulky than I expected it to be, but maybe because I'm used to a big hunk of metal. My wife said the same thing and I'm sure it really depends on the wrist. We didn't get a chance to try them on before pre-ordering so I would suggest people try them on if they can.
    Excellent review, by the way, especially talking about battery life. I've heard you talk about battery life on podcasts and that was the primary reason I advised my wife to go 42mm over 38mm, and thankfully the 42mm fits her very well (I was a bit worried that it would be too big.) She doesn't have tiny wrists, but she isn't big either.
  • For those deciding between Series 1 & 2, two things to consider on whether the extra $100 is worth it are: 1. Series 1 does not come w/ a power adaptor, so if you want that, it’s $19.
    2. Series 1 does not come with any of the nylon bands, so if you want one of those, that’s an extra $49. So the $100 difference could shrink to $81, $51, or $32.
  • Great points!
  • The housing of the heart rate sensor is also made of a composite on the Series 1 instead of ceramic as on Series 2.
  • I really want to get an Apple Watch now. Series 2 sounds like when I would want in a smart watch, but the only thing the worries me is the no-cellular part.
  • Thankfully, there are very few moments where I wish for cellular. Vast majority of the time the iPhone's nearby or I'm on Wi-Fi.
  • Agreed. It's a nice to have but the use case is pretty narrow. I welcome that feature someday but it's not worth holding out for. These are very useful in the current implementation.
    Also as long as your watch is in range of a wifi network that it knows and your phone is on the internet (even over just LTE) it'll still work. That actually covers some specific use-cases (like I forgot my phone at home but I'm on WiFi at work.)
  • I'm sure the series 2 is a very nice upgrade, but watch os 3 is the big deal to me. I have an original watch, and the upgrade to watch os 3 has made it a delight to use. Buying new, series 2 is the way to go. But for people like me, the original is just fine, if you don't mind carrying your iPhone with you when you do active endeavors. I don't mind.
  • For sure! watchOS 3 does great things for the OG Apple Watch. You just get spoiled very easily playing with the Series 1 or 2. :)
  • So this or the Nike+ Series 2 version?
  • Only difference between Nike+ and standard aluminum is the custom perforated band and custom watch faces. All else identical.
  • Serenity – Do you find the reflectance of the Series 2 sapphire display (in the stainless watch) to be a problem compared to the Series 2 Ion-X glass (in the aluminum watch) when viewed outdoors? The difference was quite pronounced with the Series 0 watches, to the point where I ended up "downgrading" my stainless to an aluminum. This analysis got a lot of coverage last year –
  • I didn't notice it during my outdoor tests, personally, but I tend to trust the folks at DisplayMate. I went Sapphire largely because I've scratched the Ion-X Glass before.
  • Thanks for the feedback :-)
  • Thanks for this review. The series 2 definitely has some major improvements (screen, processor, swimable) on the original. Can you describe your preference for the Watch orientation with the Digital Crown appearing on the left?
  • Sure! I find it better ergonomically, and it lets you position the mic closer to your face when speaking to Siri. Also, flipping keeps you from triggering buttons when weight training (or, in my case, wearing wrist guards over the watch).
  • Thanks! I'll give it a go.
  • Serenity, I notice you were swimming with a leather band (i think it was the classic buckle). How does the leather hold up to water? I have the classic buckle as my daily driver, but I've only ever showered with my watch on if I was wearing a sport band. Am I being excessively paranoid? Thanks!
  • I would definitely not recommend leather + water for daily use; my ocean adventure was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up, but sadly, I wasn't wearing the proper band for it. Don't follow my bad advice there. :)
  • So, do as you say, not as you do. I get it. Sport band for the pool it is. :) Thanks!
  • Serenity, as far as cellular connectivity is concerned, I would love to have had the option for my new Apple Watch 2. But I haven't seen mentioned anywhere where this comes up, as to how the cell companies would treat this. So we pay $40 for each phone on Verizon, plus the data charge. We pay an additional $10 for our connected iPads. As far as I'm aware, no cell company has said anything as to how this might work. It would be nice to get that cell service, but for how much? Apple does charge $130 more for cell and GPS on our iPads. Would they charge more for cell enabled watches, and if so, how much more, as they are already giving us the GPS. Once we decide, in a future model, to invest in cell, what would the monthly charges be? One, two, and maybe three bucks a month might be doable for many people. But what about five, or even ten? What would we be getting for that? Before pining for cell service, we need think about these issues.
  • Verizon charges $5 per month to add on 3G or LTE smartwatches. They sell a few such as LG Urbane, LG Gizmo Gadget, and Samsung Gear S2. I assume Apple Watch would be the same.
    They also have a feature that allows both watch and phone to ring on the same number (since the watch has it's own arbitrary one.)
  • T-Mobile also charges $5 a month to add a wearable to its T-Mobile One plan.
  • What?? I have T-Mobile and I don't have a separate plan for my watch. It is synced with my iphone. Just be sure you keep your operating system updated on watch and phone or it will disconnect.
  • We're talking about watches with their own LTE cellular radio in them. Those are activated with the carrier and have a separate phone number ans share your data plan. So yes it needs to be cardier activated and have a fee. LTE capable watchss also sync to tbe phone through bluetooth or WiFi, but you can aslo go off out of range of the phone maintain full sync over LTE.
    Apple watch only has bluetooth and WiFi so you always have to have your phone with you.
    So some people would like to see an Apple eatch with LTE so it could maintain full functionality without the phone nearby.
  • Interesting. I'm on vzn, and haven't seen anything about that.
  • Here's one reference. "Customers can add the Gear S2 to their Verizon account for $5 per month. The Gear S2 from Verizon will be available in Dark Grey and Silver color models." My kid has an LG GizmoGadget. I'm paying $5. Not bad IMO.
  • Solid mainstream review. Series 2 sounds nice, but for this AW1 owner, Watch OS 3 is Apple's biggest win this year. Next year, well, we'll see what next year holds, next year.
  • Thanks for this review. I was reading closely for mention of battery life of series 2 compared to series 0 in side by side compare to be worse. Since I read from you that in side by side tests series 2 battery life is better, I'll be taking my series 2 into the Apple Store. My series 0 often had 40% battery life at the end of the day, while my new series 2 is under 10% by end of day even on days that I don't record a work out or dictate any messages. Sent from the iMore App
  • Yeah, definitely get that looked at. There's no reason a Series 2 should die faster than a Series 0 unless you're running the GPS all day.
  • Please Please Please explain how you created the skating workout. I need it for hockey!
  • When you do an Other workout, at the end of the workout you can Name Workout and choose one of the Health-related activity categories to catalog it under.
  • I've never had an Apple watch... but I'm curious - are you wearing it with the digital crown backwards (compared to all the Apple ads)? Does it work better for you that way?
  • I am, and I love it! It puts the mic in a better location and the buttons don't get accidentally triggered when I'm wearing a wrist guard for derby.
  • I thought it is interesting that the hidden port (behind the band) on the Watch Series 2 is smaller than the one on Watch Series Beta. Any insight on this?
  • It's for Apple to do diagnostics. It's not intended for accessories.
  • It's great to hear about the battery improvements. I've never had a problem with my OG 42, but my wife's 38 died pretty regularly toward the end of the day. Alas, her SS watch face was accidentally cracked pretty good, so the Series 2 will be a great upgrade this Christmas.
  • This is a great and very well-detailed review Serenity! I think now that Apple has had now a year and a half to gauge public opinion on the Apple Watch, we're seeing a much more refined goal for the Watch by Apple itself. When they announced Watch Series 0, they didn't really know what they had. Fitness, notifications, fashion, friends communicator. Now, with Watch Series 2, and especially with, what is I think the true star of the year for Apple Watch, watchOS 3, we're seeing Apple truly evolve the Watch. While the original may not have been worth buying for some people, it was for me, because it's interesting to see how the hardware and software change over time. You truly get to see a new Apple platform evolve and while Apple's biggest stride with the Watch was wOS 3, I would concur with you that Apple's biggest evolution with the Watch is Watch Series 2, because of this refined focus on what defines the Watch. I think your article conveyed that very well. Thanks for a great read, and happy walking! A side note, what breed of dog do you have?
  • Our pups are both staffordshire terrier mixes! Rescues.
  • Great Video Serenity. Did you shoot it on the new iPhone 7 Plus in 4K?
  • I did!
  • I'm looking to try my first Apple Watch and am torn between finding a lightly used one on Kijiji or similar, or getting a Series 1 model. Obviously the Series 1 would be a better experience, but if I'm not sure whether I'll really like it, maybe trying out a series 0 may be ok. Sent from the iMore App
  • Series 1 for sure. Especially it's your first watch. (And remember, Apple has a 14-day return policy!)
  • Good to know. Thanks. ;) Sent from the iMore App
  • Thanks for the review; still waiting for my 42mm ship date which hasn't budged since day 1 :-(
  • Typical for apple: under promise and over-deliver. My order originally said delivery Oct 22-25, then suddenly announced arrival on Oct 4th. Have noticed a similar pattern on previous purchases. Take Heart! It'll most likely happen sooner than promised.
  • Hi Serenity -- Am I reading this right? You get the same battery gains going from Series 0 to Series 1 as you would going from Series 0 to Series 2? As a Series 0 owner who has to charge his watch mid-afternoon if he's gonna work out later in the day, that's a big deal and a real reason to upgrade. Thanks!
  • Dimitri, it may just be a bad battery on your Watch. I have an Series O 42" and even with a tracked workout (e.g., a run) and all day use (checking messages, replying via voice and text, running a few different apps) I still end the day in the 40% or higher range. Make sure you're not tracking all day (I had a coworker who left the "outdoor walk" app open all day to track her steps, SMH until I showed her the basic Activity app tracked that automatically -- she had to recharge mid-day every day).
  • Thanks for the reply. I think a lot of it is I often go on 2+ hour hikes, and that's a lot of "outdoor walk" checking of my heart rate. I'm fairly confident that's what's blowing out the battery, so it might be worth the upgrade to not have to charge it up first.
  • Yeah, that would do it, lol. Since the battery on the new 42" is larger, you may have better results. Good luck!
  • I got very similar battery gains in my tests, but Series 1 officially has the same capacity battery as Series 0 — it's just that the processor and the S1P use that power much more efficiently.
  • Thank you for your reply!
  • Serenity, Thank you for the review! I noticed that you wear your watch upside-down from traditional use. Is this just a
    personal preference, or does it offer a superior experience in some way?
  • I find it easier to use the buttons and it puts the mic closer to my face for Siri! It also doesn't trigger buttons while I'm weight training. :)
  • Nice review. Finally one that talked about battery life which I am really interested in. I also own a 38mm and it was nice to see a review centered around that. Most reviews seem to ignore that model and say it's mainly for women without taking into account that men from other countries might not be the same size as americans. I'm glad Apple doesn't do that. One thing I did is turn off the heart rate sensor completely because I imagine it drains the battery life. I'm curious how much battery life I save. I use the breathing app quite a bit and the heart rate sensor is on the whole time that app is running. Turning off the heart rate sensor keeps the app working the same, but the sensor on the bottom tracking your heartbeat stays off. Anyway, great review that wasn't more of the same. ..and you mention roller-derby so many times whenever you write about the watch that I'm sure Apple has got the message!
  • Agreed -- I'm a tall guy but have skinny wrists, and the 42mm just looked nuts on me. But as you say, most reviewers act like it doesn't exist.
  • I'll get one when it gets cellular connectivity. Sent from the iMore App
  • I've got a question. If I have my watch, but no iPhone with me, wouldn't I save battery life by putting the watch on Airplane mode, even for workouts, so that the Watch doesn't search for wifi or bluetooth networks? Why wouldn't I put the watch in Airplane mode when away from the iPhone?
  • Absolutely! But you'd kill GPS signal in Airplane mode, so you wouldn't get walking maps.
  • I had to return my watch because of a screen defect, so I can't test this - but a guy in the forum told me that he verified that GPS on the watch doesn't turn off in Airplane mode.
  • I have the same question as Dimitri: "Am I reading this right? You get the same battery gains going from Series 0 to Series 1 as you would going from Series 0 to Series 2?" I guess it's in reference to this point in the article: "Series 1; starting at $269, the model includes the same processor, GPU, and battery improvements from Series 2, but packaged in the original Series 0 casing" Does the Series 1 battery have greater capacity than the Series 0 battery? This is pretty important for me at least…
  • Same battery size as Series 0, but much better use of said battery thanks to the S1P.
  • Thanks for the info! I don't need GPS, since I always have my phone. If I turned off GPS entirely (possible?), my Series 2 battery life would probably be amazing then.
  • it's the "upgrade or don't upgrade" question, that's for sure.
  • I'll probably upgrade to Series 1 anyway, but the bigger battery would definitely have sealed the deal. For people who don't need watch-based GPS or swimming functions (and I think that covers lots of people), I think the Series 2 is a bit of a hard sell.. Its brighter display & bigger battery are the only things that actually would be useful to me. For me, by far the most important feature of the new watches is speed. From testing them at the Apple Store, the 50% extra speed really transforms the Apple Watch experience. And it needed transforming. Judging from Craig's List, my current 42mm Sport probably sells for $100-$150, so the upgrade is not too bad. Should last me for the year or two until Series 3.
  • Hey Serenity, what's your take on the new series 1? Because I'm doubting between the series 1 and 2. as I already have a sports watch for running, swimming and biking, and I don't presume I'll ever be using the Apple watch for that. The only reason why I would buy the series 2 would be to prepare a bit for the future as what upgrades might come to extent the use of the gps besides sports (and to be able to wear it for many years to come). Or does that not seem likely?
  • I'd say if you're planning on having this Apple Watch for a few years, get Series 2 for the bigger battery and GPS features. If you want to just dip your toe into Apple Watch land but aren't sure you want to fully commit yet, Series 1.
  • Now I'm just wondering what your roller derby nickname could be.
  • Artoo Detoonate.
  • I just got my Series 2 and it pains me that it doesn't have any weightlifting exercises built in. Lifting weights is 99% of my workout and it doesn't track it :(
  • Try the motiFIT app for iPhone and watch. It has weightlifting. I use this, although I do use a chest strap paired to my watch as well for accurate heart rate readings.
  • It bugs me, too! But you can log Other - Weight Training or Cross Training, which is what I do. Or use a third-party app!
  • now we have an almost finish product now we need to work on the iphone 8 and it is gonna be amazing.
  • Serenity. I found watchOS 3 greatly improves Siri on watch 0 How do the dual mics improve Siri on series 2. Is it a noticeable improvement over watch 0 running OS3?
  • Picked up a Series 1 yesterday. Couldn't justify the extra $100 for a few features I'd never use. So far I'm very pleased with my purchase. Glad I held out for the refresh.
  • Serenity, I like the fact the Watch 2 is swim proof, but what if one wants to listen to music while swimming? I doubt that the Apple bluetooth earbuds are waterproof.
    Also, do you know if there is a fitness program for water walking, as opposed to swimming?
  • Thanks for the assessments - very helpful. Does anyone have any experience of how strong Apple watches are and whether one could be used in Ice Hockey training or whether it would smash on the first fall to the ice?
  • For what it's worth, this one is worth getting because you can hold on to it and never upgrade till the next big feature. either an always on display or cellular connectivity. I can't see much innovation in the next few models as far as features. there just isn't much to do until these two problems are dealt with. but both those features are battery limited, and those are stagnant, so buy this one, keep this one.
  • As a visually impaired person, and already a self-professed Apple fanboy, I wanted the watch from the time I first heard about it. However, I didn't want to buy a first-gen product, so I waited until Series 2 came out and I'm not disappointed.
    I'm annoyed by the £399 price-tag (yes, thank you #Brexit) but it is what it is. I took the cheapest option I could, 42MM case with sports band and then bought a third-party milanese band from Amazon by Swees. It was either that at £8 or Apple's own offering at... Hmm, what was it, £149?
    I asked my wife what she thinks of the band now it's on the watch and she thinks it looks good, so that's fine in my book. By the way, the band I bought for interested parties, is this one: Yesterday was my first full-day of using the watch and having heard a lot about no-good battery life from a few people who had the original watch, I was concerned, but by the end of my day which if I remember correctly started (for the watch) at 08:30, and ended at 21:30, can very safely say I was impressed. I ended the day with 40% of battery left, and a healthy appreciation for this wearable going forward.
    I'm impressed that VoiceOver isn't *too* sluggish performing actions, and that apps don't feel like they take huge amounts of time to load.
    Admittedly it could be faster still, but it's not probably going to match the speed of my iPhone 6s. Overall, very happy with my purchase and will continue to use it until I buy another, probably in two years. Not big into the buying yearly thing if I can help it.
  • The holes don't line up.
  • I wanted to know whether Apple Series 2 Nylon has calling and message feature or not. As I asked one of my friend and he mentioned that this feature is only available in Sports edition off Series 1 and Series two has only come up with better battery and GPS and lags the calling (receive/dial form watch) and message (reply/send) is this true?
  • Hey, Serenity! Thanks for your great review. Very well done. I also am a roller skater, and I was waiting for the ability to use "Skating Other" on my watch (I'm not a swimmer either.). I have three Series O watches, and while I like the speed of the newer watches, the OS3 update was a game changer for my use of the watch.
  • Perhaps Any of those 3 series 0 watches up for sale?
    Never used an Apple Watch and cannot afford the newer models
  • This is perhaps one of the best reviews I have ever read about any product.
  • Why does this Apple Watch section go straight to a review? Shouldn't it show how to use Watch and other things like the other sections? I find this placement confusing and inconsistent. When I click the tab for Watch it should bring me to a landing page so I can select options. What about new Apple Watch owners? They would have to do a thorough search just to find how-tos for the Apple Watch. Come on iMore!!!
  • Totally agree.
  • yeah I'm selling series one cheap to get series two with l/xl band