Nike is one of the two big brands Apple has partnered with for the Watch, the other being Hermes. Yeah, talk about your opposite ends of the spectrum. I'll have a fashionable Hermes stainless steel and leather review up for you soon but right now I want to get some fitness on with the aluminum and polyelastomer Nike+.
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Previously, on Apple Watch…
Apple Watch Series 4 builds on everything Apple's been engineering since the original in 2015. This review focuses on the new. For everything else, please see the previous reviews:
Apple Watch Nike+ has always been a variant of what Apple used to call the Sport and now simply classifies as the aluminum watch. It comes in silver or space gray — because ain't no Nike+ got time for new gold! — with ion-exchange glass on the front and the new sapphire and black ceramic back.
But under that Ion-X glass is the new 40mm or 44mm edge-to-curved-edge display. It's one of the biggest new features of the Series 4 and Nike+ carries it off with volt-green style.
Or, if that isn't your thing, you can customize the color to white, white volt, celestial teal, smokey mauve, olive flak, cargo khaki, obsidian indigo, anthracite gray, wolf gray, light silver, particle beige, light bone, terra blush, total orange, bright crimson, barely rose, light violate, violet dust, indigo, blue orbit, or aurora green.
Analog has 12 dots, 4 numbers and 8 dots, 6 numbers and 6 dots, 4 big numbers, or 4 big numbers inverted. If you go for inverted, though — aka full screen — you don't get the additional top corner and bottom row complications.
Digital has filled, half-filled, half-outline, and all outline, and you get two side and one bottom complication for all of them.
Both have a permanent Nike Run Club complication, no extra charge… but also no change.
Like all the Series 4, it's slightly bigger but thinner and flatter, so it sits better on the wrist, even and especially during workouts when you want those now-clustered-in-the-middle optical heart rate sensors to maintain the best contact possible.
And because aluminum is still lighter than steel, the Nike+ goes from being less noticeable to barely there.
You can get it paired with a Nike Sport band in pure platinum/black or Anthracite/Black, or with new Nike Black or Summer White Sport Loops that are reflective to help you stand out when you're walking, running, or otherwise be more visible for those between sunset and sunrise street sessions.
In other words — far fewer words — it looks like it works: absolutely badass.
watchOS 5 is watchOS 5 and runs on every Apple Watch from Series 1 to Series 4. Only the original Series 0 is left out. RIP. But since I haven't really covered all the new fitness features, I'm going to do it here and now, with the new Nike+.
Now, I've always liked the coaching aspect of Apple Watch — the part that tells you to stand up, get out, and get moving. To close your rings. And it just keeps learning and getting smarter. But I've always been more extrinsically motivated than intrinsically. That's why I liked activity sharing in the past and why I love activity competitions now.
You can challenge a friend from the Activity app or right from a notification, and then you have a week to beat them. And by beat them I mean either persevere to exceed their attainments in the most sport-like manner possible… crush them, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their rings.
You know, whatever motivates you best.
And, pro tip, instead of just sending burger and fry emoji reactions to their fitness achievements, like I've been doing for years, you can now trash talk live using Walkie Talking.
Just tap the button and say "Keeping up old man, or did I lose you?"
You can also set yourself to unavailable during a workout to prevent just such interruptions.
And it'll have the added benefit of turning off that bright yellow notification you get every time you turn your wrist — you know, the one that's meant to remind you when you are available for Walkie Talkie and can be interrupted.
Yeah, that one.
One of the things that'll help you win is automatic workout detection. I've mentioned it before so I'll keep this brief. Basically, if you start running without starting a workout, your watch will prompt you to start it and give you credit for what you've racked up so far.
Likewise, if you hit the Gatorade before you hit the stop button, it'll prompt you to stop so you don't trash your stats with your stationaries.
There are also new hiking and yoga workouts. Nothing for Taiji or Qigong yet, so more downward dog, less swimming dragon.
If you're a runner, you can now choose a target pace and get an alert if you get ahead of or fall behind yourself. There's also a rolling mile or click, so you can tell just how fast you ran the last stretch, and cadence, so you can glance at your current steps per minute.
And, of course, there's an updated Nike Run Club app and all-new Nike Training Club app, If you use and like them, you can now get a new audio guided run every week, a new custom cheer, and the much wider variety of 180 free workouts, including strength, endurance, mobility, and flexibility.
If you're working out because you're worried about your heart, there's still low heart rate warmings and new high heart rate warnings, and coming soon, irregular heart rate warnings and even an ECG-app for a single-pad equivalent electrocardiogram, right on your wrist.
There's also fall detection, which is only on by default for people who've entered an age over 65 in the health app, but which anyone can toggle on.
And I've taken enough dumb spills and falls off bikes and while hiking to fear and appreciate the dangers of being injured and alone. Getting an alert to call emergency services and notify your emergency contact, and having it done automatically if you don't get up and start moving after a minute could literally be a life-saver.
It's why I've already bought almost everyone in my family a series 4 and not even bothered to wait for the holidays.
I've been wearing one for almost a month now and, yeah, sure, it's still not perfect. Even the cellular version still can't roam internationally, and those terrific new reflective Sport Loops aren't sold separately. At least not yet. And, yeah, Messages and Mail complications, always on watch faces, sleep tracking, and everything else I've complained about over the course of the last few videos. All of that and more.
But, year after year, Apple Watch in general and Nike+ in particular and feeling better rounded out but also more focused.
Series 4 as a leap forward in terms of design and performance -rumor has it you have full-blown Apple efficiency cores in them now — and the Nike+ version really brings that to bear on perhaps the most popular aspect of the watch: It's health and fitness features.
A month later and I'm still sticking to my original opinion: If you don't have an Apple Watch you should get one because it's the only real device on the market that saves lives, now in more ways than ever before.
But if you're interested not just in that you live, but how you live, and fitness is a key part of that for you, then you should get the Apple Watch Nike+ Series 4.
I like to listen to podcasts while I hike, so I'm super happy Apple Podcasts is finally on the watch, as is a watch OS 5-powered Overcast, and hopefully more to come.
My point is, because Nike+ is an Apple Watch, it can do everything an Apple Watch can do as well, including all the notifications, remote control, Apple Pay, and even the just-launched Student ID cards which, I hope, will eventually let all of us buzz ourselves into everywhere.
That's why I think, if you want an Apple Watch Series 4, want aluminum but not Gold, you might as well go for the Nike+. It has everything the base model has, just with some extra cool extra watch faces, bands, and Nike apps.
Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
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