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Which Apple Watch should grace your wrist? Apple Watch Series 1 vs. the Apple Watch Series 2

While most people tuned into Apple’s annual hardware announcement specifically for the iPhone 7 unveiling, the Apple Watch Series 2 was not to be overlooked. The first generation of the Apple Watch was a solid first effort from Apple. It was, after all, the No. 1 selling smartwatch in the world, and second most sold watch in general behind Rolex. Not too shabby.

Related: How to use the old headphones you love with the new iPhone 7

Now, Apple has upgraded its first Apple Watch with a new chip and called it the Series 1. The company also introduced a Series 2 model that comes with plenty of new bells, whistles, and overall design upgrades. Below, we take a look at both of the new models to help you decide which one to buy.


Apple Watch Series 1

Apple Watch Series 2

GPS Enabled No Yes
Processor S1P S2
Operating System watchOS3 watchOS3
Body (Dimensions) 1.52 x 1.31 x 0.41 inch

1.65 x 1.41 x 0.41 inch

1.52 x 1.31 x 0.45 inch

1.67 x 1.43 x 0.45 inch

Resolution (pixels) 272 x 340

390 x 312

272 x 340

390 x 312

Weight 50 grams 70 grams
CPU 520 MHz Dual Core
Screen Sapphire crystal glass Ion-X strengthened glass (aluminum cases)

Sapphire crystal glass (stainless steel and ceramic cases)

Waterproof Splash resistant only Waterproof up to 50 meters
Available Ceramic Casing No Yes
Display OLED Retina display with Force Touch (450 nits) Second-generation OLED Retina display with Force Touch (1,000 nits)
Base Price $270 $370
Review 4 out of 5 stars Coming soon

Apple updated the original Apple Watch with a new processor and called it the Series 1. The company also introduced the Series 2, which is the real upgrade for 2016. The Apple Watch Series 2 is a more powerful device overall, and uses a new dual-core processor known as the S2. The S2 is 50 percent faster than the original Apple Watch’s S1 chip, with the ability to run 60 frames per second. The new GPU is also twice as powerful as the Series 1, allowing for better performance and overall usability.

Related: Which Apple Watch is right for you? The ultimate buying guide

As such, apps on the Series 2 should load faster and interactions should be speedier overall. It’s set to be a huge upgrade over the original Apple Watch, which routinely suffered from long load times. Of course, the Series 1 should run a bit smoother than the original Apple Watch with its upgraded chipset. Regardless, the Series 2 will be faster.

The biggest knock against the first Apple Watch was the absence of a standalone GPS. You always needed your phone for GPS tracking, which was a hassle for active types. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. The Apple Watch Series 2 incorporates built-in GPS, so you can map your route and exercise without being tethered to your iPhone. You should be able to go out the door with just your Apple Watch Series 2 and get running.

But the new watch received a battery upgrade. The Apple Watch Series 2 uses a slightly larger battery than first generation with a base capacity of 273 mAh in the, or 32 percent larger than last year’s model 38mm model. Apple estimates battery life at up to 18 hours, or the same as the Watch Series 1 — likely thanks to the addition of GPS. We can only hope this changes down the road with the Series 3.

Both models will run WatchOS 3, which is much easier to use than the first two versions of WatchOS.

Although the spec changes aren’t huge, the Series 2 wins for its better processor and standalone GPS.

Winner: Apple Watch Series 2

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