Apple Watch Series 1 vs. Series 2: Which last-gen model is right for you?

Smartwatches have been around for a while now, which means there are more choices than ever to choose from. Even if you’re a dedicated Apple fan, you still have many options that will be compatible with your iPhone. Although the original Apple Watch (also known as the Series 0) is no longer made or supported, it’s still rather easy to pick up a Series 1, 2, 3, or 4.

While the Series 1 and Series 2 are in the process of being phased out as well, you can still find them in select stores, and they remain compatible with Apple’s current operating system (WatchOS 5). While it’s hard to say how much longer Apple will support the older-gen models, they remain an attractive choice for those who don’t mind forgoing a few features in favor of a hefty price cut.

To help you decide which of the earlier models is right for you, we’ve compared the bells and whistles found on the Apple Watch Series 1 and 2. For more information regarding newer models, check out our Series 3 vs. Series 4 comparison.


Apple Watch Series 1

apple watch series 1 vs 2 thumb small

Apple Watch Series 2

apple watch series 1 vs 2 small thumb

GPS-enabled No Yes
Processor S1P S2
Operating system WatchOS 5 WatchOS 5
Body (dimensions) Aluminum case


1.52 x 1.31 x 0.41 inch


1.67 x 1.43 x 0.41 inch

Aluminum and stainless steel case


1.52 x 1.31 x 0.45 inch


1.67 x 1.43 x 0.45 inch

White ceramic case


1.54 x 1.34 x 0.46 inch


1.68 x 1.44 x 0.45 inch

Resolution (pixels) 38mm: 272 x 340

42mm: 312 x 390

38mm: 272 x 340

42mm: 312 x 390

Weight Aluminum case

38mm: 25 grams

42mm: 30 grams

Aluminum case

38mm: 28.2 grams

42mm: 34.2 grams

Stainless steel case

38mm: 41.9 grams

42mm: 52.4 grams

Ceramic case

38mm: 39.6 grams

42mm: 45.6 grams

CPU Dual core Dual core
Screen Ion-X strengthened glass (aluminum cases) 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-gen OLED Retina display with Force Touch (1,000 nits)
Base Price $190 $175
Review 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

In 2016, Apple updated the original Apple Watch with an S1P dual-core processor and called it the Apple Watch Series 1. The company also introduced the Series 2 at the same time, which is a significant upgrade over the Series 1. The Series 2 is a more feature-rich device overall, and uses a dual-core processor known as the S2. The S1P and S2 processors are 50-percent faster than the original Apple Watch’s S1 chip, and showcase the ability to run 60 frames per second. They may feel a bit clunky if you compare them to the dual-core S3 processor found in the Series 3 and the 64-bit dual-core S4 processor in the Series 4, but they’ll get the job done.

apple watch 2 news nike

The biggest knock against the original Apple Watch was the absence of 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. This means you should be able to go out the door with just your Apple Watch Series 2 and get running.

The Series 2 also received a battery upgrade and features a slightly larger battery than its first-gen counterpart. The 38mm model features a base capacity of 273 mAh, which is 32-percent larger than its predecessor. Apple estimates up to 18 hours of battery life. There hasn’t been much change in the batteries since then, though, so that means you aren’t sacrificing power just because you decide to opt for an older model.

The Series 1 and Series 2 run WatchOS 3 out of the box, but remain compatible with WatchOS 5, which launched in September. The hardware that defines each watch isn’t massively different, but the standalone GPS and improved battery life on the Series 2 puts it a step ahead.

Winner: Apple Watch Series 2


When it comes to design, the Series 2 doesn’t look much different from the original Apple Watch or the Series 1. It has the same rectangular casing, digital crown, and button on the side. The Series 3 and 4 are noticeable sleeker and have much smaller bezels, but considering the wide array of smartwatches that are currently available, there is nothing crazy about these ones.

The Series 1 and 2 are smaller than the newest model, but only slightly. Whereas the Series 4 comes in 40mm and 44mm configurations, other models only come in either a 38mm and 42mm configuration, though, they all support Apple’s proprietary strap system. You can get the Apple Watch in a variety of styles and materials, and Apple has a number of bands to choose from.

The Apple Watch Series 2 is even more customizable than the first-gen Apple Watch, namely because it’s available in three casings. The least expensive option is the aluminum casing, with the next step up being one made of stainless steel. The top-of-the-line model, on the other hand, uses a ceramic exterior, which is supposedly four times harder than stainless steel.

The biggest change from the Series 1 has to do with the display, which received a welcome upgrade in the Series 2. The Series 2 featured the brightest screen Apple had ever used in a product at the time, one that remains on par with the screen in the Series 3 and 4. The display brightness is 1,000 nits, compared to only 450 nits with the Series 1. The screen is not going to be quite as sharp or colorful as the those found on the newer models, but it still has Force Touch.

Another big boon for fitness enthusiasts is the waterproofing on the Series 2. The first-gen Apple Watch was merely “splash-resistant,” meaning swimmers were left out of the loop, but its successor is hermetically sealed. This design upgrade makes the Series 2 waterproof in up to 50 meters of water, so you can actually swim with it. That’s a huge plus for swimmers and people who love water sports.

Winner: Apple Watch Series 2

Pricing and availability

This is where things start to get a little tricky, since both the Series 1 and Series 2 have technically been discontinued. Availability for both devices probably isn’t going to be great, but it is still possible to find new and refurbished options out there.

You may even be able to find the Series 2 for cheaper than the Series 1, depending on the exact configuration you chose. That being said, the savings between the Series 1 and 2 and Series 3 and 4 aren’t as significant as you might expect, with generally only about $100 separating the two.

Winner: Apple Watch Series 2

Overall winner: Apple Watch Series 2

If you’re deciding between the Series 1 and Series 2, the Series 2 is the clear winner, as it touts GPS functionality, waterproofing, a brighter display, and a faster processor than the Series 1. However, the differences between the Series 2, and the Series 3, for example, are substantial as well, with the latter offering a variant with LTE cellular connectivity and further improved processing and displays.

Your best bet? If you can find a Series 2 for cheap (like under $100 cheap), go for it. The Apple Watch Series 2 is a solid choice for anyone looking to get a smartwatch for the first time, but it’s going to feel a little dated if you compare it to the newer models. The longevity of the device is also far from certain, so you’d probably be better off getting a Series 3 at least.


Castlevania Anniversary Collection offers some of the series’ rarest games

Konami is celebrating 50 years of games with collections like the Castlevania Anniversary Collection, which now includes Kid Dracula, Castlevania II, Bloodlines, and Castlevania the Adventure. Which of these are must-play titles?

Spruce up your Lenovo smartphone with the best Moto Mods for the Moto Z-series

Moto Mods, the snap-on accessories compatible with Lenovo's Moto Z-series smartphones add a lot of value without adding a lot of bulk. Looking to try one out? Here are a few of our favorite Moto Mods.

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for April 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Movies & TV

Disney debuts the first photos from Star Wars series The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service, will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.

A Google patent hints at a new attempt at an augmented reality headset

Google may be working on another augmented reality headset. The company was awarded a patent for an augmented reality headset. Unfortunately, the patent isn't specific as to what the headset will look like.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.

When it's not keeping you dry, Gore wants to keep Silicon Valley innovating

The Gore Innovation Center in Santa Clara, California is designed to help tech start ups to create innovate new products that integrated Gore-Tex fabrics and other materials in wearables, health devices, and more.

The North Focals smartglasses help you rock out with new Spotify support

The North Focals are a pair of smartglasses with a whole lot to offer. They not only look pretty good, but they allow you to get directions, check upcoming items on your calendar, and more. Here's everything you need to know.

Army uses modified Microsoft HoloLens 2 for ‘real-life game of Call of Duty’

The U.S. Army gave CNBC an exclusive look at its modified Microsoft HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset. The Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, provides various functions for training and combat.

Now is the time to pick up and wear a discounted TicWatch smartwatch

Mobvoi is running a promotion on two of its desirable smartwatches, the TicWatch C2 and the TicWatch Pro, where you can get 20-percent off the usual price. This brings our favorite, the C2, down to just $160.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch: Is more expensive better?

Samsung has finally launched its latest smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. The device is aimed at sporty people and is clearly well-designed. But is the new device better than Samsung's flagship watch?

The ultimate golf watch isn’t a smartwatch. It’s Hublot’s Big Bang Unico Golf

Forget golf smartwatches, the Hublot Big Bang Unico Golf is the ultimate timepiece to wear out on the links. It's the world's first mechanical golf watch, and will keep score for you throughout the game.

Smartwatch deal: The Apple Watch Series 3 just dropped to $199

Now’s a perfect time to grab the last-gen (but still awesome) Apple Watch Series 3. It's a great wearable for those looking to hop into the world of smartwatches, and this limited-time deal makes the Series 3 even more attractive.

Apple Watch Series 3, Fitbit Charge 2 see price cuts from Walmart and B&H

Save around $50 on the Fitbit Charge 2 from Amazon and more than $100 on the Apple Watch Series 3 at B&H Photo Video and Walmart. These may be slightly older models, but they're still excellent fitness trackers and smartwatches.