Just short of a full Steve Jobs hologram cameo, Apple’s September 12 announcement went down in quintessential Apple fashion. After a lengthy tour of Apple’s sparkling new campus and an odd bit on rebranding the company’s “stores” as “town squares,” the team finally got to the meat and potatoes of the keynote. The company finally revealed the iPhone 8, the mysterious $1,000 iPhone X, as well as a new Apple Watch and WatchOS update.
WatchOS 4 features plenty of welcome upgrades, including an updated and significantly more intuitive Heart Rate app, a proactive Siri watch face, and an autoset function for pool training. However, the latest Apple Watch Series 3 — with a new dual-core processor and (finally) built-in cellular connectivity — is a whole new monster compared to the previous two generations. Here’s a rundown of our favorite Apple Watch Series 3 features. (For more information, feel free to peruse our Apple Watch Series 1 review, Apple Watch Series 2 review, as well as our side-by-side spec comparison of the the two smartwatches.)
Without a doubt, the raddest feature of the Apple Watch Series 3 is built-in GPS and cellular. Previously, the watch needed to be synced with your iPhone via Bluetooth to utilize the cellular function.
With the latest iteration, you now have the freedom to leave your iPhone behind on quick errands or runs while staying connected. And don’t worry about activating a second number, the watch shares the same number as your iPhone. For the first time on an Apple Watch, you can receive calls and send texts solely with your watch.
With this cellular addition, the third-generation Apple Watch and WatchOS 4 can now function with Apple Music, allowing individuals to choose from up to 40 million tracks to stream from their wrist — without needing to have your iPhone in tow to do so. Apple’s digital assistant, Siri, can also now communicate from the watch via a built-in speaker. This means Siri can communicate with you straight from the app, and you can even ask her to play that perfect track to push you onward at the end of a grueling run.
Apple has packed plenty of muscle under the hood with the latest Apple Watch, including an all-new, faster dual-core processor that allows for 70 percent faster performance and snappier graphics loading. Despite all of these new internal components, the Apple Watch 3 is the same size as the Apple Watch 2. However, the crystal along the backside has been extended a negligible 0.25 millimeters.
As part of this internal design overhaul, Apple also included a series of hardware updates to boost connectivity. With the rather limited interior space, even a nano-SIM card would’ve been too cumbersome internally, so Apple engineers incorporated a much slimmer electronic-SIM card. There’s also a W2 chip to improve Bluetooth and wireless connectivity, which should increase Wi-Fi speeds by 85 percent while making both Bluetooth and WiFi 50 percent more efficient.
Neither the first- nor second-generation Apple Watch could track elevation. That’s quite the technological blunder for a wearable fitness tracker. With previous iterations, to fully measure elevation, your watch would need to be connected to your iPhone.
Thankfully, with the third-generation, Apple decided to fix this flaw. The Apple Watch Series 3 for the first time includes a barometric altimeter to track and record elevation metrics during workouts. Rival fitness tracker Fitbit has incorporated altimeters for quite some time, so this move finally shores up this early design deficiency.
You won’t have to wait long to get your paws on the new Apple Watch — these bad boys are coming to a “town square” near you very soon. Apple will be offering the fully loaded Apple Watch 3 for $399 and a version without cellular connectivity for $329. You can pre-order the Apple Watch 3 on September 15 and the latest phones will be available on September 22.
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