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HOME / Wearable Tech / Apple Watch 4 vs 3 — What’s New With This Latest Smartwatch Series?
Apple Watch 4 vs 3 — What’s New With This Latest Smartwatch Series?
Just how much better is the Apple Watch Series 4 than the Series 3 smart watch?
Whenever Apple (or any brand for that matter) launches a new product, we always sort of wonder if the changes are worthwhile. In other words, are the upgrades going to offset the additional cost? That’s what we’re exploring in this post—is the Apple Watch 4 really that much better than the Series 3?
Apple Watch 4 Review: What’s New?
Apple made 11 noteworthy changes/upgrades to the Series 4. Naturally, some are minor and others are fairly significant. You can tell what we think of each of them by the detail we provide below.
1. What is the Price of the Apple Watch 4?
As you’d expect, the price went up. The Apple Watch 4 now starts at $399 for the GPS version and $499 for the GPS + Cellular version. Let that sink in for a second. The entry level Apple Watch 4 is now $400 and the Cellular version will cost you at minimum $500, not counting your data plan (which needs to be through your current cell phone carrier). You can see the Apple Watch 4 at Target.
Just to put that into perspective, a brand new Apple Watch Series 3 starts at $280 for the 38mm GPS version. We’re talking about a price difference of $120. That’s significant.
2. New Case Sizes With Apple Watch Series 4
Instead of 38mm and 42mm, the Series 4 is now available in 40mm and 44mm case sizes. Minor change, but we actually think people might like the new sizes. The only people that might not are folks with extra petite wrists—they might have preferred the 38mm option.
Larger case size and display
The new case size also allowed Apple to increase the screen size. The Series 4 now features a 30% larger display that can fit up to eight shortcuts.
3. New Processor on Apple Watch 4
We won’t get technical on you, but the AWS4 has a new S4 chip, which is supposedly up to 2x faster than that of the Series 3. This is clearly a very good thing.
New, faster processor
4. New Wireless Chip
The Series 3 watch had Apple’s W2 chip, which itself was a fairly big upgrade over the W1 chip that’s inside the AirPods and Powerbeats3. The Series 4 now has the W3 chip, which allegedly boosts Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speeds. But probably the biggest thing that the chip does is help battery life for anyone with the Cellular version of the watch.
This is going to be an underrated change, but Bluetooth 5.0 is pretty sweet. It’s about 2x as fast as Bluetooth 4.2, which is what the AWS3 had. It also offers far better range at about 40 meters indoors (versus about 10 meters previously). And if you can believe it, Bluetooth 5.0 is more efficient, requires less power, and can deliver larger files. Really nice upgrade here.
6. Improved Wireless Signal
Apparently the cellular connection will be better this go around since the watch can now transmit a signal out of the top and bottom.
7. Placement of Speaker
They not only moved the speaker to the opposite side of the watch, but also made it about 50% louder. And since it’s now farther away from the mic you should get better clarity for Siri and calls.
Improved speaker with better placement
8. Electrical Heart Rate Sensor
The Apple Watch 4 still has an optical heart rate sensor that measures your heart rate throughout the day via your wrist, but now it also has an electrical heart rate sensor (you might also see the term Electrocardiogram, ECG, or EKG).
Optical HR sensor and new EKG sensor
The way it works is that the Digital Crown has electrodes built-in now and all you do is touch the Digital Crown. That forms a circuit between both of your arms (which are now connected) and your heart.
Measuring HR and heart rhythm via EKG sensor
Within 30 seconds the HR sensor will detect the electrical impulses from your heart as well as your heart rhythm. You need to use the Apple ECG app for this, but all of your data will be stored within the Apple Health app.
Apple Watch 4 can detect irregularities with your heart rhythm
Just to be clear, Apple is using this new sensor as a health device, not as a fitness tool. You manually check your HR, but it can detect if there are any irregularities with its rhythm.
Interestingly enough, the FDA even approved this sensor as a health device. That means big things to come from Apple in the health space. The EKG sensor will be limited to the US initially.
Given the new electrical HR sensor, I’m sure you can tell Apple is moving more toward making the Apple Watch a health device. This next feature is aimed at opening up a whole new market: elderly folks. Using the gyroscope and accelerometer, the watch can detect a fall and will prompt the user to either call emergency services or ignore the notification.
It can even contact emergency personnel if the user is unresponsive for 60 seconds. This is one of the more practical upgrades and we do think it will improve the popularity of the Apple Watch.
11. Changes to Digital Crown
The Digital Crown now has haptic feedback, which will help with navigating information on the device. It basically just provides an improved feel for when you’re scrolling through contacts, apps, etc.
Digital Crown now has haptic feedback
The Cellular version also has a red ring as opposed to a full red dot—no practical advantage or disadvantage here.
Here’s the keynote from Apple where they announced the Apple Watch Series 4.
While the Series 4 is the latest and greatest from Apple, the Series 3 is no slouch either. Apple continues to sell the watch and will allow it to receive future software upgrades. Are there any advantages with going with the Series 3, however, over the Series 4? There are a few.
Apple Watch 3 is More Affordable Than the Series 4
As mentioned above, the Series 3 starts at $280 and the Series 4 starts at $400. That’s not an insignificant price difference. If you don’t care about the new processor, new wireless chip, larger display, EKG sensor, and upgraded Digital Crown, you can save money and get most of the same features with the Series 3. You can even look for Apple Watch 3 deals on eBay and Amazon.
Smaller Case Size
This a pretty obvious point, but given that the AWS3 comes in a 38mm size, individuals with tiny wrists will prefer that device.
Features That You’ll Get With Both Apple Watches
So far we’ve only covered what’s new with the AWS4 and why you might actually get the Series 3 over it. What about the features that are present on both devices?
18-Hour Battery Life
Amazingly, Apple was able to keep battery life the same on the Series 4 despite adding all of those features. Apple states battery life will be about 18 hours on a single charge. Our experience has been better, but it all depends on usage.
Both watches allow you to engage Siri to manage tasks for you. You might look funny yelling at your watch, but Siri does work well.
Calls, Messages & More
You can take and make calls directly on your wrist as well as see and reply to messages. That’s just the surface level info, but it’s basically an iPhone Lite on your wrist.
There are dozens of apps you can sift through and install on the watch. These include the NY Times, Yelp, Evernote, Instagram, GoPro, Uber, and many others.
You can get turn-by-turn directions on your wrist as well as see mapping information.
You can pay for things on the go directly from your wrist. Only works at vendors that have contactless payment terminals. Also, only certain banks support Apple Pay.
Apple Pay on the Series 3
Not only can you manage the music that’s playing from your phone, but you can actually store music directly on these watches. Even more, if you get the Cellular version you can stream Apple Music on the go.
The watches will track your daily activity and provide three goals. They will also send alerts for when you’re being lazy.
Activity main page on AWS3
Run, Cycle, Swim & More
The watches have GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS for mapping and tracking outdoor activities such as running, cycling, and hiking. And since they’re water resistant, you can swim with the Apple Watch 3 and 4.