- Improved battery life over Series 2, though still not that great
- Large ecosystem of apps and accessories
- Much faster than the Series 2
- Water resistant with plenty of sport features
- Very helpful smart features including notifications, music playback, and Siri
- Still requires phone to be helpful (this is not the Cellular version)
- Always looks like a smartwatch
- Not terribly durable
The Apple Watch Series 3 is essentially a suped up Series 2 with improved battery life and performance. Apps load faster, Siri is smarter, and the sports/activity tracking features are better.
We have the Apple Watch Series 3 (no LTE), which means this is the middle tier device currently from Apple. They have the Apple Watch Series 1 as a budget option and then the Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular, which is the higher end unit. It basically adds an LTE chip giving you phone-free connectivity through your current cellular provider. It works with the four major carriers in the US, plus plenty of international carriers. With the Cellular model you can use the watch phone-free, including apps that require cellular coverage such as calls, messages, maps, etc.
Other than cellular, the AWS3 is an updated version of the Apple Watch Series 2. It has a faster processor and generally the watch is just quicker to use with better battery life. With the Series 2, we were hardly able to go a full day on a single charge. With the Series 3, we could go nearly two full days before we needed to charge the device. Still not great battery life, but much better this go around.
Beyond performance upgrades, however, this is basically the same Apple Watch that we’ve seen that past few years. It does now have Watch OS4 with more watch faces and GymKit compatibility, among other things. It is water resistant down to 50 meters and has GPS & GLONASS for various workouts. It supports lap and open-water swimming and we’ve found the data to be pretty reliable. Further, the AWS3 (like every other AW) has a wrist heart rate monitor and pairs with external Bluetooth sensors as well.
RELATED: Fitbit Ionic Review
You can still download third-party apps and access those directly on the watch. We’ve found the fitness and golf apps to be the most helpful, but the GoPro app is neat as well. To be frank, it’s great that Apple has such a large library of apps for you to choose from, but the average person probably doesn’t do much but check their notifications and the weather, manage music playback, or workout with the Apple Watch. Therefore, it’s hard to get excited about the Series 3 since it really just takes what Apple gave us before and makes it faster and slightly better. The Series 3 with Cellular is a clever option, but the price point is high and you then have another data plan to worry about.
Certainly, this is the best Apple Watch to date, but it’s more of an update rather than a leap forward. If you want an Apple Watch and have the cash, the Series 3 is the way to go. If you’re just want a smartwatch for notifications and weather, the Series 1 or 2 will do just fine. And in that case, make sure to check out our Electronics Deals Page to see if we’ve spotted any relevant deals today.
Here’s the bottom line with the Series 3 and the Apple Watch more generally: it’s a good smartwatch, but most tasks are still easier to execute on your phone. Sure, you can use Siri from your wrist and answer texts and calls when you’re phone is nearby, but you’re not really going to read the WSJ from your wrist. There’s a limit to what we’re going to do with our smartwatches.
RELATED: Bose QC35 vs Beats Studio 3