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Hands-On With the New Apple Watch Series 5

Apple last Friday released the Apple Watch Series 5, the newest iteration of the ‌Apple Watch‌ that first debuted in 2015. The ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 5 isn't much different from the Series 4, but there are some notable changes.

In our latest YouTube video, we went hands-on with the ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 5 to check out what's new.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

Design wise, the ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 5 is identical to the ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 4, featuring the same larger display over the Series 3 and 40 and 44mm case size options. There are two new materials this year, though.2017

Titanium, a never before used material, is lighter and more durable than stainless steel, and $100 more expensive, starting at $799 (stainless steel models start at $699). Also new this year is ceramic ($1299), which we had in 2016 and 2017 but wasn't an option in 2018. Ceramic and titanium ‌Apple Watch‌ models are considered higher-end "Edition" models.

Apple is still offering the standard stainless steel and aluminum, which starts at $399. As with last year, there are GPS only models and GPS + LTE models.

Aside from new case materials, the other major change to the Series 5 lineup is an Always-On display feature. As the name suggests, the display of the Series 5 ‌Apple Watch‌ is always lit up so you can glance down at your wrist to see the time, your complications, your notifications, or, with the Workout app running, your exercise metrics.

The display does dim when not in use, of course, but the watch face is clearly visible without the need to raise your wrist up.

There were no processor changes in the Series 5, so though Apple says it uses an S5 chip, the processor is identical to the Series 4. Display improvements, a low power display driver, and an efficient power management integrated circuit enable the Always-On display.

Apple says that battery life on the Series 5 should last for up to 18 hours just like the Series 4 despite the Always-On display, but we've seen some mixed results.

Some of us here at MacRumors haven't seen battery life changes, but others feel that the battery is draining quicker than before. Apple may have some optimizations coming in future software updates to solve any battery issues.

Other new changes include 32GB of internal storage, likely for the new standalone App Store in watchOS 6, and a new compass feature. The compass feature is available in a Compass app that tells you your heading, incline, latitude, and longitude, plus the feature is used in the Maps app so you can finally see which direction you're facing.

For LTE ‌Apple Watch‌ owners, there's an updated Emergency SOS feature that will contact emergency services in whatever country you're in when activated, something that's nice for peace of mind when traveling. In prior models, this feature was limited to the emergency services in the country of purchase.

All in all, while there are some useful features in the Series 5, there's not a compelling reason to update if you already have a Series 4. If you have a Series 1, 2, 3, or original ‌Apple Watch‌, there's a lot more to gain in the Series 5 and it's potentially a worthwhile upgrade.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

3 weeks ago
Yup... nice stuff but no reason to upgrade from a series 4
Rating: 12 Votes
3 weeks ago
I’ve always found battery life to be worse after setting up a new watch or phone. Happened to me with the series 4 and every update before. Those who are just setting up the series 5, I’d like to hear your experiences after using the new watch for a few days. I’ve found battery life always improves after a few days of use.
Rating: 6 Votes
3 weeks ago


Buy an S4 on discount or patiently await the S6, should it reinvigorate the aging design.

I don’t see how the design would change. A circle design would cut the amount of information the screen would present. I guess the same reason why traditional etches haven’t changed in centuries, there is just two ways one a product can show time

I rock a s4 and prob will skip this one and wait for the s6 tbh.
Rating: 6 Votes
3 weeks ago


The processor in the Series 5 is identical to the processor in the Series 5?

No sh*t, Sherlock.


also

"All in all, while there are some useful features in the Series 4, there's not a compelling reason to update if you already have a Series 4. "

huh? someone really went lackluster with the editing on this post.
Rating: 5 Votes
3 weeks ago
Buy an S4 on discount or patiently await the S6, should it reinvigorate the aging design.
Rating: 5 Votes
3 weeks ago


Chips already a year old. AOD is a battery drainer anyways. Stick with S3 or S4.

AOD is the feature I’ve wanted most since AW launched. I’ll be buying for sure.
Rating: 5 Votes
3 weeks ago

There were no processor changes in the Series 5, so though Apple says it uses an S5 chip, the processor is identical to the Series 5.


The processor in the Series 5 is identical to the processor in the Series 5?

No sh*t, Sherlock.
Rating: 4 Votes
3 weeks ago


Once you get to your mid-40s, even if you have 20/20 vision you can’t really read much on the watch when you don’t have your reading glasses on, so it’s mostly useful for voice control, telling the time, dictation, taking the odd call, and notifications - things which don’t need a lot of space. I see a circular model being very popular.

Really? I'm in my 70's, with terrible vision and I have no problems reading the Series 5. As a matter of fact, the text is so large, it looks like a Fisher-Price watch to me. :)
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I’ve always found battery life to be worse after setting up a new watch or phone. Happened to me with the series 4 and every update before. Those who are just setting up the series 5, I’d like to hear your experiences after using the new watch for a few days. I’ve found battery life always improves after a few days of use.

The first day was challenging. Three days later, my battery life is just fine.
Rating: 4 Votes
3 weeks ago


Buy an S4 on discount or patiently await the S6, should it reinvigorate the aging design.

It is a watch with one knob, one button, and a screen that takes up 90% of visible area when worn. I'm sure there's only so much they can do with the physical design. They can make it thinner and sleeker, but other than that, it's software and hardware changes, i.e. new interface, complications, ECG, longer battery etc.
Rating: 4 Votes
3 weeks ago


Yup... nice stuff but no reason to upgrade from a series 4

It’s been a huge upgrade over my S0. :D
Rating: 4 Votes

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