Apple Watch Series 5
Apple's latest Apple Watch, with always-on display and built-in compass.
At a Glance
- The Apple Watch Series 5 features a new always-on display, built-in compass for advanced navigation features, and a titanium case option.
Apple Watch Series 5 Features
- Two sizes: 40mm and 44mm
- S5 processor
- Always-on display
- Aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic finishes
- ECG sensors
- Haptic Digital Crown
- LTE and non-LTE options
Apple Watch Series 5
The Apple Watch Series 5, announced on September 10, 2019, is the newest iteration of the Apple Watch that was first introduced in 2015.
Not a lot is new with the Apple Watch Series 5, and it is identical in design to the Series 4. The exception is the display, which uses a lower power (LTPO) OLED screen that enables an always-on display feature.
To accommodate the new always-on display, Apple has created new watch face options that allow you to see the time and your complications at all times. Watch faces are optimized to preserve battery life, and will intelligently dim when the wrist is down thanks to a new ambient light sensor.
Always-on functionality can be disabled either permanently or temporarily if desired for situations like movies, and it also will display constant workout information when the Workout app is in use.
The Apple Watch Series 5 continues to be available in 40 and 44mm size options, and it uses the same thinner, smaller case as the Series 4. It continues to be water resistant, and it supports Apple Pay.
The health tracking features available in previous models are all still present, and it is able to do things like monitor steps taken, calories burned, stairs climbed, heart rate, ECG readings, and more. There are no new health sensors in the Series 5.
All Apple Watch Series 5 models feature a black ceramic and sapphire crystal backing and a Digital Crown with haptic feedback that can take ECGs in supported countries. Inside, there's an S5 chip that appears to offer similar performance to the S4 chip in the Series 4.
Fall detection enabled by a next-generation accelerometer and gyroscope is still available, and there's a new international emergency calling feature for LTE models that contacts the local emergency services when SOS is activated regardless of where an Apple Watch was purchased.
A new built-in compass feature and Compass app let you see your direction right on your wrist, plus there are readouts for current elevation, heading, longitude, latitude, and more. Compass features are also incorporated into the Maps app, and there are compass complications for watch faces.
Though there's an always-on display option, the Apple Watch Series 5 offers 18-hour "all day" battery life, the same as the battery life in the Series 4.
Apple is offering the Series 5 in an expanded number of colors and casing materials, including aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic, and there are Nike and Hermès models with exclusive bands and watch faces.
The new titanium material is lighter than stainless steel, and Apple says it has a "superb strength-to-weight ratio." It comes in a natural titanium color and a space black shade created with a diamond-like coating. The ceramic option, which has been available before, comes only in white in 2019, and there's a new black option for Hermès models.
For the first time, Apple is offering an Apple Watch Studio that lets customers purchase an Apple Watch with the band of their choosing, no longer limiting purchases to a pre-set band.
Both GPS and GPS + LTE models are available, with GPS only pricing starting at $399 and GPS + LTE pricing starting at $499. Pricing varies based on case material, watch size, and band selection, with stainless steel models starting at $699, titanium models starting at $799, and ceramic models starting at $1299.
The Apple Watch Series 5 is available to pre-order as of September 10, with orders set to ship out to customers on September 20, the official launch date for the device. Nike Apple Watch models will be available starting on October 4, while Hermès models will be available on September 20.
Apple is continuing to sell the Apple Watch Series 3 at a new discounted price of $199. The Apple Watch Series 4 has been discontinued.
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How to Buy
Apple Watch Series 5 models can be pre-ordered from the online Apple Store and are set to officially launch on Friday, September 20.
Pricing on the Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399 for non-LTE models and $499 for LTE models. Pricing varies based on case material, band, and collection. Entry level pricing for each case material is as follows:
40mm Aluminum Non-LTE - $399
40mm Aluminum LTE - $499
44mm Aluminum Non-LTE - $429
44mm Aluminum LTE - $529
40mm Stainless Steel (LTE only) - $699
44mm Stainless Steel (LTE only) - $749
40mm Titanium (LTE only) - $799
44mm Titanium (LTE only) - $849
40mm Ceramic (LTE only) - $1299
44mm Ceramic (LTE only) - $1349
40mm Nike Non-LTE - $399
40mm Nike LTE - $499
44mm Nike Non-LTE - $429
44mm Nike LTE - $529
40mm Hermès (LTE only) - $1249
44mm Hermès (LTE only) - $1299
Apple Watch Series 5 models are available in many countries around the world, and pricing varies based on location.
Apple made few changes to the Apple Watch in 2019, and the Apple Watch Series 5 is identical to the Apple Watch Series 4 with the new larger displays that were introduced last year.
The Apple Watch Series 5 is available in 40 and 44mm size options to fit a variety of different wrists, with much more available screen space than Series 3 and earlier models.
The Apple Watch Series 5 measures in at 10.7mm thick and continues to feature the same square-shaped design that Apple has used since the Apple Watch launched in 2015. With no design changes, Apple Watch Series 5 continues to work with all previous-generation Apple Watch bands.
All Apple Watch Series 5 models feature a black ceramic and crystal back, a feature introduced in the Series 4 to improve LTE connectivity, and all models feature ECG measuring capabilities.
There's a Digital Crown on the side that's available for navigation purposes, along with a Side Button that's used to bring up frequently used apps, access emergency services, confirm Apple Pay purchases, and more.
Updating the display technology is one of the few changes Apple introduced in the Apple Watch Series 5. The device now features an Always-On Retina display, which means time, complications, and other information is always visible, with the screen no longer going black when it's not in use.
You don't need to raise your wrist to see the time, which is a first, and when using the Workout app, your workout metrics will remain visible at all times so you can keep track of how many calories you're burning, how far you've run, how long you've worked out, and more.
The display still dims when the wrist is down in order to preserve battery life, but key features like watch hands will remain visible all the time. Touching the watch face or raising the wrist brings the display back to full brightness.
To enable an Always-On display without compromising battery life, Apple is using a new OLED ultra low power low temperature poly-silicon and oxide display (LTPO) with an updated pixel architecture that allows the screen's refresh rate to drop from 60Hz to as low as 1Hz when the watch is inactive.
Aside from these updates, when it comes to quality, the Apple Watch Series 5 and the Apple Watch Series 4 have the same display specs, maxing out at 1000 nits brightness. The aluminum Apple Watch models use Ion-X glass to protect the display, while the stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic models use sapphire crystal glass.
Sapphire crystal glass offers better scratch resistance than Ion-X glass because it is a harder material, which means the stainless steel models are resistant to scratching and everyday wear.
The 40mm Apple Watch Series 5 offers a resolution of 324 x 394 pixels, while the larger 44mm Apple Watch Series has a resolution of 368 x 448. This translates to a 759 mm² display area for the 40mm Apple Watch and a 977 mm² display area for the 44mm Apple Watch.
Apple has optimized many of the watch faces on the Series 5 Apple Watch to work with the Always-On display, and there are new faces like the Meridian face that are designed to work with it.
On watch faces, certain elements will dim when the watch is inactive, and these details will vary depending on which watch face you're opting to use.
The Apple Watch Series 5 continues to use a Digital Crown (the scroll wheel at the top right of the watch) with haptic feedback, which offers a precise, mechanical feel when scrolling through lists and controlling various aspects of the Apple Watch.
Apple last year said that the haptic Digital Crown is one of the most intricate systems that it has ever designed, as it is 31 percent smaller than previous-generation Digital Crowns but uses 21 percent more components.
The Apple Watch Series 5 comes in four finishes this year, up from two last year. You can get the Series 5 in the traditional stainless steel and aluminum, but titanium is new and ceramic, used in prior Apple Watch Edition models, has been brought back.
This year's titanium and ceramic models are classified as Apple Watch Edition models due to their higher price points.
Aluminum Apple Watch Series 5 models come in the traditional silver, space gray, and gold shades, while the stainless steel models are available in silver, space black, and a shiny gold color that's reminiscent of the original 24K gold Apple Watch models.
Aluminum models, made from 100 percent recycled 7000 series aluminum, are lightweight, inexpensive, and designed for an active lifestyle, while stainless steel models are heavier, more expensive, and designed for everyday wear rather than focused on activity.
Titanium Apple Watch models offer the durability of the stainless steel models along with a brushed finish, but are lighter in weight and will resist staining. Titanium Apple Watch models come in a standard silver finish and space black, and compared to stainless steel, they're a darker, more matte color.
Ceramic models are available only in white, and Apple says they're highly resistant to scratching.
When it comes to specific weights, the titanium models weigh 13 percent less than the stainless steel models, which are the heaviest of the Apple Watch models. Weights of each model are below:
- Aluminum: 30.8 grams
- Stainless Steel: 40.6 grams
- Titanium: 35.1 grams
- Ceramic: 39.7 grams
- Aluminum: 36.5 grams
- Stainless Steel: 47.8 grams
- Titanium: 41.7 grams
- Ceramic: 46.7 grams
Series 5 Apple Watch models are rated for immersion in water as deep as 50 meters thanks to seals and adhesives. The speaker, which needs air to produce sound, is the only point of ingress and has been designed to expel water from itself using sound vibrations after exposure to moisture.
Because it is rated for 50m immersion, the Apple Watch can be used when swimming in the ocean or in a pool. It is only suited to shallow water activities, though, and can't be used for scuba diving, waterskiing, showering, or other activities that involve high-velocity water or deep submersion.
Apple's Apple Watch warranty does not cover water damage, so it's still best to use some caution when exposing the watch to water.
According to Apple, the Apple Watch Series 5 is equipped with a new S5 chip, but there are no speed improvements over the S4 in the Series 4 Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch is equipped with components like an ultra-low power display driver and efficient power management integrated circuit for the Always-On display, so it's possible there are some other efficiency improvements to maximize battery life.
The Apple Watch Series 5 includes the same health features present in the Series 4, with no new sensors or upgrades.
There's a second-generation optical heart rate sensor for calculating metrics like calorie burn, resting heart rate, and a heart rate that's too high, plus there's an electrical heart rate sensor for taking electrocardiograms.
The Apple Watch can detect a low heart rate, a high heart rate, and an abnormal heart rate, monitoring for health problems like atrial fibrillation.
Electrodes in the back of the Apple Watch and the Digital Crown work together to allow users to take single-lead electrocardiograms, just like in the Apple Watch Series 4. An ECG measures the electrical activity of the heart and can be used to diagnose health conditions by a doctor.
ECGs are captured by holding a finger on the Digital Crown of the Apple Watch, which will detect a sinus rhythm (normal), an abnormal result, or, sometimes, test results will be inconclusive.
A single-lead ECG like the Apple Watch means there's two point of contact measuring the electrical sensations of your heart. Clinical electrocardiograms done by your doctor can have 6 to 12 leads for greater accuracy, but the Apple Watch offers the convenience of being able to take an ECG anytime anywhere in approximately 30 seconds.
Because regulatory clearance is required for the ECG feature, it is limited to Apple Watch users in the United States, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore, and most countries in Europe, including the UK.
Despite the inclusion of an Always-On Retina display, the Apple Watch Series 5 continues to offer all-day battery life of up to 18 hours.
Apple bases "all-day" battery life on 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback via Bluetooth. For LTE models, Apple assumes four hours of LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to an iPhone.
In some situations the Apple Watch will drain faster, such as when using the device as a phone or when doing a workout. Here are Apple's battery life estimates for each activity:
Audio playback from storage - Up to 10 hours
Streaming audio over LTE - Up to 7 hours
LTE talk time - Up to 1.5 hours
Indoor workout - Up to 10 hours
Outdoor workout (GPS) - Up to 6 hours
Outdoor workout (GPS + LTE) - Up to 5 hours
Apple says it will take 1.5 hours to charge the Apple Watch from 0 percent to 80 percent, and 2.5 hours to charge it all the way to full from 0 percent.
Apple Watch Series 5 models are equipped with the same Apple-designed W3 chip that was included in the Apple Watch Series 5. Apple Watch Series 5 models, like Apple Watch Series 4 models, are available in two configurations: GPS and GPS + Cellular.
The GPS + Cellular Series 5 models have an LTE connection while the GPS only models do not.
LTE connectivity has been a main Apple Watch selling point since the release of the Apple Watch Series 3. With an LTE connection, the Apple Watch is untethered from the iPhone and does not require an iPhone or a known Wi-Fi network for an internet connection.
Apple Watch Series 5 models do not need an iPhone to receive calls and text messages, stream music from Apple Music, load maps to provide directions, and dozens of other things that require an iPhone with the GPS only models.
The Apple Watch is not entirely independent from the iPhone, though, because LTE connectivity through a carrier requires an Apple Watch and an iPhone 6 or later to share a cellular plan with the same carrier.
The Apple Watch also does not have the battery capacity to be used full time without an iPhone nearby.
LTE in the Apple Watch is enabled through an integrated eSIM, with the display of the Apple Watch serving as a multifrequency antenna.
Apple Watch LTE models are available in many countries around the world, with a full list on Apple's website.
In the United States, the Apple Watch Series 5 is compatible with LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, and 66, which is quite a few more bands than the U.S. Series 5 model was compatible with.
Apple Watch Series 5 models with LTE can now make international calls to emergency services regardless of where the device was originally purchased or if there's an active cellular plan.
That means if you're traveling to another country and are injured or in a situation where you need help, you can activate the SOS feature on the Apple Watch by holding down the Side button to automatically get in touch with that country's emergency services.
International emergency calling works with the Apple Watch's fall detection feature, so if that's enabled, it will automatically place an emergency call if the watch senses the user has taken a hard fall and remains motionless afterward.
WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS
Apple Watch Series 5 supports 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0. Bluetooth 5.0 offers longer range, faster speeds, larger broadcast message capacity, and better interoperability with other wireless technologies.
GPS has been included in the Apple Watch since the Series 2, and all Series 5 models, LTE and non-LTE, feature a GPS chip that allows the Apple Watch to determine its position without needing to be near an iPhone.
With GPS, the Apple Watch is able to keep tabs on speed, distance, and route when you're walking, running, hiking, or biking, providing more insight into your fitness activities. GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS systems are supported for positioning technology across multiple countries.
Apple Watch Series 5 features electrical and optical heart rate sensors, a next-generation accelerometer, a gyroscope, an ambient light sensor, and a barometric altimeter to track flights of stairs climbed, elevation gains when climbing, and more.
Apple Watch Series 5 models are equipped with a built-in compass feature and a Compass app that allows users to see their heading, incline, latitude, longitude, and current elevation.
Compass functionality is baked into the Maps app to let users see which way they're facing when getting directions, and there are three new Compass complications for Apple Watch faces.
All Apple Watch Series 5 models, GPS and LTE, feature 32GB of storage space for music and apps, up from 16GB in previous models.
Apple Watch Series 5 Collections
Apple changes its Apple Watch collection options and updates available bands on a regular basis, generally introducing new options during fall and spring media events.
Starting in fall 2019, Apple is offering an Apple Watch Studio feature that allows most bands to be paired with most Apple Watch casing options so specific Apple Watch band and casing pairings are no longer required when making a purchase.
There is no option to pair Nike and Hermès bands with standard Apple Watch models. Those bands need to be purchased with a Nike or Hermès watch or purchased independent of an Apple Watch.
The aluminum Apple Watch collection, known as the Sport collection in previous generations, is the watch collection with the lowest price tag. Aimed at fitness enthusiasts, the aluminum watches do not have a sapphire display, instead featuring a lightweight strengthened alumina-silicate Ion-X glass.
Apple's aluminum collection features an anodized aluminum casing in silver, space gray, and gold finishes. With the Ion-X glass and the aluminum casing, the aluminum watches are quite a bit lighter than stainless steel models.
Aluminum Apple Watch Series 5 models are available both with and without LTE connectivity.
The Apple Watch stainless steel collection includes Apple Watch models that feature stainless steel casings in a highly polished silver color, a bright gold, and a space black shade. These watches feature a durable, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal display.
Stainless steel models are only available with GPS and LTE connectivity, and there's no non-LTE version available.
The titanium Apple Watch collection includes Apple Watch models made from titanium, a new material option in 2019. Titanium models come in either a natural color or with a space black coating, and Apple says the material has a "superb" strength-to-weight ratio.
Titanium Apple Watch models are heavier than aluminum models but lighter than stainless steel. Titanium Apple Watch models are considered higher-end Apple Watch Edition models and are available only with GPS and LTE connectivity.
Apple first offered ceramic Apple Watch models in 2017 when the Series 3 was introduced, but they were discontinued in 2018. In 2019, the ceramic option is back, and it is Apple's most expensive Apple Watch model.
Ceramic Apple Watch models are also considered higher-end Apple Watch Edition models and are available only with GPS and LTE connectivity.
The Nike Apple Watch was created in partnership with Nike and is designed specifically for runners.
Nike has designed special software for the Nike Apple Watch, which is designed to motivate runners to stay active. Nike Apple Watches include unique Nike-designed watch faces and are available in silver and black aluminum with matching perforated bands or Sport Loops in a selection of different Nike-exclusive colors.
The Hermès Apple Watch collection was created in partnership with French fashion house Hermès and features some of the most expensive Apple Watches Apple offers because of the high price of the bands.
All Hermès models feature a silver or space black stainless steel Apple Watch body paired with one of the Hermès signature hand-crafted leather bands and an additional orange Hermès-branded Apple Watch Sport band. Hermès Apple Watches include unique watch faces based on Hermès watch designs.
Apple has designed several types of bands for the Apple Watch: Link Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle, Sport Loop, and Milanese Loop, all made from a variety of materials to match different tastes and at varying price points.
Apple changes its band colors and collections on a regular basis, retiring older colors and introducing new ones with each season. Apple most recently introduced new color options in September 2019 alongside the new Series 5 models.
Apple's Sport Bands are the company's lightest, most comfortable bands, made from a flexible and lightweight fluoroelastomer. Because they're ideal for use when exercising or engaging in vigorous activity, most of Apple's aluminum watches ship with Sport Bands.
Pricing starts at $49 for the Sport Bands, which come with three pieces to adjust the size. Apple offers Sport Bands in S/M, M/L, and L/XL size options.
The Sport Loop is Apple's newest band, introduced in 2017. Designed to be soft, breathable, and lightweight, the Sport Loop is similar to the Leather Loop with a hook and loop fastener for a tight but comfortable fit.
It's made from a velcro-like double-layer nylon and comes in a range of colors, with Nike-branded Sport Loops also available. The 40mm version fits wrists sized 130 to 190mm, while the 44mm version fits wrists sized 145 to 220mm. Apple charges $49 for the Sport Loop.
The unique perforated Nike Apple Watch bands that come with Nike watches are also available for purchase on a standalone basis.
Nike bands are made from a high-performance fluoroelastomer and are available for both 40mm and 44mm Apple Watch models, plus Apple sells Nike-branded Sport Loop options in unique colors. The bands fit wrists sized 130 to 200mm. Like Sport Bands and Loops, Nike Bands are priced at $49.
The stainless steel Milanese Loop, available in 40mm and 44mm sizes, is a flexible metal mesh band that wraps around the wrist. It's made of such a fine metal material that it's comfortable to wear all day long, and it's surprisingly lightweight.
The Milanese Loop is priced at $99, a new lower price in 2019. It comes in silver, gold, and space black.
The Leather Loop, made from quilted Venezia leather, is another band that wraps around the wrist instead of using a clasp. It's priced at $99 and is only available for 44mm watches. The Leather Loop fits wrists sized 150mm to 210mm.
The Modern Buckle, made from supple Granada leather, is a band that's designed to work with the smaller 40mm Apple Watch models. It features a two-piece magnetic buckle and an inner layer of Vectran weave for strength and scratch resistance.
The 316L stainless steel alloy Link Bracelet, available in 40mm and 44mm sizes, is Apple's most expensive band made in-house. Available in silver ($349) and space black ($449), the Link Bracelet resembles a high-quality traditional watch band.
The 40mm model fits wrists sized 135 to 195mm while the 44mm model fits wrists sized 140 to 205mm. A 6-link add-on kit expands its size from 205mm to 245mm for an additional $49.
Along with Hermès Apple Watches, Apple sells a selection of standalone Hermès bands, designed by the fashion house. Hermès bands are available in an assortment of colors.
As these are bands created in partnership with a French fashion houses, prices are more expensive than Apple's own bands. Hermès bands start at $340 and go up from there.
Apple is continuing to sell select previous-generation Apple Watch Series 3 models at a discounted price. Available in aluminum only, pricing on the Series 3 starts at $199 for GPS only models and $299 for GPS + Cellular models.
All Apple Watch models run an operating system called watchOS. watchOS 6, the newest version of watchOS, is installed on the Apple Watch Series 5 models at launch.
Released in September 2019, watchOS 6 introduces a dedicated App Store that's just for the watch, so you can download Apple Watch apps without your iPhone.
There are several new watch faces, including Meridian, Modular Compact, Solar Dial, California, Gradient, Numerals Mono, and Numerals Duo, each with a unique look.
A Noise app is available to measure the noise level of the environment around you, sending notifications when the ambient noise is loud enough to result in damage to your hearing. There's also a Cycle Tracking app that lets women log menstrual cycle data for period and fertility tracking.
There are several new apps, including Audiobooks, Calculator, and Voice Memos, plus new complications like decibel level, cellular strength, orientation (using the new compass feature), and rain probability. A Voice Memos complication lets you record a voice memo from your wrist, while an Audiobooks complication lets you play your audiobooks.
Siri can now pull up full webpage results and find song lyrics without your iPhone, and in the Messages app, there are new Animoji and Memoji stickers. A Taptic Engine lets you configure the Apple Watch to tap out the hour on your wrist and even play a chime to ring in a new hour.
For more on what's included in watchOS 6, make sure to check out our dedicated watchOS 6 roundup.
Future Apple Watch Rumors
Rumors suggest a future version of the Apple Watch will adopt solid state buttons that don't physically click but instead provide haptic feedback to users when the buttons are touched, but it's not clear when this is coming. Apple introduced haptic feedback for the Digital Crown in the Series 4, and haptic feedback could potentially extend to the side button.
Further in the future, the Apple Watch may do away with buttons altogether, with the sides of the device adopting support for touch and swipe-based gestures.
In 2020, Apple may add a sleep tracking app to the Apple Watch, allowing the Apple Watch to be worn while sleeping for the purpose of tracking sleep and sleep quality. The feature is in testing with Apple employees and if the project proves successful, it could be added to the Apple Watch Series 6.
Sleep tracking has not been previously implemented perhaps due to battery life concerns, but it's possible sleep mode will accompany a low power mode that will not significantly impact battery life.
Apple is rumored to have a team of biomedical engineers working on a method for non-invasively monitoring blood glucose levels using optical sensors, technology that could potentially make its way into the Apple Watch at some point in the future. Such a feature would make diabetes management much easier because it would not require puncturing the skin.
Apple reportedly has a secret manufacturing facility in Santa Clara, California where it is designing and producing test samples of displays that use microLED, a technology that will follow OLED. microLED screens can result in devices that are slimmer, brighter, and use less power. Rumors suggest an Apple Watch with a microLED display could launch as soon as 2020.
Apple has patented several interesting technologies that could potentially be used in future Apple Watch devices, such as a biometric authentication feature that authenticates identity based on the wearer's skin pattern. Such a feature would eliminate the need for a passcode when wearing the Apple Watch.
Another patent describes a self-tightening Apple Watch band that would adjust during intensive activities like running or working out for accurate heart rate readings, and loosen up afterwards. The tightening could also be used for directions, workout reps, and more.
A third patent describes an Apple Watch band with an LED indicator that would visualize the progress of an activity or task, providing a visual indicator when completing a workout or an Activity ring, for example.
Apple has filed several other patents covering the possibility of moving hardware into the Apple Watch's band, including batteries, speakers, kinetic power generators, haptic feedback devices, and even cameras.
There's no word on whether these patents will make it into an actual Apple Watch, but it's interesting to see what Apple is working on and considering behind the scenes.