Apple Watch Series 3
Apple's new LTE Apple Watch, now available.
At a Glance
- The Apple Watch Series 3 includes an LTE chip that reduces its reliance on iPhone, a faster S3 processor, a new W2 chip for faster and more efficient Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and a new barometric altimeter for better activity tracking. Launched on September 22, 2017.
Apple Watch Series 3 Features
- Two sizes: 38mm and 42mm
- Faster S3 processor
- 50-meter water resistance
- LTE and non-LTE options
- W2 chip
- Barometric Altimeter
- Same form factor
- New Sport Loop bands
What's new in Apple Watch Series 3
Apple Watch Series 3, introduced on September 15, 2017, is the third evolution of the Apple Watch that Apple first debuted in 2015. Apple Watch Series 3 much like Apple Watch Series 2 with one major exception -- a new cellular chip.
For the first time, thanks to processor and battery improvements, Apple has been able to bring LTE connectivity to the Apple Watch. Apple Watch Series 3 is no longer tethered to an iPhone, an improvement that Apple says has been its vision for the watch from the beginning.
With LTE connectivity, you can leave your iPhone behind when you run errands, go to the beach, or go for a jog, but remain reachable via phone call or a message. The Apple Watch works just like an iPhone on LTE. You can listen to streaming music, get GPS directions, interact with Siri, and use third-party apps, all over a cellular connection.
A new red Digital Crown is available on all LTE Apple Watch models, but aside from that tweak, the design of the Apple Watch Series 3 remains largely the same as the Apple Watch Series 2.
It is available in 38 and 42mm varieties to fit a range of wrist sizes, and it is the same size and shape as the Series 2 Apple Watch. There's only one change -- the back crystal that rests against the wrist has been extended by 0.25mm. The size change shouldn't be noticeable to most users because 0.25mm is equivalent to the thickness of two sheets of paper.
As always, the main focus of the Apple Watch is health and fitness, and Apple's aim is to get people to be more active with features like built-in activity reminders and personalized fitness goals. The Apple Watch Series 3 continues to measure health metrics like steps taken, calories burned, and heart rate. It's able to track many activities using the Workout app, and in the Series 3 models, there's a new barometric altimeter for tracking elevation gains and flights of stairs climbed.
Apple Watch Series 3 is powered by a new dual-core processor that delivers 70 percent more performance than the processor in the Apple Watch Series 2. With the new processing power, Siri is faster than ever and can answer queries aloud for the first time. Apple Watch Series 3 offers all-day battery life, but LTE use impacts how long the battery lasts.
A new Apple-designed W2 chip offers 85 percent faster Wi-Fi while also being 50 percent more power efficient for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. And to enable LTE connectivity, there are new components like a tiny electronic SIM and tweaks to turn the display itself into a multifrequency LTE antenna. Despite these new components, Apple Watch Series 3 still offers 50m water resistance and improved seals, making it suitable for swimming.
Like the Series 2 Apple Watch, the Series 3 models feature a 1,000 nit display that's easy to see in bright sunlight, a GPS chip for recording precise distance, speed, and pace when running, an NFC chip for Apple Pay, and a Taptic Engine to provide haptic-based notifications and other feedback to wearers.
Apple is offering Apple Watch Series 3 in both LTE and non-LTE configurations for those who don't need cellular connectivity. Non-LTE Apple Watch models are dependent on the iPhone at all times and do not have an internet connection without one aside from known Wi-Fi networks.
Apple Watch Series 3 is available in a range of case materials, including aluminum, stainless steel, and ceramic. Aluminum models, Apple's most inexpensive, come in Silver, Space Gray, and a new shade of Gold. Stainless Steel models, Apple's mid-tier devices, continue to be available in Silver and Space Black, and to go along with the White Ceramic Apple Watch model, there's a new Gray Ceramic option. Ceramic models are considered "Edition" watches and are Apple's most expensive.
Stainless Steel and Edition models feature durable sapphire crystal displays that hold up well to scratches, while the Aluminum models offer Ion-X glass that's durable, but not as strong as sapphire.
All of the Apple Watch Series 3 models are sold with a variety of bands that impact the price of the device, and there are also standalone bands that can be purchased as additional accessories.
Apple has also partnered with Nike and French fashion label Hermès to offer Series 3 Apple Watch models with exclusive bands and watch faces, and there are Nike+ models as well.
Pricing on Apple Watch Series 3 starts at $329 for non-LTE models and $399 for LTE models.
Alongside the Apple Watch Series 3, Apple is continuing to sell the Apple Watch Series 1 for $249. The Apple Watch Series 1 features a previous-generation dual-core S1P chip, no LTE, no GPS, and less robust water resistance.
How to Buy
Apple Watch Series 3 models can be purchased from the Apple online store and from retail stores as of Friday, September 22. Nike+ Apple Watch models became available on Thursday, October 5, and can also be purchased from the Apple online store and retail stores.
Pricing on the Apple Watch starts at $329 for the non-LTE models and $399 for LTE models. Pricing varies based on case material, band, and collection. Entry level pricing for each case material is as follows:
38mm Aluminum Non-LTE - $329
38mm Aluminum LTE - $399
42mm Aluminum Non-LTE - $359
42mm Aluminum LTE - $429
38mm Stainless Steel (LTE only) - $599
42mm Stainless Steel (LTE only) - $649
38mm Ceramic (LTE only) - $1299
42mm Ceramic (LTE only) - $1349
38mm Nike+ LTE - $399
38mm Nike+ Non-LTE - $329
42mm Nike+ LTE - $429
42mm Nike+ Non-LTE - $359
38mm Hermès (LTE only) - $1149
42mm Hermès (LTE only) - $1199
Apple Watch Series 3 models were available for purchase in more than 25 countries at launch, and Apple is working on expanding availability to additional regions. LTE models are currently limited to the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the UK.
There are some health and life insurance providers that are starting to offer discounted Apple Watch programs, so it may be worth checking into ahead of a purchase. John Hancock has an Apple Watch program, for example, as does Vitality Insurance, and Aetna has one in the works.
Discounted Apple Watch Series 3 models can be purchased from Apple's online store for refurbished products at a 13 to 15 percent discount depending on the model. Refurbished Apple Watch models receive new batteries and enclosures and are functionally identical to new models. They also come with the same one-year warranty that can be extended with AppleCare+ for Apple Watch.
Apple hasn't changed the design of the Apple Watch since its 2015 debut, and so the Apple Watch Series 3 is nearly identical to the Apple Watch Series 2. It features a rounded, rectangular body that's able to snap into an array of interchangeable bands thanks to built-in lugs.
At the front, there's a small Retina HD touchscreen display, and at the side, there's a Digital Crown that can be used to control much of the interface and a side button that brings up an app dock. On the Apple Watch Series 3 models equipped with LTE, this Digital Crown is red.
Apple Watch Series 3 comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm, to fit a variety of different wrists, and Apple also makes it available in several different casing materials including aluminum, stainless steel, and ceramic. There are two new casing options for 2017: aluminum in a new shade of gold that's a bit rosier than the previous gold color and ceramic in a deep gray to accompany the existing white ceramic model.
At the bottom of the Apple Watch, there's a ceramic backing with four built-in sapphire-covered sensors that measure heart rate using green light technology that tracks the pace of blood flow beneath the skin.
On the Apple Watch Series 3 models, the only external difference is related to the ceramic backing and the sensors. The back crystal that houses the sensors has been extended by 0.25mm to make room for additional cellular components. Most users are unlikely to notice the small size difference compared to Series 1 and Series 2 models.
Underneath where the band connects, there's a diagnostic port that's used internally by Apple for diagnosing problems when a customer brings an Apple Watch in for service, and a new relocated air vent.
The display of the Apple Watch can be customized with a selection of watch faces featuring traditional watch-style designs, Disney characters, animated images, and more, all of which can be further customized with complications and a variety of colors.
Apple Watch owners can also customize their devices through their band selection, and Apple offers a wide range of bands that can be paired with the smart watch. There are also many bands available from third-party companies.
Apple Watch Series 3 comes in Silver Aluminum, Space Gray Aluminum, Gold Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Space Black Stainless Steel, White Ceramic, and Gray Ceramic. These are all available at different price points.
Aluminum models are lightweight, inexpensive, and designed for an active lifestyle, while the Stainless Steel models are heavier, more expensive, and prone to scratches. The glossy but durable Ceramic models with a pearl-like shine are the most expensive of all and are considered part of the high-end "Edition" line.
Like the Series 2 Apple Watch, the Series 3 models are rated for immersion 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.
The OLED display in the Apple Watch Series 3 is identical to the display in the Apple Watch Series 2, with a 1,000 nit brightness level. It's bright enough that it's easy to see outdoors on a sunny day, even when standing in direct sunlight.
The 38mm Apple Watch models feature a display with a resolution of 272 x 340, while the 42mm Apple Watch models feature a display with a resolution of 312 x 390.
All aluminum Apple Watch models feature an Ion-X glass display, while the Stainless Steel and Ceramic models use a sapphire display that's more resistant to scratching than the Ion-X glass.
Apple Watch Series 3 uses an S3 dual-core processor that delivers 70 percent more performance compared to the processor in the previous-generation Apple Watch.
For the first time, there's enough processing power to allow Siri, Apple's built-in personal assistant, to respond to queries via voice. In the Series 3, Siri can speak aloud, something that wasn't possible with earlier Apple Watch models.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is equipped with an Apple-designed W2 chip that brings 85 percent faster Wi-Fi while also being 50 percent more power efficient for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
LTE connectivity is the main selling point of the Apple Watch Series 3, and it's definitely the biggest upgrade in the new models. 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.
Even when away from an iPhone, a Series 3 Apple Watch can receive phone calls and text messages, stream music from Apple Music (a feature that's coming soon), load Maps to provide directions, and do dozens of other things that required an iPhone on previous models.
The Apple Watch isn't entirely independent from the iPhone, though. To get LTE connectivity from a carrier, an Apple Watch and an iPhone need to share a phone number, so an iPhone 6 or later is required on the same plan. The Apple Watch also simply does not have the battery capacity to be used full time with no iPhone nearby.
Apple envisions people using the Apple Watch Series 3 and an iPhone together, but occasionally leaving the iPhone behind for things like running errands, exercising, or going to the beach. When near an iPhone, the Apple Watch uses the phone's connection, but when away from an iPhone, the Apple Watch transitions seamlessly over to LTE.
To enable LTE connectivity, Apple turned the display of the Apple Watch into a multifrequency LTE antenna, added a tiny integrated eSIM that doesn't take up much room in the device, and implemented a new W2 chip for more efficient battery life.
LTE-equipped Apple Watches are only available in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, the UK and the US, but Apple plans to expand availability in the future. In the United States, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T all support the iPhone and charge $10 per month to add it to an existing iPhone plan. While carriers charge $10 per month, many also require subscribers to pay fees and taxes, raising prices to nearly $15 in some cases.
The Apple Watch Series 3's LTE connectivity is unavailable in China, despite China being one of the launch countries for the device. China Unicom supported the Apple Watch Series 3 at launch, but one week after launch, the carrier stopped allowing new LTE subscriptions for the device.
China Unicom's website says the feature had been available on a trial basis and there is no word on when it might resume. It's believed the eSIM could be at fault, as it does not allow carriers and regulators to track the device user's identity.
Apple Watch Series 3 models support a limited range of LTE bands and do not allow for roaming outside of a provider's network coverage area, limiting their functionality from country to country. For that reason, it's best to purchase an LTE Apple Watch in the country where you plan to use it.
For example, in the United States, the LTE Apple Watch Series 3 models support bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, and 41.
Most of those are not the bands that are used in countries like Australia, France, Germany, China, Japan, and the UK, and so the U.S. Apple Watch may not be able to connect to a network in another country. The same thing goes for Apple Watch models sold in other countries.
Apple has a full list of the LTE bands supported on each LTE Apple Watch in the countries where the devices are available, and it's worth checking out before making a purchase.
Because Apple Watch Series 3 models share a number with your iPhone, you have to use the same carrier for the Apple Watch and the iPhone, and you need to add your Apple Watch to your existing plan. An iPhone 6 or later is required.
Though the Apple Watch Series 3 supports both LTE and UMTS (aka 3G), UMTS support is not available on Verizon, Sprint, au, SoftBank, and EE.
There is a bug in the Series 3 Apple Watch models that affects LTE connectivity when near an open Wi-Fi network, which Apple is planning to fix in a future watchOS 4 update.
At the current time, Apple Watch Series 3 joins unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks that have interstitial agreement pages that can't be bypassed on the device. This causes the Apple Watch to think it has a Wi-Fi connection, preventing it from connecting properly to LTE.
"We have discovered that when Apple Watch Series 3 joins unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks, it may at times prevent the watch from using cellular. We are investigating a fix for a future software release," an Apple spokesperson told The Verge after reviewers noticed problems with LTE connectivity.
The Apple Watch always looks for a Wi-Fi connection because Wi-Fi uses less battery than LTE, and the current bug prevents it from avoiding networks it can't actually connect to.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Apple Watch Series 3 features support for 802.11/b/g/n 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. LTE models support LTE and UMTS.
GPS has been included in the Apple Watch since the Series 2, and all Series 3 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.
New in Apple Watch Series 3 is a barometric altimeter that's designed to let users track flights of stairs climbed, elevation gains when climbing or riding, and more. It's paired with a new API for skiing and snowboarding apps, and several apps now take advantage of these new features to offer activity tracking for snow sports.
Other sensors include a heart rate sensor and an ambient light sensor, along with an accelerometer and a gyroscope.
All of the Apple Watch Series 3 models with LTE feature 16GB of storage space for music and apps. The non-LTE models feature 8GB of storage space.
According to a teardown, the 38mm Apple Watch Series 3 has a capacity of 279 mAh at 3.82V, or 1.07 watt hours, a slight increase over the 38mm Series 2 model. Specific capacity in the 42mm Series 3 is not yet known.
The Apple Watch Series 3 features what Apple calls "all-day battery life" with up to 18 hours of usage before needing to recharge, but in some cases, the Series 3 models with LTE will see their batteries drain faster.
Apple's 18-hour all-day usage metric includes 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 30-minute workout with music playback. On LTE models, it also includes four hours of LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to an iPhone via Bluetooth.
When using it for phone calls, the Apple Watch Series 3 lasts for one hour on its own over LTE or three hours when connected to an iPhone. The Apple Watch battery lasts for up to 10 hours during an indoor workout with an iPhone nearby, but outdoors, with LTE and GPS activated, the numbers are lower.
With just GPS activated, the battery in the Series 3 Apple Watch lasts for five hours (the same battery life as the Series 2 with GPS on), and when connected to LTE and GPS the battery lasts for four hours during an outdoor workout.
When it comes to audio playback, the Apple Watch Series 3's battery lasts for up to 10 hours when playing music from the watch's built-in storage. It lasts for up to seven hours when streaming music over LTE, and up to five hours when streaming live radio over LTE.
The Apple Watch Series 3 charges to 80 percent in one and a half hours and 100 percent in two hours using the included Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable.
All Apple Watch models use inductive charging and charge through a Magnetic Apple Watch Charging Cable that ships with the watch, but Series 3 Apple Watch models will also be able to charge alongside an iPhone X or iPhone 8 and a set of AirPods using Apple's upcoming AirPower charger.
Set to be released in 2018, the AirPower is able to charge three devices at the same time using new technology developed by Apple. The Series 3 models are the only models that will support charging with the AirPower, with the feature unavailable on earlier Apple Watch models. Rumors suggest the AirPower will be priced at $199, but no official price tag has been announced.
Apple Watch Series 3 Collections
Apple changes its Apple Watch collection and updates available bands on a regular basis, generally debuting fresh inventory during spring and fall media events. New band colors and products have been introduced in September of 2015, March of 2016, September of 2016, March 21, 2017, September of 2017, and, most recently, March of 2018.
When new bands or case materials are released, Apple offers the Apple Watch in new combinations, retiring older watch and band combinations in favor of new looks, so the available Apple Watch models are always changing. Band combinations, watch faces, and casing materials can be paired together using Apple's interactive Apple Watch Gallery prior to purchasing.
The Apple Watch Sport collection is the watch collection with the lowest price tag. Aimed at fitness enthusiasts, the Sport watches do not have a sapphire display, instead featuring a lightweight strengthened alumina-silicate Ion-X glass that's "especially resistant to scratches and impact."
Apple's Sport collection also features a lightweight anodized aluminum casing in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold finishes. With the Ion-X glass and the aluminum casing, the Sport collection watches are 30 percent lighter than stainless steel models.
The Apple Watch Sport is available with a variety of Sport Bands in different colors to match each casing color. Sport Bands that ship with the Apple Watch Sport include buckles or closures that match the finish of the watch they're included with, while additional bands have silver closures or buckles.
Apple Watch Sport 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 and a space black shade. These watches feature a durable, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal display and are Apple's mid-priced devices.
The Stainless Steel Apple Watch Series 3 models can be purchased with Sport Bands in black or white, the Milanese Loop. Stainless Steel models are only available with GPS and LTE connectivity, and there's no non-LTE version available.
The Edition collection is Apple's high-end luxury lineup, and in 2017, the Apple introduced a new Gray Ceramic Apple Watch Edition, which joins the White Ceramic model.
The Ceramic used for the Apple Watch Edition is four times stronger than stainless steel and is Apple's most durable watch overall thanks to a sapphire crystal display. Apple ships a Magnetic Charging Dock alongside the ceramic Apple Watch Edition, a bonus accessory that doesn't come with any other Apple Watch model.
All Edition watches feature LTE connectivity and Apple is not offering a non-LTE Edition model.
The Apple Watch Nike+ was created in partnership with Nike and is designed specifically for runners. It features an aluminum Sport body, which is the lightest body, and it comes with either a unique perforated band that's stretchy, light, and breathable, or one of Apple's new lightweight fabric Sport Loops.
Nike has designed special software for the Nike+, 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 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 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 eight types of bands for the Apple Watch: Link Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle, Classic Buckle, Woven Nylon, Sport Loop (new in 2017) 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 event. Apple most recently introduced a range of new band colors in March of 2018.
The Sport Loop is Apple's newest band, introduced at the fall 2017 event alongside the Series 3 Apple Watch. 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 38mm version fits wrists sized 130 to 190mm, while the 42mm version fits wrists sized 145 to 220mm. Apple charges $49 for the Sport Loop.
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 Sport watches ship with Sport Bands.
Pricing starts at $49 for the fluoroelastomer 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 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 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch models. The bands fit wrists sized 130 to 200mm.
Like Sport Bands, Nike Bands are priced at $49.
Apple's Woven Nylon Band, made from more than 500 threads woven together, is priced at $49. One of Apple's newer bands, the Woven Nylon band is another inexpensive, lightweight, band option that's great for a wide range of activities.
The 38mm Woven Nylon band fits wrists sized 125 to 195mm and the 42mm Woven Nylon band fits wrists sized 145 to 215mm. As with most of the bands, the Woven Nylon is available in a wide range of colors.
Made from fine calf leather with a traditional buckle closure, the $149 Classic Buckle is available in 38 and 42mm sizes. The 38mm model fits wrists sized 130 to 195mm wrists and the 42mm model fits wrists sized 150 to 215mm.
The $249 Modern Buckle is made from a soft Granada leather and features a large magnetic buckle at the back. It is designed for the smaller Apple Watch and only fits 38mm models.
The Modern Buckle fits wrists sized 135mm to 180mm.
The stainless steel Milanese Loop, available in 38mm and 42mm 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 $150 and comes in Silver or Space Black to match the Stainless Steel Apple Watch models.
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 $149 and is only available for 42mm watches. The Leather Loop fits wrists sized 150mm to 210mm.
The 316L stainless steel alloy Link Bracelet, available in 38mm and 42mm sizes, is Apple's most expensive band made in-house. Available in Silver ($449) and Space Black ($549), the Link Bracelet resembles a high-quality traditional watch band.
The 38mm model fits wrists sized 135 to 195mm while the 42mm 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 Watch Series 1
Apple is continuing to sell the Apple Watch Series 1 alongside its Apple Watch Series 3 model as a low cost option. Pricing on the Series 1, which is only available in Silver and Space Gray aluminum with Sport Band, starts at $249.
The Apple Watch Series 1 has a slower S1P processor, lower water resistance (it's not suitable for swimming), a display that doesn't get as bright, slightly lower battery life, and no LTE or GPS support.
Health Studies and Accessories
Apple is conducting a study in partnership with Stanford University's School of Medicine to determine whether the Apple Watch's heart rate sensor can be used to detect atrial fibrillation.
For the study, Apple is using a ResearchKit-based Apple Heart Study app, which can be downloaded from the App Store. It collects data on irregular heart rhythms and notifies users who could be experiencing atrial fibrillation.
KardiaBand EKG Analyzer
Though not developed by Apple, AliveCor's Kardia Band is the first medial grade EKG analyzer that has been approved for use with the Apple Watch. The band uses a metallic sensor to take EKG readings to detect abnormal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation.
All Apple Watch models, Series 3 included, use an operating system called watchOS. watchOS 4, the newest version of watchOS, was released in September of 2017 with features like Bluetooth pairing with gym equipment for data sharing, new watch faces (including a new Siri face), an Apple News app, an overhauled fitness app, a new Music app, an updated heart rate app that offers up more info than ever, faster third-party apps, and new complications.
Software is an important part of the Apple Watch, because it's what powers all of the features. Apple Watch is designed to encourage you to be more active, and Apple pushes you to "Close your Rings," aka hit all of your movement goals for the day.
The Apple Watch tracks all of your workouts and motivate you through personalized goals, smart coaching, stand reminders, and celebrations and achievements when you hit milestones. Beyond that, Apple Watch keeps an eye on your heart, offers up Breathe reminders to cut down on stress, and keeps you connected to your world at all times with notifications and support for a wide range of apps.
You can do a lot of what you can do on an iPhone on an Apple Watch, including sending messages, making phone calls, writing emails, scheduling appointments, browsing social media sites, playing games, and more. The only thing you can't do is browse the web, because there's no browser on the Apple Watch.
All of the health and fitness data collected by Apple Watch is synced to the Health app on your iPhone so you always have an overview of what's going on with your body, and the info can also be shared with your doctor.
For details on all of the features included in watchOS 4, make sure to check out our watchOS 4 roundup.
Apple Watch How Tos
What's Next for Apple Watch
The Apple Watch hasn't been redesigned since it was first introduced in 2015, and 2018 could be the year that we see some design changes to the device. There were some rumors pointing towards design changes in the Apple Watch Series 3, but it's possible those rumors were actually referring to a future device.
Future Apple Watch models could include a sensor that allows for continuous electrocardiograph monitoring to better detect serious heart conditions. Apple is said to be testing a version of the Apple Watch that records the electrical activity of the heart using two fingers on either side of the device, aka an EKG.
An EKG is designed to detect electrical changes in the skin caused by the rhythm of the heartbeat, and it can determine if there are any irregularities. It's not yet known when this functionality could make its way into a final version of the Apple Watch.
Based on Apple patents, future Apple Watch models could potentially incorporate haptic feedback into Apple Watch bands, freeing up valuable internal space for other components and allowing for a thinner body design.
Apple has filed several patents covering the possibility of moving hardware into the band, including batteries, speakers, kinetic power generators, haptic feedback devices, and more.
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 a future version of the Apple Watch. Such a feature would make diabetes management much easier because it would not require puncturing the skin.
Apple 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.
The Apple Watch will be the first device to receive an Apple-designed microLED display, but the technology is still a "couple of years" from reaching consumers. iPhones with MicroLED displays will follow.
Some rumors have suggested Apple will switch to MicroLED as soon as 2018, but that seems unlikely if the technology is in the early stages of development. Apple could, however, use MicroLED displays from another manufacturer, and rumors have said Apple is perhaps working with TSMC to overcome MicroLED production issues.