With the third generation of Apple Watch, the Series 3, the Apple Watch has finally fully come of age. Its faster, its finally got an barometric altimeter to measure altitude, and Siri can finally talk back, giving you the same experience as on other devices. But there was one more thing it needed to be a fully independent device: cellular connectivity. Yeah, its got versions with that too.
In terms of style, its undeniably an Apple Watch and almost the exact size as the Series 2 it replaces. If you wanted a radical overhaul, this isn’t your Apple Watch. If you’re upgrading from a previous Apple Watch, your collection of bands will still work. Given the huge third party accessory market out there, this isn’t a bad thing. Plus, the technology isn’t there yet for radical changes.
Powering the new Apple Watch is the S3 system on chip. Like the S2, this is a dual-core design. Its beefy up to 70% more powerful than the original. This not only makes it more responsive, it allows the extra functionality like the Siri-voice. The S3 isn’t the only new Apple chip inside, its also got a W2 wireless chip. The new chip is both faster and more efficient than the combo wi-fi and bluetooth chip in previous Apple Watches.
But that isn’t the radio you’re interested in, is it? You want the model with the Red button on the digital crown, the cellular model. Its here and its actually pretty ingenious. First off, the the cellular antennas are built into the screen. It makes sense from a practical sense as its a big glass part, but tis difficult to pull off from a technology standpoint. Second, the Apple watch manages its own wireless usage and picks what is most energy efficient. If its connected to your iPhone, its using bluetooth, if its by itself in the house its using Wi-Fi, if you’re out on the run it then switches to cellular. It makes the most of the limited battery capacity of the device t give a constant experience whether connected or not. The S3 offers up LTE and UMTS radios; No EV-DO for CDMA providers. There doesn’t appear to be a GSM voice radio, so I would assume all the calls are IP based.
watchOS is receiving a couple enhancements as well. First, the heart rate sensor app is getting a lot more data and a new notification for times when your heart rate shoots up when inactive. There’s also some new workout modes and GymKit syncing with exercise equipment. The Apple Watch also gets full access to Apple Music.
The Series 3 GPS models start at $329 for the 38mm aluminum models. This actually represents a $40 price cut compared to the Series 2. It’ll come in Silver, Grey, and Gold. As with the phones, the Rose Gold has been put to pasture. You get your options for the sport band and a new sport loop which has replaced the woven nylon as the alternative band. The Cellular models will start at $399 for the 38mm models and $429 for cellular. There’s also Stainless Steel and Ceramic versions, but these are only offered in Cellular. The Nike and Hermès editions return. Last year’s budget Series one is back and has been given a price cut to $249.