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Apple Watch Series 3 Review

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Connectivity


Untethered, that's now something we can say about the Apple Watch. Consumers were probably screaming for this feature since day one, but it took Apple until now to finally offer it – and it's not without its quirks at the moment. Previous to this, the Apple Watch was able to place phone calls, send text messages, and much more, but it still required an iPhone for that functionality. With the introduction of LTE and UMTS connectivity, the Apple Watch Series 3 can now access its own data stream independent of the iPhone.

Apple Watch Series 3 Review
Apple Watch Series 3 Review
Meaning, you can leave your iPhone at home and continue to use the Apple Watch Series 3. During our initial setup, we opted to choose cellular connectivity with Sprint's network, which requires a monthly charge of $15. That's a bit steep compared to its rivals who only require $10 per month, but Sprint does offer a free 3-month subscription, as well as a $5 discount if you subscribe to its autopay feature.

After getting it all set up, we ran into the nagging issue of it not working with cellular connectivity – it seemed as though phone calls and text messages were being routed to and from our paired iPhone. We verified this by placing the phone into airplane mode, and then proceeded to move to another area free from any associated Wi-Fi hotspots. Eventually, the connection seemed to suddenly fix itself. And from then on, we were able to place and receive phone calls via its cellular connection.

Another issue we experienced later on pertains to some third-party apps, Twitter and Instagram to be exact, which were unable to work properly. From the looks of it, the native apps all seemed to work fine on both cellular and tethered via Bluetooth to the iPhone, but these two particular apps just couldn't work. Our guess is as good as yours most likely, which could be related to the carriers, Apple, or just some weird glitch that'll hopefully resolve itself with updates.

Apple Watch Series 3 Review

Camera


There's nothing different whatsoever here with this category, since the Apple Watch Series 3 is only capable of acting as a remote viewfinder and shutter for your iPhone's camera. Running the app, we can visualize the composition of the shot – while still having access to all the same features from before. This includes things like tap-to-focus, switching to the front-facing camera, and enabling the flash/HDR. Naturally, it's a useful tool for all sorts of shooting applications.

Multimedia


Apple Watch Series 3 Review
Most of the Apple Watch Series 3's multimedia functions limit it to being nothing more than a remote tool of sorts. From watching YouTube videos on your iPhone, to playing some music through the Pandora app, the Watch's main function is being a remote – allowing us to pause, reverse, and adjust the audio levels. While there is a Photos app, it can only scroll through content that are synced with specific albums. Well, that's pretty much the extent of what it can do in the multimedia front.

The big new feature in this department is independent Apple Music streaming with the Watch Series 3, but it's going to become available via an update at a later time, probably sometime in October.

Call Quality


Convenience is wonderful, especially in situations when you leave your iPhone somewhere or during emergencies, but when it comes to conversing with the Apple Watch Series 3, it's not the most suitable thing because of how it can be easily overpowered by noise in the background. While callers were able to decipher our voice on their end, it required us to talk very closely and loudly to the microphone. Hey, it's not the best quality, but we can't deny the convenience brought on by the new cellular connection.

Apple Watch Series 3 Review

Battery Life


If we're to comb over the specs of the new Apple Watch, you'll probably realize that Apple claims that its new model achieves the same battery life as its previous models – upwards around 18 hours to be exact. We can report, however, that the Apple Watch Series 3 definitely provides ample battery life. In most cases so far, we've been able to reach close to two full days from a single charge with mixed usage. Unless you're strictly using cellular connection, which definitely eats up more of the juice faster, you won't have the need to charge it nightly. Using the included charger, it's able to recharge fully in about 1.5 hours.

Conclusion


There's no denying that the Apple Watch is the best-selling smartwatch out there. If you're uncertain about that, all you need to do is just go out in public and check for yourself. In most cases, you'll probably see the Apple Watch on a few people's wrists. However, we have to remind ourselves about what's new here with Series 3 – and whether or not it's worth the cost.

Out of everything that's new with Series 3, it's undoubtedly its new cellular connectivity that stands out the most. Call it a long time coming, but it's finally here. However, it's a tough sell when you consider that you're basically just obtaining true independence from this. Certain situations merit the ability to stay connected exclusively through an Apple Watch, but for those that are never too far away from their iPhones, it's an expensive investment to justify upgrading from a previous version.

That becomes more apparent when the core experience and functionality of the Apple Watch doesn't differ from its previous iterations. And that becomes more convincing if you compare the non-LTE version of the Series 3 watch against Series 2. Slapped with a starting price of $399 for the model with LTE connectivity on board, or even $329 for the non-LTE version, the Series 3 Apple Watch is a tough sell.

Still, that's damage you'll need to endure to experience the richest, most robust smartwatch platform around. Fundamentally, not a whole lot has changed here with the exception of cellular connectivity on board, a few new features with WatchOS 4, and some minor hardware upgrades under the hood. You're paying mostly for that independence, so if that's worth it to you, then this is your best option. If not, stick with the older models and save yourself the money.

Pros

  • Built-in cellular connection finally
  • Robust platform with WatchOS 4
  • Bigger focus on health & fitness
  • Apple Music streaming coming later this year

Cons

  • Same restrained look as before
  • $400 price tag for the cellular model is pretty stiff
  • Not a whole lot of "new" stuff
PhoneArena rating:
7Good
User rating:
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