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Review: Apple Watch Series 3

When I started thinking about how to start this review, I realized that I had the opportunity to test and monitor * all * generations of Apple Watch so far, nothing that happened neither with the Mac (my first was an iMac G3 from 2000), nor the iPad (my first was the iPad 2) or with the iPhone (my first was the iPhone 3G).

This is a product line that is still quite new for Apple, but that has already started to follow its own history. And I can make several analogies to the Series 3 when I look at the same stage that the iPhone was in when its third generation, 3GS, arrived. We now have a very polished product, with really satisfactory performance and an operating system that is already showing signs of maturity.

Apple Watch Series 3 intertwined

Has the Apple Watch Series 3 changed a lot compared to the Series 2? No, far from it. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, as I will discuss in the following paragraphs.

Videos

For those who lost, we published two videos about the Apple Watch Series 3 directly from our coverage in New York. The first, which could not be missing, unboxing; in the second, we already have a hands-on highlighting some of his news.

Check out:

What hasn't changed?

In fact, a lot remains the same in the Series 3 not only in relation to the 2, but even in relation to the first generation Apple Watch launched there in 2015.

The design has not changed at all (with the exception of a 0.2mm thicker glass on its back), the bracelet system remains the same (which is great because you can use the Series 3 bracelets you bought more than two years ago if you want), the Digital Crown and the side button mark the presence, there are the same two screen sizes (38mm and 42mm), no new material used in the case (it was only last year that the Edition line stopped being gold and became ceramic), almost all sensors and components remain the same and even watchOS 4 can be installed on any Apple Watch (with rare exceptions for features that only work on newer ones).

Basically, it is a task for few to distinguish several generations of Apple Watch placed side by side on a table with the exception of the new GPS + Cellular models, which have a polemic Digital Crown red to identify them. Seizing the opportunity, let's kill this matter soon.

GPS + Cellular

It's bizarre to think about it, but the fact is that the big news about the Apple Watch Series 3 is very likely not to arrive in Brazil (although there is a very long chance that this will change) and not to many other countries.

These are the models that Apple identifies as ?GPS + Cellular?, that is, which now have built-in cellular connectivity. This means that, in addition to working like any Apple Watch, these models can connect to carrier data networks when the paired iPhone is not within reach and not even a known Wi-Fi network is available for connection. Thus, you continue to receive calls, messages and notifications on your watch from anywhere.

Apple Watch Series 3 with orange sports band

The reason why this should not happen so early here in Brazil that no national operator supports the eSIM technology, used by Apple. Explaining: the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) does not have a tray for you to place your chip, all done via software.

In addition, the National Telecommunications Agency prevents two different chips, even though one of them is electronic, from sharing the same number, which is how the Apple Watch works. In spite of this, we have recently discovered that in fact the eSIM of watches does indeed have a unique / unique number; it is only undisclosed and used publicly. Routing calls, messages, etc. the main number for the Apple Watch must also be done via software, we understand.

Still, whoever chooses to buy an Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) is not obliged to activate the cell part of it, not least because it costs. In the United States, most operators are charging an average of $ 10 more on their customers' monthly bills, which to us may seem little, but to many American consumers about twice as much as they think is fair to pay. And it makes sense, after all, as I already said, the watch only connects to the cellular network when the iPhone is not around and there is not even a Wi-Fi network available.

A difference that Apple did not make much of a point of pointing out is that the GPS + Cellular models have an internal memory of 16GB, while the others kept the traditional 8GB probably to store a larger number of Apple Music tracks after O streaming.

New Music app from watchOS 4 on Apple Watch Series 3 with AirPods on the side

Personally, I don't think I would opt for the GPS + Cellular model even if it works here in Brazil. It is very rare that I do not have the iPhone around and, honestly, sometimes a few moments of total disconnection from the virtual world are welcome. The difference in capacity is also not something that fills my eyes; I don't even know how much space I currently have on my watch.

A ?blunder? by Apple with this new generation, if we can characterize it this way, that only aluminum models have versions only with GPS that cost an average of US $ 70 less. The stainless steel and ceramic versions are all GPS + Cellular, perhaps because, as they are more expensive, they end up ?embedding? the extra cost of the cell chip in the total value of the product itself.

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) with red Digital Crown highlighted

But it gets a little "boring", so to speak, because it gives a feeling that the consumer is overpaying for something he is not going to use. In addition, there is such Digital Crown red that obviously didn?t please everyone.

Performance

You must have read the paragraphs above and asked why the hell would you buy an Apple Watch Series 3, then. I answer them: performance.

The association I made there at the beginning between this watch and the iPhone 3GS fits right here. The ?S?, at that time, referred to "Speed" (velocity). And whoever had an original iPhone or iPhone 3G should remember how slow these phones were.

App loading on Watch

Well, in terms of performance the Apple Watch Series 2 along with the optimizations that Apple made last year for watchOS 3 had already improved a lot, but now that the thing has become really interesting and pleasant. The entire interface is very fluid and the system stores all the apps you use frequently in memory without problems. There are very few apps that you tap to open and have to wait a few seconds before it is ready to use. Rare.

All this thanks to the new S3 chip dual-core that Apple developed especially for the Watch Series 3. The company promises 70% better performance, and in my experience I would say it is something within that range.

Her processor engineering team is working miracles in that area, and that no one can deny.

Drums

Another positive side effect of the S3 chip, and this was a pleasant surprise for me (not least because Apple said little about it in the release keynote), the battery life of the Apple Watch Series 3.

I don't know why Apple only promises 18 hours of battery life for the Watch Series 3, because it is a fact and everyone I know who already has this new model confirms that it now easily lasts two full days.

On average, I have reached the end of the day here with at least 55-60% battery, sometimes more. And that is doing about an hour of exercise during the day, which makes consuming more battery even due to the more frequent checks of heartbeat.

Of course, my analysis was based entirely on the GPS model. Apple itself warns that using the Watch connected to the 4G / LTE network consumes a lot of battery, to the point that it will not last even half a day if it is working all the time. If you get on a call, then the whole battery will go away in about an hour.

In terms of recharging, nothing has changed. The Apple Watch continues to come with an induction charger identical to the previous models and the operation is the same.

AirPower charging base with iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3 and AirPods

Contrary to what many have come to imagine, the Apple Watch Series 3 * does not * adopt the Qi recharge standard like the iPhones 8, 8 Plus and X. It can be recharged on Apple's future AirPower base, but only (with rare exceptions) which is not even worth considering here).

Crab

until a nonsense I dedicate a section of this assistant review from Apple, considering how limited it is still in our language, but at least now Siri has become minimally usable on the Apple Watch.

I used to give up just thinking about her performance, which was miserable. This was resolved in Series 3, and more: now Siri gives answers in audio, as it always did on the iPhone.

Consumer using Apple Watch Series 3 at Apple Store

Don't ask me why Apple restricted this to this generation only, since the previous Watches already had a speaker and, honestly, I didn't feel any difference in the new speaker. But it can be something with respect to the internal components or, obviously, a mere strategic / marketing decision of it.

Other components

The Apple Watch Series 3 continues with GPS and GLONASS, heart rate sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope, ambient light sensor, Wi-Fi (802.11b / g / n 2.4GHz), Bluetooth 4.2 and a waterproof housing for up to 50m. In aluminum models, the front glass of ons-X and the rear composite (GPS + Cellular already uses ceramics); in the other models, the sapphire crystal glass and the ceramic back.

In addition to the S3 chip that we already covered, the Apple Watch Series 3 also incorporates a W2 chip for wireless communication. So, although there is nothing new in terms of the specifications of the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth components (not even the 5.0 came in this one), this W2 chip promises a better experience with wireless connections, greater stability and range, and also contributes a lot to the battery life of the watch.

Another novelty cited by her in this generation is the arrival of a barometer altimeter, which is nothing more than a component intended to know with precision when you are going up or down stairs. And I can say that it works, yes, very well.

Stairs up by Apple Watch (Sade)

watchOS 4

I can't review the new Apple Watch without giving the watchOS 4 a few strokes, not least because I basically just used it with the new watch. And some changes that arrived in this version I liked very much.

WatchOS 4 dock

The Dock activated when pressing the side button of the watch was much more cool and intuitive in watchOS 4, with its vertical layout of apps. This makes perfect sense, after all, we navigate through them by turning the Digital Crown.

List of apps on watchOS 4

Speaking of vertical arrangement of elements, another thing you can do now on the app icon screen is to press it with Force Touch and change the traditional ?beehive? view (which Apple calls a grid) to one on the list. I ended up changing it because it makes more sense semantically, since all of its apps are alphabetically ordered, but in aesthetic terms the other one is cooler, of course.

WatchOS 4 Exercises App

One of the apps I use the most, Exerccios, has also gained excellent improvements. The layout of elements in the interface is now better and the guys had the excellent idea of ??adding a ?screen? by sliding to the right with a multimedia controller inside it, which is great for those who listen to music while working out, like me.

I don't intend to go much further here on watchOS 4 itself, but I need to talk about a feature that Apple added to its Control Center that I never imagined would be so useful on Watch: the flashlight!

WatchOS 4 Control Center

I always used the iPhone flash as a flashlight, since that time when it was necessary to download third party apps. But, since I got the Watch Series 3 running watchOS 4, I think I?ve only used the watch for this especially when I walk around the house late at night, with my wife and daughter already asleep.

For those who think that the Watch small screen would not be good for this, it is worth remembering that it is an OLED display with 1,000 nits brightness and this since the Series 2., basically, the brightest screen that Apple has ever put in any of its products. Only as a means of comparison, the OLED screen of the iPhone X will reach a maximum of 625 nits.

In a totally dark environment, even the weakest level of the iPhone's flash sometimes emits too much light for what I need. And the perfect fit of the Apple Watch for that purpose, not to mention that it is attached to the wrist makes it even more practical. Too much use!

Another fix (yes, I consider one) that made a big difference in my day-to-day is the fact that watchOS now always lists all notifications separately, even when several arrive in sequence. Until the previous version, if you received multiple messages on WhatsApp, for example, the Watch showed that ?x? messages had arrived, you needed to discard that notification and pull the Central from above to be able to read their content (a bag).

Siri display on watchOS 4

I didn't even want to mention the new ?Toy Story? and kaleidoscope displays here, because they are mere "Gimmicks" cute and fun, but useless. The Siri dial has already become my standard; It's still not perfect, I think there is a lot of intelligence to explore there, but I really liked the proposal brought by Apple.

Incidentally, it is amazing that Watch automatically shows the multimedia controller when you have a song played on the iPhone! Details that make the difference.

What was missing?

I don't think adding cellular connectivity to the Apple Watch Series 3 was ?little?, but the fact that it is restricted to a few places for now and still requires an extra monthly payment to operators leave an air of ?wanted more? in terms of news.

One of the few rumors that has been circulating for the past few months opened the possibility for the watch to win some kind of revolutionary glucose meter. I do not doubt that Apple is studying something like this, but it has not yet been the time.

Other than that, I list as things that were missing but that may well come in the next generations:

  • A new design: I definitely don't think the design of the Apple Watch is out of date, but we know that the consumer is very influenced by the look of products like that, and, of course, we are already expecting some change in this regard. I would like to add that I think it is perfectly possible that Apple will ?tap? the Watch's appearance without having to change its bracelet mechanism yet; it really needs to last for at least a few good years, considering the high investment that many consumers have already made in different bracelets for their watches.
  • One more size: I don't remember seeing anyone showing interest in an Apple Watch smaller than the 38mm model. It is perfect especially for women with thin wrists and, by the way, by far the smallest smartwatch on the market. There is clearly a demand for a larger third size. I think that, in the future, the line could be formed by 38mm, 42mm and a new 46mm versions.
  • Oximeter: I am not an expert on the subject, but I was already informed that the current Apple Watch hardware would have full capacity to act as an oximeter and show, perhaps within the Beats app itself, the person's blood oxygen level. This data is extremely important and very useful for doctors, nurses, physical educators and the like, and is present in other smartwatches or fitness bracelets available on the market. The only recent novelty was the so-called VO2 mx., That is, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume during an exercise.
  • Measurement of leg strokes: I fully understand that the Apple Watch has no way of measuring leg strokes, since all the monitoring it does based on the movements of the arm. But I think it would be a good time for Apple (or even some third-party manufacturer) to come up with an accessory to secure who knows about the ankle and communicate with the watch, or at the very least that watchOS allow manual insertion of these data after training. swimming.
  • Camera: this is something else that has appeared here and there in rumors, perhaps one of the main components that are in the iPhone and do not exist today in the Apple Watch. I even admit that something is very likely to arrive in a future generation, but I think it is so strange that you take pictures with a clock just like taking with an iPad (not to mention privacy issues, it is very easy to take pictures "hidden"). And using it for a FaceTime call must be very tiring considering that you have to leave your arm raised for a while, with the camera pointed at your face.
  • Total independence: yes, if you live in a country where operators already support the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular), you can leave your iPhone at home and go out with it for a little jog in the square, continuing to receive calls and messages. But the watch is still very dependent on the iPhone and requires one for all of its initial setup.
  • Screen always on: since its first generation, the Apple Watch has an OLED display but Apple still prefers to turn it off completely whenever the watch is not in use. The screen lights up either when you raise your arm, or when you tap it. In the future, it would be interesting that at least the time and some notifications of notifications were always visible.

And you, what else would you add to?

Completed

Apple is certainly trying, little by little, to make Watch a truly indispensable device in people's lives.

Woman using Apple Watch Series 3 at Apple Store

To be honest, I still don't think she got there. Of course, there are cases of people who could have died had it not been for the Apple Watch (1, 2) and these will certainly never again consider the possibility of not having one. But I speak in general, putting myself in the shoes of a consumer who needs to decide whether it is worth it or not.

I sold and delivered my Apple Watch Series 2 a week before the date the Series 3 hit the market, that is, for the first time in a long time I spent a few days without the watch on my wrist. It was * very * missing and I could clearly see how much it saves me from having to take the iPhone out of my pocket to look at certain things. , I know, a typical First World Problem, but you really get used to the functions it provides.

Still, obviously it would take a few more days for me to get used to living without the Apple Watch. Is it cooler and more practical to interact with him? Yes, . But, in a naked and raw analysis, I cannot call it "indispensable" yet. On the day that the rumor of a built-in glucose meter comes to fruition, we can already say that his investment will be a ?No-brainer? for millions and millions of people with diabetes (or people with the potential to develop diabetes) around the world.

Consumer buying Apple Watch Series 3 at Apple Store

If you have money left over and you still don't have an Apple Watch, the time could not be better to purchase one. The product is very polished, fast, its sensational canvas, there are many more functions today than it was at the time of its release, the activity resources undoubtedly encourage us to lead a healthier life, it is totally waterproof and certainly acts as a complement to the iPhone.

But if you already have an Apple Watch, the purchase recommendation is very difficult unless yours is a "Series 0" (first generation model) or Series 1, which is not even waterproof. The improvements of the Series 3 over the 2 are noticeable, but do not justify taking the scorpion out of your pocket.

If you are determined to buy one, the choice of model and bracelet is very, very personal. I don't think about spending more for a stainless steel watch or even less ceramic, no matter how beautiful they are. The aluminum model is also nice and has exactly the same functions; the only real downside I see is its front glass, which scratches much more easily than the sapphire crystal of the most expensive models.

Back side of Apple Watch Series 3 Herms

Of course, there are also the special Nike + and Herms versions. The first brings cute perforated bracelets and an exclusive dial of the brand, a great choice for anyone who sports; the second, which is not even sold in Brazil, targets a public more interested in jewelry and luxury items (such as the Apple Watch Edition). A, each one goes.

The Apple Watch Series 3 has already been duly approved by Anatel, but for now Apple Brazil has not started selling it here.

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