Apple Watch Series 4 review
APPLE WATCH SERIES 4 REVIEW • £529 as tested
- PROS – Bigger screen but still comfortable to wear • Improved Digital Crown • Better health features • Fall detection and heart tracking could be life-saving
- CONS – No always-on display • Still expensive • Won’t track your sleep
After a sluggish start to life, the smartwatch revolution is picking up the pace at a rapid rate.
Apple recently revealed its wearable is now the most popular in the world and we have a feeling its latest update is only going to help boost this further.
The Apple Watch Series 4 was revealed earlier this month with it adding a bigger display, more power and some significant health features.
So, is this latest tech timepiece the ultimate smartwatch and is it finally time to strap a wearable to your wrist?
Express.co.uk has been putting it through its paces and here’s our full Apple Watch Series 4 review.
DESIGN AND DISPLAY
From a distance, it may look like little has changed on this latest Apple Watch.
But don’t be fooled as there’s some pretty significant changes which go a long way to making this a substantially better device.
With some clever design tweaks, Apple has managed to squeeze a much bigger OLED Retina display into this wearable without making the overall size that much bigger.
In fact, the actual viewing area is 30 percent larger than its predecessor which is mightily impressive and simply makes the Watch so much more user-friendly and functional.
There’s two models to choose from with a 40mm and 44mm now replacing the older 38mm and 42mm displays.
And what fabulous new screens these are.
The Watch now arrives in 40mm and 44mm sizes
The extra area means you can get more notifications, complications and content packed on your wrist.
Apple’s new watch faces also mean a swathe of data can be crammed on the screen with time, date, notifications, UV levels, heart rate, fitness data and weather all viewable at a glance.
These new digital screens have divided opinion with some saying they are far too busy and colourful but we are a total convert and love the amount of data you see without scrolling through endless menus and apps.
You may be curious that the bigger display means the Apple Watch will feel bigger on your wrist but it’s still incredibly comfortable to wear which is mainly due to the fact this device is now thinner than before.
And don’t think that Apple’s new design means your old straps won’t fit anymore as all previous versions still clip seamlessly to its frame.
One final design change comes to those buying the cellular version of the Watch with Apple ditching the big red Digital Crown for a more subtle touch of colour inside this control wheel.
Everything about the design and display is first class but we do have one minor niggle.
Ever since the original Watch graced our wrist in 2014 we’ve wanted an always-on display and it’s still not arrived.
Having a constant time displayed on the screen would be a nice touch and maybe one day Apple will finally give us this feature.
The new Apple Watch Series 4 includes a display which is 30 percent larger
THAT NEW DIGITAL CROWN
It’s hard to think that such a small part of this watch could be so technically advanced but the Digital Crown is still a vital part of this wearable.
This intricate wheel helps you navigate around the screen and this latest version has one major improvement.
Subtle haptic feedback is now pushed through the Apple Watch which means you can physically feel the dial being turned.
It’s a small addition that makes a huge difference and it’s actually one of our favourite new features on this new device.
The Digital Crown now includes haptic feedback
Apple says its new Watch will bring all-day battery life and that’s certainly true.
During our tests, there were no issues getting from morning until night without the device needing a refill.
In fact, on average there was around 50 percent left in the tank when heading to bed.
We also tried to get through two days without going near a plug and almost made it with the device finally shutting down after around 36 hours of constant use.
We don’t have a massive problem with this battery life as we always take our watch off every night and placing it on a dock beside your bed soon becomes a routine.
However, it would be nice to head away for a weekend without having to pack another charger in your bag and that’s still not possible with the Apple Watch Series 4.
Despite the extra size the Watch is still comfortable to wear
SPEED AND CALLS
The new Apple Watch feels much more fluid on your wrists and that could be down to the updated S4 brains tucked inside the aluminium and steel shell.
The S4 contains a powerful new 64-bit dual-core CPU and a new GPU, both custom developed by Apple to deliver up to two times faster performance.
And that’s not all as there’s also a new W3 wireless chip inside which delivers faster Bluetooth 5.0 for a quicker experience when downloading content such as music.
Along with being a vast amount faster, the Apple Watch Series 4 is also a lot louder.
With new speakers pumping out audio with around 50 percent more volume, it’s much easier to hear people when making calls via the Watch and Apple has also repositioned the mic which makes things even better for chatting from your wrist.
This improved sound has another bonus as it makes the new Walkie-Talkie mode in the watchOS 5 update much more fun.
Better speakers and mic make calls and Walkie-Talkie mode more useful
The new speakers are louder than before
The Apple Watch has always been pretty good at monitoring your daily activity levels and, with watchOS 5 coming pre-loaded on this new device, things get even better.
This upgrade now means it can automatically work out what you are doing and record the exercise according.
For example, start walking and the Watch will ask you if you want this session tracked and stored.
It even works out when you began the routine so you don’t lose any data.
In reality, auto workout detection works well with it almost always recognising the exercise you are performing.
We did have a couple of random results when it thought we were using a cross trainer rather than walking along the street but these issues were rare.
Apple Watch Series 4 review
Along with running, cycling, walking and swimming the Apple Watch can now also track hiking and yoga.
Having used this device for some time we can’t emphasise enough how good it is if you want to lose weight or simply get fitter.
Apple’s unique ring system gives a quick guide to how you are performing and the Watch will even give you a little encouragement to hit your goals.
The fact you can share and even compete against friends also adds to the appeal and there’s very little that comes close to offering all the functionality of this wearable.
The only area where the Watch falls short of the competition is there’s no sleep tracking.
Some other devices, such as the latest Fitbits, will keep a watch on how much and how well you’ve slept.
With a future software update the Apple Watch will be able record an ECG
A ceramic back improves the connectivity
The Apple Watch Series 4 is taking its health capabilities to a whole new level.
Having a heart rate monitor on the rear of the device is nothing new but it’s what Apple can now do with that data that’s seriously impressive.
This latest device can keep a constant eye on your body’s power source with it alerting users if it spots an irregular rhythm or if it’s beating too fast or slow.
This vital information could help spot numerous health issues including atrial fibrillation.
Another first-class feature, which will hopefully arrive in the coming months, is the option to record a full EGC by simply placing your finger on the Digital Crown.
This could go a long way to spotting trouble with your heart as this chart can be saved as a PDF and sent straight to a doctor.
The US will get this remarkable feature first with a global rollout hopefully coming soon after.
With it not currently active on the watch we can’t confirm how well it works but we’ll bring you a full update just as soon as it’s launched.
TAKING A FALL
Another new addition of this latest Apple Watch is fall detection.
This uses the accelerometer and gyroscope tucked inside the device to work out if you’ve tumbled to the floor.
If the worst should happen, and you don’t move for 40 seconds, the Watch begins to vibrate and ask if you are OK.
If you don’t respond it will then automatically call the emergency services and a chosen contact.
You can enable the fall detection feature in the Watch app on iPhone with the feature automatically enabled for users over the age of 65.
Our attempts to trigger it have been unsuccessful and it’s hard to know how well this will work in real-life situations.
Apple says they have tested it over numerous scenarios and are confident of its abilities.
And, if it works as well as Apple says, this will be a truly life-saving feature and could make the Apple Watch worth every penny.
Apple Watch Series 4 review
Like all of Apple’s recent flagship products, the Apple Watch isn’t cheap.
Prices for the standard aluminium model start from £399 but this can rise to over £840 for the option with a Milanese Loop strap and access to cellular data.
Apple launched its fully connected device last year and this technology continues to feature on this latest version.
It’s worth noting that EE and Vodafone are still the only UK networks compatible with the cellular Apple Watch with prices to connect starting at £5 per month.
Apple Watch Series 4 review
The Apple Watch was already the best smartwatch you could buy.
But the Series 4 has just taken this device to another level.
The bigger screen improves the whole usability and updates to the Digital Crown, fitness features and speakers all add the appeal.
The extra power from S4 chip also allows the Watch to glide through tasks with ultimate ease.
However, although it looks better, is more powerful and has that glorious screen, it’s the health benefits that really makes the Series 4 stand out from the crowd.
The fact that it can monitor your heart and perform an ECG could actually save your life and fall detection is sure to add peace of mind to many.
With all of these new additions, it’s very hard to find fault with the series 4.
Yes we’d love to see an always on display and better battery life would put the icing on the cake but, other than that, this is a simply brilliant wearable.
Last year we decided we couldn’t give the Apple Watch 3 the full five stars but that’s not the case in 2018.
This smartwatch gets top marks from us and it fully deserves every single one of them.