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Apple Watch Series 4 review in progress: First impressions


The new Apple Watch Series 4, comes in bigger 40mm (left) and 44mm sizes, up from 38mm and 42mm in earlier years.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Apple Watch Series 4 was unveiled just last week, and it stole arguably stole the highlight from the three new iPhones with which it shared the stage. While these had been “S” year evolutions of 2017’s iPhone X, the Apple Watch Series 4 is the largest makeover Apple’s wearable has seen in its 5-year history

New for 2018 is the Apple Watch’s first massive redesign ever: The screens are larger, the physique is thinner. And the watch’s already-impressive coronary heart and well being monitoring will get a really groundbreaking addition: A built-in electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), the first-ever to be built-in straight right into a smartwatch. The function is already FDA cleared in the US, the place it will likely be activated by a software program replace later this yr. 


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Apple Watch Series 4: A guided tour


The Apple Watch Series 4 begin at $399, £399, AU$599 for the usual mannequin, and $499, £499, AU$749 for the LTE mannequin. Models climb up from there relying on measurement, materials (stainless-steel versus aluminum), band selections and extra kinds (Nike+, Hermes).  

I simply bought my palms on the Apple Watch Series 4, in the brand new stainless-steel gold choice. This can be an ongoing review wanting on the watch and its options. I am already liking the brand new, bigger watch faces and their further customization choices, so let’s begin there.

First impressions: All-new design, bigger display screen

The Apple Watch S4 is the largest design replace for the reason that watch launched in 2015. Apple adopted the mannequin of its latest iPhone designs right here: The Series 4 cuts down the bezel surrounding the display screen versus final yr’s Series 3, successfully squeezing bigger screens into the identical measurement chassis. It’s nonetheless a squircle however the look is way more refined. It’s thinner, too: Apple minimize the depth of the Watch from 11.4mm to 10.7mm, so it is much less bulbous in your wrist.

New sizes: The Apple Watch nonetheless comes in “small” and “large,” however due to the economic system of sizes from the redesign, the smallest new Apple Watch has a show that is near the scale of the earlier massive one. The new watch sizes are 40 and 44mm, vs. the earlier 38 and 42mm.


Apple Watch Series 4 40mm (left) and 44mm (proper) in comparison with the Series three, 42mm (middle). Note how the Liquid Metal watch face additionally appears rather a lot completely different.

Sarah Tew/CNET

New watch faces: New watch faces include the bigger show, and plenty of present Apple Watch faces have been subtly upgraded to be larger or in any other case take full benefit of the brand new actual property. Some add lots of new problems, or bits of knowledge. Complications are mainly at-a-glance items of watch info that double as app launchers. The watch’s richer problems present extra data, now, and even some graphics. More shortcuts means launching apps sooner — or not having to launch them in any respect, as a result of the data you want is already on the display screen. The S4-exclusive new faces, referred to as Infograph and Infograph Modular, are improbable.

The remainder of Apple’s watch faces find yourself being fairly acquainted, although. Apple nonetheless would not have a watch face store, that means that you simply’re restricted to the ample however contained assortment of faces Apple has on-watch. These might be custom-made, however the limits turn out to be clear quick. Apple’s primary rivals — Fitbit, Samsung, Google’s WearOS — all enable third-party watch faces: When will Apple enable this to occur?


The greatest watch face (however is it too difficult?)

Sarah Tew/CNET

Other ideas on the brand new design: The fuller show and its iPhone X-like curved edges is an enormous improve, and the marginally thinner design makes the older S3 watch look extra sq. and bulbous. The digital crown on the aspect has delicate haptics now, so turning it produces realistic-feeling click on mechanisms. It’s satisfying, however not mandatory. The aspect button under lies extra flush now. More importantly, the onboard speaker is louder and clearer, making Siri and cellphone calls much more helpful (particularly in emergencies).

Good information in your outdated equipment: Bands match the identical because the older Apple Watches. I swapped my outdated ones in and traded bands to test. (Make positive you will have the correct measurement, although: 42/44mm match the identical, and 38/40mm.) The gold-colored metal Milanese band on my review mannequin is a bit excessive for me.


The largest change is an FDA-cleared electrical coronary heart fee sensor for EKG, however that function’s not unlocked but.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Fitness guarantees some massive boosts

The rear coronary heart fee sensor has been utterly redesigned this time round, with lots of coronary heart fee potential. This Apple Watch guarantees extra correct coronary heart fee sensing, step-tracking, health detection, and even fall detection, which is able to robotically name 911 and your family members should you fall whereas strolling, or on a motorbike (testing on that to return).

And the wildest factor is an embedded EKG sensor, permitting FDA-cleared electrocardiograms. It will allow spot detection of extra detailed coronary heart fee and rhythm, and spot potential arrhythmia. That function is just not being unlocked till later this yr, although. In the meantime, the Watch signifies drops in coronary heart fee, in addition to the elevated coronary heart fee warnings obtainable in earlier fashions. Even earlier than the EKG launch, the Apple Watch is taking up the position of a real medical analysis software. Vanessa Hand Orellana and I can be these new health options in extra depth in the upcoming days and weeks.

Read: The Apple Watch Series 4 takes heart monitoring to next level

Battery life: Stay tuned

The Apple Watch S4 would not promise higher battery life, actually, besides throughout GPS-enabled exercises (six hours, which nonetheless is rather a lot lower than devoted GPS health watches) For higher or worse, Apple’s victory right here was sustaining the battery lifetime of the Series three, regardless of slimming down the scale of this mannequin. In on a regular basis use, it sounds just like the day and a half I often get on the Apple Watch S3 could maintain true right here. But I will be carrying mine and can report what occurs.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm is promising longer smartwatch battery life on Google WearOS watches, with lower-power modes measured in weeks not days. If Apple has any want so as to add sleep monitoring to the Apple Watch’s bag of well being methods, it may have to go down the identical path for future fashions.


The gold metal mannequin is super-expensive. Go with aluminum.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Should you improve?

I’ve simply been utilizing this look ahead to lower than a day, so I am not shut to creating a shopping for suggestion but. Here’s what I might say in the meantime:

Series half/three customers ought to improve to WatchOS 5 first: The newest model of WatchOS turned obtainable earlier this week alongside iOS 12. It provides it a bunch of good extras to these 2016 and 2017 watches, together with downloadable podcasts, a walkie-talkie mode, and extra watch faces. Try that out first — It may assist pep up your older Apple Watch.

2015 Apple Watch house owners have essentially the most to achieve: The unique “Series Zero” Apple Watch cannot be up to date to WatchOS 5. A Series 4 can be a compelling improve for anybody who desires a much bigger display screen and extra velocity.

Series three house owners can have essentially the most tough resolution: You needn’t improve, though you may need to. But the Series three is admittedly the most effective worth decide: at a lowered worth, it is nonetheless actually good.

Otherwise, the essential Apple Watch proposition, for essentially the most half, is fairly just like what it was final yr.

We’ll be updating this review-in-progress with much more checks to return as we put on it throughout each coasts.

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