Apple Watch Series 3 Debuts with Cellular Coverage
You look at your phone too much. It’s too distracting, you’d rather be able to be present and in the world, but you still need to be connected. That’s what makes the initial theory behind the Apple Watch so compelling: It’s a device on your wrist that can do everything in a pinch, but mostly exists to look nice and only alert you when you really need to be alerted. It’s the gadget everyone could use.
Over the last couple of years, though, fitness emerged as the most resonant feature of the Watch. And Apple leaned into it: It made big partnerships with Nike, started working on connecting your Watch to your gym equipment, and improved the way it tracks workouts. Apple’s also working on more health-focused features like sleep tracking and glucose monitoring.
Today, Apple announced the third version of the Apple Watch hardware, called Series 3, which comes with a handful of upgrades but only one that matters: The Watch can now connect to LTE. That has huge fitness implications for runners who hate armbands but need to make phone calls, or people who go a little too hard and need an Uber home. It also goes a long way toward helping the Apple Watch achieve its ultimate and truest goal: to free you from your phone. It starts at $329 without cellular coverage or $399 with, and is coming September 22.
The Watch itself looks the same as always, so this is your moment to be sad it’s not round. It’s even nearly the same size—Apple’s Jeff Williams called it “two pieces of paper thicker”—and packs the same battery life, too. The only difference you’ll really notice is a red dot on the Watch’s crown, which used to signify that you were wearing one of the super-expensive Edition models but now stands for LTE. On the screen, you’ll see a four-dot status bar for service on your watchface, and an icon in settings for turning LTE on and off. Mostly you’ll just notice that you can, you know, do stuff when you’re not near your phone.
There’s a new dual-core processor inside the Watch, which Apple says is 70 percent faster than the last model. It also uses the new W2 chip for wireless, which Apple uses to keep connection good and battery usage low, plus an altimeter for the snowboarders and skydivers out there. (There was at least one in the room during the event, who woo’d pretty loudly at the announcement.)
The Watch’s new software, WatchOS 4, has been in developers’ hands since June. It adds a number of new watch faces, including a Siri-based one that promises a constant feed of useful information. (Also, Toy Story watchfaces.) Apple redesigned the Watch’s dock and complications, part of its ongoing effort to figure out how a smartwatch should actually work. And as always, it focused on fitness, adding better tracking and more notifications to close those three rings every day. Your Watch will now have your heart-rate information much more centrally located.
Of all the Apple Watch’s features and upgrades, Siri’s the most likely to benefit from built-in LTE. You won’t really want to type or chat too much on your watch, but asking quick questions or jotting down notes while you’re away from your phone sounds amazing. You’re not replacing your phone with a smartwatch so much as replacing it with Siri. Pair the Watch with some AirPods and the new Apple Music streaming setup on the Watch, and you’re closer to Her than anything you’ve tried yet.