Now in its fifth iteration, the Apple Watch has been strengthening since its launch, adding new features and refining those features whenever possible. In 2018, we saw a big change in what the Apple Watch offered.
Whether it’s the easy-to-use fitness app, the ability to stream music directly to AirPods, AirPods Pro or Bluetooth headsets, or use Apple Watch to pay for items with Apple Pay on the go, there’s a lot to like. The heart rate monitor is one of the best on the market, fall detection equipment and ECG is saving lives, and even features like the Breathe app allow users to slow down and make things easier. To say that it is a watershed for many is probably an understatement.
With such a boost, where will Apple go to keep pace with the change in target? The answer is the Apple Watch Series 5, which brings new features, such as an always-on screen and a digital compass. But is that enough to make you want to upgrade or dive for the first time?
Same design, but new materials
- Titanium and ceramic options added
- New Hermes and Nike models
- Still available in 40mm and 44mm sizes
The design of the Apple Watch Series 5 has not changed. It’s still the same as the Series 4, which means it still comes in two sizes – 40 mm and 44 mm – it offers a digital crown and touchscreen to control everything, and is very focused on health and receiving messages on the go without a look at your iPhone.
The design may be the same as last year, but this time it will come in many different materials, two of which will be new on this device. The materials to choose from now include aluminum, stainless steel, titanium and ceramics – and within these material options, Apple also offers different colors and finishes.
The titanium model will have two colors: a silver – which shows the metal with more natural light – and a black space titanium, which gives the watch a very masculine and nervous feeling in the procedures.
The titanium model is about 13% lighter, it’s not what you’ll notice, and for those who like these things, it could have been even lighter because of the strength of the material, but that would mean changing the layout of the trim, but that it would mean changing the production line to accommodate it.1/7POCKET-LINT
The ceramic version – which is a return to the material on the Apple Watch – is only available in white, but the polished finish is perhaps the most desirable of the group. It is also the most expensive.
In addition to the new cover materials, Apple also introduced the new Hermes and Nike Watch Series 5 versions and, again, they were designed to attract certain audiences. They have the same technical specifications and design, but are customized for the relevant brands with bracelets, watch faces and corresponding prices.
If you liked the look of the Apple Watch Series 4, you like the Apple Watch Series 5. We’ve been using the Series 4 since its launch in 2018, and the bigger screen works great, allowing you to see a lot more information quickly, without being overly heavy on pulse.
Series 5 continues that with a choice of new materials that, if you have the budget, will attract many. The other good news is that the straps from previous models still fit the new watch, so watch owners can bring them to the party.
It may be worth noting that the basic watch does not use sapphire glass and therefore may, over time, be prone to scratching strokes and strokes. if you can buy the stainless steel version, the glass is much stronger and therefore more durable.
Screen always on
- Adds new shine capability
The overall design hasn’t changed, but the functionality of the OLED screen has changed, and the Apple Watch Series 5 adopts a feature we’ve been asking for since the beginning – an always-on display, so you can look at the watch exactly as you can an analog watch or the most other smart watches.
Instead of turning black when not active, as has been the case since the first Apple Watch, the watch now darkens a little, allowing you to save battery power, but still see the information on the screen. The difference is accentuated, especially if you are one of those people who like to keep an eye on time without having to vigorously move your wrist every time you want. Whether the screen is on or off, the high-contrast screen actually appears showing these vibrant colors, whether it’s the touch of your workout or a message from a friend.
We also found that we can stop making that crazy wrist movement that you see Apple Watch owners, and it means that when you raise your hand, the screen is ready for you to read without delay.
To help save battery power and facilitate quick viewing, many of the watch faces change color when not active. The new watch face from California changes from color to black and white, for example, Mickey almost disappears beyond his hands, while others lose other elements.
Of course, you can disable the always-on feature. Understanding that some “complications” offer confidential data, there is a setting that can be hidden when the screen is not active, so that you do not reveal calendar appointments to everyone.
According to Apple, the feature will not affect battery life, but of course it does. The Apple Watch Series 4 has consistently provided us with a good day and half the battery life since 2018. The Apple Watch Series 5 only takes us to the end of the day (about 18 hours). This is disappointing, but it is still in line with Apple’s promises. But be warned: if you forget to charge every night, you will not be able to move on to the next day as before.
Part of it comes down to having a vibrant and glorious display, and since the size of the Series 4, there are few watches that can really compare the quality of the display – although that’s what consumes the battery.
What is also interesting is that, due to the display always showing, we opted for a more analog clock face. It is anecdotal, but we have found that the hands of the clock are easier to read when the screen is dimmed.
Compass to help find the way
- Digital compass
- Will work with third party applications
The only other real new feature on the Apple Watch Series 5 is the addition of a digital compass. There is a digital compass app for those orienteering moments when using Apple maps when walking or seeing how high this run really took you.
The compass application will be able to record and show course, inclination, latitude, longitude and current elevation. Where you’re most likely to be in use is to see which direction you’re headed when looking at the map app. This can save you walking the wrong street or taking the wrong turn – which is probably the most popular way for consumers to see you in action.
We have yet to see how the feature will be implemented by other developers, and a few months ago we didn’t see any that supported the compass very much and, at the moment, it is very “cool” instead of something you will use daily.
- Almost the same as the 4 series model
The Series 5 is identical to the Series 4 that went on sale last year, in addition to the always-on screen and digital compass. The new Apple Watch will come with the same S4 processor, the same battery, and the same W1 chip to connect to your iPhone and headphones like AirPods or Beats PowerBeats. It also maintains the same wireless charging functionality that Apple has seen before. Internally, the Series 5 has changed a bit to make way for the new compass. Surprisingly, given Apple’s quiet impulse to include the U1 chip in the new iPhone 11 models, did that chip not make it to the Apple Watch, perhaps the Apple Watch Series 6?
As before, the watch has the ability to make and receive calls. The Series 5 still maintains this feature, along with Walkie-Talkie mode, but travelers will be disappointed because, although Apple has added an international emergency call to the cell model to allow you to call local emergency services at more from 150 countries, it did not add roaming for regular calls. This is a frustrating omission for travelers and that we expected this time.
Elsewhere, Series 5 continues the good work of Series 4: the heart rate monitor is incredibly accurate, meaning you still have access to a wide range of metrics, while GPS does a solid job of tracking your location so that your Apple Watch can be used as a fitness tracker or a running watch if you want. Sleep tracking is not supported – perhaps a strange omission, as is common with other devices – but this remains elusive.
- New Noise app
- Cycle tracking for women
- New clock faces
WatchOS 6 adds new watch faces, like California and Numerals Duo, which we really like, plus some new apps and features, including an app from the app store, so you can search for apps on the watch itself instead of needing your iPhone in hand.
On the health side, WatchOS 6 brings cycle tracking for women and a new Noise app that will allow you to see how tall your environment is. The Noise app is interesting and surprisingly appears from time to time if you are in a noisy environment. We were alerted when we heard loud music in the car or on an evening in a busy restaurant. While the situations we’ve been in have been more “oh”, the ramifications for those in constantly noisy environments can be really beneficial. Apple continues to promote health as a number one feature of the Apple Watch.
There are also activity trends, so you can see how your activity metrics have been developing over a longer period, and there’s even a Calculator app for that nostalgic 80s throwback moment, or more likely to figure out how to pay the bill and what tip you should give.
All the features of WatchOS 6 are available on older devices, eliminating some of the need for an update, especially when you think all of this is available on the now incredibly cheap Apple Watch Series 3 for just $ 199 / £ 199.
Our favorite software feature, if you own a MacBook, is that you can use your watch to unlock your computer or access locked notes. It’s a small feature, but we use it several times a day, and it makes a big difference.
- The best Apple HomeKit tips and tricks
With so many advances in 2018, the Apple Watch Series 5 seeks to enhance and refine the experience we saw with the Apple Watch Series 4 – which is no longer for sale. The changes, while welcome, are quite small this time, suggesting that Apple is stalling to avoid adding too many features quickly.
Obviously, there is still much to add or improve. A better battery now, the screen is always on, sleep tracking and enhanced wireless charging without having to take the “charging disc” with you wherever you go, are some of the features that come to mind.
As a Series 4 update, there is definitely no need. The always-on screen is lovely, and now that we’ve started using it, we’d have a hard time coming back, but if you haven’t tried it, you don’t really need to.
However, for Watch Series 3 or earlier owners, the combination of the larger screen, enhanced functionality, and WatchOS 6 make this a brilliant upgrade for the smartwatch, so you can use and enjoy it.
Apple’s smartwatch is still the only one to win, but this year Apple is making things a little easier in terms of new innovations and features.