Starting off Apple’s 2018 keynote presentation was Apple’s Watch Series 4, because it’d be silly for them to show the Series 3 again. We’ve long been fans of the company’s slick wrist-wear, even if we can’t get the LTE version of the device here in South Africa (because local operators seem allergic to eSIMs). Even if we only have the GPS version here, it’s mighty fine as it is. But Apple reckons they’ve made it even better.
The screen’s the thing
Apple’s gone and done away with the bezels on the Watch Series 4, adding a bigger curve to the Watch Series 4’s screen and increasing the screen size by over 30% on both the 38mm and 42mm models (which are now 40mm and 44mm models). The increased screen size allows users to use more complications — Apple’s name for widgets on-screen — at a time, up to eight of them at once, in fact. You can set quick contacts that just require a press to start a call, opt for a more business-oriented design, or just go all-out health nut. There are also a whole whack of new watch faces on the way.
Engineering something new
The Series 4’s Digital Crown has been given haptic feedback (among other things), which should allow you to fumble around a little more without having eyes on-screen. Even if it is a mighty pretty screen. The new Watch’s speaker has been made 50% louder than the one found in the Series 3, so that Siri will be more audible, more often, and the internal mic has been moved away from the speaker to compensate. Calls should be clearer, as a result, but Siri will also be able to hear you more easily. Apple has reengineered the rear, making sure that more radio waves can pass through the device. The result? Better calls and connectivity.
The Watch Series 4’s dual-core CPU has gone 64-bit for 2018, which means that the device is going to be up to two times faster than previously. There is a new accelerometer and gyroscope system, able to capture movement data up to eight times (or ‘8x’ as the Americans like to say) faster than previous iterations.
This enhanced accuracy means that the Watch Series 4 can now detect if the user falls — something it does based on wrist movement and impact acceleration. The device can initiate an emergency call — if the user is immobile for a minute, a call can be made automatically. The Watch can also send messages in the event of a fall but we assume a connected iPhone needs to be nearby or you need an LTE version — which we won’t see here for some time… if ever. If LTE is a prerequisite we won’t be seeing that feature here at launch.
Apple’s given the heart-rate sensor a whole lot of love, to boot. The resulting new heart-sensing features include low heart rate detection and notification, and detection of atrial fibrillation — both of which are made possibly by the Watch’s optical sensor. There’s a new electrical heart sensor built into the watch (in the Digital Crown and back of the watch) which will allow for an ECG (electrocardiogram) on your wrist by touching a finger to the updated crown.
The Watch Series 4 can detect sinus rhythm and atrial fibrillation, capturing the data in Apple’s app which can be shared with a doctor. This seems to be US-only for the moment, but Apple says they’re working to bring the feature to the rest of the world. Hopefully they get on that, quickly.
Keeping the power on
Even with all these new features, Apple is keeping the battery life steady. They have claimed an 18-hour uptime on stage and while we’d like it to be longer between charges (we always do), we’ll take a daily charge if it means we can have all these features in a single wristwatch. Sport tracking has improved to up to six hours — the Watch Series 4 will probably outlast just about everyone who uses it (besides those folks who make Discovery Vitality cringe away in terror — you know who you are).
Apple also announced that all of the old bands you might have from previous editions will work on Series 4. Sporty types will be please to know that new Nike+ faces and bands are also incoming, including woven ones with reflective fibres for the nocturnal pavement pounders out there.
When will we see them and what will they cost?
Apple’s Watch Series 4 is going to be starting at $399 (or around R6,000) for the GPS version of the wristwear, and from $499 (roughly R7,500) for the LTE device. The Series 3 will be getting a price drop in the States, down to $279 (approximately R4,200). How those prices translate into South African currency remains to be seen.
There are going to be 26 different markets at launch for the GPS version of the Series 4, which drops on 21 September. Sadly, South Africa is not one of them. The LTE version is only getting 13 launch countries and, yes, we’re not on that list either. We’ll let you know the moment we have local info from the iStore.
[UPDATE: iStore has confirmed it’ll start selling the Apple Watch Series 4 on 28 September, along with the new iPhones. The Nike+ edition will follow on 4 October. Still no word on pricing, though.]