I’ve been putting my new Apple Watch Series 2 through its paces and thought it worth checking in on my initial thoughts.
Apple Watch Believer
I bought the original Apple Watch Sport when it first launched and I’ve worn it every day since. A lot of people lost interest in the Apple Watch in the months following its release but I find it quite useful. Every day I use the ability to see my next appointment on my wrist, the whole world of notifications, and the fitness tracking. I’d used smart watches before (like my original Kickstarter Pebble) and for me, the Apple Watch left them all in the dust.
What I didn’t like about the original Apple Watch was the performance constraints and, in hindsight, the quirky user interface. After getting excited about the changes with watchOS 3 and seeing that Apple added some new features (and performance horsepower) to the Series 2, I decided to upgrade.
The New Watch
While my original Apple Watch was the space gray aluminum, I upgraded with the new watch to Stainless Steel. This was a luxury but since I’ve already been wearing an Apple Watch for awhile, I know I’m sold and I wanted something nice.
The stainless steel watch is, not surprisingly a bit heavier than the aluminum watch but not uncomfortably so. The watch definitely feels more solid than the aluminum watch and I’m going to enjoy the new band combinations that I can get with the stainless steel.
One concern with the stainless steel watch is the taptic engine. My friends that purchased the original stainless steel Apple Watch complain that the taptic engine doesn’t work as well as it did on the Apple Watch Sport. What ever problem they had with the original stainless steel watch got fixed with the Series 2 watch. The taps work just fine and don’t feel significantly different than they did on my original Apple Watch Sport.
Another difference I’ve noticed is the spin of their crown. It feels like it is slightly more weighted than with the lighter aluminum sport. I thought this was just in my mind but when I tried the aluminum and stainless steel watches in the Apple Store, I had the same impression.
Another benefit of the stainless steel watch over the aluminum is the material used on the face of the watch. The stainless steel watch uses Sapphire crystal and the aluminum watch uses Ion-X glass. The Sapphire crystal is tougher and comparing it to my year-and-a-half year old aluminum watch, looks noticeably better. I’m hard on watches and I’m hoping this new watch face holds up better.
The fit and finish of the stainless steel is great and while it hurt a little spending the extra money on it, I like the look of it a lot more than my original Apple Watch.
My biggest gripe with the original Apple Watch was performance. While the original Apple Watch was a great productivity tool with the built-in basic features, I eventually gave up on all but the most rudimentary apps. Between the faster S2 processor and the improvements in watchOS 3, I find that is no longer the case. In attributing performance gains between the hardware and software upgrades I did not run any benchmarks but I can tell you that I ran watchOS 3 on my original Apple Watch for months and apps are snappier on the new hardware.
Apps actually work on this new watch. My OmniFocus database is a big one. Getting it over to my watch and navigating it on my wrist was unbearable with the original Apple Watch and now it can work. I still get occasional lags but they are fractions of a second. Since getting the new watch, I’ve never had an app show me the spinner and, ultimately, just quit on me like used to happen on the original Apple Watch.
The new processor and software now make it possible to use third party apps. Once you wrap your head around that, you’ll need to start rethinking which apps may be worth the trouble. It’s still an incredibly small screen and it takes pretty clever app developer to make it work. However, apps are now on the table and that is going to be interesting.
The original Apple Watch has 450 nits of brightness. The new one has 1,000 nits. That’s a lot of nits. In case you were wondering, a “nit” is a unit of luminance equal to one candela per square meter. I’m not going to entirely unpack that but I can tell you the brightness on the new watch is immediately apparent. So much so that I’m looking at the original Apple Watch screen and trying to get over how dim it now looks.
While performance was the feature knew I wanted most in the new Apple Watch, screen brightness is the feature I did not know I wanted most. It’s easier to read now, indoors and outdoors. If you are on the fence about upgrading your Apple Watch and want to save money, I recommend not comparing screen brightness between the old and new Apple Watches.
I was pretty cavalier with the original Apple Watch and water. Because it was always on me, it often got pretty wet. I occasionally wore it in the shower, I’d wash it under the sink if it got dirty, and on more than one occasion my hand went into the water while wearing the watch. I feel even more reckless with the new watch. Water just isn’t a consideration for me now. In addition to all the above, I’ll be wearing the new watch in the pool and the ocean.
With the GPS radio, you can now go for a run or a hike and leave your phone at home. The watch will track your route and show it to you once you get back to your phone.
The inclusion of a GPS radio on the new watch is great for runners but it also exposes a few flaws. It is still goofy trying to load music files onto the watch. If you regularly listen to temporary media (like podcasts and audio books), you’re going to spend more time than you want getting data on the watch if you want to leave your phone at home on your next run or hike.
Granted it is early days but I really like the improved Apple Watch. If you didn’t get an original Apple Watch but have been thinking about it, now is an excellent time to get on board. The case for upgrading from the original Apple Watch is more difficult. If you are a swimmer or a runner (and want the GPS), you should definitely upgrade. The reason I upgraded is because I really like my Apple Watch and I wanted the latest and the greatest. The increased performance and screen brightness make the watch more useful to me. Now that I can actually use apps, I’m very curious to see how I’m using the Apple Watch in a few months.