Apple’s annual Watch refresh is again on time, and this time around the update to the Watch Series 5 brings subtle improvements than the Watch Series 5, where there was a change in case size. Apple did introduce a new titanium case, but we’re reviewing the aluminium case version.
Visually there’s not much difference between the Watch Series 5 and Series 4, but when you put it on you’ll immediately notice that its a bit lighter (for the aluminium version at least.) There’s also an upgrade to the Retina display that now enables an ‘always on’ screen so that a digital clock counter appears to float on the watch when you aren’t looking at it. And yes, the Watch will detect your hand movements and know when you bring it closer to your face. Apple state that improvements to the battery means that you can leave the feature turned on and get the same battery life, about 18 hours, as on the Watch Series 4, or you can turn it off and get a little bit more battery endurance.
A new aspect that I like is the ‘frost’ or ‘blurring’ of messages and notifications on the Watch, so nobody can read your notifications until you’ve unlocked your Watch, but you if you’ve missed the notification alert from your iPhone, you can tell that there’s a pending message on the Watch to read when you glance at it. One of the excellent features of the Watch and WatchOS is that you can reply to a message using your Watch, and there’s 8 different reply modes – from a simple tapback, to sending an emoji, or recording a voice message, but the method we like the most is Scribble, which translates your handwriting to text!
Apple has also finally added a digital compass so I now know which direction I’m facing when trying to find a place I’ve never been to without having to pull out my smartphone. They’ve also added an electrical heart sensor that lets you check your EKG and will send alerts if there’s any ‘heart incidents’ – this sensor was actually integrated in the Watch Series 4 as well but activated with WatchOS 5.1.2. With WatchOS 6 Apple has included female cycle tracing, noise detection, voice memos, Audiobooks and App Store, so you can download apps direct to your Watch.
from $599 Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS)
from $749 Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular)
Apple continues to add a host of minor refinements that together make your Watch experience a lot smoother, and this helps retain the Apple Watch Series 5 as the best and most popular smartwatch on the market.