The Apple Watch2 delivers on last years’s promise
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App loading times were sluggish; the UI was wholly unfamiliar to longtime Apple buyers; connectivity was sometimes an issue; and fitness tracking didn’t always workas it should. That didn’t stop millions of buyers from plunging ahead, making the Apple Watch a modest success in a crowded wearables market.
This year’s Apple Watch Series 2 — unveiled last month when the iPhone 7 was previewed — builds on last year’s model and addresses most, but not all, of the issues early adopters faced. With the inclusion of GPS, a faster system architecture, better water resistance and support for more activity profiles — including swimming and wheelchair support — the Series 2 turns the Apple Watch into a more complete fitness band. And the system’s overall responsiveness, in concert with watchOS 3, largely delivers on last year’s first-generation promise.
The hardware details
But first, let’s tackle the basics. In terms of look and feel, nothing much has changed; this year’s model continues to reflect typical Apple minimalism. The main watch body is a simple rectangle of stainless steel, aluminum or — on the high end — ceramic. Weight varies from model to model depending on the materials, but the dimensions tend to be similar. As before, there are two display sizes. The version with the 42mm (1.6-in.) display measures 1.67 x 1.43 x 0.45 in. and weighs in at 1.2 oz.; the watch with the 38mm (1.5-in.) display measures 1.49 x 1.31 x 0.45 in. and weighs 0.99 oz.
All Series 2 watches feature a capacitive multitouch Retina display that’s brighter than last year’s screens and includes Force Touch technology. Pixel resolution is unchanged: 312 x 390 pixels (302 ppi) for the 42mm watch and 272 x 340 pixels (290 ppi) for the 38mm watch. The biggest change is that screen brightness has more than doubled, from 450 nits to 1,000 nits. The difference is easily apparent in broad daylight.
All models feature built-in GPS, the custom Apple-built S2 dual-core processor system on a chip, 8GB of internal storage, an ambient light sensor, heart-rate sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and up to 18 hours of battery life (which is reasonably accurate, based on my usage over the past three weeks). Like its predecessor, the Series 2 carries on with a built-in mono speaker and microphone.
In addition to the wholly new Series 2 Watch, Apple now sells the “Series 1” Apple Watch, which is basically last year’s model but with the faster chip. Since it starts at $269, this might be the model to try out If you’re price-conscious.
The new lineup
Along with two differently-sized models, Series 2 is divided into four categories: the basic Apple Watch, the sporty Apple Watch Nike+, the stylish Apple Watch Hermés, and the pricey Apple Watch Edition.
Built of aluminum and Ion-X glass, the Apple Watch starts at $369 (vendor price) and comes with a sport band of woven nylon. The Watch housings come in a variety of colors, including rose gold, gold, black and silver. The more durable steel and sapphire display models start at $549 and have various price points up to $1,049, depending on the watch band and material. (The Space Black models cost more than the Stainless Steel models.)
The Nike+ models are based on the Series 2 models, but with a choice of four different — and rather sporty-looking — Nike bands. These start at $369, will ship Oct. 28 and are designed to tell the world you’re a fitness aficionado. Functionally, they’re the same as the base model, with the exception that this model also ships with exclusive Nike+ watch faces and complications, along with the Nike+ Run Club app.
The Apple Watch Hermes versions offer seven different bands to choose from, with a Hermes-specific Watch face option. This collection is based on the Series 2 stainless steel models with sapphire displays. Prices start at $1,149 on the low end and go up to $1,499 for the Etoupe Swift Leather Double Buckle Cuff.
Finally, the Series 2 Apple Watch Edition features a white ceramic body with sapphire display and a light gray-colored sports band called Cloud that’s exclusive to this model. The Edition also comes with a charging dock, as well it should. It starts at $1,249.