What is the Apple Watch series 2?
Predictable and comfortable, this is how 2016 has been for Apple. The new iPhone 7 and 7 plus were exactly what we expected from the “genius” company, and the revised Apple Watch Series 2 seems to follow this predictable tech trend as you will see in my review. That is to say it’s still the best smartwatch you can buy for the iPhone… Again.
If you liked the first Apple Watch, you’ll like the series 2. The design is the same rounded rectangle with prominent Digital Crown and squared-off display. A let down if you were hoping for Apple to join the rounded watch ranks, but I would like to give the company credit for installing an incredible display.
It’s really just mesmerising to watch some of the watch-faces that come with the Apple Watch. The display is over 2 times as bright as the first generation Apple Watch.
Moving over to the casing, the space grey option is a welcome edition to the economy choice this year, yes this is the aluminium Apple Watch, not the steel or ceramic edition.
I did go for the nylon band this year however, which I think looks pretty cool. Even though the strap holds onto water for a long time after a swim.
Apple Watch water resistance upgrade
This leads me to one of the big improvements this year. Instead of just splash-proofing, there’s 50 meter water resistance, meaning you can leave the Apple Watch on for all the baths you like.
An option to lock the screen is available, so you don’t splash text your ex partners, and when it’s time to dry it off, you get to try out my favourite party trick. Spin the crown and the Apple Watch puts out a tone that forces water from the speaker cavity so you can talk into it again.
Apple Watch speakers and call quality
Speaking of… Speaking, each year I review a new Apple Watch and Samsung Gear, and each year I’m reminded of how uncomfortable it is to talk into a wrist watch. You really feel the burn after a few minutes.
The speaker is still not as loud as I would like, but if you’re in a quiet room, it works just fine. I was surprised how much I like using it actually, and all 3 callers (all of my fans) I talked to said that I sounded great. None of them could tell I was using a watch, which surprised me too.
You still need to be connected to an iPhone or a wifi network to use most of the watches features, there’s no cellular connection here. However I don’t count this against the Apple Watch, just as I don’t for my daily wearable the Moto 360.
Apple Watch notifications and “breathe”
In my view, smartwatches still shine best as second screens for your smartphones and that’s how I make the most use of the Apple Watch. Checking notifications as they come in, replying to the occasional message, and remembering to breathe!
Just kidding, I disabled it after a day. If you dig this feature, cool! It just seems so forced, like a move Samsung might have made years ago and disguising a really thin specialty app as some kind of core enhancement.
Apple Watch fitness companion
Breathe does however serve one important purpose, it calls attention to the repositioning of the Apple Watch as a health and fitness companion. This wasn’t emphasised anywhere near as strongly in the first Apple Watch generation.
My usage of the health app was confined to the odd power walk across the city, but as an occasional outdoorsman I will say that I loved the inclusion of stand alone GPS for tracking a hike, or kayak trip.
Apple health is still a pleasure to use, from the simple fun of filling the rings, to the gentle stand up and stretch prompt.
Those notifications like all of them really do feel like a lite tap on your skin. Apples Taptic Engine still makes every other smartwatch’s vibration feel primitive.
I just wish the watch was contextually smarter, I got several of those “stand up and walk” suggestions whilst driving a car, which you know is dumb.
Apple Watch Software
On the software side, most apps which have been optimised for watch OS3 are speedier, once you get passed the first boot. I like how many of the apps are available for the watch too.
The interface of the Apple Watch is still more complex than it could be overall, but it is somewhat simpler than earlier versions. My personal favourite features were accomplishing simple tasks through voice control with Siri, and paying for coffee without taking out my phone, an old hat for you Apple Watch veterans I know but this noob was impressed.
Finally the Apple Watch series 2 battery life.
If you use the Apple Watch like I do and you have the larger 42mm version, you’ll almost certainly make it 2 full days between charges, and that includes wearing the watch as a sleep monitor over night, which I’ve made a habit of.
Be a little more cautious, and you can stretch it out to 3 or even 4 days until you top-up again, as I did before I installed a bunch of apps. Just remember to bring that charger with you on road-trips, and by the way for the price Apples asking for the watch, I’m still pretty disappointed that you don’t get a nice cradle with it.
Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 2?
That price $369 and up, makes me think most folks will be plenty happy saving a Benjamin, and getting a series one, or even the release version of the Apple Watch, now retired. Personally i would probably go for a Pebble, because 90% of my usage is notifications.
I would say only if you really need the full-on waterproof thing, or stand alone GPS, should you swing for the Apple Watch series 2, but if you do, you’ll be getting one version of the best smartwatch there is for your iPhone, and truthfully one of the best smartwatches period.
Thank you for visiting my Apple Watch Series 2 review.