The Apple Watch Series 3 Review: Impressive Smartwatch.
, by Nams, 11 min reading time
The Apple Watch Series 3 does look a bit old-fashioned with its boxier shape of the screen and its display technology but it is still an impressive smartwatch and has earned Wearable Smartwatch of the Year in the year 2017. Apple has now reduced the price for Series 3 to keep all the other competitors like Amazfit GTS at bay.The price of the 38mm case version of Series 3 is reduced to 20,000 INR. The bigger 42mm one is 24,000 INR, which is still an affordable Apple Watch. With other Apple Watch deals around and if you are lucky, you may be able to find Series 3 for even lesser price.
Apple Watch Series 3: Design
Apple Watch Series 3 looks a bit like a box than the other Apple smartwatches, mainly due to the black space around the edge. With the advent of Series 4 and Series 5 with a refined design and with its case size changed, Series 3 goes a bit behind as far as design is concerned in the 2019 competition. But for the cost of Series 3, it is still a handsome watch which is made of high quality materials compared to its competitors.The Series 3 is the last Apple smartwatch that you can own in the smallest size with a case size of 38mm and 42mm. The case size of Series 4 and Series 5 are increased to 40mm and 44mm. So it is Series 3, with its smaller size that will suit those with smaller wrists. Series 3 has a decent 1,000 nit display.The display does not look overly brighter or sharper than the newer Series 4 and Series 5 in which the pixel density is improved. The absence of the always-on display in Series 3,which was introduced only in Series 5, causes a bit of inconvenience as you have to wake up the watch screen every time you want to check time.Apple introduced LTE with GPS in Series 3. The other smart technologies available are the optical heart rate sensor, improved display, and waterproof design. All these features were included to run just fine by not draining away too much battery life.The Series 3 saw the convenience of connectivity merge into an elegantly designed watch. But Series 3 with LTE will cost you more and you will have to spend extra on data bills. Series 3 has an aluminium finish and comes in silver and space grey.
Apple Watch Series 3: Features
There is no much big difference in Series 3 on the feature front compared to the Series 2 except the LTE which will be discussed in detail. The basic features essential to the smartwatch like changing faces and customizing them with complications, the Digital Crown that takes you to the app menu and lets you scroll through the menus and notifications are all present in Series 3.The button below pushes you to the dock which is now vertical rather than horizontal like in the iPhone. These small changes have made Series 3 a little more user-friendly. The S3 processor has made the watch faster to use than the previous models. The movement from one app to the other is faster on Series 3.Conversations with Siri has also become more convenient with the standalone connectivity in the watch itself.
The smart notifications work like a dream and the watch does that really well. It is as easy as swiping down the screen to see the most recent notifications in case you missed checking them.The Series 3 Smartwatch supports first and third-party apps and you have the liberty to add or remove them in the companion app. Responding to tweets or answering a call is quite easy and can be conveniently managed if the connectivity is strong. In case you are in a noisy environment, you can pair the Smartwatch with Bluetooth headphones when calling over LTE to minimize disturbance. To respond to the text messages, you can use the built-in microphone to dictate your response.The Apple Watch Series 3 runs on the watchOS6 operating system. The latest update on this OS has brought in a dedicated app store for the Watch , health tracking features specific for women and new watch faces. Even though the watchOS is not perfect, this is the operating system which has least to gripe about compared to other competing ones such as Wear OS, Fitbit OS and Tizen.
Apple Watch Series 3: LTE availability
The two versions of Apple Watch Series 3 are a GPS only model and a GPS+LTE model which has its own cellular connection. The Series 3 works on an eSim which means there is no need for an extra sim. The number can be shared with your iPhone, depending on your carrier. Do not forget that it is a pricey affair. It will cost you some money and you also have to sign a deal with a carrier to own an LTE connectivity, despite sharing a telephone number with your smartphone.With an LTE connectivity in the smartwatch, you can make and answer calls as well as get all the other notifications. Apple Music is also directly accessible from the watch and if you go out without your iPhone, you can still stream tunes without downloading them earlier. It does the same with calls, that is, the iPhone is not necessary to be around for managing calls. This is the biggest advantage of the LTE connection.Many countries across the globe support LTE carrier plans currently. Countries like Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, the UK and the US are a few who do. Carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon offer support for LTE connection on the Apple Watch Series 3 in the U.S. While EE, O2 and Vodafone offer support in the U.K.
Apple Watch Series 3: Living with LTE
Lets a look into how efficient the Apple Watch is when independent of the iPhone. Apple Watch is not the only one with cellular connectivity. There are some Wear OS and Samsung watches as well with the LTE connection that lets you use the watch independent of your smartphone.The LTE in your watch will switch to cellular connection in it only when it loses its connection with your iPhone. Otherwise, it is by default connected to your phone via Bluetooth. When the cellular connection is on, the cellular icon in the Control Center will turn green.Now Apple has a new watch face that will show the strength of the connection with the signal bars. Once the LTE connection is on, you can receive and make calls, access messages and manage notifications in your Watch. Your number will be displayed along with the number of the person on the other end.
This will give you clarity that you are contacting them through the smartwatch and not your phone. How advantageous is LTE for you will depend on how you use the smartphone. If you are into fitness, the watch is obviously beneficial for you for the reason that it helps you jog or swim or ride a bike without tagging on to your smartphone.Cutting the cords with the phone can be an absolute bliss during running and swimming. Considering the call features, the microphone on the watch is impressive. The speaker also worked splendidly. But the experience was not too good when a call was made from a noisy and busy street. The receiver of the call on the other end could hear our speech crisp and clear but the speaker struggled to cut through the noise. Maybe a pair of Bluetooth headphones will work better in such situations.Initiating calls from the wrist can be done by selecting a contact from the address book or by using the keypad. You can hear even Siri speaking to you through headphones and do not have to stare at the Watch for answers.
Siri, though improving, its dictation is mostly a hit-and-miss .You also have the option to scribble letter by letter or use the custom responses available on the Watch. But these are not always ideal. Another immediate concern is the supported third-party apps. The number of third-party apps that work on the standalone cellular connection is very less. The apps that are not supported by the Apple Watch app, for example, WhatsApp will not work on the watch if separated from the phone. This is a huge disappointment if you are someone who wants to live outside the Apple services as well.The benefits of Series 3 will largely vary from person to person and on what they expect from a smartwatch. Even though Siri is not something to vouch for in the Apple Watch Series 3 without the iPhone, there are many features that are extremely useful especially in the gym and during short trips away from your desk at work.
Apple Watch Series 3: Fitness, sports tracking and heart rate accuracy
Activity tracking is all about completing the activity rings and receiving notifications when you have to push yourself to hit the target. Apple has recently facilitated the sharing of your activity data. On the whole, the fitness tracking experience on the Watch is a good experience.There is one area where Apple has lost though -- sleep tracking.Despite news on Apples own sleep tracking features being consistently leaked, it has not made an appearance even in the Series 5.
The Series 2 came with the long awaited, built-in GPS. The performance of the GPS has also not changed much in Series 3, except the inclusion of elevation gain tracking. Looking into the software, some more work can be done there for better performance. Your runs can be tracked by enabling it in the Workout app. You can also use a host of third-party apps which gives you the liberty to explore alternatives.The newly announced partnership with Strava promises you the best of the two worlds. Strava works with the Apple Healthkit which lets you use the Workout app and still get your Segments data. You also have access to third-party Strava app too which proves the versatility of the Apple Watch. Apple Watch Series 3 can be trusted enough to be a running watch as long as you are not a pro.The limitations are its battery life and the restricted number of running metrics that it provides. A watch dedicated to running will give more data and a longer battery life. The battery life of Series 3 may survive a marathon provided a lot of features are turned off. Occasional runners and those who do half marathons or 10K will not face this problem.
Just like the predecessor, Series 3 also does an impressive and accurate job in counting lengths. It can be accomplished by setting the correct pool length in the app before you start swimming and the Watch calibrates accordingly. Series 3 precisely measures different types of strokes.Green optical sensors do not work well in the water and the heart rate readings were not reliable during the swim. The exciting part is, of course, the benefit of LTE underwater. You can receive texts while in the pool.
Heart rate accuracy
There are two types of heart rate measurement done on the Watch Series 3 -- one is how the heart functions during your workouts and the other is the measurement of resting heart rate throughout the day. While the first one, already available with the previous model, was heavily geared towards fitness, the second one is a strong indicator of your current state of health.A lower resting heart rate corresponds to good health. The sensor used to monitor the heart is almost identical to the one that is in Watch Series 2. So the result expected is pretty much the same which is good and reliable but not perfect. But it is the case with most wrist-based heart rate monitors.The heart rate monitor is a solid performer when it comes to tracking your resting heart rate or real-time heart rate data during your workouts.
Apple Watch Series 3: Battery LifeApple has managed not to compromise on battery life in Series 3, no matter what. During a mixed usage of the watch with cellular and without cellular features, the battery stayed for more than a day.Apple's claim of 18 hours of battery life on a single charge can be achieved easily with moderate use of the watch. But with the LTE use, the battery drain is faster. Making calls over the Apple Watch is a battery intensive affair.You could probably talk for an hour when the Watch is used as a standalone device, that is, independent of the iPhone. But it can last up to three hours if the Watch is paired to the iPhone. It indicates that with LTE connection on, the watch can be used only for quick and shorter ones.
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