Apple Watch Series 4 review: A complete re-engineering of its predecessor
The Series 4 is the biggest upgrade to Apple Watch yet.
The Apple Watch is the world’s most popular wearable/smartwatch — a 41% market share globally, according to Counterpoint Research. It’s now time for the fourth version. It may not look like it, but Series 4 is a complete re-engineering of the Watch, inside out. The most striking change is the new display which is about 35% larger than before while keeping the watch roughly the same size. This is done with slimmer bezels and the effect is striking to say the least. This is further improved because of the rounded corners that match the frame (the earlier Watch display had sharp corners) and the OLED screen that displays true blacks.
The interface has been tweaked to take advantage of the new display size and there are a bunch of new watch faces too. We like the Infograph watch face that can house 8 complications simultaneously — works great if you want all your info at a glance. If you don’t like very busy watch faces, the fire, vapor and water animated watch faces are just mesmerizing.
One of the other headlining features on the Series 4 is the EKG/ECG (electro cardio gram). Place a finger on the digital crown for 30 seconds and Watch can record an ECG as a PDF which you can share with your doctor through the Watch app. We have seen this in action though haven’t been able to try it out since it hasn’t been released. Essentially, all Series 4 includes ECG hardware and it has to be enabled with a software update. It will be US only at first and should come to other regions after regulatory (safety) approvals.
Next up is a very useful feature called Fall Detection. The new accelerometer and gyroscope on Series 4 can accurately detect if you’ve had a fall and get in touch with emergency services (or your emergency contacts) for you. Rounding off all the upgrades are generally faster performance (thanks to the dual core S4 processor, apps launch faster, Siri responds more quickly), the louder speaker (50% louder than Series 3) and the new Digital Crown that uses haptic feedback vibration to convey a mechanical feel.
We think the Series 4 is the biggest upgrade to Apple Watch yet. A couple of downsides are that the aluminium version uses Ion-x glass which does scratch fairly easy. The stainless steel is pricey but uses sapphire which is a lot more resistant. And we only wish that Apple would open the Watch up to all smartphone users. Apart from giving more people the chance to experience some of Apple’s hardware-software magic, it will definitely sell more watches (global Android market share has been roughly 80% of the smartphone market for a while now), and it might even persuade some users to jump ship to iPhone. Honestly, it just seems like a win-win scenario. Until that time comes, you need an iPhone 6 or newer with iOS 12 or newer.