The day is finally here. In Cupertino this morning, Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 5. It’s available at the end of this month and you can preorder it already. But before you do that, you should probably learn what’s new about it.
There are only three big changes to the Apple Watch Series 5. Well, really there’s only one big change and two small ones. However, Apple has discontinued the Apple Watch Series 4 to make way for this model, so you probably want to know how it compares to the Series 3 as well.
Let’s start with the brand new features.
- 1 1. Always-On Retina display
- 2 2. Built-in compass
- 3 3. New materials
- 4 What’s the price of the Apple Watch Series 5?
- 5 What’s the difference between the Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 5?
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1. Always-On Retina display
The big-ticket item for the Apple Watch Series 5 is its Always-On Retina display. As you might imagine, this is a screen that never turns off. So you can always see the time or complications on your watch face, without needing to raise your wrist or tap the screen.
A watch that always shows the time. Apple has really out-innovated themselves with this one.
The Always-On Retina display is dimmed by default, allowing you to sneak a glance at your Apple Watch inconspicuously or without moving. When you do raise your wrist or tap the screen, the display lights up to full brightness.
Apple has redesigned every watch face to work well with this feature, retaining maximum clarity when dimmed. For many of the faces, this means inverting the colors, which gives a cool color-switch effect when you do raise your wrist.
The clever technology behind the Always-On Retina display means your Apple Watch Series 5 still delivers 18-hours of battery life. Without the display ever turning off!
2. Built-in compass
Navigating with your Apple Watch is even easier with a built-in compass. Whether you’re out in the wilderness trying to find north or at a busy junction trying to follow the map, the compass is sure to help.
Viewing the new Maps app on the Apple Watch Series 5 puts an arrow in the direction you’re facing, making it crystal clear which direction you need to head in.
But you can also use the compass to check your latitude, longitude, elevation, and incline. It’s a real wealth of knowledge about your position and surroundings. And you can get all that information in handy new complications.
The compass is available to developers, meaning we’re likely to see some truly exciting uses for it once the Series 5 is released. Perhaps we’ll get improved constellation apps or even more accurate route mapping.
3. New materials
With the Apple Watch Series 5, you’ve got the widest assortment of cases and materials ever seen on an Apple Watch. Even better, Apple now lets you choose any strap to go with any case in the Apple Watch Studio.
That means there are almost 1,000 possible watch combinations!
The Apple Watch Series 5 is available in 100% recycled aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic, and new titanium. Each material offers two color options, except for the ceramic, which only comes in a crisp white.
However, as usual with the Apple Watch, some materials or straps are only available for Nike, Hermès, Edition watches. The standard Apple Watch Series 5 only comes in stainless steel or aluminum.
What’s the price of the Apple Watch Series 5?
The starting price for Apple Watch Series 5 is consistent with Series 4, starting at $399 for GPS models or $499 for GPS and cellular. It’s available to preorder today and will be available from September 20th.
But if you’re in the market for a new watch, you might be interested to know that the Apple Watch Series 3 has been reduced to $199 for the GPS model.
What’s the difference between the Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 5?
Now that the Series 4 is off the market — having been thoroughly superseded by today’s announcement — you might be interested how the Series 3 compares to the Series 5.
As well as the brand new features listed above, the Apple Watch Series 3 also lacks the features listed below, which were introduced to last year’s Series 4.
1. A larger, rounded display
The Apple Watch Series 4 saw Apple increase the display size of the Apple Watch by reducing the bezels and rounding the corners. This liquid retina display provides a far sleeker look to the watch, as images roll right to the edges instead of stopping short with a hard corner.
What’s more, despite increasing the display sizes to 40mm or 44mm, the newer Apple Watches are narrower than their predecessors.
So if you get an Apple Watch Series 3, you wind up with less display and more thickness. That’s no good. Oh, it’s also quieter.
2. Louder speakers
The output of the speakers is 50% louder in the Series 5 than the Series 3. That makes it far easier to take phone calls on your Apple Watch since you can hear what people are saying far better. And they can hear you better too!
Apple moved the microphone further from the speaker to increase call clarity. Not only does this mean you’re better understood over the phone, but Siri stands a better chance of understanding your commands as well.
3. Improved health detection
If you get the Apple Watch Series 3, you’ll miss out on two major health developments added to later models: ECG monitoring and Fall Detection. Both of which have saved lives.
The ingenious design of Apple’s ECG monitoring system allows you to touch a finger to the Digital Crown, completing an electrical circuit that closely measures your heart.
Fall Detection recognizes the difference between a trip, a slip, and a dangerous fall. Alerting the emergency services and your loved ones if you stop moving shortly afterward.
Regardless of which Apple Watch you chose to go for, all of them will benefit from a free upgrade to watchOS 6 when it comes out later this year. If you’re unfamiliar with the upcoming software, take a look on Apple’s website.
And be sure to let us know what you think of the new Apple Watch Series 5 in the comments. Are there any features you’re still waiting for?
Dan is a freelance writer based in South West England.
He spent two years supervising repairs as a Genius Admin for Apple Retail and uses that knowledge to keep our troubleshooting guides up to date.
Long before that, Dan turned to Apple products from a musical background. Having owned iPods for years, he bought a MacBook to learn sound recording and production. It was using those skills that he gained a first-class Bachelor of Science in Sound Technology.