Apple Watch 5 – Hands-On Review

The Apple Watch Series 5 is not the one that is going to sweep you off your feet or leave you speechless, something that Apple Watch 4 did. However,...

The Apple Watch Series 5 is not the one that is going to sweep you off your feet or leave you speechless, something that Apple Watch 4 did. However, it has one key feature updated over last year’s model.

The iPhone has quite a similar feel in the past few years. The Apple Watch went through a significant change last year so nothing big or improved change was expected this time around. Yet there is a big surprise waiting for us this time:  the Apple Watch display doesn’t turn off. The innovative and fresh always-on display feature lets you take a glimpse down at your watch and check what’s on screen.

As the watch is an expensive gadget to fasten to your wrist, we decided to go hands-on with the new Apple Watch 5 to check whether it is worth the price to recommend early adopters to upgrade.

Release Date and Price

Publicized alongside the iPhone 11 range at this year’s launch event, Apple has affirmed that the Apple Watch 5 release date is Friday, September 20 which is the same day as the new iPhones. The Hermes version of the Apple Watch 5 is on sale Friday, September 20, and the Apple Watch 5 Nike version launch on October 4, three weeks after the original date.

The Watch was unveiled during the company’s September 10 event, and it prices £399 / $399 / AU$649 / AED 1,599 for the GPS-only model in the smaller 40mm size. It’s slightly more for the 44mm size at £429 / $429 / AU$699 / AED 1,729. 

The cellular model in 40mm begins at £499 / $499 / AU$799 / AED 1,999 and rises up to £529 / $529 / AU$849 / AED 2,129 for the 44mm model. You don’t require the GPS version if you’re always carrying your iPhone with you, but the bigger 44m size typically gets you better battery life and bigger touchpoints on the somewhat bigger screen.

The Apple Watch 5 beginning price is for the aluminium case, which is available in four finishes: Black, Silver, Gold and Space. One bonus is this year’s case is that it is built of 100% recycled aluminium.

The stainless steel one is available for a higher price $699 with a sport loop or sport band, $749 with a Milanese ring, or $799 with a leather ring. The new titanium Apple Watch 5, in dark and light finishes, begins at $799 with a sports ring and increases to $899 with a leather loop.

If the rumours are to be believed, the Watch will be once again released in a Ceramic white finish, starting at a cost of $1,299 with a sports ring and ending up at $1399 with a leather loop.

New Nike models with additional bands, loops, and faces will also be available. The same goes for Hermes models, with noir leather bands and Space Black stainless steel cases. However, Apple didn’t announce whether these models would be available in both cellular and GPS or GPS-only.

Design and display

Incorporating with the same OLED technology that’s functioned efficiently over the years, the Apple Watch Series 5 comes with a vivid and bright display that’s easier to see on the wrist.

One of the major transformations is that Apple has discontinued the  ‘raise to wake’ functionality to see the notification or time. The “raise to wake function” requires to flick or raise the wrist to turn on the display. So from now on, whether in a meeting or burning out at the gym, the Watch is easy to use.

Well not to forget how precise the previous range of Watches have been at knowing when you’re looking at the screen, but now it has come to an end. You can also see the display in excellent, bright detail, or the OLED display will immensely dim and enables you to see key information.

Here’s how the ‘on’ and ‘ambient’ displays look:

apple watch 5 - on
The display when the device is ON and active
apple watch 5 - ambient
The iWatch 5’s ambient ‘always on’ display

It was definitely an essential feature for the watch especially the benefit that it works in the Workout app as it is now easy to look at what’s on the screen without flicking the wrist. In a fast run or strength workout, one doesn’t get disturbed. But it is not yet clear how this feature will work with third-party apps so wait till we give the full review.

You should also take a look at these Used AP Watches for men, that are very elegant and beautiful.

So even if Watch 5 is dim, there is no need to squint at it. In this area, Watch 5 has impressed us. The bigger 40mm and 44mm designs from last year’s Apple Watch 4 persist, which again is anticipated for a couple of reasons: first of all, Apple retains similar designs for years when repeating on its products, and else it would mean even more sizes of accessories and bands on the market.

Keeping things simple makes the third-party market more lively and developed, so it is an excellent motive to retain the large 44mm and 40mm models. iThe design of the Watch 5 is as majority expect: curved edges with the small speaker grilles in, that can now tell you split or lap times as you run around. More on, it has water resistance up to 5ATM pressure – so swimming with this watch is stress-free.

The principal change design-wise is in the materials used – Apple has revealed the Watch 5 in new titanium and ceramic variants, in an effort to raise the range of price points it can sell its smartwatch.

These feel good on the wrist, although the ceramic option wasn’t much impressive in the beginning. Or you can put it this way that it felt exceptional for sure but was not worth the money Apple was demanding for it.  

apple watch 5 - sound and message

Well let’s look at it this way: we’re not the target market at which the device is aimed. However, the cost of the titanium model is slightly high, offering the Apple Watch in a new material might, again, attract the upgrade. 

There is not much difference between the Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5 –  it is only an upgraded version to that model, but the big display and curved edges still feel good on the wrist, and the increasing range of bands (not just from Apple) make it a satisfactory choice for iPhone owners.

Well-being features

Nothing much has been added to the new Watch 5 in terms of fitness capability so thankfully less to deal with the new hardware. The ECG monitor continues, but that was the caption of last year and it’s starting to get medical support in several countries now.

Image from the Apple’s presentation. Credit: Apple

The much-praised sleep tracking didn’t make it to this Watch, which makes sense when the battery life hasn’t upgraded, but you’ll definitely be able to track the full range of fitness options from cardio to strength training to yoga from the watch, along with tracking your output on gym equipment like treadmills or steppers. Beyond that we’re going to need to test out the fitness ability of the Apple Watch 5 in the real world – even an improved GPS is hard to evaluate, as the Watch has never let you know when it’s connected to a satellite, leaving you to just hope that it knows where it is.

Battery life

Apple, once again, hasn’t improved the battery life of its Watch series, adhering to the same 18-hour life that it’s assured since the launch of the range.  We are waiting to see how this works in real-world use with an enhanced processor inside to help make things more proficient- whether the watch could beat the escalating battery life of the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 and friends.

The significant change here is that always-on display for Apple to upturn the amount of time the display can stay on without demanding to drop the battery life is somewhat we didn’t expect, although it will be exciting to test whether the day-and-a-half battery life we get with the Apple Watch 4 sustains.

Initial verdict

If you thought that the new Apple Watch would be some kind of an innovative, fascinating watch then hold in there.

For the Apple Watch 5 is just iterative, a small upgrade on the Watch 4 in so many ways. The only improvement is to the always-on display, which is a feature we didn’t expect this year and really does deliver.

But anyone anticipating an innovative, breakthrough type of watch in 2019 will be disappointed. This is originally the Apple Watch 4S upgraded with a new screen, the only feature that sets it apart from last year’s model.

This doesn’t mean one mustn’t buy it as improvements and upgrades are always welcome. But the expectations with Apple as one of the favorites in the smartwatch stakes are definitely higher.

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