Apple Watch Series 4 has 10 features that set it apart from your older model

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited September 2018
Apple Watch Series 4 marks the the first redesign to Apple's popular wearable. AppleInsider walks through the top ten features that make it worth a purchase for users new and old.




Display

The new display is the first, and most obvious, new feature of the latest watches.

New Apple Watch Display


This nearly edge-to-edge display is more than 30-percent larger than previous Apple Watches. Even though the display is larger, the size of the Apple Watch overall has only grown ever-so-slightly outwards, while getting a tad thinner.

Ceramic back

On previous iterations of Apple Watch, the back case was metal, with a glass cover for the heart rate monitor, Ceramic is now swapped for the glass on the higher-end stainless and Edition models.

The swap allows for the new ECG sensor, which Apple will take live in a software update later in the year.

Digital Crown

Apple made a big deal about the Digital Crown this year. It actually has more parts, but is overall able to be smaller and more compact.

Digital Crown


Cellular models no longer have a large red dot, instead adopting a more subtle red ring.

There is also improved haptic feedback, which is very much akin to the glass trackpads on the MacBook Pros. As you rotate the crown, you will feel a tapping, very much making it feel as if there are mechanical notches that are being tripped.

There is also a new metal cap on the crown that acts as an electrode for taking that ECG we mentioned earlier.

ECG

Speaking of the ECG functionality... this is entirely new on the Apple Watch Series 4.

After the software patch rolls out, users can simply hit start, hold a finger on the side of the Digital Crown, and it will take your reading.

This is endorsed by the American Heart Association as well as approved by the FDA. It won't replace a doctor's visit, but it does add a lot to the Apple Watch.

New watch faces

Series 4 contains two exclusive watch faces, as well as several slightly modified ones introduced with watchOS 5.

Infograph Watch Face


The exclusive ones include Infograph and Infograph Modular. Infograph is the most complication-dense face Apple has created, with support for roughly nine complications -- depending on what you count as a complication.

Infograph Modular is a slightly updated version of the popular Modular watch face we've seen many times.

Also new are edge-to-edge version of Vapor, Liquid Metal, and Fire & Water. Older models restrict these to a circle within the display, so they look much more at home on the Series 4.

Gold color

Just like with the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, Apple Watch Series 4 got the gold color treatment.

Available in either stainless or aluminum, these new color isn't a gaudy yellow, but more of a subtle tint instead. It also has a slightly copper hue, which should increase the broad appeal.

Bluetooth 5

In 2017, the iPhone X got Bluetooth 5, but the Apple Watch Series 3 stuck with 4.2. Series 4 brings Bluetooth to parity with the iPhone.

Bluetooth 5 has increased throughput and range which should be helpful with any Bluetooth connected accessories or when paired to the latest iPhones.

Gyro

Apple has upgraded the gyroscope accelerometer to now detect twice the dynamic range and up to 32 g-forces. Paired with the faster processor, it can sample eight times faster, which allows it to add new features, such as fall detection.

Whether you slip, trip, or fall, the Apple Watch's new gyroscope accelerometer will detect it, and alert you on your wrist. It will give you the option to say you're ok, or to call emergency services. If the Apple Watch doesn't detect any movement within 60 seconds, emergency services will automatically get that call.

S4 chip

S4 is the brains behind the Apple Watch, and is now twice as fast as its predecessor in the Series 3. We especially noticed this speed when launching apps, or querying Siri.

Apple Watch S4 Chip


The "Silicon in Package" in the S4 incorporates some other previously discrete chipsets, and takes up much less space than in the past. According to Apple, it is the only product in the world that runs completely on a SiP.

Speakers

Walkie-Talkie is a new feature in watchOS 5. That, coupled with the ability to answer FaceTime calls, chat with Siri, make phone calls -- all over Wi-Fi or cellular -- speakers are more important than ever for Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Speakers


Apple has now tuned the speakers to improve the audio quality, as well as boost the volume by 50-percent. This is instantly noticeable as soon as you try them out.

As a bonus, Apple moved the microphone to the opposite side to help reduce echos during phone calls.

Pick one up

If you'd like to pick up an Apple Watch Series 4 for yourself, check out the AppleInsider Price Guide for the best deals.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    I will still stick to series 3 Hermes. First of all, I am all Hermes watch faces. So if/when I am gonna get it, it will always be Hermes edition. I love the new faces but paying another almost 2K is a bit a lot for something that will be obsolete in 11 months time. For speakers, I would love for Apple to add playing music through watch speakers. So I can skip series 4. Larger display - yes that's something that's attracting to me. Those Hermes watch faces look sexy on larger display. ECG - its good and hopefully will be more mature and accurate in the next or after a couple of series. So for me there are only two reasons, larger display and exclusive Hermes watch faces and I am still not inclined to upgrade this year.
    edited September 2018
  • Reply 2 of 38
    aegean said:
    I will still stick to series 3 Hermes. First of all, I am all Hermes watch faces. So if/when I am gonna get it, it will always be Hermes edition. I love the new faces but paying another almost 2K is a bit a lot for something that will be obsolete in 11 months time.
    I’m curious, how do the Hermes watches hold up for resale? My Series 0 Stainless Steel Space Black with Link Bracelet is only good for about $25. That’s on a watch that just 3 1/2 years ago retailed for $1100 (I think, maybe it was a little more). I like it and will continue to use it until it’s no longer useful. I mostly only wear it when I’m going out to dinner or somewhere that requires nicer attire. It still looks good but now that it isn’t getting OS upgrades and the battery life is shortening I’m not sure how much longer it will last...
    bikertwinwatto_cobratyler82
  • Reply 3 of 38
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one, but when I saw this graphic on screen during the event, I thought it looked like a problem waiting to happen.

    Yes the engineering is impressive, but I’m not sure what the point is. All those parts have to be expensive to manufacture and assemble, all to get the equivalent experience of an analogue watch. And I’m not sure it’s really necessary. Considering Apple is eliminating hardware buttons across all of its devices, it really does seem anachronistic — the physical equivalent of a skeuomorphic display. Again, maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the same thing could be handled by sliding ones finger along the edge of the bezel, and with much less potential for something to go wrong mechanically. Anyway, YMMV.


    edited September 2018 kingofsomewherehot
  • Reply 4 of 38
    I'm confused, the article implies that the ceramic back on the higher end models are what enables ECG reading.  From what I understand, ECG is on all models?  
    netmageSoundJudgmentbikertwinrundhvidasdasdmike1pscooter63watto_cobratyler82
  • Reply 5 of 38
    aegean said:
    I will still stick to series 3 Hermes. First of all, I am all Hermes watch faces. So if/when I am gonna get it, it will always be Hermes edition. I love the new faces but paying another almost 2K is a bit a lot for something that will be obsolete in 11 months time.
    I’m curious, how do the Hermes watches hold up for resale? My Series 0 Stainless Steel Space Black with Link Bracelet is only good for about $25. That’s on a watch that just 3 1/2 years ago retailed for $1100 (I think, maybe it was a little more). I like it and will continue to use it until it’s no longer useful. I mostly only wear it when I’m going out to dinner or somewhere that requires nicer attire. It still looks good but now that it isn’t getting OS upgrades and the battery life is shortening I’m not sure how much longer it will last...
    $25?  Just your link bracelet you could sell for at least a couple hundred. Are you talking about trade in value at a store?  Because that is a rip-off and not the same as resale value. I recently sold my series 0 ALUMINUM watch with sport band for $250 in Canada.  So surely you could get more for a stainless steel with link bracelet (just the link bracelet alone is $500-$600 or so and also works completely fine with all the new models. I’m not sure where you are getting this $25 number from. 
    netmagelongpathStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 38
    My daughter's watch wouldn't hold a charge long went from full charge to 26% after 4 hours, she went  to the Apple store they didn't have another like the one that  I ordered her so now she has 2 weeks to keep going back to one of the stores in NY to try and find another one or return that one and order another one, if we ordered her another one like it then she wouldn't get it until November really sucks they don't keep a few dozen in each store so if some of the new ones that are bad then they would be able to  replace it right on the spot.....
  • Reply 7 of 38
    The high end model is not gold. Not even close. It's copper in color. Apple's advertising photos make it look a lot more like gold than it really is. I jokingly told my wife its color should be named "polished turd". She returned hers and ordered the stainless steel model.
  • Reply 8 of 38
    mac_128 said:
    I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one, but when I saw this graphic on screen during the event, I thought it looked like a problem waiting to happen.

    Yes the engineering is impressive, but I’m not sure what the point is. All those parts have to be expensive to manufacture and assemble, all to get the equivalent experience of an analogue watch. And I’m not sure it’s really necessary. Considering Apple is eliminating hardware buttons across all of its devices, it really does seem anachronistic — the physical equivalent of a skeuomorphic display. Again, maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the same thing could be handled by sliding ones finger along the edge of the bezel, and with much less potential for something to go wrong mechanically. Anyway, YMMV.


    The first crown collects dirt and gets stuck if it is not actively used. The new design may protect better against water and dust. Besides, it doesn't seem that complicated. The crown is an absolute necessity because touch interface on such a small area really sucks. I only touch the display to switch faces (since there is no other way) and to go thru complications, the rest of the user experience depends totally on that tiny mechanical dial. It seems that you cannot get rid of the steampunk so easily ;-)

    You can clean the Digital Crown under "lightly running, warm, fresh water from a faucet" ! That... is design.
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204522
    edited September 2018 caladanianStrangeDayspscooter63watto_cobratyler82
  • Reply 9 of 38
    Andrew you are incorrect. The Apple Watch 2 also had a ceramic back. Please research previous AppleInsider articles before you post something and mislead us. https://appleinsider.com/articles/16/09/16/first-look-apple-watch-series-2-sport-with-gps-s2-chip-new-ceramic-back-second-mic-hole
    edited September 2018 netmagepscooter63
  • Reply 10 of 38
    netmage said:
    Perhaps an editor should read this story?

    The entire section about the back is wrong, and talks about the Edition model of the Series 4, which doesn't exist.

    Also, "32 g-forces" is nonsensical.
    Actually, a human falling from 2 meters into sand will suffer 50g of force...

    https://vaultcanada.org/FallCalc
  • Reply 11 of 38
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,196member
    I would love for AI to check to see how frequently the Series 4 will pair with BT in cars.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    mac_128 said:
    I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one, but when I saw this graphic on screen during the event, I thought it looked like a problem waiting to happen.

    Yes the engineering is impressive, but I’m not sure what the point is. All those parts have to be expensive to manufacture and assemble, all to get the equivalent experience of an analogue watch. And I’m not sure it’s really necessary. Considering Apple is eliminating hardware buttons across all of its devices, it really does seem anachronistic — the physical equivalent of a skeuomorphic display. Again, maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the same thing could be handled by sliding ones finger along the edge of the bezel, and with much less potential for something to go wrong mechanically. Anyway, YMMV.


    The first crown collects dirt and gets stuck if it is not actively used. The new design may protect better against water and dust. Besides, it doesn't seem that complicated. The crown is an absolute necessity because touch interface on such a small area really sucks. I only touch the display to switch faces (since there is no other way) and to go thru complications, the rest of the user experience depends totally on that tiny mechanical dial. It seems that you cannot get rid of the steampunk so easily ;-)

    You can clean the Digital Crown under "lightly running, warm, fresh water from a faucet" ! That... is design.
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204522
    Oh I understand the need to improve this fragile mechanical implemenatation over the original. But the fact that so many intricate parts are really necessary at all is the issue — and 21% more I think they said at that.

    I also understand the individual users preferences, and I’m not knocking that. I actually kind of like the way it looks (for right handed users, not so much in the inverted left handed orientation). But again, the crown is mainly used for scrolling, which could easily be accomplished by turning the edge of the bezel into a touch strip, not unlike that on the MacBook. Essentially it keeps the finger off the display, and could give the user he same incremental control without moving parts.i also find it a bit tedious to rest the finger on such a tiny pivot point, but that’s just me. 

    There was romored talk of removing the second button altogether and making it a touch/haptic virtual button, which didn’t materialize. But that seems the logical future for the watch, just as Apple allegedly seeks to remove the volume buttons from the iPhone. The crown then is the last vestige of that mechanical legacy that to me seems totally unecessary. But again maybe that’s just me.
  • Reply 13 of 38
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,196member
    mac_128 said:
    mac_128 said:
    I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one, but when I saw this graphic on screen during the event, I thought it looked like a problem waiting to happen.

    Yes the engineering is impressive, but I’m not sure what the point is. All those parts have to be expensive to manufacture and assemble, all to get the equivalent experience of an analogue watch. And I’m not sure it’s really necessary. Considering Apple is eliminating hardware buttons across all of its devices, it really does seem anachronistic — the physical equivalent of a skeuomorphic display. Again, maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the same thing could be handled by sliding ones finger along the edge of the bezel, and with much less potential for something to go wrong mechanically. Anyway, YMMV.


    The first crown collects dirt and gets stuck if it is not actively used. The new design may protect better against water and dust. Besides, it doesn't seem that complicated. The crown is an absolute necessity because touch interface on such a small area really sucks. I only touch the display to switch faces (since there is no other way) and to go thru complications, the rest of the user experience depends totally on that tiny mechanical dial. It seems that you cannot get rid of the steampunk so easily ;-)

    You can clean the Digital Crown under "lightly running, warm, fresh water from a faucet" ! That... is design.
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204522
    Oh I understand the need to improve this fragile mechanical implemenatation over the original. But the fact that so many intricate parts are really necessary at all is the issue — and 21% more I think they said at that.

    I also understand the individual users preferences, and I’m not knocking that. I actually kind of like the way it looks (for right handed users, not so much in the inverted left handed orientation). But again, the crown is mainly used for scrolling, which could easily be accomplished by turning the edge of the bezel into a touch strip, not unlike that on the MacBook. Essentially it keeps the finger off the display, and could give the user he same incremental control without moving parts.i also find it a bit tedious to rest the finger on such a tiny pivot point, but that’s just me. 

    There was romored talk of removing the second button altogether and making it a touch/haptic virtual button, which didn’t materialize. But that seems the logical future for the watch, just as Apple allegedly seeks to remove the volume buttons from the iPhone. The crown then is the last vestige of that mechanical legacy that to me seems totally unecessary. But again maybe that’s just me.
    1) You're nuts. The crown was a brilliant idea. I can't even wrap my head around someone saying it shouldn't exist.

    2) While I wear my Watch on my left wrist (because I'm mostly right handed), I do have the orientation swapped so that the crown is proximal which requires my thumb to rotate. I find this set up preferable. If your complaint is that you don't like the Crown closer to you then trying flipping it to see how that works. Find solutions, not problems.
    netmageStrangeDayspscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 38
    thttht Posts: 3,243member
    mattm84 said:
    Andrew you are incorrect. The Apple Watch 2 also had a ceramic back. Please research previous AppleInsider articles before you post something and mislead us. https://appleinsider.com/articles/16/09/16/first-look-apple-watch-series-2-sport-with-gps-s2-chip-new-ceramic-back-second-mic-hole
    On prior Watch models, the circular sensor housing was ceramic with sapphire sensor windows for the steel, ceramic and gold models. The metal or ceramic case housings looked to be one piece, and the back sensor housing is glued onto the case.


    On the Series 4 Apple Watch, the metal casings do not surround the circular sensor housing anymore. Instead, like iPhone models with glass backs, the frame is metal, while the back is a separate ceramic piece with sapphire sensor windows. Here is an image below. Not sure is the circular sensor housing is ceramic, but the back looks ceramic.


    In addition to providing a bigger window for wireless signals, maybe this new back design fixes the issues with the sensor housing becoming unglued in the prior Watch models.
    netmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 38
    Chapter about ceramic back includes several mistakes. 
    netmage
  • Reply 16 of 38
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    tht said:
    mattm84 said:
    Andrew you are incorrect. The Apple Watch 2 also had a ceramic back. Please research previous AppleInsider articles before you post something and mislead us. https://appleinsider.com/articles/16/09/16/first-look-apple-watch-series-2-sport-with-gps-s2-chip-new-ceramic-back-second-mic-hole
    On prior Watch models, the circular sensor housing was ceramic with sapphire sensor windows for the steel, ceramic and gold models. The metal or ceramic case housings looked to be one piece, and the back sensor housing is glued onto the case.


    On the Series 4 Apple Watch, the metal casings do not surround the circular sensor housing anymore. Instead, like iPhone models with glass backs, the frame is metal, while the back is a separate ceramic piece with sapphire sensor windows. Here is an image below. Not sure is the circular sensor housing is ceramic, but the back looks ceramic.


    In addition to providing a bigger window for wireless signals, maybe this new back design fixes the issues with the sensor housing becoming unglued in the prior Watch models.
    Thanks for doing the research.

    i would also guess that spreading the glue points across the entire watch edge give it much greater strength compared to the circle in the middle, which is also subjected to a great bit of stress being compressed against the arm.

    ill be very interested to see the iFixit tear downs of the Series 4
    edited September 2018
  • Reply 17 of 38
    I have a series 3 GPS and went to look at the series 4 today  to see if I could be tempted to upgrade. 

    I couldn't. 

    If I didn't have a watch already I would buy the series 4 for sure but the extra features just aren't worth the differential of trading in my s3 and paying the extra. 

    And at this point I don't think the ECG feature even works in the UK with no date for it either.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    thttht Posts: 3,243member
    mac_128 said:
    i would also guess that spreading the glue points across the entire watch edge give it much greater strength compared to the circle in the middle, which is also subjected to a great bit of stress being compressed against the arm.

    ill be very interested to see the iFixit tear downs of the Series 4

    It looks like the sensor house and ceramic back are separate parts, both likely to be glued in. The sensor housing becoming unglued is likely an assembly issue with an improper amount of glued was used or there was improper assembly - just good enough to pass quality checks, but not really good enough to handle certain people’s usage.

    Yeah, wondering why ifixit is taking so long.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 38
    FlashB said:
    netmage said:
    Also, "32 g-forces" is nonsensical.
    Actually, a human falling from 2 meters into sand will suffer 50g of force...

    https://vaultcanada.org/FallCalc
    Don’t you mean 50 g-forces? The problem isn’t the number, it's that "g-forces" makes no (English) sense in that context.
  • Reply 20 of 38
    thttht Posts: 3,243member
    netmage said:
    FlashB said:
    netmage said:
    Also, "32 g-forces" is nonsensical.
    Actually, a human falling from 2 meters into sand will suffer 50g of force...

    https://vaultcanada.org/FallCalc
    Don’t you mean 50 g-forces? The problem isn’t the number, it's that "g-forces" makes no (English) sense in that context.
    “g” is a non-dimensional number, acceleration normalized to Earth surface gravity. So, in proper usage, it’s just “g’s”. Saying g-force is meaningless, but since laymen don’t understand what a “g” is, everyone combines it with force to try to get the point across. You can say 50 g’s of acceleration though, but people may not understand that much better.

    Anyways, too many people are jumping on pillows and mattresses trying to get it to activate. Just a swing of the arm and hand plant onto a table or ground should do it. Soft surfaces won’t.
    StrangeDays
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