Review: Apple Watch Nike+ hardware still solid, but Nike's software is lacking

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in Apple Watch
Sharing its design and advanced internals with Apple Watch Series 4, this year's Apple Watch Nike+ is better than ever. And like past models, buyers get two extra watch faces and a special Nike-designed band for the same price as a conventional aluminum Apple Watch. We take a closer look in this video breakdown.

Apple Watch Nike+ Blue face


First off, the Nike Apple Watch Series 4 is still an Apple Watch Series 4, with all that comes with that. The technology is solid, and it has finally evolved into the wearable that Apple wanted it to be. But, new for 2018 is a redesigned Nike Sport Loop that integrates reflective yarn to help with nighttime visibility.



The band is a good addition and is, in fact, reflective, though it won't -- and shouldn't -- replace safety-conscious jackets and pants for runs in extremely dark environments. The new Sport Loop is currently an Apple Watch Nike+ exclusive and is the only Apple Watch band that can't be purchased separately.





Nike's specially designed watch faces haven't really changed from last year, save for additional color options and the new full-screen style crafted to take advantage of the Series 4's larger display. To achieve a the striking look, custom complications cannot be added to these full-screen watch faces, limiting their utility.

Infograph isn't perfect, as it lacks support for popular complications like Mail and Messages, which are curiously offered with the Nike faces. But, with it now an option, the lack of available complications on the Nike design feels like a misstep.



For runners, the Nike faces also include a permanent complication for the Nike Run Club app, but you can get the same app and complication on the standard Apple Watch.

Unchanged software

Disappointingly, the app itself is completely unchanged from 2017

If Nike took the time to design a new band for its Apple Watch version -- that itself marks a substantial partnership with the world's largest tech company -- it should have put some capital toward a revamp of its software fully utilizing the larger screens on the new model.

One of the standout features of the Series 4 is the larger screen, but we realize that a bigger display may not be reason enough to justify an upgrade from a Series 3. If you're new to Apple Watch, or have something a bit older than a Series 3 and are trying to figure out whether the additional cost of the Series 4 is worth it -- it is.

Battery life

Even though Apple says it gets the same battery life as the Series 3, we noticed a decent improvement in Series 4 operating time. Instead of running out of life after two days, our Series 4 sometimes goes into the third day with around 30 percent battery life left.

After two days, the Apple Watch Series 4 is still going


Of course, it all depends on how much you use your watch and which watch face you choose to use; a full-screen watch face like the new Nike face will inevitably drain faster.

Apple mentioned that battery life during workouts will see a general increase of around an hour, which is really nice for people into fitness. The speaker is also much louder than before, which is great for using Siri, making phone calls or using the new Walkie-Talkie feature.

Apple Watch speaker and microphone hole locations


On top of that, the microphone is now on the opposite side of the speaker, helping to reduce echo and improve sound quality.

Wireless or Wi-Fi?

For those thinking about getting the LTE model, the Series 4 features a ceramic bottom case that allows radio waves to pass through for better cellular connection. To be completely honest, unless you're already going on outdoor runs without your phone, the LTE model might not be worth the extra price.

We went on a three-month LTE service trial previously, and hardy ever used the capability. The likelihood that we would be out of the house without our iPhone and not near a known Wi-Fi network is extremely slim, so paying $10 a month for service was a waste given how we used the device during this time. Of course your mileage, and use case, may vary. Apple's kayaking video from 2017 is a good example.

Last year, the LTE model included a few extras like 16GB of storage instead of 8GB and a ceramic back instead of composite. This year, GPS and Cellular models come with identical hardware.

Apple Watch Series 4 sensor


The Series 4 now supports Bluetooth 5 instead of Bluetooth 4.2 on the Series 3. The limitation was a bit annoying since last year's iPhone 8 and X supported Bluetooth 5, but were forced to rely on the less robust Bluetooth 4.2 protocol when communicating with the Apple Watch.

The Series 4 also comes with a new processor and GPU that doubles performance. In real-world use basically every app, even third-party apps, open almost instantly, whereas the Series 3 can take a couple of seconds to do the same.

There's also a new accelerometer and gyroscope for better tracking accuracy, which gives way to a fall detection feature that automatically alerts emergency services and contacts if you fall and are unresponsive. Combined with a built-in ECG and redesigned heart rate sensor that can detect atrial fibrillation, a leading cause of strokes and other heart issues, the Watch is shaping up to be a leading health device.

ECG and irregular heart rate notifications are not yet functional, but are expected to go live as part of a software update later this year.

Evolution or just an iteration?

All in all, the Apple Watch Series 4 finally ticks most of the boxes in terms of what we want to see in an Apple Watch, and the Nike+ model gives us even more for the same base price. The only drawback to the Nike+ model is that it's only available in Space Gray and silver aluminum finishes. If you want a stainless steel case and the exclusive Nike faces or bands, you're out of luck.

The Apple Watch itself is still a 4.5 out of 5. The hardware is solid, the execution is excellent. The changes Apple has made as the product has evolved has focused the product into what it needs to be -- and we've said this before.

However, Nike's part of the effort in software is lacking. It's not like the release of the Apple Watch Series 4 was a surprise, and the fact that the Nike complications and software are untouched is unacceptable.

As it stands in mid-October, Nike's failure to execute for the release of the product is worth a 2.5 out of 5 just for those aspects, and only because the watch band is a nice addition to the ecosystem.

Where to buy


Nike is currently accepting orders for the Nike+ Series 4 devices, with free delivery in an estimated two to four business days.

Apple authorized resellers B&H Photo and Abt.com are also accepting orders for both the Apple Watch Series 4 Nike+ and the standard Apple Watch 4, with Abt.com currently reporting a two to four week delay for the Nike version. The perk is the lack of sales tax collected in most states, with B&H collecting sales tax in New York and New Jersey and Abt.com collecting sales tax in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin (see here for details).

For the latest deals and product availability, be sure to check out our Apple Watch Price Guide.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    I love the watch but the Nike app is just not up to the quality of Apple's workout app. I find the Nike app incredibly problematic. Nothing more infuriating than getting back from a run to find the Nike app stopped half way through. Never have that problem with the workout app. Glad it isn’t just me.
    edited October 13 albegarcwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 19
    I love the watch but the Nike app is just not up to the quality of Apple's workout app. I find the Nike app incredibly problematic. Nothing more infuriating than getting back from a run to find the Nike app stopped half way through. Never have that problem with the workout app. Glad it isn’t just me.
    I couldn't agree more. I own the Nike+ version of the Apple Watch 2 and quite frankly gave up on the Nike+ Running App and just use Apple's. The exclusive watch faces do nothing for me either. I am only on the fence as to whether or not to go with LTE this time around. For $10/month it seems like it's worth it not to have to carry my iPhone with me on runs or hikes. Anyone have thoughts on this? 
    GeorgeBMacalbegarcwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 19
    You are lucky with your 30% extra battery. I got the 40mm version Nike Watch 4 on 5 Oct., same size as my old series 3.  Basically for the strap with holes.  

    I am very pleased with it, but battery capacity is way down from last year.   I used to wear it all night and recharge every morning in about 20 minutes.  Now it can take a couple of hours because it’s nearly on empty.  So I recharge when I go to bed and put it on at whatever time I wake up, which feels pretty unsatisfactory.    

    And I’ve read many similar stories from other users of the new watch - this is the first time I’ve heard anyone actually getting increased battery time. 
    edited October 13
  • Reply 4 of 19
    Going to get a stainless steel series 4 to replace my series 3 Nike watch. When I restore the new watch from backup, wondering if I’ll get to keep my Nike faces and/or the app?
  • Reply 5 of 19
    wlymwlym Posts: 72member
    karmadave said:
    I love the watch but the Nike app is just not up to the quality of Apple's workout app. I find the Nike app incredibly problematic. Nothing more infuriating than getting back from a run to find the Nike app stopped half way through. Never have that problem with the workout app. Glad it isn’t just me.
    I couldn't agree more. I own the Nike+ version of the Apple Watch 2 and quite frankly gave up on the Nike+ Running App and just use Apple's. The exclusive watch faces do nothing for me either. I am only on the fence as to whether or not to go with LTE this time around. For $10/month it seems like it's worth it not to have to carry my iPhone with me on runs or hikes. Anyone have thoughts on this? 
    I just switched from the Series 2 to the Series 4 with LTE and I really do like the freedom of leaving my iPhone (the new, very expensive and very breakable Xs) at home when I go for a run. At the gym I used to have to worry about the phone staying put on the treadmill and when running outside I'd need to wear a belt to carry the phone, which I'd prefer not to do. It's also great to be able to chose a new podcast mid-run without having to plan ahead and load podcasts onto the watch via the iPhone (which even with Watch OS 5's new podcast app, is less than straight-forward). For $10 month I think it's totally worth it.

    That said, a 2 hour run with GPS, heart rate monitor, podcasts streaming via LTE to bluetooth headphones (Beats w/W1chip) ate about 50% of the battery so slow marathoners like me might have to turn off the LTE and BT before the race.
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    brian-mdbrian-md Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    with recent SCOTUS decision, sales tax being collected in a lot more states than what's in the article.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    I too am disappointment that Nike did not upgrade their software -- but for a slightly different reason:
    I know of very few serious runners who do not prefer Garmins over Apple Watches -- even though the only hardware advantage the Garmin has (for runners) is its low energy, always-on screen.  Most of its advantage is in software that is better tuned to the needs of runners.   Apple's app is decent, but it's tuned to average, general fitness buff.   Nike could fix that for Apple but has not.
    csmithcatlover
  • Reply 8 of 19
    ...

    Wireless or Wi-Fi?

    For those thinking about getting the LTE model, the Series 4 features a ceramic bottom case that allows radio waves to pass through for better cellular connection. To be completely honest, unless you're already going on outdoor runs without your phone, the LTE model might not be worth the extra price.

    We went on a three-month LTE service trial previously, and hardy ever used the capability. The likelihood that we would be out of the house without our iPhone and not near a known Wi-Fi network is extremely slim, so paying $10 a month for service was a waste given how we used the device during this time. Of course your mileage, and use case, may vary. Apple's kayaking video from 2017 is a good example.
    ....

    I do not understand why they say that.   Many runners prefer to run without a phone.   In fact, running clothing frequently does not even provide a place to carry it.   And, if it does, you end up with it sloshing back and forth in your pocket with each stride -- particularly if you have a plus or max model.  And, if the phone has a heavy case the problem is even worse.

    But those who do carry phones don't do so they stop and text or FaceBook mid run.   (Although some stop to snap photos of interesting scenary).   Instead, they carry them for safety so they can call if they need help or there is a problem.

    The watch with LTE solves all of those problems because no serious runner goes without their GPS watch.  With the AW w/LTE they have all the advantages of carrying a phone without carrying a phone (except for the lack of camera).

    But, even for general use:  I won't cut my grass or climb a ladder without carrying a means for calling for help.  Again, the Apple Watch with LTE solves that problem.
    wlymwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 19
    larryalarrya Posts: 525member
    ...

    Wireless or Wi-Fi?

    For those thinking about getting the LTE model, the Series 4 features a ceramic bottom case that allows radio waves to pass through for better cellular connection. To be completely honest, unless you're already going on outdoor runs without your phone, the LTE model might not be worth the extra price.

    We went on a three-month LTE service trial previously, and hardy ever used the capability. The likelihood that we would be out of the house without our iPhone and not near a known Wi-Fi network is extremely slim, so paying $10 a month for service was a waste given how we used the device during this time. Of course your mileage, and use case, may vary. Apple's kayaking video from 2017 is a good example.
    ....

    I do not understand why they say that.   Many runners prefer to run without a phone.   In fact, running clothing frequently does not even provide a place to carry it.   And, if it does, you end up with it sloshing back and forth in your pocket with each stride -- particularly if you have a plus or max model.  And, if the phone has a heavy case the problem is even worse.

    But those who do carry phones don't do so they stop and text or FaceBook mid run.   (Although some stop to snap photos of interesting scenary).   Instead, they carry them for safety so they can call if they need help or there is a problem.

    The watch with LTE solves all of those problems because no serious runner goes without their GPS watch.  With the AW w/LTE they have all the advantages of carrying a phone without carrying a phone (except for the lack of camera).

    But, even for general use:  I won't cut my grass or climb a ladder without carrying a means for calling for help.  Again, the Apple Watch with LTE solves that problem.

    I remember when there were no cell phones, and yet somehow we exercised and hiked and went to gyms.  
    bonobobwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    I won't cut my grass...without carrying a means for calling for help.
    Are you particularly accident prone?
  • Reply 11 of 19
    roakeroake Posts: 610member
    larrya said:
    ...

    Wireless or Wi-Fi?

    For those thinking about getting the LTE model, the Series 4 features a ceramic bottom case that allows radio waves to pass through for better cellular connection. To be completely honest, unless you're already going on outdoor runs without your phone, the LTE model might not be worth the extra price.

    We went on a three-month LTE service trial previously, and hardy ever used the capability. The likelihood that we would be out of the house without our iPhone and not near a known Wi-Fi network is extremely slim, so paying $10 a month for service was a waste given how we used the device during this time. Of course your mileage, and use case, may vary. Apple's kayaking video from 2017 is a good example.
    ....

    I do not understand why they say that.   Many runners prefer to run without a phone.   In fact, running clothing frequently does not even provide a place to carry it.   And, if it does, you end up with it sloshing back and forth in your pocket with each stride -- particularly if you have a plus or max model.  And, if the phone has a heavy case the problem is even worse.

    But those who do carry phones don't do so they stop and text or FaceBook mid run.   (Although some stop to snap photos of interesting scenary).   Instead, they carry them for safety so they can call if they need help or there is a problem.

    The watch with LTE solves all of those problems because no serious runner goes without their GPS watch.  With the AW w/LTE they have all the advantages of carrying a phone without carrying a phone (except for the lack of camera).

    But, even for general use:  I won't cut my grass or climb a ladder without carrying a means for calling for help.  Again, the Apple Watch with LTE solves that problem.

    I remember when there were no cell phones, and yet somehow we exercised and hiked and went to gyms.  
    I used to walk to school, uphill both directions, in the snow, wearing only barbed wire for shoes!
    GeorgeBMacwlymentropyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 19
    hentaiboy said:
    I won't cut my grass...without carrying a means for calling for help.
    Are you particularly accident prone?
    Just careful & cautious.    I used to drive long trips without a "Car Phone".   But, now that I have a choice, I prefer caution and safety.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 19
    larrya said:
    ...

    Wireless or Wi-Fi?

    For those thinking about getting the LTE model, the Series 4 features a ceramic bottom case that allows radio waves to pass through for better cellular connection. To be completely honest, unless you're already going on outdoor runs without your phone, the LTE model might not be worth the extra price.

    We went on a three-month LTE service trial previously, and hardy ever used the capability. The likelihood that we would be out of the house without our iPhone and not near a known Wi-Fi network is extremely slim, so paying $10 a month for service was a waste given how we used the device during this time. Of course your mileage, and use case, may vary. Apple's kayaking video from 2017 is a good example.
    ....

    I do not understand why they say that.   Many runners prefer to run without a phone.   In fact, running clothing frequently does not even provide a place to carry it.   And, if it does, you end up with it sloshing back and forth in your pocket with each stride -- particularly if you have a plus or max model.  And, if the phone has a heavy case the problem is even worse.

    But those who do carry phones don't do so they stop and text or FaceBook mid run.   (Although some stop to snap photos of interesting scenary).   Instead, they carry them for safety so they can call if they need help or there is a problem.

    The watch with LTE solves all of those problems because no serious runner goes without their GPS watch.  With the AW w/LTE they have all the advantages of carrying a phone without carrying a phone (except for the lack of camera).

    But, even for general use:  I won't cut my grass or climb a ladder without carrying a means for calling for help.  Again, the Apple Watch with LTE solves that problem.

    I remember when there were no cell phones, and yet somehow we exercised and hiked and went to gyms.  
    I remember when "real men" didn't wear seatbelts too!
  • Reply 14 of 19

    But, even for general use:  I won't cut my grass or climb a ladder without carrying a means for calling for help.  Again, the Apple Watch with LTE solves that problem.
     :D :D :D  > take a teaspoon of cement and harden the f*ck up.
    edited October 13 watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 19
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,108member
    kimberly said:

    But, even for general use:  I won't cut my grass or climb a ladder without carrying a means for calling for help.  Again, the Apple Watch with LTE solves that problem.
     :D :D :D  > take a teaspoon of cement and harden the f*ck up.
    Nah, I'm a whimp.   The Apple Watch is a lot easier!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    wlym said:
    karmadave said:
    I love the watch but the Nike app is just not up to the quality of Apple's workout app. I find the Nike app incredibly problematic. Nothing more infuriating than getting back from a run to find the Nike app stopped half way through. Never have that problem with the workout app. Glad it isn’t just me.
    I couldn't agree more. I own the Nike+ version of the Apple Watch 2 and quite frankly gave up on the Nike+ Running App and just use Apple's. The exclusive watch faces do nothing for me either. I am only on the fence as to whether or not to go with LTE this time around. For $10/month it seems like it's worth it not to have to carry my iPhone with me on runs or hikes. Anyone have thoughts on this? 
    I just switched from the Series 2 to the Series 4 with LTE and I really do like the freedom of leaving my iPhone (the new, very expensive and very breakable Xs) at home when I go for a run. At the gym I used to have to worry about the phone staying put on the treadmill and when running outside I'd need to wear a belt to carry the phone, which I'd prefer not to do. It's also great to be able to chose a new podcast mid-run without having to plan ahead and load podcasts onto the watch via the iPhone (which even with Watch OS 5's new podcast app, is less than straight-forward). For $10 month I think it's totally worth it.

    That said, a 2 hour run with GPS, heart rate monitor, podcasts streaming via LTE to bluetooth headphones (Beats w/W1chip) ate about 50% of the battery so slow marathoners like me might have to turn off the LTE and BT before the race.
    I have had the Series 3 LTE, but LTE was first available  here in Denmark from May 2018. I do like that I don’t have to bring my iPhone with me. And during a race my wife could follow me with Find my Friends. After the race which took place in the center of Copenhagen we could call each other and meet. Also the price for enabling the e-SIM is only $3-$4 here in Denmark, so very cheap for the freedom it gives you. 
    wlymwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 19
    The best feature of the Nike Apple Watch is that it is often in stock when the regular editions are sold out and costs the same amount. It looks almost the same as well and minor style differences offer welcome variation.
  • Reply 18 of 19
    Great review. I SO wish I had the money to buy myself an Apple Watch this month! It's my birthday in 9 days and this is my top wishlist item. But alas... no luck this time. Maybe for Christmas.

    And it's pronounced "Jyroscope"... soft G.  /ˈjīrəˌskōp/

    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 19
    wlymwlym Posts: 72member
    roake said:
    larrya said:
    ...

    Wireless or Wi-Fi?

    For those thinking about getting the LTE model, the Series 4 features a ceramic bottom case that allows radio waves to pass through for better cellular connection. To be completely honest, unless you're already going on outdoor runs without your phone, the LTE model might not be worth the extra price.

    We went on a three-month LTE service trial previously, and hardy ever used the capability. The likelihood that we would be out of the house without our iPhone and not near a known Wi-Fi network is extremely slim, so paying $10 a month for service was a waste given how we used the device during this time. Of course your mileage, and use case, may vary. Apple's kayaking video from 2017 is a good example.
    ....

    I do not understand why they say that.   Many runners prefer to run without a phone.   In fact, running clothing frequently does not even provide a place to carry it.   And, if it does, you end up with it sloshing back and forth in your pocket with each stride -- particularly if you have a plus or max model.  And, if the phone has a heavy case the problem is even worse.

    But those who do carry phones don't do so they stop and text or FaceBook mid run.   (Although some stop to snap photos of interesting scenary).   Instead, they carry them for safety so they can call if they need help or there is a problem.

    The watch with LTE solves all of those problems because no serious runner goes without their GPS watch.  With the AW w/LTE they have all the advantages of carrying a phone without carrying a phone (except for the lack of camera).

    But, even for general use:  I won't cut my grass or climb a ladder without carrying a means for calling for help.  Again, the Apple Watch with LTE solves that problem.

    I remember when there were no cell phones, and yet somehow we exercised and hiked and went to gyms.  
    I used to walk to school, uphill both directions, in the snow, wearing only barbed wire for shoes!
    and then went home, which was a rolled up newspaper at the bottom of a lake?
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