A first hand look at the best features of Apple Watch Series 5

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited September 20
Apple Watch Series 5 is the latest wearable in Apple's lineup and it is more feature-packed than ever. We got our hands on the newest models to break down the best new features.

Apple Watch Series 5 has many new features
Apple Watch Series 5 has many new features

New case materials

There are two new materials debuting for the Series 5 Apple Watch -- ceramic and titanium.






If we are being technical, ceramic isn't entirely new, having been apart of a previous generation Apple Watch series but the titanium is entirely new.

There is only white available for the ceramic, but titanium comes in both silver and dark grey color options.

Ceramic is very smooth and creamy white while the titanium has a more rugged brushed look.

Silver titanium Apple Watch Series 5
Silver titanium Apple Watch Series 5


What we love about the titanium is that Apple has treated it to not show fingerprints much and it is very durable. When you compare it to the stainless steel, it is a bit lighter than the steel (though heavier than the aluminum) but has that great brushed look that won't show fingerprints or scratches at all.

Basically, the titanium is best of both worlds between aluminum and stainless steel. Great look, more durable, middle weight.

S5 SoC

Apple Watch Series 5 has the new S5 SoC, up from the S4 that debuted with the Series 4.

Apple Watch runs on the S5 SoC
Apple Watch runs on the S5 SoC


SoC -- or system on chip -- is a single chip that combines many components including the CPU.

That CPU inside the S5 is the same as that as the S4, so the Series 5 won't be markedly faster in performance than the previous generation, but it includes a new display driver and power management chip.

This is what allows the battery to maintain all-day battery life but keeping that display on all the time.

Compass

Adventurous individuals may be jumping up and down with excitement for the addition of a compass, but we wouldn't be surprised if many people out there gloss over it.

Initially, we also weren't excited about the novelty of the directional tool.

Thanks to the new compass, Maps can now display orientation
Thanks to the new compass, Maps can now display orientation


Apple has done a great job implementing it. It has its own gorgeous dedicated app. It is accessible to third-party developers and their apps. There is even a complication that can be viewed on the watch face.

From the app, users can see their heading along with elevation, latitude, longitude, and incline.

What really sold us on the feature is the addition to the Maps app. Now navigating on Apple Watch is easier than ever, especially for walking directions.

When trekking through a city, it can be disorienting which way you are facing or you need to go. With the compass, Maps now tells you which direction you are facing. For anyone who uses Maps, this small addition will have a prominent impact.

More storage

The latest generation Apple Watch now is shipping with 32GB of internal storage rather than 16GB.

At first blush, this may not seem like a big deal, but it actually is.




With watchOS 6, apps can now be downloaded direct from the App Store on Apple Watch and be completely independent from iPhone. What that means, is apps are going to be taking up a bit more space on Apple Watch than they did in the past.

If you use quite a few apps on Apple Watch and you store music for on-the-go listening, storage is going to be key. 32GB adds a good buffer.

International cellular bands

This time around, the cellular Apple Watch Series 5 has international emergency calling. Should an emergency happen, nearly anywhere in the world, pressing and holding the side button will make the call to the local emergency services.

It functions even if you don't have a cellular plan currently active.

Ambient light sensor

Apple Watch has always had an ambient light sensor which is key to the display being lit correctly. Without, the display would have to be manually adjusted or constantly be too bright or too dim.

Series 5 includes a new and improved ambient light sensor that should help the Always-on Retina display be as good as it can be, and always be correctly lit, no matter your environment.

Always-on Display

Last year Apple included an LTPO OLED Retina display on the Series 4 Apple Watch, but what it didn't include was the additional necessary hardware to keep it running all the time.

With the Series 5, it is still the same display, but now never has to turn off. This LTPO OLED Always-On Retina display allows you to always be able to check your watch without having to move your wrist.

Apple Watch Series 5 display is dimmed when not in use
Apple Watch Series 5 display is dimmed when not in use


Apple put a lot of work in here not only allowing the display to stay on, but drop the refresh rate down to as low as 1Hz and dim while in this standby mode.

It works on the watch face, during workouts, and in third-party apps.

This goes a long way to make the Apple Watch more usable and in our experience, once you have it, it is hard to go back.

Black Hermes

This year, Apple is releasing a dark version of its Hermes model of Apple Watch. The Hermes model is the same feature-wise but has exclusive Hermes-branded faces that you can only get by purchasing this pricey bundle.

In past years, the Hermes was only available in silver stainless steel but now black stainless is also an option.

Apple Watch Series 5
Apple Watch Series 5

Where to buy

Deals on the Apple Watch Series 5 are going on now with savings of up to $50 off. For the latest prices and product availability across top Apple resellers, be sure to check out our Apple Watch Series 5 Price Guide.
Apple Watch Series 5 deals (GPS Only) Apple Watch Series 5 deals (GPS + Cellular) .
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,059member
    Thinking out loud, do the magnets in the leather loop band effect the compass?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 28
    It would be useful to know if some of these features -- e.g., compass, international emergency calling -- are also available on AW4 since they seem like functionality that could be provided with a software update?
    JWSCwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 28
    razorpit said:
    Thinking out loud, do the magnets in the leather loop band effect the compass?
    I remember reading last week that Apple had issued a bulletin saying that bands with magnetic clasps could impact the compass.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 28
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,518member
    From the video, it looks like the Always On display feature can be turned off. That should please those who aren't fans of the feature. It didn't seem likely that Apple wouldn't provide for an Off button, and whether or not any given user wants it, I'm glad it's an option.
    flyingdpwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 28
    thttht Posts: 3,307member
    The ceramic looks so great to me, except the price is too great for me. Oh well. I don’t need upgrade at all since I have Series 4.

    Hoping future versions will have a model in the 46 to 48 mm range. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 28
    macgui said:
    From the video, it looks like the Always On display feature can be turned off. That should please those who aren't fans of the feature. It didn't seem likely that Apple wouldn't provide for an Off button, and whether or not any given user wants it, I'm glad it's an option.
    That's what I came here to ask.  Can you explain exactly how a user can toggle the always on display?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 28
    tht said:
    The ceramic looks so great to me, except the price is too great for me. Oh well. I don’t need upgrade at all since I have Series 4.

    Hoping future versions will have a model in the 46 to 48 mm range. 
    dang check out Bruce Banner over here :) 

    I've noticed that most adult men opt for the smaller size (mistakenly, IMHO)… I was going to, but did an impromptu survey ("which looks better?") at the Apple store. Half a dozen strangers unanimously agreed that the larger one looked better on my average adult male wrists, so here I am…
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 28
    I'm still waiting on WatchOS 6 to be installable in my Watch app… I'm on the iPhone 13.1 beta, wondering if that's interfering? Can't even find an option for enrolling in the WatchOS beta.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 28
    It would be useful to know if some of these features -- e.g., compass, international emergency calling -- are also available on AW4 since they seem like functionality that could be provided with a software update?
    The compass and international emergency calling are exclusive to the new AW5. I was curious myself since I have a AW4. 

    EDIT: These features couldn't come in a software update. The AW5 has a different modem that supports international emergency calling. The AW5 also has a new SIP due to new sensors in the watch to power the compass. 
    edited September 20 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 28
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,672unconfirmed, member
    macgui said:
    From the video, it looks like the Always On display feature can be turned off. That should please those who aren't fans of the feature. It didn't seem likely that Apple wouldn't provide for an Off button, and whether or not any given user wants it, I'm glad it's an option.

    Wouldn't this extend battery a few hours?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 28
    What about the glass on the various models. Did they change anything there? My Al S3 scratched a bit too easily.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 28
    macgui said:
    From the video, it looks like the Always On display feature can be turned off. That should please those who aren't fans of the feature. It didn't seem likely that Apple wouldn't provide for an Off button, and whether or not any given user wants it, I'm glad it's an option.

    Wouldn't this extend battery a few hours?
    Yep. I saw one review saying their watch battery lasted over 21 hours with always on display turned off. 
  • Reply 13 of 28
    FolioFolio Posts: 652member
    Compass will be useful popping up from unfamiliar subway stop (and not wishing to look like a tourist checking phone). I think Yelp app utilizes to point you to restaurant
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 28
    macgui said:
    From the video, it looks like the Always On display feature can be turned off. That should please those who aren't fans of the feature. It didn't seem likely that Apple wouldn't provide for an Off button, and whether or not any given user wants it, I'm glad it's an option.

    Wouldn't this extend battery a few hours?
    Yep. I saw one review saying their watch battery lasted over 21 hours with always on display turned off. 
    That would be amazing! It means less recharging time. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 28
    Eric_WVGG said:
    I'm still waiting on WatchOS 6 to be installable in my Watch app… I'm on the iPhone 13.1 beta, wondering if that's interfering? Can't even find an option for enrolling in the WatchOS beta.
    I have iOS 13.1 beta and am able to update my Watch 4 to WatchOS 6. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 28
    thttht Posts: 3,307member
    loopless said:
    What about the glass on the various models. Did they change anything there? My Al S3 scratched a bit too easily.
    Since they didn’t say anything, I assume it’s the same as before. Aluminum models get glass display covers. Steel, titanium and ceramic models get sapphire display covers.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 28
    Eric_WVGG said:
    I'm still waiting on WatchOS 6 to be installable in my Watch app… I'm on the iPhone 13.1 beta, wondering if that's interfering? Can't even find an option for enrolling in the WatchOS beta.
    There is no public watch beta, devs only. Delete your iPhone public beta profile and reboot your phone. 
    WatchOS6 should appear as update. I’m on 13.1 and updated AW3 to os6 yesterday.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 28
    thttht Posts: 3,307member
    Eric_WVGG said:
    tht said:
    The ceramic looks so great to me, except the price is too great for me. Oh well. I don’t need upgrade at all since I have Series 4.

    Hoping future versions will have a model in the 46 to 48 mm range. 
    dang check out Bruce Banner over here :) 

    I've noticed that most adult men opt for the smaller size (mistakenly, IMHO)… I was going to, but did an impromptu survey ("which looks better?") at the Apple store. Half a dozen strangers unanimously agreed that the larger one looked better on my average adult male wrists, so here I am…
    Yeah, I’ve seen a few guys with the 38 or 40 mm Watches. Generally do not look good.

    I’m at the 2nd shortest hole with the default 44 mm fluoroelastomer band. Have been thinking of going to the smaller strap, but I kind of like the doubling up of the bands on the far side of my wrist.

    I do not want a 48 mm model because of manly or jewelry concerns. I want it because a bigger screen would give me more information. The Watch has a 5:4 display, hmm the same aspect ratio I wan iPads to have, and maybe make it an even square? Probably not? Anyways, I want a larger display for more information. Wish I could put a couple more complications, or bigger complication, in the infograph modular watch face.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 28
    My S5 just came in, and one neat thing I didn't know about it was that the Titanium has it's own special-ish band.  I ordered the black sport band, and the watch came with that and the edition band, so two of them.  Pretty cool
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 28
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,977member
    macgui said:
    From the video, it looks like the Always On display feature can be turned off. That should please those who aren't fans of the feature. It didn't seem likely that Apple wouldn't provide for an Off button, and whether or not any given user wants it, I'm glad it's an option.
    Go to the watch app on your phone and go to screen and be]right es. You can toggle it there.
    watto_cobra
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