Apple Watch Series 2: The smart watch you’ve been waiting for
In comparison to Apple’s first watch, the Apple Watch Series 2 looks nearly identical and only adding .9mm difference in thickness. Other than that, you’d be hard pressed to find any other physical differences that denote that it is indeed Apple’s latest and greatest. For some, they want everyone to know they were one of the first of their friends to have the newest Apple Watch, but for me it didn’t matter.
After preordering my Space Grey Aluminum 42mm Apple Watch Series 2 with a Black Sport Band, I immediately started watching YouTube videos in preparation on receiving my watch. I looked up tips and tricks so I could get my watch and start using it.
Once my watch was delivered I opened the box to find a beautifully crafted piece of technology which I couldn’t wait to try on.
I was pleasantly surprised that the Apple Watch Series 2 wasn’t as bulky as some others lead me to believe it would be. Upon first inspection you could see that it lives up to Apple’s quality as there wasn’t a single blemish on the watch. Its square design says, “Yes, I am a smart watch and I’m here to do things you’re automatic watch can’t do.” The Apple Watch Series 2 is just a little thicker than my 38mm Rodina so it didn’t feel much different on my wrist. The watch comes with two different band sizes, a S/M and a M/L, I ended up switching out the M/L band for the S/M as my wrist is on the smaller end.
It sits comfortably at the second to last hole, but on some days I can go to the third. The black sport band is very comfortable and molds to my wrist nicely. It was just a little thicker than my 38mm Rodina so it didn’t feel much different on my wrist. The sleek surfaces made me not watch to even touch it, but I overcame it as soon as I turned it on.
I know a lot of traditionalists think the Apple Watch design is an atrocity and has no place on their wrist, and I must admit I do enjoy a traditionally round watch. I have an Omega Seamaster DeVille and a few other cheaper fashion watches and love the intricacies and watches with lots of complications. There’s a feeling of authenticity when wearing a nice automatic. But I think there should be room for a smart watch in every collection. Not only does it tell time, it can make calls, send you notifications and doubles as a fitness tracker.
If you’re anything like me, you wanted to get the first generation Apple Watch, but the lack of an independent GPS was a deal killer. I wore a FitBit Zip on one wrist and my Omega on the other and I couldn’t wait for the Apple Watch Series 2 to come out so I could consolidate to just one. I am an avid runner, and until now I used an armband to hold my iPhone 6S+ while running. The 6S+ is by no means small, and with my arms not being that big, it looked a bit goofy. It would constantly slide down my arm, so I’d be readjusting it throughout my run. The Apple Watch Series 2 allowed me to leave my phone at home and just carry my watch. For some, the lack of a data chip still means not leaving the phone behind as a safety measure. But for those who aren’t concerned about not having a phone on them, the dedicated GPS is a godsend.
For daily tracking, I find the Apple Watch Series 2 to compare favorably to any fitness tracker on the market. The Activity monitor shows you 3 rings, MOVE, EXERCISE, and STAND. Out of the box, the goals are set at 350 calories, 30 minutes of exercise and 12 hours of standing. From what I could find you can only change your calories goal, which I find a bit annoying. Activity progress is displayed via three rings, and if the rings are closed, you know you’ve completed your goals. It took a few days to get used to this way of tracking as with my FitBit I was only concerned with step count and distanced traveled. You can still see step count but it’s one step removed by having to click in the activity app and then by scrolling to the bottom.
I try to go on walks every day so I make use of the Workouts app to track my walks simply because I’m a fan of data. I like to track my workouts, but now it’s made it easier to track my leisurely walks as well. When using the Workouts app the active Heartrate Monitor is engaged. This means at night you can see green lights shining on top of your wrist. On the backside of the Apple Watch, you’ll notice four distinct circles, two for infrared and the other two are the greenlights which according to Apple is a more accurate way of reading your heartrate. Throughout the day you heartrate is tracked via infrared, but when using the heartrate monitor or during a workout, it switches to these greenlights. Why not just use the lights every time? A few searches returned the idea that it’d be more load on the battery. I am not completely sure how accurate the heartrate monitor is, but it’s a nice feature to have when training.
Like I explained above, the biggest difference between the first generation Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Series 2 is the GPS. Some others include a better processing chip, water resistance up to 50 meters and the OLED display, which apple claims to be 2 times as bright (1000 nits for the nerds) as its predecessor.
For novelty, I took my brand new Apple Watch into the shower with, and let me tell you, it was WEIRD. The idea of electronics under water is a foreign concept, but it’s something that I could get used to. I looked at some tweets while the water flowed and then switched it to the water lock mode where the screen is only active. To disengage you turn the digital crown which uses sound to push water out of the speaker. The feature is meant to not allow the water to control your Apple Watch as water on touch screens tends to make unwanted movements and then remove the water that might otherwise distort sound until it dries. I am not much of a swimmer so I haven’t had to use this function much.
I didn’t have the first gen Apple Watch to compare screen brightness to, but the OLED display on the Apple Watch Series 2 does not disappoint. I keep mine on the lowest brightness and never have problems seeing what’s on my screen even outdoors. The nice thing about OLED displays is the blacks are blacker meaning there is better contrast between what is supposed to be lit up and what is not. OLEDs are more energy efficient as well, which helps in the battery department.
I’ve been using the watch daily for the past week and I can go a full day without charging and I usually have between 25-30% left when I am going to sleep. I don’t see myself as “Power User”, and am not using the dedicated GPS often during the day, which leads to longer battery life. I am completely satisfied with how long it lasts as I am already in the habit of charging my phone at night I naturally do the same with the Apple Watch.
As someone who hasn’t used a smart watch this is one of the biggest functions. The Apple Watch Series 2 handles notifications from my iPhone flawlessly. I get my texts, emails and other notifications throughout the day right on my wrist. It allows me to dismiss and reply straight from the watch. There are canned responses, emojis, and for unique replies you actually draw out each individual letter. I’ll admit, the small screen real estate usually leads me to replying on my phone, but it is a nice feature to have for shorter replies.
One of my favorite functions of the Apple Watch is the ability to take calls straight from the watch. When your phone rings, click Accept and start talking. The speaker is loud enough for a quiet setting and talking into my wrist makes me feel like James Bond or the Secret Service. For when it gets a little too loud, just open your phone, and boom, it switches flawlessly.
Is It Worth It?
In short, yes. Is it completely necessary? No. But new technology hardly ever is. For those who already have an Apple Watch, there’s nothing so different that it screams UPGRADE ME. If you’re not an active person you could probably hold off until the next series comes out. If you’re in the market for a smart watch or a fitness tracker and are already in the Apple ecosystem, this is just another branch to add to your other products that play well together. For $399 price tag, you can find a cheaper fitness tracker and you can a cheaper smart watch, but the Apple Watch Series 2 blends both together in one sleek, easy to use package. It does all the things I want it to and I am happy to the Apple Watch on my wrist. It makes things a little more convenient, and that is what technology is for, to make our lives easier.