Is it Time to Upgrade to Apple Watch Series 5?

The all new Apple Watch Series 5 is tough to recommend to owners with a Series 4, but an incredible step-forward for anyone else!
Apple Watch Series 5

Announced on September 10 and available on September 20, the all new Apple Watch Series 5 is officially available on store shelves. The device is available in all-new materials, colors, and now allows completely customized band selection. Although considered an all-new generation, it has been determined that a majority of the hardware is a copy-paste from the Series 4 which was launched more than a year ago. Over the last couple of weeks, prominent tech influencers weighed-in with their impressions of the newest Apple wearable. Is the upgrade worth it? And what are the major differences in last year’s model?

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple introduced the new Apple Watch Series 5 in front of a large crowd in the Steve Jobs theater, located on the Apple ‘spaceship’ headquarter campus in Cupertino, California. The announcement covers the broad ranging abilities of Apple Watch, including the ability to track workouts (even under water), keeping you from getting lost with a compass, taking phone calls, providing a healthcare industry approved EKG, and showing you the data with an always-on screen.

However, among the laundry list provided in the announcement video, only two specific features are new: the always-on screen; digital directional compass.

While there is a lot of hype around the device, especially driven by Apple, the chipset and signal bands are all the same. It does sneak in the ability to make international SOS emergency calls. A slightly larger battery is included, but the Series 5 does not make any major improvements year over year, unless the always-on screen raises your eyebrows.

Above, Dieter Bohn of The Verge, explains his personal feelings about the year over year upgrade. “No other smart watch is even close to catching up to [Apple Watch Series 5].” But what about comparing Apple Watch to itself? Aluminum, steel, titanium, and ceramic materials give buyers a great selection, according to their budget and preference; however, only titanium is truly a new material, given ceramic was first introduced on the Series 2. Bohn, confirms the battery life is as-promised by Apple at 18 hours and confirms you will need to charge it every day.

“All in all, it is a really minor update,” claims Bohn, but confirms that Apple Watch and watchOS are far above the competitors. He continues, feeling that the device over achieves against other market devices, but the device is a minor bump above last year’s upgrade.

Lewis Hilsenteger, better known by his YouTube handle “Unbox Therapy,” unboxes the new titanium and stainless steel models above. Initially, he notes the big difference in weight savings utilizing the all new titanium materials, especially in comparison to the steel. Stainless is the heaviest of all choices and aluminum comes in at the lightest.

Showcased in his video is the very simple setup process of the device, but this has been the operation for several generations. Hilsenteger also walks through several of the all-new watchOS 6 faces, which dynamically change, only on the brand new Apple Watch Series 5. Thanks to the always-on screen and new screen technology, the dynamic faces will display information consistently, actually changing colors and brightness to adapt.

Is it Worth the Upgrade?

Ultimately, the Apple Watch Series 5 is an incredible upgrade for anyone using the Series 3 or lower. Apple Watch Series 5 is mostly a copy of Series 4, aside from the always-on screen and onboard compass. However, Apple Watch Series 3 and lower offer a much smaller screen, lower battery capacity, and the original hardware form factor. The Series 5 is available now at Apple and third party retailers starting at $399 in aluminum at 40MM.

New Features in watchOS 6

Given the small changes to Apple Watch Series 5 hardware, a majority of the change is ushered by the newest version of watchOS 6. Outlined above via this incredibly detailed video by Jeff Benjamin at 9to5mac, there are several core changes to the operating system which will be enjoyed by Apple Watch devices Series 3 and later. Most notably, the vast array of new screens, also outlined by Unbox Therapy’s video. If you have been longing for a calculator, there is now one on board! New digital time screens abound. A new decibel app registers how loud your environment gets and warns if long term exposure causes a risk to hearing. Among others. If you want to take full advantage of the new upgrade, I encourage you to watch the whole video