Apple Watch Series 3 Review: The Apple Watch Fulfills Its Destiny

This year’s Apple Watch looks like last year’s Apple Watch. The Series 3, which comes in 2 dimensions and begins at $399, has few new features aside from Siri’s newfound ability to chime in at quite awkward occasions. Virtually nobody will ever know you are wearing the new one, unless they spot the small red button on the side. And yet, this is a very different device. It currently has LTE built in, and links to the internet without having your phone or maybe a Wi-Fi connection. For two decades, the Watch was an iPod Touch. Now it is an iPhone.

Apple Watch Series 3



An always-on LTE connection completely changes what you can do with a wristwatch. It’s an impressive exercise tracker. Believe it or not, Siri’s pretty good.


The battery lasts a day in the best case–and frequently less. The Watch’s interface takes too long to work out.

How We Rate

  • 1/10A complete failure in every way
  • 2/10Sad, really
  • 3/10Serious flaws; proceed with care
  • 4/10Downsides outweigh upsides
  • 5/10Recommended with reservations
  • 6/10Strong with a few problems
  • 7/10Very good, but not very Wonderful
  • 8/10Outstanding, with space to kvetch
  • 9/10Nearly flawless
  • 10/10Metaphysical perfection

When Apple launched the Watch in 2015, it pitched the apparatus for a respite from the increasingly invasive technology in your life. “We are so attached, type of ever-presently, with technology today,” Kevin Lynch, the head of the Watch project, told me at the moment. “People are carrying their phones with them and taking a look at the screen {}.”

However, the product did not deliver. It only worked with your phone nearby, and acted mostly as a megaphone for your notifications. Over time, Apple shifted its attention, selling the Watch to fitness fans and the normally health-conscious. And yet, Apple always watched the Watch as something more than only a Fitbit and notifications.

In talking to a few of Apple’s execs following the Series 3 statement, it is apparent that it marks a landmark for the Apple Watch. And after spending a week using it in my wrist, I’ve got a theory: The Apple Watch is another iPhone. Apple clearly sees the iPhone X and outside evolving into something different, a more powerful computer designed for augmented reality and the next period of play and work. In that future, the Apple Watch would replace a lot of what we do on our phones today–the calls and texts, the smart-home and audio controls, the continuous back-and-forth with our virtual assistants. On a Watch, you can do all of those things without the nasty, attention-sucking side effects. It divides all of the iPhone’s tools out of its own toys.

It’s a wonderful idea, one that is not quite finished yet. However, for the first time ever, I really like the Apple Watch. And I will keep wearing it.

Time Travel

Obtaining your Watch connected only requires a couple of minutes after pairing it to your cell phone. Carrier plans vary slightly, but it costs something like $10 per month to place your Watch on your strategy. Most carriers also charge an activation fee, but many will waive that in the start and some even provide a few free months of service. I didn’t get to try out the setup procedure, because Apple set my View up on ATamp;T for me, but it needs to be straightforward.

If your telephone’s nearby, your Watch connects to it via Bluetooth and uses the phone as a modem. If you are away from the phone, it seems for Wi-Fi, and as a last resort, jumps on LTE. I never noticed a difference between LTE and Wi-Fi, and at a week of testing did not encounter any problems switching around. Others had a much harder time1, however, and Apple has fessed up to issues switching to unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks without connectivity{}” So proceed with caution.


You know what definitely will not enjoy LTE? Your battery. I can find a day of battery in the Series 3 with regular use–roughly the same as the Series 2–but when I am on LTE a whole lot, it is more like four or five hours. Apple rates the phone-call-on-LTE battery life at the same hour, which matches my testing. (Telephone calls work remarkably well, incidentally. The microphone on this Watch works wonders.) You won’t replace your iPhone using a Watch since it just does not last long enough. It is more for the times when you are on a run and have to make a call.

Otherwise, performance feels dramatically better than any preceding Watch. Everything’s zippy and easy–I hardly ever found myself staring at loading screens, which occurred constantly on older versions. I still find the entire interface type of convoluted. The vertically stacked dock makes it easy to flip through my most-used stuff, but the constellation of programs takes forever to navigate, and it is tough to know what you handle on the watch itself and which you require a phone for.

The more I use the Series 3, the more I find myself using Siri. Its voice recognition always excels, even when I am outside or speaking at arms’ length. The Siri watchface, which preemptively lots information the AI thinks I will want, does nothing for me. It merely shows old headlines and a bizarre compilation of photographs I do not need on my wrist. But I am always long-pressing on that red-buttoned crown, or saying “Hey Siri,” then making calls, sending texts, getting directions, and taking notes. In every situation, it’s so much quicker than pulling out my mobile phone. I do not even have to look down.

Get Up, Stand Up

The majority of the Series 3 components changes apply more to ordinary users compared to marathon runners, but the newest Watch OS applications is practically all fitness. The new workout program is a great way to quickly monitor just about any type of work out, and I can not even comprehend the pathological need I unexpectedly have to shut all 3 activity rings daily. Apple’s made the Watch’s training features smarter, permitting you to know how long you will want to walk to close the loops and notifying you (perhaps too often) to get your ass moving. I get angry at my Watch 20 times a day, but it is great for me.

Apple’s built a significant exercise ecosystem of its own, and most other exercise programs support the Watch also–take your choice between Nike Run Club, Runkeeper, Strava, and much more. It drives me batty that Spotify does not have an Apple Watch program, but at least Apple Music users will soon be able to stream tracks over LTE. Spending $399 does feel like a great deal for a workout pill, but the Watch is easily the best of its type.

Apple’s also using the Watch to perform more medical stuff, like warning you if your heart rate’s above normal and you should seek medical assistance. I have not encountered these warnings (fortunately) or worn the Watch long enough to see enough information to really make a difference, so I will have to report back. But it’s apparent that health issues to the Watch group, and I enjoy wearing something that does not seem like a Life Alert but can serve the same function.

A Watch to See

I have attempted to become A Smartwatch Guy so several times during the past couple of years. Since I write about gadgets, and since every business on the planet appears to believe smartwatches will be the future, a continuous flow of these crosses my desk. All wind up using their batteries dead, forgotten in my desk drawer, because ultimately they are only accessories and it’s too much hassle to keep them synced.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is the first smartwatch I’ve ever used that felt like something more. Paired with a set of Bluetooth headphones (AirPods or otherwise), it turns into an wonderful development of the iPod. As soon as you spend a couple of minutes culling your notifications, it is a helpful way to remain connected without being diverted. It has not made me throw out my phone, but now I walk the dog and run out for coffee with no, because I could even pay out of my wrist. I go to the gym with no phone, so I really work out now rather than just sitting on the bench staring at Twitter. The Watch eventually does free me from my telephone, at least occasionally.

Having said that, it is still not an ideal device. The battery remains the largest limitation, and the Watch still requires better and more programs, and a simpler interface. And, for the love of everything sacred, Apple should create a Watch with a display that is always on. But whether you are a hyper-connected hyper-marathoner, or simply searching for a couple of minutes away from the attention-sucking din of your iPhone, this is the initial Watch that actually works.

UPDATE: This post was updated to reflect issues with LTE, and Apple’s announcement.

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