Apple kicked off its Special Event keynote at the new Steve Jobs Theatre with the proclamation that the Apple Watch has now become the most popular watch brand out there in the world and in addition, it unveiled a new model in the Apple Watch Series 3. Here's all you need to know.
Apple Watch Series 3: It's cellular
Apple's latest-generation smartwatch packs in a cellular radio so that you can make and take calls on-the-go, even when you're away from your iPhone.
Whilst Samsung fans have enjoyed mobile connectivity on the company's Gear S2 and S3 smartwatches (along with Huawei Watch 2 and LG Watch Sport owners) already, this is the first time the functionality has made it onto one of Apple's wearables. The Series 3 supports both LTE and UMTS networks and uses an integrated eSIM, so there's no need to slide a SIM card in or out; instead, it's hard-wired inside the watch and just needs to be registered with your carrier to work.
The Series 3 shares your iPhone's number, so as well as calls, you can also compose and receive texts and iMessages without worrying about sharing out a second number, just for your watch.
Apple Watch Series 3: Its design is practically unchanged
At a glance, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the Series 3 and its predecessors apart. Apple has squeezed all the gubbins to enable that new cellular functionality into a body that's the same size as before, well, almost. The metal casing hasn't changed but the back sapphire crystal is about 0.25mm thicker, which in Apple's words works out to about the thickness of a couple of sheets of paper; for most people, not a deal-breaker.
The company did pull off some clever engineering by making the display the cellular antenna, whilst the only obvious external indicator that you're a Series 3 is the addition of a red outer face on the digital crown; assuming you pick up the cellular version. Apple is in fact also launching a version of the Series 3 without cellular but that benefits from the rest of the improved hardware, for a little less cash.
Apple Watch Series 3: It's more powerful and power efficient
Apple didn't skimp on the Series 3's S3 dual-core processor, which it claims is 70 percent faster than the one found in the Series 2 Apple Watch. That extra power also means that it can pull off a few new tricks, like offer up voice feedback from Siri, which until now was simply a text-based affair.
The Series 3's improved W2 wireless chip handles Bluetooth and WiFi connections with 50 percent greater power efficiency on both and up to 85 percent greater WiFi speeds, helping narrow the gap between phone and watch communication both directly and indirectly.
Apple Watch Series 3: Still great for working out
Whether you opt for the cellular or non-cellular version your Series 3 will still come with integrated GPS making route and pace tracking a doddle, not to mention general navigation, with services like Find My Friends automatically switching over to your Watch should you decide to step out sans smartphone. What's more, there's now a barometric altimeter in there too for accurate elevation tracking and as before the Series 3 is
WatchOS 4 also brings a revised workout experience to the party and an updated Nike+ Run Club app is also in the works, whilst the functionality tied to the watch's heart rate sensor has been reworked to offer greater insight into how your body is responding to activity.
There's a new complication, letting you view your heart rate directly from your watch face and the watch will track both resting heart rate and recovery time.
Through a new study with Stanford Medical and the FDA in the US, the Apple Watch will also alert wearers to an unexpectedly elevated heart rate when they aren't doing anything strenuous and use that data to better understand arrhythmias and other heart conditions.
Apple Watch Series 3: Music on-the-go
By throwing cellular into the mix you're also going to be able to stream tunes OTA, giving you access to some 40 million songs from Apple Music when it becomes available next month, as well as any other third-party music services that play ball with watchOS 4.
Apple Watch Series 3: Battery life
Despite the addition of cellular, Apple is confident that its Series 3 watches will still dole out the same 18-hours of mixed usage as before.
Apple Watch Series 3: New faces, finishes and bands
As we learnt at WWDC 2017, watchOS 4 will include a number of new watch faces, including some that we saw on-stage at the latest keynote. Siri is getting its own watch face, as are a host of Toy Story characters, whilst we'd already seen one called Kaleidoscope and learnt about a new one called Discovery that includes a call complication by default.
As for casings, the standard Apple Watch Series 3 will come in gold, silver or Space Grey aluminium, along with some punchy new Sport Loop band colours. The Nike+ Apple Watch will also benefit from in its own unique colour options, whilst at the other end of the spectrum the Apple Watch Hermès gets some new leather bands and unique faces. For Apple Watch Edition lovers there's a new grey ceramic option on the way too.
Apple Watch Series 3: Price and availability
Whether you opt for a new standard Series 3 or Nike+ edition Series 3, you can expect to pay the same. The GPS-only models start at £329, whilst the cellular versions start at £399.
The Apple Watch Hermès only comes in a cellular flavour, with the new Marine Gala Leather Single Tour Éperon d’Or band model starting at £1199 and the Noir Gala Leather Single Tour Rallye band version starting at £1299. As for the new Series 3 Edition, that too only comes as a cellular skew and starts at £1299 as well.
Pre-orders for the Apple Watch Series 3 kick off from September 15th and the wearable hits stores on September 22nd, with the UK being one of the few launch markets for the cellular model, available exclusively on EE.