Apple Watch Series 4: More of everything

Mala Bharghava | Updated on: Oct 24, 2018
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For anyone who uses and loves an iPhone, the Apple Watch is one way of extending its functionality while also paying some serious attention to health and fitness. Now in its Series 4 avatar, the Apple Watch has evolved into a sort of all-day companion that I realised I turn to more often than the iPhone itself, because it condenses so much information I want.

Display gets bigger

Now Apple Watch Series 4 has a bit more of everything that I find useful, but above all, it has a larger display that quite changes the way it looks. Apple says they have redesigned the interface completely to use the edge-to-edge screen that wraps over the sides and you can see that immediately when you look at the watch faces. In fact, the watch faces are able to display more information as one can see in the busy Infograph face, which isn’t one of my favourites because it looks overloaded with information bits, but which some may like very much, depending on lifestyle. I rather took to a new Siri watch face, which gives information about weather, air quality, your agenda, and rather needlessly, the time for sunset and sunrise. Twirling the crown (now with a red circle to indicate the cellular variant) gives that nice haptic feedback and scrolls through the little cards.

Several other watch faces show off the new screen — one that shows vapour moving in three colours, and ‘Liquid Metal’ and ‘Fire and Water’ faces that also show shapes moving right into the edges in a hypnotic fashion. These are just meant to give the user a moment of aesthetic pleasure but a ‘Breathe’ watch face is a way of stopping to take a deep breath or two and pause for a moment during a busy day.

The size of the display now makes it easier to even quickly skim through mail, messages or even Flipboard, the news aggregation app, which looks nice but which I have to find the time to fiddle with so I can stop it from giving me useless information about Kim Kardashian.

The Watch Series 4 comes in 40 mm and 44 mm sizes and feels no heavier or chunkier than before and is in fact a little flatter against the wrist, which is a good thing as there are less chances of it bumping against things — which does tend to happen with smartwatches. There are also some material variants with their own prices: stainless steel, gold toned, aluminium, etc. Watch bands, which are an industry by themselves, can be changed in the same way and for those upgrading from a previous Apple Watch, they will fit the new one as well.

Using the new watch definitely feels faster. I’m intimately familiar with the Apple Watch having used it from the very first generation and so the difference is immediately evident. There’s no lag, as there sometimes has been with previous watches — at least, not so far. I checked out the cellular variant of the watch and that, along with Siri, shows how much louder the speaker is on the device. In fact, one should take care before using it in public places because others will hear it.

To your health

Health and fitness is right at the heart of the Apple Watch. Apple is researching further ways of enhancing what the watch can do to safeguard the user’s health. But sadly, the famous and much talked-about ECG feature is not in India yet. With this, electrodes on the ceramic back of the watch can take a quick rough-level ECG using its app. This isn’t meant for everyone to get trigger happy with and can make users anxious, so it isn’t even turned on by default in the US and needs regulatory approval for use everywhere else, including India.

Meanwhile, the watch’s heart rate sensor will now alert the user if the rate dips below safe levels and if it’s too high. These alerts need to be turned on from the watch’s app since again, it isn’t necessary for everyone. Naturally, this feature isn’t one I could test as fortunately, my heart rate stayed within normal limits.

While there may be disappointment over the ECG feature not being here yet, the fall detection feature is supposed to work. Users need to be sure and enter their emergency contacts. In case of a hard fall, the watch will trigger an alarm that will get triggered unless the user interrupts it. Apple says they have worked very hard to ensure there are as few false positives (or negatives) as possible. It’s difficult to simulate a fall, in fact, to test the feature.

As for regular exercise, the Watch Series 4 works on WatchOS 5, which auto-detects the user going into exercise and stopping a workout. It’s also easier to compete on workout goals with friends or family.

The cellular variant is, of course, more useful because it allows you to leave your phone at home or somewhere for a period. One doesn’t need to carry the phone when on a run, for example. In addition, the Walkie Talkie feature that buzzes a contact for an immediate quick talk works all the better because of the louder speaker.

Price: ₹40,900 to ₹80,900

Pros: Larger and more beautiful display, faster performance, low/high heart rate alert and fall detection, auto detection of exercise, a more comprehensive health guide device

Cons: Expensive, with expensive watch bands, ECG feature awaited

Published on October 24, 2018

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