Incremental improvements make Apple’s smartwatch the best one yet.
The Apple Watch Series 5 doesn’t feature any major design changes compared to last year’s Series 4, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. Most of the improvements on the watch came with upgraded and improved hardware, made even better with watchOS 6.
It still comes in 40 mm and 44 mm screen sizes, and you have a choice of either aluminum (completely recycled from old iPhones) and stainless steel along with premium finishes like ceramic and titanium. The prices still start at 1,599 AED and the prices go up as you choose the premium materials and bands including the Hermès ones. There’s also separate Wi-Fi and cellular models, with the cellular model only limited to Etisalat at the moment.
For this review, I’m using the Apple Watch Series 5 Cellular model, 44 mm Space Gray Aluminum Case with Sport Loop.
The main feature on the Apple Watch Series 5 is the always-on display, which I initially thought was not a big deal until I got the chance to actually use it. In my experience with previous models, I remember always putting my hand up a specific way so the display would turn on and I could see the time. With the Apple Watch Series 5, that changes now since I can just glance at an angle and see the time without awkwardly putting my wrist in a specific position.
But that raises a question: what about battery life? In the days I’ve spent with the watch, it’s more or less comparable to my experience with Series 4, which is about a day’s worth of battery life. It’s a great feat if you look at it considering the display is always turned on. Apple says that the new OLED display goes down to 1 Hz when it is not in use and immediately cranks up to 60 Hz when you look at it.
The built-in compass is also great – but since I removed the app on my iPhone, I didn’t realize it would also go away on the watch, so make sure it’s installed so you can use it. You may not see the immediate benefits of a compass on your watch, but it’s great that it’s there. Note however that using watch bands that have magnets may interfere with how the compass operates so make sure you don’t use magnetic bands if you’re going to a place where the compass will be used.
Another main feature of the Apple Watch Series 5 is International SOS support on the cellular model. This basically allows you to call emergency services by pressing and holding the side button to trigger SOS mode. Apple says that it currently works in 150 countries and you don’t need a cellular plan for it to work. If you’re in the US for example, using this feature will immediately call 911.
The Apple Watch Series 5 runs on watchOS 6 that introduces several new features. One of these is that the App Store is now placed right on the watch, where you can easily browse apps that you want to download. There’s also new watch faces and a new Cycle tracking function for female users who would want to track their menstrual cycle.
watchOS 6 also introduces Hearing Health, where it uses the watch’s microphones to determine if the noise around you is healthy or not. It’s a great addition, but one glaring omission is that there is still no native sleep tracking. Yes, you can use other apps that can provide the function, but it would be great if Apple supported it out of the box considering they have the bedtime function on iOS and on the Health app.
Despite those flaws, the Apple Watch Series 5 still impresses – and it’s unarguably one of the best smartwatches out there. It might not be a needed upgrade if you already have the Series 4, but for us, that always-on display is something worth having.
+ Always-on display
+ Compass improves navigation and tracking
+ International SOS support
– Battery life is the same as Series 4
– Still no native sleep tracking feature
Final Rating: 4.5/5