Bourbon. Apple Watches. Got your attention? Good. The two share a deep commonality. No, not a rich amber color or notes of vanilla. They’re both best aged for a minimum of four years. See for yourself:
2015—A very slow wrist computer? A fancy-pants watch? A Fitbit with bad battery life? Apple didn’t quite know, but shipped the Watch anyway.
2016—Scratch that. It’s a fitness wearable. With better activity tracking, GPS and water resistance, the Series 2 Watch gobbled up a chunk of the fitness-tracker market, but it still suffered from poor battery life, especially during workouts.
2017— Apple added cellular connectivity (not without hiccups) and a faster processor to the Series 3, but it was still the same ol’ thing.
2018—With a bigger screen and powerful health additions, Apple’s Series 4 wearable is a lot nicer to use and finally makes a lot of sense—and not just for young people who know what burpees are.
I guess you could call this the I-told-you-so review. Over the past few years, I’ve said the Watch is a good fitness device but various aspects needed more time.
The Series 4 feels like it has been through a needed maturation process, with refinements to the screen, the battery, the cellular connectivity and more. And its new potentially lifesaving EKG and fall-detection features make it desirable for people who might well remember the Eisenhower administration.
The Series 4—$399 for the Wi-Fi/GPS model and $499 for cellular—went on sale on Sept. 21. This review is later than usual because Apple did not immediately provide the device to me. I’ve also spent a while testing the new features—even going to great, well, heights to test fall detection. (Be sure to watch the action-packed video above.)
I found some areas for improvement but the Series 4 was better than previous generations in all desired use cases:
I still don’t love the squircle shape of the Apple Watch, but the expansion of the Series 4’s screen by over 30% and the slight slimming of its potbellied underside make the Series 4 more comfortable and attractive.