Do you remember all the noise a few years ago when Apple had already missed the smartwatch revolution? Apple was doomed. Watch launched. Guess who leads the smartwatch revolution, circa 2019 heading into 2020? Apple Watch.
What happened? Apple has this unique ability to develop and ship a product that works well enough in the beginning, and thanks to a billion or so customers, it sells well enough for the company to get on the Iterative Upgrade Train ™, find out what customers like and want, and rewrite history.
There are times when I think some of Apple’s new products are really just beta products for the first few years as the company searches for features that work for customers. Apple Watch was that way. Series 0 worked. Sort of. Series 2 was better, but not much. Series 3 was decent, but it took watchOS 5.x and Series 4 for Watch to hit stride, and Watch Series 5 and watchOS 6.x are wonderful.
I’m here to tell you that if have been thinking about getting Watch, Series 5 is the one. If you bought Series 0, Series 1, Series 2, and maybe even Series 3– and you feel Watch is not quite ready for prime time– Watch Series 4 was, but your only choice now is Series 5. Go for it.
All the basics that didn’t make it to prime time in previous models have come together in Series 5. Bigger and brighter screen. Much faster response. More and improved complications. Always-on display. Add that to Electrocardiogram and LTE cellular capability, and you’re almost carrying around an iPhone on your wrist.
For me, the killer feature set is Watch complications. That’s a horology term for everything else on a watch face that doesn’t tell time. Apple Watch has a dumb-assed honeycomb app launcher (please switch to the ListView; thank me later), a not quite so useless favorites Dock– each of which takes a tap to get to.
Complications are better.
Flip Watch toward your face, tap on a complication to view the app. Or, just view the data each complication displays on that wider and brighter screen. Apple added a few new Watchfaces only available on Watch Series 4. Infograph (the one that looks like plenty of screen clutter– it is not) and Infograph Modular. Each holds more complications than previous Watchfaces.
On the Infograph face, I can view upcoming Calendar events, weather information and conditions, battery life, Pedometer, heart rate, and more. Mine has a single complication to tap and call or text Ben, use the microphone to store notes in the Drafts app (which transcribes your dictation instantly), and more. One swipe across the Infograph Watchface brings up another Watchface and that can have different complications.
Watch Series 5 is the Watch to get if you have Series 3 or older.
Why? Sound is louder. Display is brighter. Battery lasts longer. Everything is, well, snappier. Faster. Easier. Ignore the doomsayers and nattering nabobs of negativity regarding information overload on the visually busy Infograph Watchface. It has eight complication slots. Infograph Modular has six slots. The only negative is that watchOS 6.x is new and so are Watch complication slots, so many Watch app developers have yet to upgrade their app’s complications to match the new slots. They will.
Recommendation and Tip
Walk into an Apple Store, try on one of their demo Watch Series 5 models. Let an associate walk you through the basics, but get a few extra minutes on how to set the app launcher to List View, popular the Dock with favorite apps, and– more importantly– how to set up complications on each Watch face. That’s, uh, well, a little complicated.
I think you’ll be impressed by its performance. When you take it home, check out Amazon for a wide variety of less expensive Watch bands. I have a dozen in various styles. They’re easy to swap out and color coordinate. Amazon will thank you.