Apple Watch Series 2 smartwatch review: Is this the right time?

PROS:

  • Perfectly readable screen, even outdoors/Infinite contrast, high brightness when needed.
  • Waterproofing activities finally well thought out.
  • watchOS 3 finally carries the concept of Apple to a very good level of use.
  • Faster reactivity of the system, much better than the first Watch.
  • Increased fitness part.
  • Very clear telephone communication from one side to the other.
  • Voice assistance with Siri very effective.

CONS:

  • Autonomy.
  • Thicker than the first Watch.
  • Another last effort to make the cohabitation between WatchOS and the watch buttons 100% logical.
  • No continuous time display.
  • IOS compatible only.

CONCLUSION

As often when Apple launches on a new type of product, it is said that this second version should have been the first. Everything is better thought out, especially thanks to the contribution of a watchOS 3 more logical in its operation.

But if the first Watch also benefits from this OS, the Series 2 is totally detached by its S2 chip which gives it an ideal power, its sealing that increases the field of possibilities and a GPS that makes it more autonomous.

There are still a few perfectible points, such as the autonomy or the digital crown that does not take its full measure, but Apple and the Watch Series 2 are henceforth to the level of requirement that can be placed in this type of product.


It took 18 months to Apple to propose a new iteration of its smartwatch. Without really changing pace, with revised and corrected insides and 2 or 3 welcome inputs – much like an iPhone, in short – the Watch Series 2, as well as many second versions of a new type of product a Californian firm, looks exactly the same as what the Watch should have been resolutely from the outset. If there are still gaps, they are better compensated by undeniable qualities.

Were they actually waiting for a second Apple Watch, despite high sales estimates in the stratosphere compared to the connected competition – soon 15 million watches against less than 1.5 million for Samsung alone in one year? Not necessarily, especially when, after being disappointing to its release, the first Watch knew to correct many problems of fluidity, autonomy and even ergonomics through the successive updates to watchOS 2 then watchOS 3. All the more so in front of a Watch Series 2 which, from outside, is strictly identical.

 Nevertheless, Apple may still surprise, and here the California firm will do it in the right direction … simply by giving what the first Watch (or Series 1, as it should be called now) desperately needed: a bigger battery, a much higher maximum brightness, more power, a standalone GPS and finally the waterproof certified (W50M)!
With these new cards in hand, Apple is going to try even more to make its new Watch a bridge between the beginner or moderate sportsman and the smartphone user who wants to add an accessory to his wrist without having to address a brand of sport.
The Series 2 also inaugurates a home mobile chip, the S2 (S1 on the first watch), announced 50% more efficient and an Oled touch screen at brightness 1000 cd/m². On the size and definition, no change, one remains on 1.5 inch 272 x 340 pixels on the 38 mm and 1.7 inch on 312 x 390 px on the 42 mm. The digital crown and the side button are always on the menu, as is the dual-drive heart rate monitor on the back of the case, while the energy recharge is carried out once again by induction. Apple also revisited its speakers and microphone, which we will not fail to test further down.

The Apple Watch comes with an indication price of 299$ for 38 mm version and 329$ for 42 mm version (silicone bracelets), for the finish in simple anodized aluminum. The version tested here is the 42 mm model with a steel case finish and is positioned at 549$. In addition, there are a growing number of bracelets (silicone, leather, nylon, mesh …), but also designer and luxury collections, such as Hermès, with starting prices of at least 800 $. Another world.

Note that the Apple Watch is only compatible with iOS and therefore with an iPhone, from the 5s, can be used in Bluetooth and can use Wi-Fi for better communication between the two devices.

ERGONOMICS

The new generation watch is also an opportunity for Apple to refresh its display technology. Still in Oled, with consequent infinite contrast, the screen also enjoys a notable leap in brightness, at least in theory, since the brand claims to go from just over 400 cd/m² (200 cd/m², already satisfactory for Oled, actually measured in our labs last year) to some 1000 cd/m² on the Series 2. At first glance, it is true that the screen of the Series 2 is expressed with more vigorous than that of the Series 1, with a black of course still as abyssal, but especially colors and whites much more energetic. This Watch Series 2, well … physically it is an Apple Watch. At least, it should be called Watch Series 1 now (the notions Sport, Standard and Edition disappear). The new watch case of the Californian is absolutely identical to that of its elder, whether it is in 38 or 42 mm. The only difference is a thickness (1 mm, which is especially noticeable when placing the two generations side by side) and a weight increased on each model. On the wrist, this is not noticeable. The Watch Series 1 is not an example of finesse – normal with all that it carries – the data will not change for this version, therefore.

There is a second microphone input that greatly improves communication when making a phone call but also when talking with the Siri voice assistant, whether for a search, dictation a text message … No need to shout, a volume of classic conversation with a human being less than a meter of self is enough to engage the operation and the exchange with Siri with a precision that is perfectible but never frustrating. A system more and more natural and pleasant, in short.

At the probe, if the Watch does not reach 1000 cd/m² of maximum brightness, it still limits to 600 cd/m² (more than double the Watch Series 1) at its last level of intensity via the light sensor, a little less than a smartphone Galaxy S6 edge, which was then a small event in itself for the mobile Oled/Amoled, but the Watch can offer this on the entire surface of its slab.

As for general ergonomics and usage, if we touch a few more precise words in the following part, it is worth highlighting the efforts made by Apple since the first watch, this coming primarily from watchOS 3 and is therefore observable on the Series 1. The accelerometer is much better handled on the time consultation, with a small wrist movement that can display the dial, with no pronounced movement, so; the navigation in the device takes a little more sense. Of course, the digital crown still refuses to validate a selection when we press it – it is still a step backwards, and still as aberrant from our point of view, but the main button finally makes sense by displaying the shortcuts functions and apps.

And because this is the main novelty, at least the most conspicuous and which we will also develop below, what is worth this watch supposedly waterproof up to 50 meters? An implacable logic that had escaped Apple on the first version, which was only resistant to splashing.

Whether at sea, in the shower, at the pool, the Watch Series 2 has never shown signs of reluctance to take gout or off. Prepared for immersion, Watch also switches to inactive screen mode (no interaction possible, except informative for the dial on a wrist movement) during an aquatic activity. To get out of it, the crown must be turned sufficiently out of the water (the watch detects it), to fill a circle of water displayed on the screen. The latter then unlocks and the communication loudspeaker automatically resonates with 5 pulses to remove any liquid residue from the structure. Simple, smart and avoids any fear of soaking a system of this kind in water just as much as it guarantees Apple the integrity of the product.


Filling the circle with the blue drop via the digital crown moves unlock the watch after immersion.

For recharging, Apple always offers the same induction system, with a long cable terminated by a magnetic circle on which the watch naturally arises. At first glance, this system can be accompanied by a million accessories (for nightstand, iPhone and Watch, suspended …) via the always prolific accessories turning around Apple.

INTERFACE AND USES

If there is no fundamental change in the functioning of the watch or the OS, Apple will make a number of small changes that make all the difference. For the Boeotians, remember that the Watch allows to receive notifications of any kind coming from the linked iOS smartphone, send and reply to emails, SMS, conversations Facebook Messenger, Twitter, etc., but also to receive and to make calls, to play games special for his screen – why not … -, to display the time – yes, yes – with dials offering the possibility of placing “complications”, these small dynamic annotations related to the activity, date, battery level, number of notifications from a particular social network or news items published on the news site, we follow the most. It is also possible to listen to music synchronized on the watch via a headset or wireless headphones (Bluetooth) or to remotely control the music emitted from the iPhone.


The cloud of applications. A hit to take and an ultra responsive system on the Series 2. Simply tap on the application or zoom in to it with the crown to access it.

The Home app, introduced with iOS 10 this autumn and thus on watchOS 3, is the latest addition to its management potential, allowing you to manage the connected objects in the Home Kit compatible home. And they will be numerous in the weeks and months to come.

For the user interface, Apple keeps its iPhone/Watch couple. Deep management of notifications and downloads of apps and dials is therefore always done from the application Watch on smartphone. The interface of the watch offers the choice of dynamic dials recorded from the mobile, a menu like a cloud of icons of mobile applications in the form of pellets, various direct accesses for communication (direct link between owners of Watch for private messages, for example), managing the watch (water lock, airplane mode, volume, etc.) or a function enabling it to find its telephone via the transmission of a sound. The whole is manipulated in a dance between the touch screen, the crown and the main button, which can now open a menu regrouping all the uses to which one wants to access quickly (configurable on the iPhone too). The screen, moreover, still has its interaction 3D Touch. In the notification pane, by sliding your finger from the top to the bottom of the watch display, you can always delete notifications at once by “pressing” your finger on the screen.


If the Watch Series 1 can also benefit from the different software and ergonomic inputs, it can not access the level of reactivity offered by the Series 2. The S2 chip makes speak the powder. The cloud of apps runs without latency, transitions between uses no longer take 3 or 4 seconds or more and the opening of an app sees its time divided by two. It takes up to 1 or 2 seconds to activate a usage, which may still seem a lot in the age of concrete smartphones, but this greatly erases the feeling of frustration of the first Watch and its times sometimes longuets, even to access the settings menu.

Finally, the contribution of GPS and sealing generates new functions. It is now possible to get out of business without having to worry about an iPhone to track deep down a race, a walk, a bike ride or even a swimming in open water or in a pool (a clear distinction between the two). The GPS locates the wearer of the watch and helps in parallel with public Wi-Fi to triangulate the position more quickly. Thus it is not necessary to wait for any first hook. You can go out from home, start the exercise and start without warning, the watch will propose a very precise starting point. After returning to a connection with the iPhone, the Watch instantly sends the session data, including geolocation, displays in the Activity section of iOS apps. The accuracy is a few meters and can sometimes seem a bit tortuous at the sight of the report, but the road always remains the right one.

The Activity section now offers a finer management of the exercises, with speed and altitude tracking and a relevant observation of a split exercise in running, for example. Color codes on the intermediate times established, but also on the map thanks to the GPS, expose this more graphically.

Practical, for swimming, the GPS coupled to the accelerometer and the gyroscope of the Watch make it possible to locate and thus count the number of lengths (one can inform the watch on the length of the pelvis) via changes in swim direction. On the other hand, we succeeded in trapping the watch, but not always, by changing direction in the middle of the course. What a little cheat on the lengths … Another good idea all the same, direct and fast access to a type of activity, rather than reprogramming each time. Useful to repeat exercises in one manipulation; it was not available, it is now.

Can the Watch Series 2, with all these software and hardware contributions, replace a very good sports watch? Let’s say that Sunday sportsmen who wish to take a few steps of activity will find their account, as well as those wishing to mix an effective sports watch and accessory connected more urban for the daily. The latter still lacks depth for advanced exercise, but the boundary between this product and Garmin, FitBit or TomTom watches/bracelets is only software and Apple seems to learn faster and faster the next release of a model Watch Nike + all the more focused on the sport,

AUTONOMY

Apple preferring to do without communicating on the battery capacity of its watch, we can however today speculate on what is contained in this watch. We already know that Apple sees bigger for this new version, if only by the thickness of the case, but also that the small 38 mm model incorporates a battery of 273 mAh, against 205 mAh on the first Watch of the same gauge. One can imagine a battery of Watch Series 2 of 42 mm with a capacity slightly higher than 300 mAh, which is what some references on the sector Android Wear, such as Motorola 360 Sport, but also the Samsung Gear S2 – pending the 3rd shortly – from Samsung under Tizen.

That being so, what is the endurance of the Watch Series 2 really worth on the pitch, on the wrist? Well we can not write that Apple spoils us with a fabulous revolution on this point, since the autonomy of Watch and that of its descendant are almost identical. It should also be understood that here the most prominent battery comes above all to cash in the use of GPS, the performance of the S2 chip and the high brightness of the screen. If the first watch suffered from the glaring lack of optimization of watchOS 1, switching to Watch 2.0 then 3.0, it has consolidated its operating time to almost two full days. It is relatively the same observation regarding a Series 2 which can very well hold until the end of the dinner of the second day after recharge,

And on an outdoor sports activity, precisely, without the help of an iPhone and with the GPS of the watch as the only geolocation ally, do not count on more than 5 hours of practice before watching the Watch sink. Widely enough for most outings of madam and sir-all-sports-of-Sunday. On the other hand, for an excursion of several hours, the sports-grounded watch seems more appropriate. For a daily or regular race in the week, be aware that an output of 45 minutes to one hour will not steal more than 15 to 20% of the battery. Note that the “Reserve” mode is always on the menu and allows, when the Watch approaches total exhaustion, to make the watch … a simple watch, which displays the time in a corner of the ‘screen.

Thanks to the Oled which saves a lot of energy in this case – the whole screen is almost black and therefore consumes nothing – the Watch can hold between 5 and 10 hours more.

To conclude, on the recharge side, Apple seems to have made a relative effort since with a battery of larger capacity, the full charge is faster, with an average time systematically less than 2 hours.

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