Hubert Burda Media

First Impressions of the Apple Watch Series 3

Last week, Apple released Apple Watch Series 3, which has a new chip that improves processing power and speed.

More importantly, however, the smartwatch is the first with built-in cellular functions. That means you can stay connected even without your iPhone. That’s good news for many of us in the office who enjoy going for a run or swim, as that means your stats are still recorded, and your calls and messages are still transmitted to you via your Watch.

The bad news: at the moment, only SingTel users can fully utilise the cellular capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 3. If you are not a subscriber with SingTel, you still need your iPhone around if you want to stay connected to the rest of the world.

Thoughts on the Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch Series 3

The Red Dot

In the aesthetics department, the only visual indicator that the Apple Watch you’re wearing has cellular capabilities is the red dot on the crown. Otherwise, the Series 3 smartwatch stays true to the curved rectangular shape that everyone is familiar with.

e-SIM Card

You don’t need to purchase a SIM card to unlock the cellular capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 3. The engineers have managed to create an e-SIM card that is over one-hundredth the size of a traditional SIM card.

Battery Life

We were told that the Apple Watch Series 3 will have about 18 hours of battery life, assuming about four hours are used independently of the iPhone.

What does this mean? The smartwatch is designed to use the most power-efficient route to the Internet. If your iPhone is close by, the watch automatically taps on it. If it’s in close proximity to the WiFi connections that your iPhone remembers (yes, the Apple Watch Series 3 remembers all the WiFi connections that your phone has and you don’t have to manually key in the passcode for any of them), it rides on those. Only when none of these are around does the Watch use its cellular functions.

Our own testing actually slightly surpassed the claims of Apple and we managed to go through an entire workday, from waking up to going to sleep without having to recharge the smartwatch, even with a trip to lunch, dinner and the gym without our iPhone. Speaking of which…

Music Streaming

This is our favourite upgrade. You can now stream music directly to your Apple Watch Series 3 without your iPhone. This is perfect for your workouts, whether in the gym or on the running track. Music plays seamlessly through your AirPods without any buffering or cuts (assuming you’re in a well-connected part of the city).

Unfortunately, it only work for Apple Music users. For now, at least.

Calls & Messages

You can receive calls and messages on your Apple Watch Series 3. For phone calls, the omnidirectional microphone is strong enough for the recipient to hear you although you’ll probably have to bring the watch closer to your voice if you’re in a noisy room.

However, we strongly recommend that you use AirPods, in case you’re having a private conversation and you don’t want the rest of the world to know its contents. The speaker on the tiny Apple Watch Series 3 is surprisingly loud.

Monthly Price

$6.90 a month for the Apple Watch Series 3 cellular plan from SingTel, although there is a promotion going on right now where you get the first three months for free.

Apple Watch Series 3

Final Impressions

When the first Apple Watch was released in Q2 of 2015, it was clear that Apple wanted you to reduce your iPhone usage. But, we thought that the Watch completely missed the mark.

To Apple’s credit, the next iteration of the Watch was a marked improvement and we became fans. So did the rest of the world; the Apple Watch is now the world’s best-selling watch.

It’s clear that Apple learned from its initial setback with the first Apple Watch. It understood that the smartwatch will never fully replace the iPhone. Instead, the Apple Watch should complement the latter.

Yes, the Apple Watch Series 3 could potentially fully replace your iPhone but the Cupertino-based company has wisely avoided going down that path. After all, there are just some activities that can never be accomplished on a smartwatch.

Instead, by doubling down on its health and fitness apps (Apple’s Heart Rate app has been updated and is quite possibly the best in the market; Nike has improved its Nike Run Club app to take advantage of the watch’s cellular capabilities), Apple has made the Series 3 smartwatch an enticing proposition.

If the most strenuous workout you do is straining your stomach muscles during morning bowel movements, the Apple Watch Series 3 is not for you. However, for those who have made fitness a part of your life and are also SingTel subscribers, we recommend the smartwatch.