In recent months, it has become apparent that many readers eagerly awaited the unveiling of the Apple Watch Series 4. The Apple Watch Series 4 has a completely new design for the first time, and Apple has come out with a lot of improvements. The Apple Watch Series 4 has been improved in almost every area. In this review we discuss all these improvements and see if the Apple Watch Series 4 is for you. Which functions stand out and how do you like the new design? You can read all about it in the Apple Watch Series 4 review.
- Health functions
- Digital Crown
- Battery life
- ConclusionTo buy
Introduction Apple Watch Series 4 review
When the Apple Watch just appeared, the reaction was with many people: “What do you do with it?” Apple did not seem to know it completely either. In the beginning it was mainly presented as a fashion accessory, but now the focus is much more on sport and health. Now that Apple has a better idea of the strengths of the Apple Watch, the watch has increasingly found its place. You will see the Apple Watch appear in the street more often. It is not only the techy people who walk around with an Apple Watch, but also people who are not that keen on technology or who want to be the first with a new product. The Apple Watch is becoming more and more mainstream and the Apple Watch Series 4 has to take the next step. I am convinced that Apple will succeed and that is mainly due to the many fine improvements of the Series 4.
Design of the Apple Watch Series 4
More rounded corners
New ceramic back
Apple went back to the drawing board for this fourth model. The Apple Watch Series 4 has been redesigned and you will notice that immediately when using the Apple Watch. Where the previous models are mostly rectangular, the Apple Watch Series 4 has much more rounded corners. At first glance, this may seem like a small change, but it causes a fundamental change in what the Apple Watch looks like. Even people who are totally unaware of the developments around Apple, it is striking that the watch has become a lot rounder. We do not know whether Apple is consciously meeting the wishes of a round Apple Watch, but it is certainly a good middle ground.
In recent years we have regularly seen the wish for a round Apple Watch. As far as I am concerned, this is not necessarily necessary, if only because watchOS works much better and text is easier to read on a rectangular screen than on a round screen. The more rounded corners give the Series 4 a much softer and friendlier look, as you often see with round watches. Apple has therefore made the best choice for us by not throwing the previous design overboard, but by refining it with this small but important change.
The new buttons also contribute to the new design. The Digital Crown is a bit flatter and therefore protrudes less. The side button below it has also been given a new design. The button now protrudes much less and is flush with the case of the Apple Watch Series 4. That makes the Apple Watch Series 4 more a whole, but the use of the button has deteriorated somewhat in our opinion. Pressing the button is a bit more difficult now. Nonetheless, the newly designed buttons contribute to the nicer design of the Apple Watch.
Incidentally, this model has also become slightly slimmer than last year’s. It saves 0.7 millimeters, so you will only really notice the difference if you hold a ruler beside it. However, the Apple Watch Series 4 is still slightly thicker than the original model. We regret that Apple has not yet succeeded in making the Apple Watch considerably thinner. In that respect, the Series 4 still looks a bit rude, especially if you wear it under a tighter sleeve of, for example, a shirt
Back completely made of ceramic
In terms of design, Apple has also thought about the back, so the part that sits against your skin. For the first time, the back of the heart rate sensor is made of ceramic. Previously this part of the same material as the case (aluminum, stainless steel or ceramic), but now all models have the same ceramic back with sapphire crystal. In addition to the fact that this looks luxurious, it also has a functional improvement. According to Apple, this material ensures better wireless reception, even with the GPS model.
As we said in our Apple Watch Series 3 review, we didn’t find a complete redesign necessary at the time. Nevertheless, we are pleased that Apple has made some more design changes this year. That not only gives the Apple Watch Series 4 an up-to-date appearance, but also makes it really more beautiful than all its predecessors.
Appearance of the Apple Watch Series 4
Two new formats: 40 mm and 44 mm
In the Netherlands still only in aluminum
Available in space gray, silver and gold
Also new Nike + version
All your existing bands work with the Series 4
To start immediately with the door: it is a great pity that the Apple Watch in stainless steel is no longer for sale in the Netherlands. Just like last year, Apple uses this material only for the 4G version, but it is still not available in the Netherlands and Belgium because the providers do not yet support the eSIM. That also means that you have to move abroad for the stainless steel Apple Watch Series 4. It is a pity that Apple does not offer an option for a GPS model in stainless steel. That makes the choice a lot more limited, especially if you were looking for something fancy. Extra annoying is that the iPhone X, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max do have the stainless steel border. A matching Apple Watch in stainless steel would have been a lot nicer for the people who like everything in one style. In addition to the regular Apple Watch Series 4, there is also a Nike + variant. The only difference is the exclusive dials and the special Nike sports strap. They are technically the same.
In terms of colors you have the same options as last year: space gray, silver and gold. Nothing has changed in the color tones: the finish is exactly the same and Apple has fortunately opted for the same space gray shade. The colors are beautiful, but are getting a bit boring now. Perhaps Apple could release more colors for the variation next time, as they have done with the iPhone XR.
Two new formats
Because of the larger screen (more on that later), Apple has slightly increased the size of the Watch. Instead of 38mm and 42mm, the Series 4 is now available in 40mm and 44mm. The case has thus become a few millimeters larger. Most people who previously had a 38 mm model can now get the best out of a 40 mm model. The same applies to the switch from 42 mm to 44 mm. However, if you had the feeling that the 42mm version was just a bit too big for you, then you better opt for the new 40mm version. The image surface thus becomes slightly larger, while the size of the cabinet is slightly smaller and can therefore be a bit more pleasant for you. There is no rule of thumb as to which format is best, because that varies per person. More tips about which Apple Watch size you should choose can be found in our article.
We find the new formats no obstacle. The Apple Watch does not look rough because the difference is almost minimal. It is a compromise for the larger screen and it is great that Apple has made sure it still looks good. However, the Apple Watch should not be much bigger, because the watch will look a bit rude. The format is now just right, also because it does not stick out at the wrist.
Apple Watch Series 4 screen
More than 30% larger image surface
More space for text
Larger dials, including two new Infograaf dials
The most important part of the Apple Watch is the screen. Due to the larger screen of the Apple Watch Series 4, this is also the biggest improvement. The screen surface is more than 30% larger than in the previous versions. The difference is even greater with the new 40 mm version, because there the image surface has grown by 35%. Apple has adjusted watchOS in a number of ways, so that the Apple Watch makes full use of this larger screen.
First of all, it is striking that certain elements are especially larger. With larger screens on the iPhone, Apple often chooses to simply show more information (for example, an extra row of apps on the home screen), but a different approach has been chosen on the Apple Watch. In fact, if you compare the list display of apps on the Apple Watch Series 4 with the previous model, one button fits less on the screen. That is because Apple has mainly made the buttons larger. You can see that in the grid view of the apps. The round icons are a bit bigger, instead of more icons appearing. This ensures that the operation of the Apple Watch is much nicer. Text is larger and therefore easier to read. We think this is the best choice. More buttons on a larger screen, on the other hand, make using them more difficult. We notice that we use the Apple Watch more often, because the larger screen ensures a more pleasant operation.
Apple has also made two new exclusive dials for the larger screen: Infograaf and Infograaf Modular. The first is an analog clock and the second is the digital variant. This is most similar to the existing modular dial. Both variants of the Infograaf watch face have all kinds of new complications. The analogue version in particular is impressive, with no fewer than eight different Apple Watch complications. The larger screen offers all kinds of extra possibilities for the display. Consider a bar that indicates how hot it is in relation to the minimum and maximum temperatures of the day. The Infograaf watch face therefore offers more information and more insight. Apple has also made all kinds of new complications, for example with a profile photo of your favorite contact so you can quickly call or send a message to that person.
A disadvantage is that complications have to be adjusted especially for these dials. You cannot use all your existing complications on these dials and we think that is a great pity. Apple itself has not adjusted all its own complications. For example, there is no button to go directly to the Home app. Developers can adjust their complications for this watch face, but the offer is still limited there.
If you want to continue using your favorite complications, then you have to go to the existing dials. They are all just present on the Apple Watch, but they have only been updated to a limited extent for the larger screen. The old dials are slightly larger, but you cannot use more complications. Our favorite modular watch face still consists of time and five complications, while most analog watch faces have four complications. Apple could have done more in our opinion, but who knows what the future watchOS updates will bring. We think it would be time for Apple to open the doors for external developers’ dials.
Apple has also added new Fire & Water, Liquid Metal and Vapor. These are full screen on the Apple Watch Series 4. This mainly shows how beautiful the screen is, but we don’t find them very useful. No complications are possible with the full-screen display. You can also choose the round versions including complications, but these watchOS 5 dials can be found on all Apple Watch models.
A nice detail of watchOS 5 on the Series 4 is that buttons on the screen are adjusted in shape. The corners of the buttons now fit nicely with the corners of the screen. It is these small details that make the Apple Watch Series 4 also typically Apple.
Performance Apple Watch Series 4
New S4 64-bit dual-core processor
In recent years, many (and rightly so) complained about the performance of the Apple Watch. The first generation Apple Watch was too slow for many apps. The Series 1 and Series 2 were not yet optimal, although a clear improvement was noticeable. According to Apple, the Apple Watch Series 4 is twice as fast as the previous model. You notice that clearly when using it, because we have barely encountered loading times in our test. Third-party apps also start up quickly and that has been different. We notice that especially with the Home app, which is immediately updated with the latest status of your devices as soon as you open it. The better performance also means that you will use the Apple Watch more.
I myself make the switch from the Apple Watch Series 0 to the Series 4 and the performance is a world of difference. It seems that you have a completely different device on your wrist and it is a relief to use the Series 4. From starting up for the first time to using the apps: everything is so much faster than before. If you also have a Series 0, you will be blown away by the performance of the Apple Watch Series 4.
Bluetooth 5.0 and better speaker
For the first time, Apple has provided the Apple Watch with Bluetooth 5.0. In fact, Apple should have done that a year ago. Where the iPhone then made the switch from Bluetooth 4.2 to Bluetooth 5.0, it is now the Apple Watch’s turn. Bluetooth 5.0 is more energy efficient and especially faster. You will notice this when you first set up the watch, but also when installing apps. With previous models this sometimes got stuck or lasted a long time, but on the Series 4 it goes much faster. We also notice that making telephone calls goes more smoothly. The connection with the iPhone is established faster, so that’s nice.
Apple has also updated the speaker of the Apple Watch Series 4. This is 50% louder than before. It’s handy to have, but you actually use the Apple Watch speaker sporadically. It is not possible to play complete music tracks (only recognized clips via Shazam), so you mainly use the speaker when calling and the new Walkie Talkie app. We do not call very often on the Apple Watch and in our opinion the speaker of the Series 3 was sufficient. Nevertheless, the improved speaker makes sure that you hear your conversation partner better, even when you are in a noisy environment. The Walkie Talkie app is especially useful if, for example, you have an appointment with someone and a whole telephone conversation that is too much of a good thing. It is a pity that you always have to keep a hand free, because you have to keep your finger on the screen to be able to talk
Just like on the Apple Watch Series 3, Siri talks back on the Series 4. Siri sounds great and is always easy to understand. Thanks to the improved chip, Siri also responds nice and smoothly and the assistant needs little time to think. In watchOS 5 it is also possible to activate Siri without the Hé Siri command. You just have to turn your wrist and ask your question. This works nice, because Siri then processes the order faster. However, this feature is also just available on the Series 3, so it doesn’t necessarily have to buy the very latest Apple Watch
Just like on the Apple Watch Series 3, Siri talks back on the Series 4. Siri sounds great and is always easy to understand. Thanks to the improved chip, Siri also responds nice and smoothly and the assistant needs little time to think. In watchOS 5 it is also possible to activate Siri without the Hé Siri command. You just have to turn your wrist and ask your question. This works nice, because Siri then processes the order faster. However, this feature is also just available on the Series 3, so it doesn’t necessrily have to buy the very latest Apple Watch
Conclusion Apple Watch Series 4 review
As far as we are concerned, Apple has expanded considerably with the Apple Watch Series 4. We are pleased that Apple has opted for a new design with a larger screen. Fortunately, the case of the Apple Watch itself has not become much larger and your old straps are still suitable. The larger screen ensures finer use of the Apple Watch. You will notice that you will use the watch more often with this new screen. Text is easier to read and the buttons on the screen are easier to tap. The design with the more rounded corners is a feast for the eyes and is a nice compromise between a fully round Apple Watch and the previous more rectangular model. The small details in watchOS, where the buttons have the same curves as the corners of the watch, complete this. The haptic feedback in the Digital Crown is not a killer feature, but makes it more pleasant to use.
The Series 4 also performs better than ever before and makes the overall experience a lot better. Siri responds quickly and apps hardly have any loading times. Yet it is a shame that again not all functions can be used in the Netherlands. The ECG function, one of the most important innovations in the field of health, is not yet coming to the Netherlands. Also this year the 4G version is missing again and therefore also the stainless steel Apple Watch. We are very sorry that Apple did not choose to release at least a stainless steel version with only GPS, if only so that we can also buy the new gold version here. Nevertheless, the Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch you can buy.