by Jim Lynch

Apple Watch 2 reviews roundup: Is it worth the money?

Sep 14, 2016
Consumer Electronics Health and Fitness Software Mobile

The Apple Watch 2 offers better CPU and GPU performance, GPS and a brighter screen. But is it worth buying?

When Apple announced the Apple Watch 2 it wasn’t exactly a surprise to anyone who follows the company, rumors had been running rampant for months before the official announcement. The newest version of the Apple Watch offers a brighter screen, built-in GPS and better CPU/GPU performance.

But is it worth buying?

Reviews of the Apple Watch 2 have started to come in, and I’ve compiled a roundup that should help you decide whether or not you want to buy the Apple Watch 2.

Daring Fireball: Apple learned from its mistakes

John Gruber at Daring Fireball noted that Apple has carefully learned from its initial experience with the first Apple Watch and the earlier versions of watchOS:

I think WatchOS 3 and Apple Watch Series 2 are a very simple story. Apple Watch had clear strengths but equally clear weaknesses. Apple identified what was flawed and went back to the drawing board. They identified what people liked best — health and fitness tracking — and made them even better.

The screen brightness has doubled (1,000 nits vs. 450 nits). The difference is dramatic. In very bright mid-day sunlight, I can now read the watch face well enough. It’s not great, but I can read it. With my original Apple Watch, I couldn’t read the screen in bright sunlight. This is my single favorite hardware improvement to Series 2.

Battery life is better. (I’m wearing a 42 mm stainless steel Series 2 model. I can’t say whether this is improved on the 38 mm models as well, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be.)

Series 2 now has built-in GPS. It works very well in my testing here in Philadelphia. There’s no warm-up time. Apple Watch just seems to know when it’s out of communication distance from its paired iPhone, and it gets a GPS signal without you telling it to. You don’t need to turn it on, you don’t need to turn it off. The watch simply picks up the Location Services preferences from the iPhone (Settings → Privacy → Location Services). So if I go for a run with my Apple Watch, without my iPhone, I don’t have to do anything to get my path tracked. It just happens. There’s nothing I need to do to make it track my path. And if I do have my phone with me, the Workout app will let the iPhone do the GPS because it’s the bigger-batteried device.

More at Daring Fireball

TechCrunch: Apple Watch 2 is the first real Apple Watch

Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch felt that the Apple Watch 2 finally delivers on the promise of the first Apple Watch:

It delivers on the promise of a mostly passive device that can accomplish simple tasks in 1–3 seconds. There is now built-in GPS which allows for exercising without having to lug along a comparatively heavy iPhone just to get accurate tracking. And it’s completely waterproof, as any decent sport watch should be.

The casing is actually ever so slightly thicker than the first generation, likely due to the larger battery. Apple says that the processor inside is 50 percent faster and that bears out in testing. In side-by-side tests with an original Apple Watch Series 0, the Watch S2 opened applications and loaded data much faster. When the original Watch was still opening and loading the activity screen, I was already scrolling down the list of data collated from my week. The same went for Maps, calendars and more.

Because of the speed and brightness, I have already found myself using the Watch for interactions more often. This had already started happening a bit with Apple’s WatchOS 2 update last year, which improved performance significantly, but it’s incredibly apparent now with the faster processor.

Adding GPS layers is another slice of independence for the Watch, which will eventually gain cellular functionality so that it can communicate with your phone — and Apple’s cloud services — wherever it is. This is in keeping with Apple’s philosophy that “your data is your data.”

More at TechCrunch

The Loop: Jim Dalrymple loves the ceramic Apple Watch 2

Jim Dalrymple at The Loop quickly fell in love with the ceramic edition of the Apple Watch 2:

The new white Apple Watch Edition is stunning to see in person. I often talk about Apple’s attention to detail—this new ceramic watch epitomizes that. After inventing a new ceramic powder, this is how Apple describes the process of making the watch:

More than 70 diamond-grit CNC cutters machine every Apple Watch Edition case—a process that takes up to six hours. Each case then undergoes two hours of polishing to increase strength and achieve its characteristic pearl-like finish.

I want this ceramic watch as much as I wanted the black iPhone—it’s gorgeous.

More at The Loop

Pocket-lint: Apple Watch 2 is about fitness first

Stuart Miles at Pocket-lint notes that the Apple Watch 2 is first and foremost about fitness:

Apple’s shift from pure fashion accessory with some smarts to a device that supports a range of different sports and activities in the Apple Watch Series 2 is a welcome advance.

With built-in GPS, a better battery (although it’s still very much one day per charge), water-resistance and a much greater focus on fitness, the Apple Watch finally works at workouts.

That’s a massive gain over the first-generation device and one that is likely to appeal to those wanting more than a Fitbit, but who are scared by an all-powerful, athlete-focused watch from Garmin or Polar. However, for those who take their sport very seriously, we still can’t see the Watch 2 replacing a dedicated sportswatch just yet. It’s really for those looking for a do-it-all device that could easily go with a suit or some Lyrca.

Over the last two years the Apple Watch improved to offer plenty – and the Series 2 is the current pinnacle of that. From notifications and Apple Pay, to heart-rate monitoring and fitness tracking; it can also act as a remote to control your HomeKit smarthome devices, or even quickly unlock your Mac.

More at Pocket-lint

USA Today: Ditch the phone and get moving

Edward Baig at USA Today notes that you can now do more with the Apple Watch 2 without depending on your iPhone:

The new Apple Watch ticks closer to being the techie timepiece it was always clocked up to be.

You can swim with it now. It has built-in GPS. You can get more done without your phone.

I’ve been wearing the latest model, Apple Watch Series 2, for a week, and like it a lot, though the vastly improved watchOS 3 software also comes to the original Apple Watch.

I’m not suggesting Series 2 is perfect, or for everybody. For one thing, there’s the not-so-slim starting price of $369 for a 38mm case or $399 for 42mm.

…the latest watch is especially appealing to runners or cyclists who want to leave their iPhones behind, while still relying on GPS to map their routes.

More at USA Today

Video reviews of the Apple Watch 2

Video reviews of the Apple Watch 2 have also started to appear on YouTube, so here’s a few for you to check out:

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