Apple Watch Series 5
Always-on is a big deal
I’ve used almost every other smartwatch on the market, and most of them have always-on displays. But that just means you can always see the time — that’s it. Apple’s version of an always-on display is a little extra.
The Series 5 doesn’t simply show you what time it is. When inactive, the display shows you a dimmer version of all the information on your watch face. I usually use the Infograph Modular watch face, which has six complications along with the time, so I have access to my most-used apps (Workout and Messages) as well as bits of information like the weather and battery percentage. I can still see all of that when the display dims.The display’s ambient light sensor can detect how bright your environment is and adjust itself accordingly, so the display is never too bright or too dark.
When you’re using an app, the always-on display dims and blurs the background to show you the time when it’s inactive. This applies to all but the Workout app, which still displays all of your metrics even when you’re not actively looking at the watch.
The only difference is the time elapsed, which refreshes every second instead of counting milliseconds. This feature is incredibly useful while running, because I no longer have to fully raise my wrist to see my pace or the time. Even in bright morning daylight, I had no problem seeing my stats on the darkened display. To save battery, you can turn the always-on part off (just open the watch’s Settings app and toggle it off under Display & Brightness).
Apple Watch Series 5 compass: Maps made better
I think I might have actually yawned when Apple announced that one of the headlining features in the Series 5 is a built-in compass.
It just didn’t thrill me the way the FDA-cleared ECG app did when the Series 4 was announced last year. But I realized just how useful the Compass app could be when I wore the watch on a 2-mile hike through Runyon Canyon. I’m a new transplant to Los Angeles, where dozens of urban hiking trails are just a few miles from my doorstep. A compass isn’t really necessary on these trails, because I can usually see L.A. landmarks like the Hollywood sign to orient myself. If I can see Griffith Observatory to the east and the ocean to the west, I’m set.
But Compass isn’t the only app that takes advantage of the watch’s built-in magnetometer. Apple is opening the Compass API to third-party apps, and is also using it in its own Maps app to enable a feature that shows you which direction you’re facing. This was incredibly useful after I parked at the base of Runyon Canyon Park and had to figure out which trail to take. Maps consistently showed me which trail I was on and how far into the park I was, which helped me realize when I needed to cut the hike short and head back.
Apple Watch Series 5 battery life: Nightly charging required
Apple Watch is so capable you’ll want to wear it all day long. So we made sure we gave it a battery that lasts all day, too. Our goal for battery life is 18 hours after an overnight charge, factoring in things like checking the time, receiving notifications, using apps, and doing a 60-minute workout. And because everyone will use Apple Watch differently, we tested several other metrics as well.
Apple Watch All-Day Battery Life testing was conducted by Apple in August 2019 using preproduction Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) and Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular), each paired with an iPhone; all devices were tested with prerelease software. Battery life varies by use, cellular coverage, configuration, and many other factors; actual results will vary.
Apple Watch Series 5 design
With a display that is now always on, Apple Watch Series 5 is there for you like never before. Faces and complications let you see the information that matters most to you without raising your wrist. Cases are available in a range of materials engineered by Apple, including 100% recycled aluminum and, for the first time, titanium. Match with any band you please, and create a combination that is perfectly personalized, just for you.
Always-On Retina display.
You no longer need to raise your wrist or touch the screen to see the time or other information on your watch face, because the display never sleeps. So whether riding a bike, cranking out some crunches, or counting the minutes in a meeting, all you need to do is glance to find the time or your workout metrics right there where you want them.
A screen as remarkable as the day is long.
To remain on all day with all-day battery life, hardware and software have to work in harmony. The display dims when your wrist is down, yet key features, like watch hands, remain visible at all times. Touching the face or raising your wrist brings everything back to full brilliance.
Bring on the bands.
Apple Watch bands are designed to be easily interchangeable. They simply slide on and off, so you can effortlessly swap bands as you run from the gym to dinner with a client. Choose from elegant leathers, high-performance fluoroelastomer, flexible nylon weaves, or metal bands if that’s your thing. With so many colors and clever clasps, your Apple Watch can feel like a whole new watch, over and over again.
Compass and location features.
A built-in magnetometer detects magnetic north then automatically adjusts to show true north, so you’ll now know which way you’re facing in the Maps app. GPS works in conjunction with terrain data to tell you your current elevation – great for outdoor workouts.