Apple Watch Series 2 hands-on: An iterative step forward


At first glance the new Apple Watch Series 2 looks nearly identical to the original Apple Watch, and it is, at least on the surface.

Rather than focus on new bands and aesthetics like Apple has in the past, the Series 2 is instead all about performance.  The new Apple Watch has a built-in GPS and is what Apple calls “swimproof” water resistant up to 50 meters, which means the watch can actually be used to track swimming activity.

For someone like myself who enjoys swimming as one of their primary means of exercise, water proofing the Apple Watch is an amazing step forward and likely a feature the original wearable should have included at launch.

Unfortunately, the Series 2 features the same 18 hour battery life as its previous model, though this side step is easier to swallow when its built-in GPS functionality is taken into consideration. Apple was able to do this thanks to the Series 2’s bigger battery, though it’s unclear exactly how much larger the watch’s battery is (if we find out exactly how much bigger the battery is, we’ll update this post).

In terms of physical differences, you have to look very closely to notice any changes. For instance, the Series 2 seems to be about a millimeter thicker than last year’s model, which Apple says it plans to continue to sell, complete with a “50 percent” more powerful processor to match the Series 2’s hardware.

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The new watch also has two speaker ports and the optical heart rate sensor features a white ring around it that wasn’t present in last years version, though it’s unclear what this ring actually does.

The watch’s display has also been brightened, though in the crowded demo room, the change in vibrance wasn’t very noticeable. Apple claims the Series 2’s display is packed full of all the Nits, 1000 to be specific, though further testing is definitely necessary.

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A new Nike-themed watch, aimed squarely at runners, is also on the way, though its perforated watch band isn’t exactly attractive. Also, apart from a few Nike specific watch faces, it’s the same as any other Series 2 Apple Watch.

The new pricey ceramic model, looks stellar (that’s mostly what the pictures in this story are of), and a new Hermes watch band is also on the way. It’s worth noting that the ceramic version replaces the insanely expensive gold luxury Apple Watch.

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Overall, the new Series 2 Apple Watch, coupled with watchOS 3‘s various software improvements, which are also coming to the Series 1 wearable, answer many early adopters complaints about the original Apple Watch.

But has the tech giant found a way to make the Apple Watch integral to day-to-day life like the smartphone is as some had perhaps hoped?

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No, but that’s likely not going to happen, especially if recent rumours that the company has completed ditched plans to release data-connected iteration of the Apple Watch are true.

Smartwatches remain a welcome, but far from necessary companion gadget, though with release of the Series 2, the Apple Watch yet again remains the best smartwatch on the market.

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In terms of pricing, the Apple Watch Series 2 will come in gold, Rose Gold, Space Grey aluminum and Space Black stainless steel, all starting at $489 CAD. In addition, the new ceramic Apple Watch Edition starts at $1649.

The Apple Watch Nike+ Series 2 is set to be available in 38mm and 42mm variants with a Nike Sport Band in Black/Volt, Black/Cool Grey, Flat Silver/White or Flat Silver/Volt. The price is $489 for the 38mm and the 42mm at $529.  The pricing for the Series 1 Apple Watch, with the upgraded processor, is now $359 CAD.

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Pre-orders start September 9th with the official release on September 16th. The Nike+ iteration of the Series 2 is set to arrive in late October.

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