Apple Watch Series 4: Still the smart watch to beat

Bigger OLED displays offer more detail and larger fonts, without skimping on battery life. — Picture by Erna Mahyuni
Bigger OLED displays offer more detail and larger fonts, without skimping on battery life. — Picture by Erna Mahyuni

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — Every time I review a new Apple Watch, the experience doesn’t differ much. It’s like having the most annoying health-conscious friend you know glued to your wrist. 

Having tried various other smart watches and trackers, there is nothing quite like how the Apple Watch will attempt to give me a pep talk in the morning or just before I go to sleep. 

You can do it! Hit your fitness goals! While you’re at it, breathe! My usual reaction is to groan and wonder why I am subjecting myself to this routine. Oh, yeah, it’s this thing called “health” and that other thing called “write about it.”

The new Apple Series 4 takes the Apple Watch experience further by letting you see more on your wrist thanks to the larger display as well as improving on the best thing about it—its health features.

When I first heard the new watch would have a larger screen I wasn’t too excited. Most of the Android Wear watches and their huge designs left me cold but despite the new screens being bumped from 38mm and 42mm to 40mm and 44mm, the watch did not seem bulkier.

As for the screen, I wondered if the larger OLED display would mean less battery life (I’m looking at you iPhone XS). Fortunately, Apple has tweaked it so you will still get the great battery life of the Apple Watch Series 3 in the bigger display of the Series 4. 

Like the Series 3, I found myself left with at least half my battery still available at the end of the day. Most times, I only need to charge the watch every two days, instead of the daily routine with the older watches.

Your health bestie

There really is no better reason to get an Apple Watch besides the superior health tracking compared to other smart watches. While the EKG feature has yet to be approved outside of the US, you can still make use of the fall detection feature.

The feature will prove especially useful for senior citizens or those with limited mobility when they’re home alone. Combine that with the Apple Watch walkie talkie feature, you can just contact someone for help even if your phone isn’t near you.

You will need to set up your Emergency Contacts for the feature to work best—the watch will detect hard falls and then send messages to your designated contacts should you not respond to a prompt asking if you need assistance. But if you are actually fine, you can dismiss the prompt and no one needs to know you had an embarrassing pratfall in the living room.

Bigger, better, faster

What else is new? A new processor, improved heart sensor and an overall zippier experience. I thought the Series 3 felt like a world away from the Series 2 but the Series 4? Definitely the smoother experience. 

You also have a louder speaker on the Watch itself and it’s a smart idea for Apple to move the microphone to the side, just below the crown which makes it far more convenient when I need to either use the Walkie-Talkie function or just ask Siri how the weather is today.

Apple has also made Yoga official and has better optimised the whole “detecting if you’re working out and not just rolling around on your bed while you nap” thing. 

It’s not perfect but being able to better track different types of yoga as well as interval training, gives it a lot more flexibility compared to competing devices.

Is it for you?

If you already use an iPhone, there is no better accessory. Why settle for a Fitbit or anything else really when the Apple Watch syncs seamlessly and offers better notifications, easy listening to music (so long as you choose Apple Music for the better experience), excellent battery life and now a nicer screen.

My only real complaint is that the Apple Watch app ecosystem still lags behind the main App Store. I’d like to see more interesting applications for the Watch besides the usual “your heart is pumping too fast, maybe quit watching horror films” reminders. 

The long wait for the cellular Apple Watch to come to Malaysia is also irksome because hey, the dream of doing the James Bond call-thing from your wrist is still a dream.

At the moment the cases only come in gold, space grey (black) and silver aluminium—pity as I kinda miss the old ceramic cases, heavy as they were. 

The Apple Watch is already available from all licensed Apple distributors and on the Apple store from RM1,749 onwards.

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