When the first Apple Watch was introduced, while it didn't flop, it didn't exactly light the consumer tech world on fire. Despite the tepid reception, it still sold millions and it managed to grab a huge share of the wearable market.
Things picked up with the release of Apple Watch Series 2 and WatchOS 3. The 2nd-gen Apple Watch finally had built-in GPS, better waterproofing, and a faster dual-core processor - all must-have features for swimmers and runners.
Despite those welcome improvements, Series 2 still had a glaring weakness - to get the most out of it, you still needed an iPhone to pair it with.
That will change soon with Apple Watch Series 3. It has this one key feature that propels it to the "must-have" realm of gadgets. (Nope, it's not the fancy red crown.)
This feature is enough of a game-changer that I ordered an Apple Watch Series 3 myself.
This is Apple Watch Series 3's biggest improvement, the much-awaited addition of LTE cellular connectivity.
This means you can leave your iPhone at home and still make phone calls, send text messages, track your location, record your activity data and even stream Apple Music with just an Apple Watch on your wrist!
It also trumps the older models with a faster S3 dual-core processor and a faster Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip.
If you ever tried loading an app on an Apple Watch Series 1 and found it excruciatingly slow, then these upgrades are worth it.
Processor upgrades aside, some are saying that this cellular connectivity should've been in the 1st-gen Apple Watch out of the gate. Now that that feature finally made it in, does Series 3 represent what Apple always intended the Apple Watch to be?
Is it the vision that the company always had with the wearable but technical limitations prevented it from happening earlier?
Well, if that's the case, the wait is over. With Series 3, the Apple Watch is finally "coming to its own."
As game-changing and exciting as the Apple Watch Series 3 is, there are a few gotchas that you'll need to consider.
Apple said the LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 starts at $399 (the non-LTE version starts at $329.) While this entry-level price is true, the price quickly ramps up if you want specific options.
For example, if you want a 42mm version with a more durable stainless steel case and a black Milanese loop strap, it will cost you a whopping $799! Mind you, that's more expensive than a 64GB iPhone 8.
On top of that, to enable the Apple Watch Series 3's cellular features, you will have to pay an extra fee on your monthly cellphone bill. The cost for this fee across the major U.S. carriers is $10 a month.
The good news is that you won't need a new number with the Apple Watch Series 3's special built-in SIM card. It will use your main phone number and it's smart enough to route calls and messages to itself if your phone is not around.
Lastly, like with any early adopter, if you get the cellular Apple Watch now, you'll have to deal with the early bugs.
As people are finding out now, early testers are having cellular connection problems with it because it's constantly trying to connect to unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks.
Thankfully, Apple is aware of the issue and it will issue a fix soon.