With the recent release of the Apple Watch Series 5, Apple now offers two different Watch series — Series 5 and Series 3.
The Series 4 was discontinued with the creation of Series 5, but the two remaining models are great. If you have the Series 4 from last year or want a new Apple Watch in general, is it worth upgrading to the Series 5?
Series 5 costs about $200 more than Series 3, regardless of model, meaning the Series 5 had better come with some exceptional features. Read on to see what new features are offered and decide for yourself if upgrading is right for you.
Same sizing as Series 4, but a display with a twist
When you look at the screen sizes available in wearable tech, a few millimeters makes a big difference. It may not seem like a big deal but size determines how easily you can operate the device and how comfortable it is to wear. The Apple Watch Series 3 comes in two sizes — 38mm and 42mm. Series 5 comes in 40mm, and 44mm, the same sizes Series 4 offers.
Perhaps 44mm might feel big on some peoples’ wrists, but a face of 44mm means you get that much more room to see apps on your screen than on the 40mm version. The bigger the face, the better you can navigate to particular apps and accurately tap on-screen buttons.
Also, Apple has many more band options for 40mm cases than the 38mm ones. You might find the Series 5 is the better option in terms of sizing.
If you have the Series 4, you have the same sizing and watchband options you’ve always had, so the Series 5 may not initially seem like an upgrade — until you see the new display.
The Series 5 has an improved retina display that allows it to remain on and active without draining the battery. This means the Watch can stay on and actively display its face for a full 18 hours — an amazing feature for those who find it annoying or difficult to activate their Apple Watch screen when they need it at a glance.
Of course, this might not be a feature for everyone and remembering to put your Apple Watch on theater mode is now more important than ever, lest your Series 5 Watch becomes a distraction to others.
For those who like the sound of the new retina display feature, the Series 5 is a worthy upgrade.
More storage space and better hardware (than the Series 3)
The Apple Watch has always had a certain amount of storage on it, allowing it to store apps and some workout data locally, as well as share information with a smartphone. The Series 3 comes with 8GB of memory on the GPS only model and 16GB on the GPS and cellular data model.
The Series 4 has 16GB of memory for all models and the Series 5 starts at 16GB but can go up to 32GB, whether you have the GPS only or the GPS and cellular model. This means the Series 5 can offer up to four times more storage than the Series 3 and twice as much as the Series 4.
With improved storage, the Series 5 also outpaces the Series 3 in terms of processor, accelerometer, speaker and heart rate monitor. The Series 5 has a 64-bit dual-core S5 processor, which is twice as fast as the dual-core S3 processor in the Series 3.
The Series 5’s speaker is 50% louder than the Series 3’s, its accelerometer is more sensitive and it has a new kind of heart rate monitor, with an extra feature accessible on the Digital Crown for taking your heartbeat from your fingers at the moment.
The Series 5 is packing some seriously upgraded hardware compared to the Series 3 but when compared to Series 4, a lot has stayed the same. The S5 processor sounds like it should be an upgrade compared to the S4 in Series 4, but the S4 also claimed to be twice as fast as the S3 when it was released, so performance is expected to be comparable.
The Series 4 and Series 5 both have the W3 wireless chip (the Series 3 has the W2), and both have Bluetooth 5.0, while Series 3 has Bluetooth 4.0. With the exceptions of a louder speaker and an internal compass, the Series 4 has many of the same features offered in the Series 5, including the heartbeat reader on the Digital Crown.
Series 5 for the aesthetically-inclined
The Apple Watch is, essentially, chips behind a touchscreen held together by a pretty aluminum casing. That casing, which hosts the heart rate monitor and is waterproof (for up to 50m in Series 3, Series 4 and Series 5), comes in a variety of colors and finishes.
Since the earliest Apple Watches, the case has been available in aluminum and Apple’s signature tone of gray. These still remain the main options for both Series 3 models, with the only other option being Space Gray, a darker, almost charcoal, gray tone for those who prefer a darker body for the device.
The Series 5 Apple Watch comes in many more colorful options. The GPS and cellular model even offers different finishes. You can get an aluminum finish in Silver, Space Gray, or Rose Gold on both Series 5 models.
With the GPS and cellular option, you can also get a shiny stainless steel finish in Stainless Steel, Space Black and Gold (which is much warmer and more yellow than the aluminum version). You can also get a casing in Titanium or Space Black. Apple also offers a Ceramic case, which comes in white, giving a shiny chrome look to your Apple Watch.
The Series 4 came in all the aluminum and stainless steel options the Series 5 now offers, but they never released Titanium, Space Black or Ceramic.
So, in terms of case options – and the looks you can get with them when paired with different watchbands — Series 5 definitely shows up both Series 3 and Series 4. If you really care about how your watch looks, Series 5 offers the most options and is definitely the way to go.
So, should you upgrade?
Overall, the Series 5 is a big improvement on the Series 3 and a small improvement on the Series 4; therefore, it makes sense to upgrade to the Series 5 if you have a Series 3, but to stick with your Series 4 and save up for the next big upgrade later.
If you’re buying an Apple Watch for the first time, a Series 5 will give you more options, even if it’s more expensive, and you’ll have a much easier time getting a new Series 5 than an old or refurbished Series 4. Getting a Series 4 relatively new is still possible, so ultimately the decision is up to you.
Whichever Apple Watch you pick, you’ll be getting a great device, so you just have to decide on your priorities — price, casing or hardware — and you’ll find the model that’s perfect for you.