Apple Watch Series 4 comes in new sizes, also adds ECG and huge new screen

Everything you need to know about the new Apple Watch 4

The Apple Watch Series 4 is here. After the big reveal at Apple's annual September event, the smartwatch successor to the Series 3 is available to buy.

It's Apple's riposte to the Samsung Galaxy Watch, the Fitbit Versa and the sea of Wear watches, and we've already put the new Watch through its paces in our Apple Watch Series 4 review. Our verdict? It's comfortably one of the best smartwatches to buy right now.

Read this: Best Apple Watch apps to download

If you're just looking for a run down of the ins and outs of the new Apple Watch, we've picked out the key highlights about the design, specs, new features and the all important pricing information.

Got any questions about the Series 4? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Apple Watch Series 4: Design and waterproofing

Apple Watch Series 4 comes in new sizes, also adds ECG and huge new screen

The Apple Watch Series 4, unlike the Series 3, comes in three different models. There's the standard Series 4, the Apple Watch Nike+ and the Apple Watch Hermès. So there's no pricey ceramic Apple Watch edition to choose from this time. You do still get your pick of stainless steel or aluminium watch case materials in a range of colors, including black, gold and grey. You'll also get your pick of GPS and GPS + cellular models. If you don't care about your Watch working without your iPhone, then the GPS Series 4 could be a better fit.

Essential reading: Best Apple Watch straps to buy

But here's the really the big news on the design front. While Apple has retained the rectangular shape of the Watch, it’s moving up in size for the Series 4. The new Watch now comes in 40mm and 44mm versions, increasing both the smaller and larger designs by 2mm each. And for good reason: to make room for a new, 30%-larger display.

Apple Watch Series 4
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To date, Apple’s done a great job of obscuring the bezel on its smartwatches, but there’s most certainly been a lot of it. The display on the Series 4 is much larger, allowing you to cram even more complications and info onto that screen.

If you're wondering what the bump in size means for all of those Watch bands you've already invested in, don't panic. The ones that work with the Series 2 and Series 3 are compatible with the Series 4, too.

Read this: Apple Watch Series 4 v Series 3

The new watch has had a few other design tweaks, including a new Digital Crown that has haptic feedback and a red circle for LTE models, replacing the red dot of the Series 3. Apple’s also added a new, louder, speaker to the left side of the watch for better quality, while moving the mic away from the speaker to the other side of the watch, which should improve voice quality when on calls and talking to Siri.

Like the Series 2 and the Series 3, the Watch Series 4 is waterproof. It carries the same 5ATM waterproof rating letting you take it for a swim up to 50 metres water depth.

Apple Watch Series 4: New processor, ECG and more

Apple Watch Series 4 comes in new sizes, also adds ECG and huge new screen

The Series 4 is using Apple's new S4 silicon, which packs a new 64-bit dual-core processor that, Apple says, will get you twice the performance we saw on Series 3 – while keeping the same battery life of a-day-and-then-some.

There's also a new accelerometer and gyroscope inside that improves precision. Why is this important? The Series 4 can now detect when you've had a fall. Yes, there's now fall detection. If it detects a tumble, Siri will offers a shortcut to call the emergency services and your emergency contacts. If you don't respond to the alert within five seconds, it will automatically make the call for you.

ECG

Another major new feature with the new Apple Watch is the electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor, something that’s more commonly found in professional medical equipment.

This will let you check in on your ticker by placing a finger on the Digital Crown for an ECG reading. You'll be able to take a reading any time and get an alert if the Watch detects any abnormal rhythms – a possible sign of atrial fibrillation.

Essential reading: Why ECG on Watch Series 4 is a big deal

Apple's received clearance from the FDA for ECG and detecting irregular heart rhythms, which is a significant step forward. In fact, this is the first ECG device offered over the counter to consumers. However, FDA clearance is not the same as FDA approval, meaning Apple has proved its device is similar to another "cleared" product on the market. Getting "approval" requires a clinical trial, but is usually for things like drugs and implants.

Apple says the ECG app will come to the Watch "later this year" and only in the US, so the rest of the world may have to wait even longer for that feature.

New heart rate monitor features

The regular optical heart rate monitor is still here, too, with a few improvements. The Apple Watch already alerts you if it detects your heart rate is too high, but thanks to tweaks to the optical sensor on Series 4, Apple can now send you a notification if it detects your heart rate is too low or if it detects abnormal patterns through the optical sensor. To find out more about how HR works on the Watch, check out our Apple Watch heart rate monitor guide.

Apple Watch Series 4: Software and compatibility

Apple Watch Series 4 comes in new sizes, also adds ECG and huge new screen

As has always been the case with Apple's smartwatches, this is one wearable that plays nice with iOS only - that means no compatibility with Android devices. It runs on watchOS and ships with the latest version, watchOS 5. So it builds on existing features that are well liked such as notification support, playing music and tracking sports like running, golf (via third party apps) and swimming.

Essential reading: Why blood pressure is Apple and wearable tech's next challenge

That latest software update brings a host of new features including improved health and fitness features including support for yoga and hiking. It's still well built for run, cycling and swim tracking with plenty of third party apps that can help store all of your data.

Other new features include improved notification and communication support introducing grouped notifications and new Walkie Talkie mode to the Watch for the first time. Siri integration has been enhanced too and for podcast fans, there's now a dedicated app that lives on your Watch Series 4.

Apple's added some new watch faces to make use of all that added space, too, including one that puts the breathing app on the display, giving you quicker access to Apple's mindfulness feature.

We should mention a couple of desirable features that Apple's competitors offer that are not yet properly supported. The first is sleep tracking. Well, there are Apple Watch sleep tracker apps, but Apple doesn't offer its own native app just yet. It also lacks a proper Spotify app, which both Garmin (the Fenix 5) and Samsung watches support. So if you want your Apple Watch Series 4 to play offline Spotify playlists, you're out of luck for now.

Apple Watch Series 4: Battery life and pricing

Apple Watch Series 4 announced with new sizes, ECG monitor - and a huge new screen

These are two things that we imagine Series 3 owners thinking of making the upgrade will care about. The first is battery life and the bottom line here is that it's not changed for the Series 4. It's 18 hours battery life. So it doesn't quite match what the Fitbit Versa or the Samsung Galaxy Watch can muster up in this department.

As we've already mentioned, Apple has made its smartwatch available in cellular and non-cellular versions, both of which still come with built-in GPS. The GPS model starts at $399 while cellular models will cost at least $499. To put that into perspective, the Watch Series 3 pricing starts starts at $279 for GPS and $379 for LTE. So you're paying a $120 premium if you choose to upgrade.


Hot smartwatch deals

Apple Watch Series 1
Apple Watch Series 1
Amazon
$220
Michael Kors Access Sofie - save $70
Michael Kors Access Sofie - save $70
Amazon
$279
Fitbit Versa
Fitbit Versa
Amazon
$199
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Amazon
$329.99

Wareable may get a commission



What do you think?

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11 comments

  • datalore·

    If they can somehow squeeze 3 days of battery life out of the next watch I'm in. I love the watch, but that battery life and lack of sleep tracking are issues for me. It seems like those issues will be addressed in the next iteration. 

  • Uscher·

    Did I understand well, that the Apple Watch Series 4 which will be released in autumm this year, will come up already with Micro LED? I look very forward to your answer.

  • Uscher·

    Did I understand well, that the Apple Watch Series 4 which will be released in autumm this year will already come up with Micro LED? I Look very forward to your answer.

  • Uscher·

    Did I understand well that the Apple Watch Series 4 which will be released in autumm this year will already come up with Micro LED? I look very forward to your answer.

  • yogibimbi·

    If I still need an iPhone at some point of the setup of the Watch, I'm out (it says, in the fine print on Apple's Watch page "Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) requires an iPhone 6 or later with iOS 11 or later. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) requires an iPhone 5s or later with iOS 11 or later. Apple Watch Series 1 requires an iPhone 5s or later with iOS 11 or later.)" Where is the standalone in that?

    I am not buying into iOS just because I want a watch that can do what I want. I want cellular, but not for the price of buying into iOS, as long as that doesn't happen, I am fine with my Mission. Which I think is also a bit more rugged than the Apple Watch, although I haven't tried scuba yet.

    • jfpoulin·

      Gooooood you ask THE question that make me think that this would take Apple to the next step, but nobody seems to address this in any review. You sir I agree with you!. :)

      Seriously I dont see the point in having both the cell and the watch... I'm ready to go watch only!!

  • Lfite62·

    I think they should make 2 versions of the series.4 one with the physical tracking and one without I have no need for it waste of battery life

  • Jiranan·

    how many prices

  • WayneB·

    a round face design is needed. I bought a Samsung gear s3 just because it looks like a old school watch with lol the smart features. If apple had one of those designs, I would have gone that as everything else I have is apple, but I just can't stand the ugly square look apple has for it watch

  • mikehunt·

    I've got an iwatch 2, and for now that's good enough.

    I will however get a new one (maybe next year) if Apple implement a sensor for measuring pH values of the blood through the skin. I remember reading about the tech a couple years ago, and hope it's getting ripe.

    For my case I would actually need to measure the uric acid of my blood, and getting notified when the pH rises above certain levels.

  • Peteo·

    Do we know any more about what is different with the LED heart rate readings? are they more accurate, do they have a higher sampling rate?. Do they constantly take you heart rate now (not just when you are in a work out or not moving?)