While the iPhone 7 was the star of today’s Apple show it wasn’t the only major announcement, with a sequel to the world’s most popular smartwatch also revealed.
The Apple Watch Series 2 sports better battery life than the original Apple Watchand a GPS chip for more phone-free functionality, but how much difference is that likely to make? And what else has changed?
Read on below for the answers to both those questions and more, in a full specs showdown between the Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Series 2.
If you were hoping for a big design change you’re out of luck, as the Apple Watch Series 2 is much the same as the original Apple Watch.
Fortunately, that’s already a great looking wearable, just as long as you’re OK with the square form factor.
Both devices have a metal body in aluminum or stainless steel, though the Apple Watch Series 2 adds a ceramic option too.
Both have a digital crown on the right edge, and they’re both available with a wide range of different straps, including sporty rubber options, metal and leather, many of which come in a variety of different colors and styles.
There is one significant design change though, as the Apple Watch Series 2 is water resistant to 50 meters, where the original Apple Watch is just splash-proof.
There are a few more changes to the screen, though both the Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Series 2 sport a square display.
So what’s different? The brightness, as the Apple Watch Series 2 is a blinding 1000 nits, making it more than two times brighter than the original Apple Watch. In fact, it’s the brightest screen Apple has ever shipped on a product, so outdoor visibility should be hugely improved.
Power and OS
This is where you’ll find the biggest changes. For a start the Apple Watch Series 2 is far more powerful, with a new dual-core processor that’s up to 50% faster than the chip in the Apple Watch and a GPU that offers twice the graphics performance of the original Watch.
Having said that, the original Apple Watch is being relaunched as the Apple Watch Series 1 with the new processor, so if you buy one now you’ll get some of that power.
One thing unique to the Apple Watch Series 2 though is a GPS chip, allowing it to track your runs and other activity without a phone.
That’s a huge deal, especially if you’re currently rocking or considering a fitness band. Both models have a heart rate monitor and fitness tracking apps, but by untethering the Apple Watch Series 2 from your iPhone (not to mention making it swim-proof) it becomes a far more viable workout companion.
Sadly, there’s still no cellular chip, so you can’t completely free your Watch from your phone, but the addition of a GPS chip is a big step in the right direction.
On the operating system front we’re back to no real change, as while the Apple Watch Series 2 runs the brand new watchOS 3 right out of the box, the original Apple Watch will soon be able to download it as a software update.
The new watchOS version brings a slicker interface, complete with a new dock, accessed with the side button, an expanded version of Control Center with more toggles, faster watch face switching, improvements to messaging and a new Breathe app to help you relax.
The only real advantage of the operating system on the Apple Watch Series 2 is that as a new device it’s likely to be supported with updates for longer.
A GPS chip could play havoc with the Apple Watch’s already fragile battery life, so we’re hoping that Apple has improved the juice pack for the Apple Watch Series 2.
Oddly the battery didn’t get mentioned, so it’s probably not a big improvement, but if nothing else the processor is likely more efficient in the Apple Watch Series 2. With any luck the changes will be enough for the wearable to extend beyond the day and a half of life that you’ll typically get out of the original Apple Watch – though probably only if you use the GPS chip sparingly.
Release date and price
The Apple Watch is already available, although a reworked version with the new processor is being launched alongside the Apple Watch Series 2 for $269/£269/AU$399.
The new model meanwhile costs roughly the same as the original version launched at, namely $369/£369/AU$529, or more, depending on how fancy a version you want.
You’ll also have to wait a little while to buy the Apple Watch Series 2, though not too long, with pre-orders opening this Friday (September 9) and the Watch Series 2 arriving in stores on September 16.