After reviews of the iPhone 7 and AirPods, it’s now the turn of the Apple Watch Series 2. Similar to the iPhone 7, the latest-generation Watch doesn’t look particularly different on the outside, so the question is whether the under-the-hood changes make an upgrade worthwhile?

Answering this question is particularly tricky given that watchOS 3 transforms the performance of the existing first-gen Watch, so some of the things being commented on by reviewers are actually more of a function of the new operating system than the new hardware …

Most of the reviews have a common theme: that the Series 2 makes the Apple Watch a much more serious contender as a fitness tracker. Both GPS and waterproofing bring it much closer to dedicated fitness devices, though the one-day battery-life is still cited as a drawback. Some, in fact, go further, arguing that this is the only real benefit to the new hardware …

CNET, for example, likes the new features, but thinks it’s a worthwhile upgrade only for keen runners and swimmers.

The new Apple Watch is faster, has a far better OS, onboard GPS, a brighter display and is waterproof to 50 meters in salt or fresh water […]

[But the] same battery life, mostly. GPS activity causes a big hit on battery life for running. Lacks always-on display. A tad thicker and heavier […]

The Apple Watch returns in a made-for-sports upgrade that adds swim functions and GPS, but anyone who’s not a runner or swimmer should consider the Apple Watch Series 1 instead.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber focuses on the combination of the Series 2 Watch and watchOS 3, and thinks that the new ceramic Edition makes far more sense than the original gold one.

WatchOS 3 fixes most of Apple Watch’s problems listed above. The Series 2 hardware fixes nearly all the rest (the off-by-default display will need at least one more leap in battery life and/or display technology). It is clear that Apple recognized what was wrong — not just the obvious issues like slowness, but the abstract ones like the user interface’s conceptual mushiness — and addressed them […]

The screen brightness has doubled […] Battery life is better […] The built-in GPS works very well in my testing […] You can officially swim with it […] 

The new Edition model is made of gorgeous white ceramic. Priced starting at $1,250, it feels like Apple now has a handle on where Apple Watch fits in the luxury market. It also seems like they’re working with a material that could be relevant to other product lines.

Mashable likewise says that the new hardware and software is ‘a match made in wearable heaven.’

While little has changed in Apple Watch design, Series 2 and the latest software, called watchOS 3, do represent an important strategic shift. In particular, the new OS moves aside cutesy features like Digital Touch (that’s where you draw on the screen) and sharing your heartbeat in favor of more utility […]

On the inside, though, is all-new hardware, including a brighter display, the S2 SiP (“System in Package”) which includes a new dual-core CPU and a new GPU, a larger battery and a special speaker system that plays sound and handles water […]

The most exciting part of this multi-organ transplant is surely the new SiP. It makes the Apple Watch Series 2 faster and more responsive than the original Apple Watch in almost every way.

The Loop‘s Jim Dalrymple saw it as a mostly incremental but worthwhile change, with GPS the headline tech feature but also loving the ceramic Edition model.

[The GPS means] I don’t need to take my iPhone with me on my daily walk, which has given me a strange sense of freedom … If you look at the map, you can see it’s colored. Yellow is the average pace for this particular walk; Green is above the average pace; and Red is below the average pace. This is tremendous information to have […]

The new white Apple Watch Edition is stunning to see in person. I often talk about Apple’s attention to detail—this new ceramic watch epitomizes that. I want this ceramic watch as much as I wanted the black iPhone—it’s gorgeous.

PocketLint views the Series 2 as a ‘fitness first’ device.

The new watch features a much greater focus on fitness; it’s a device that tries to bridge the void between a basic fitness tracker, like products from Fitbit, and a full-blown dedicated sportswatch, such as those from Garmin […]

With built-in GPS, a better battery (although it’s still very much one day per charge), water-resistance and a much greater focus on fitness, the Apple Watch finally works at workouts.

That’s a massive gain over the first-generation device and one that is likely to appeal to those wanting more than a Fitbit, but who are scared by an all-powerful, athlete-focused watch from Garmin or Polar. However, for those who take their sport very seriously, we still can’t see the Watch 2 replacing a dedicated sportswatch just yet. It’s really for those looking for a do-it-all device that could easily go with a suit or some Lyrca.

TechCrunch says that the Series 2 is ‘the first real Apple Watch.’

It delivers on the promise of a mostly passive device that can accomplish simple tasks in 1-3 seconds. There is now built-in GPS which allows for exercising without having to lug along a comparatively heavy iPhone just to get accurate tracking. And it’s completely waterproof, as any decent sport watch should be […]

Because of the speed and brightness, I have already found myself using the Watch for interactions more often […]

Think of Apple’s new ecosystem like a body. The iPhone is the brain, the AirPods are the mouth and the Apple Watch is the hand. And that hand is starting to get more independent and more useful.

TechRadar takes the view that the improvements are all useful upgrades, but the Watch remains a want rather than a need.

Almost every single upgrade offers something of tangible benefit: the GPS chip, the faster innards, the water-resistant frame. Suddenly the Apple Watch is able to last longer and track you better, and even offers you the chance to get better at a new activity. But it is expensive – so it’s not a simple case of ‘Got an iPhone? Buy this, post-haste!’ […]

The Apple Watch 2 feels more like a great gift than a necessary purchase – it’s the cost that prevents it being a strong buy. It doesn’t feel like it’s too expensive when you hold it and discover what it can do, but ultimately it’s still more of a novelty than a necessity – the apps required from developers to make it the latter still aren’t coming to pass.

The Verge adds to the chorus saying it’s all about fitness, though some existing Watch grumbles remain.

Let’s call it what it is: a fitness tracker.

The Apple Watch Series 2 is exactly that. It’s what Apple had resisted calling its wearable for the past year and a half, even declining to categorize it as such when citing industry rankings, opting for the “smartwatch” category instead. It is, definitely, still a smartwatch. But the Watch now has focus, and that’s a good thing […]

I’ve noticed the display still doesn’t wake every time I raise or twist my wrist, which is annoying. And, even though the screen is now brighter and easily visible in normal daylight settings, it’s still tough to see in direct sunlight. At the end of the day this is a smartwatch with a retina OLED display, and not a reflective display like on other sport watches. It also doesn’t measure elevation when you’re recording an outdoor workout [and] it’s still a charge-every-day kind of thing if you work out, which is one of my least favorite aspects of smartwatches.

Myself, I can’t see a need for an upgrade, though I am curious as to whether the much snappier performance of watchOS 3 will change my usage patterns – I’ll be updating in a new Apple Watch Diary piece once I know the answer. In the meantime, check out our coverage of the new operating system:


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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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