Following yesterday’s iPhone XS/Max reviews, it’s now the turn for reviews of the Apple Watch Series 4 – and there couldn’t be a greater contrast between the two.

Apple’s cherry-picked quotes aside, reviewers were mostly underwhelmed by the new iPhone, advising iPhone X users not to bother upgrading and owners of older models to hold fire for the iPhone XR.

But when it comes to the new Watch, the clear majority view is that the Series 4 finally delivers on the promise of the device – and now is the time to buy. Even mechanical watch site Hodinkee shared this view …

Buzzfeed was less impressed than most, but then Charlie Warzel said that he was ‘not an Apple Watch devotee,’ and prefers his Garmin watch with its 12-hour battery life.

Right now, it only feels like a glimpse [of the future]. When the Apple Watch debuted in the spring of 2015, the company marketed it as one of its “most personal devices yet,” suggesting that people would use it to offload some of personal computing we’ve become accustomed to doing on our phones. I reviewed the watch back then; my gimmick was that I’d only use the watch for 24 hours — no phone or computer — and see if it was possible to replace the phone with the wrist. My takeaway then: “You can see a plausible future if you squint your eyes just so. That future looks enticing and cool as hell, but it’s just. not. there. Yet.”

A little more than three years later, I largely feel the same way. I can’t seem to shake the notion that the Watch is priming us for a new kind of ambient computing behavior, where all our hardware is barely noticeable but just kind of connects to us — through wireless headphones and little sensors and gyroscopes scattered in everything from hats to glasses to our clothing. We’re not there yet, but devices like the Apple Watch are getting us closer.

Watch site Hodinkee said the Series 4 is the right time for holdouts to try a smartwatch.

If you’ve never owned an Apple Watch and have found yourself wondering whether or not it could be a good fit for your life, the Series 4 makes a really compelling case for giving it a shot. This feels like the first iteration on Apple’s fully thought through Apple Watch archetype, defined by those three principles outlined by Jeff Williams at the beginning of last week’s keynote (and referenced at the beginning of this story). It’s cohesive, it’s ambitious, and it might just encourage you to reshape your habits and behaviors for the better. If you still haven’t given the Apple Watch a shot and you’ve been waiting for the right moment, this is that moment. Go for it […]

Will you want to trade in your mechanical watches for an Apple Watch? No, you won’t. But I do think it’s worth adding an Apple Watch to your rotation if you don’t already have one. I’m not one for working out with mechanical watches on, so right there I’ve got an opening in my life for an Apple Watch. There are also days where it’s good to have a little extra info at hand and leaving that vintage sports watch in its box at home for a few hours isn’t the worst thing in the world.

From there, I think you’ll likely learn a bit about your connection to watches too. What is it that you miss and what is it that you don’t miss about your more traditional timepieces? What does the Apple Watch bring to your life that your mechanical watches can’t? These are all good questions and I know plenty of watch collectors (myself and a few other Hodinkee editors among them) who enjoy rotating an Apple Watch in with their other watches. The days of watch lovers dismissing the Apple Watch are long gone and at this point it feels almost like a must-have for anyone truly interested in timepieces more generally.

iMore describes the haptic feedback that the redesigned Digital Crown now offers, as well as an interesting detail about the side button (there’s also a sweet fall detection test GIF included):

The new clicking absolutely feels more precise and more fun to use. It’s catchy, if not quite AirPods lid flipping catchy. I’m not sure it’s enough to break me of my bad habits just yet, but I’m a huge believer in the future of tactile interface and I very much like where Apple is going here.

The Side button is flush now but still a real button. It doesn’t make Series 4 any more water-resistant or “swim-proof” than Series 3 was. That’s still the same. But it does make it a little harder to find with just your finger, which might be an accessibility issue. If you’re not used to Apple Watch conventions, you’ll still be able to tell something is there, it might just take some experimentation or explicit information to help you figure out what it is. If you’re at all used to Apple Watch, though, you won’t even notice what you’re not noticing — you’ll just press the side and it’ll work, same as ever. […]

If you have an iPhone, you should have an Apple Watch. And you should probably have a Series 4. If you don’t have one at all, don’t give me any crap about not wanting or needing a watch or a wearable computer.

The Independent also said that if you haven’t yet bought an Apple Watch, now is the time to do so.

I love this Apple Watch. It is the biggest step-change by far between iterations of Apple’s wrist-born tech. It’s not perfect […] but it’s astonishingly good.

For a start it is the most achingly beautiful Watch yet from Apple. It takes my breath away each time I raise my wrist and the screen quickly fades up in full, colourful glory. If that sounds over the top, just wait until you see one in the flesh.

Seriously, this is not just the most elegant evolution of Apple Watch design – though it’s certainly that, too. It takes the design to a new, gleaming level of opulence […]

Last year’s Series 3 was great, but this is a whole new thing. The design is just gorgeous and the bright, vivid display with its narrow, curved bezels, looks sensational. The uptick in performance power is noticeable at every level and the increased health qualities and fitness monitoring are hugely welcome.

If you’ve held back from getting an Apple Watch because you thought it wasn’t quite there yet, well, it is now.

The New York Times liked almost everything about it, yet advised against buying it as your first smartwatch – or upgrading from the Series 3.

Much of the rest of the Apple Watch Series 4 sounds boring on paper. Compared with its predecessors, the fourth-generation smart watch has a slightly larger screen and is faster at tasks like loading apps. Yet the watch’s evolution from a fitness tracker into a health-monitoring device makes it vastly interesting in the long term […]

The screen stretches out from one edge to the other, letting apps take up more of the watch’s face. This enlarged display makes everything on the watch look better, including text […]

The speed difference was most noticeable when using Siri, Apple’s voice assistant. By simply raising the watch toward my mouth, I could speak a command like “Set a timer for 20 minutes,” and the watch reacted with barely any delay. The hands-free ability to summon Siri is a feature of Apple’s new watch operating system, WatchOS 5. In my book, this is how watches were meant to be used: without having to press any buttons.

I wouldn’t recommend it for people who are considering a smart watch for the first time. Here’s why: $399 is a stiff price to pay for a gadget with lightweight utility. Fortunately, Apple is selling its older Series 3 watch, which I rated as a great product last year, for $279. Now is a good time to get the older one.

I wouldn’t upgrade to the Series 4 from a recent generation of Apple Watch, either, because the improvements won’t feel significant. But if you bought the original Apple Watch in 2015 and liked it, this will be a great upgrade. The first watch was sluggish, with limited battery life, and it no longer receives operating system updates. The Series 4 addresses all of the first-generation watch’s flaws, and the speed boost will be a big step up.

Runner’s World said that the Apple Watch is finally a great option for runners – though more for watchOS 5 as for the new Series 4 hardware. In fact, it recommended the cheaper Series 3 for younger runners without health concerns.

With watchOS 5, you can now download podcasts to the watch and listen to them, even when you don’t carry your phone. Much like how the Music app works, the watch will sync new episodes when the watch is connected to a charger and wifi […]

At some point, we’ve all went out the door and forgot to start our watch. Now the watch will recognize when you’ve started an activity and even try to identify the type […] and the watch will have recorded your data from the start of the activity, not just when you hit the start button.

For marathon runners aiming for a specific time goal, you’ll like that Apple has added a feature common to other advanced GPS watches: pace alerts. You configure these within the Workouts app on the watch (click the three dots on the workout tile to access that workout type’s settings). On the run, the watch will alert you whenever you cross the predesignated threshold—for example, if you speed up and go from 8:05 per mile to 7:55 on average, it’ll alert you once. But the alerts are infrequent, so you don’t get annoyed.

The Sydney Morning Herald said that Apple made a slow start in the smartwatch race, but has now left everyone else far behind.

Apple joined the market in 2015, with a device I thought was confused mess (and it was). Back then, Google’s software was just so far ahead of Apple, and Google’s willingness to monitor your every move to guess what you might want to see on a tiny screen, contrasted with Apple’s commitment to privacy, gave them a lead I thought Apple could never catch […]

Like the fable of the hare and the tortoise, Apple has continued to iterate on its design, while Google seems to have abandoned the race. Today, Apple is miles ahead, with Samsung’s Gear Watch a distant second but still the best choice for Android users. Android Wear, now called Wear OS by Google, is far behind both.

Last year’s Apple Watch Series 3 was a massive leap forward, in both hardware and software. Apple is now competing with itself, and the Series 4 is leaps ahead again. The hardware is fast enough that no interaction has lag, be it flicking your wrist to turn on the screen, or tapping a complication to launch an app.

The screen on the Apple Watch 4 has been redesigned with a bezel-free, edge-to-edge display that fits more on the screen. The two new Infographic watch faces take advantage of all this space […] The Series 4 is compelling for those who can afford it.

Eleven years after the release of the iPhone, Apple’s most important product offers only incremental improvements with each new update. This seems to disappoint pundits, who demand giant leaps in technology with every release. But those wanting year over year drastic improvement need only look at the Apple Watch, which shows no signs of slowing down.

TechCrunch said that the best smartwatch on the market just got better – mostly in small ways, but they add up.

Roughly two-and-half minutes into my run, the watch kicks in. There’s a haptic buzz on my wrist. “It looks like you’re working out,” the watch face reads […]  It feels like a small thing, but, then, most of the updates are relatively small in the grand scheme of things […]

If you’ve used an earlier version with any regularity […] the increase in surface area is pretty readily apparent, especially when an email notification comes through. It also means app developers can jam in more detail and the Watch’s faces can feature additional complications […]

Apple’s success doesn’t lie in any single standout feature. Rather, as with the iPhone, the company has excelled in providing an overall hardware and software experience that makes it possible to use the product mostly without thinking […]

The Series 4 isn’t the kind of refresh that justifies upgrading from the last generation, especially given the $399 and $499 starting prices for the standard and LTE models, respectively. But there’s certainly enough here to keep the Apple Watch at the top of the smartwatch heap. The addition of serious health features like ECG and fall detection further lay the groundwork for a what the device — and category — will become, going forward.

TechRadar said that Apple had hit the two things people were looking for from an update.

The Apple Watch 4 has finally brought the things that many were looking for from Apple’s wrist-piece: a new design, something that propels it forward in terms of usefulness.

The larger screen and more rounded edges are much nicer to look at and offer more functionality, and it also adds in some extra features too that are designed for those who are a little more vulnerable or suffer certain health conditions […]

The Apple Watch 4 stole the show at the launch of three new iPhones, and for good reason: where those were all just copying the iPhone X from last year, the Watch 4 feels materially different. This is Apple’s best smartwatch – not just because it’s the newest, but by a long way.

Not just for the upgrade in display and size, without adding that much heft, but in the way Apple is pushing it: the Watch 4 is now a health-focused device, something to help you get fitter or stay healthier if you’ve got a serious condition – or even just safeguard the more infirm for their loved ones.

For: Larger display. Lightweight design. Louder speaker.

Against: Still on the pricey side. Battery life needs to be more than two days.

USA Today said that the health features are the real reason to buy the Series 4.

Funny thing about the handsome new Apple Watch Series 4 I’ve been wearing on my wrist for several days. You hope you never actually need to use some of its most noteworthy features. And yet these features – fall detection, an ECG – are primary reasons for considering Apple’s latest timepiece.

At the risk of stereotyping, it’s safe to assume that Apple is grabbing at an older demographic, customers who, by and large, may have been more dismissive of earlier smart watches […]

Those of you who buy Series 4 will appreciate its larger display, louder speaker and such. But Apple has been pushing the new watch as a guardian for your health and that is arguably the most important reason to buy it. Even if your goal is never to have to use those features.

The Verge shared the majority view that the Series 4 finally realizes the original goal for the Apple Watch.

Launched with great fanfare four years ago, the initial version tried to do way too much with way too little, and it had confusing software to boot. Worst of all, it was unclear what the original Apple Watch was even for. No single thing stood out.

Then Apple did what Apple often does: iterated, refined, and fixed. But as much as there were software and hardware improvements to the Series 2 and Series 3, the most important refinements were to the Apple Watch’s purpose. It gained clarity. It was for fitness and notifications. Eventually, when it was ready, Apple added better connectivity.

Now, with the Series 4, Apple is iterating again. And, importantly, it’s learned how to iterate the product’s hardware and its purpose at the same time. The Series 4 has finally achieved something like the original goal of the Apple Watch. It’s not quite a do-anything computer on your wrist, but it can be different things to different people now.

Good stuff: Great battery life. Huge, beautiful screen. Health-tracking features, not just fitness.

Bad stuff: Siri is still unreliable. No always-on screen option. Complication options can be confusing.

We’ll of course be bringing you our own takes on the watch – including new pieces in my Apple Watch Diary series.

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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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