The Apple Watch Series 3 has finally emerged, with many consumers having high hopes for the smartwatch range. Apple can already rightfully celebrate dominating the smartwatch niche with previous Apple Watch releases, and this situation is certainly unlikely to change with the Series 3. But does this smartwatch actually change the perception of the Apple Watch series as being a little bit disappointing and lacking in genuine purpose?

Apple Watch Series 3
Image: Screenshot from Keynote

LTE central

Certainly Apple has attempted to address this with the inclusion of the new LTE version. This attempts to make the Apple Watch Series 3 a more independent device, capable of operating without the continually attendant iPhone smartphone. LTE is supposed to completely revolutionize the Apple Watch range, but already some users are reporting problems.

Connectivity issues have dogged the early days of the Apple Watch Series 3, with the smartwatch frequently struggling to connect to the new LTE function. This has been reported by both The Wall Street Journal and The Verge, with both publications experiencing a wide range of difficulties with their review devices.

Lauren Goode of The Verge was even sent two separate Apple Watch Series 3 units, yet found that both were plagued with the same problems. Goode complained of the Apple Watch Series 3 continually attempting to connect to unverifiable and unauthorized Wi-Fi networks, effectively rendering the smartwatch useless in this department.

Apple response

Apple responded directly to the criticisms of The Verge, indicated that it is already investigating a software fix to the issue. “We have discovered that when Apple Watch Series 3 joins unauthenticated WiFi networks without connectivity, it may at times prevent the watch from using cellular. We are investigating a fix for a future software release,” Apple explained. But these early teething troubles do not bode well for a feature that is intended to be an absolutely central selling point for the Apple Watch Series 3.

And although the mega-corporation clearly intends to address the early difficulties that the new Apple Watch has experienced, there is no explicit date set for the update. Such software workarounds can often take quite some time, which is hardly likely to be reassuring for those Apple Watch Series 3 users who have experienced difficulties since its launch.

Apple has also failed to explain why streaming Apple Music from the Apple Watch Series 3 has been delayed. Ahead of the release of the smartwatch, this was promoted as a major new feature, yet it will not roll out until next month. An explanation has been conspicuous by its absence, though, which has left many Apple Watch users not only disappointed, but also concerned that the feature may not even appear as soon as Apple is currently stating.

Familiar design

Users updating to the Apple Watch Series 3 certainly won’t receive a radically different smartwatch. although there have been minor design tweaks to this third generation smartwatch, the physical design of the unit is almost identical to the Apple Watch Series 2, and for that matter the original Apple Watch release. That is not to say that it isn’t aesthetically pleasing, just that it offers absolutely nothing new compared to previous releases.

Considering that the major difference between the Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 2 is the LTE function that is clearly working intermittently for some users, one wonders why anyone would indeed choose to upgrade. Sadly Apple needs to ensure that the LTE function is considerably more durable than it appears at present.

However, one criticized aspect of the physical design of the Apple Watch Series 3 has been the red dots which appears on the crown of the Series 3 LTE version. This is sent to distinguish the LTE watch from other models that do not feature cellular capabilities, but simply appears an odd anomaly that effectively advertises LTE connectivity to passers-by.

Plus points

However, there are some positives for the Apple Watch Series 3 generation. Firstly, the OLED display included in the smartwatch is rather functional and attractive, delivering excellent clarity. And there is no doubt that they improved processor ensures that the performance of the Apple Watch Series 3 is significantly slicker than the last generation. Apple claims that the new processor enables the smartwatch to perform 70% faster at most common tasks, and the early indications are that this claim is entirely credible.

Battery life

However, the Apple Watch Series 3 still faces big problems in the battery life department. Naturally, a wristwatch is intended to be an item of convenience, something that is on one’s person on a daily basis. Yet the Apple Watch Series 3 struggles to deliver the sort of battery life required to make this feasible, with the manufacturer indicating that it will last for around 18 hours on a single charge.

This figure plummets once LTE usage is taken into consideration, with the smartwatch barely capable of more than 60 minutes of usage while in LTE mode. Streaming music and utilizing the GPS functionality will also cause the Apple Watch to run dry in just four hours. Hardly ideal for a supposed wristwatch.

Buyers of the Apple Watch Series 3 will also find themselves shelling out extra money for cellular connectivity, if indeed they do require this function. If the LTE system does not appeal, then one may very well wonder why there is any need to purchase the Apple Watch Series 3 whatsoever, simply for a smartwatch that does exactly the same things as the Apple Watch Series 2, with an almost identical appearance, while costing more money.

Apple Watch failure

Above all else, Apple has still yet to demonstrate precisely why the Apple Watch exists. If it is intended to be an everyday wristwatch then the battery life simply doesn’t last long enough. If the Apple Watch Series 3 is intended to offer convenience for users who don’t wish to carry a smartphone around with them constantly then it needs to be more durable and consistent in performance. If it is supposed to be a standalone smartphone-like device, it needs to be more powerful and independent.

Although the Apple Watch range will continue to dominate the smartwatch niche, it has yet to become anything remotely approaching a definitive purchase.