Apple finally revealed the Apple Watch Series 5 during its annual September event on Tuesday. The form factor is almost identical to that of the Series 4, but the newer model has some new features that set it apart. Here’s a look at the Apple Watch Series 5 vs the Series 4 released last year.
The most obvious difference in the Apple Watch Series 5 vs Series 4
When both watch models are powered down, they look identical, but when they are powered up, there is one very obvious difference. The Apple Watch Series 5 has one of the most-requested features, which is an always-on display. The screen on this year’s model does dim, but it doesn’t actually turn off unless the device runs out of battery.
Interestingly, the battery life on the Apple Watch Series 5 vs the Series 4 is the same at 18 hours, despite the new always-on display. This year’s model is much more energy-efficient, which is why it manages the same amount of battery life while keeping the display on all the time. The Series 5’s Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxid driver adjusts the screen’s resolution and refresh rate. It also features a more sensitive sensor for ambient light and new power management features in the software.
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Another obvious difference between this year’s and last year’s model is the range of colors. As expected, the Series 5 comes in ceramic and titanium variants, which weren’t available in the Series 4. However, the new materials also come with heftier price tags than the other models, ranging up to $1,299 for the ceramic variant. The Series 5’s aluminum model is now all aluminum, so it can be recycled if or when the time comes to get rid of it. The Series 5 also comes in new Hermes and Nike variants in addition to the standard stainless steel.
Other than the always-on display and the new colors, the screen sizes of the Series 5 and Series 4 are the same at 40 mm and 44 mm, which were increases from the Series 3’s 38 mm and 42 mm.
Under the hood
The Apple Watch has always had an element of fitness to it, and the trend continues with the Series 5. In fact, this year’s line-up has even more new features than those that were introduced last year. The EKG feature which first appeared in the Series 4 has been credited with saving lives by identifying atrial fibrillation and other heart problems to alert patients that they needed to see a cardiologist. The Series 4 also brought fall detection and improvements to the gyroscope and the accelerometer.
The Series 5 also has a compass with an enhanced SOS feature which can be automatically activated on some of the cellular variants. The addition of the compass also means that the watch offers improved navigation. The Series 5 Cellular models can also make international emergency calls in 150 countries without an iPhone connected to them.
One widely anticipated feature that is missing from the Apple Watch Series 5 is native sleep tracking. We’ve been hearing rumors about it becoming available on this year’s model for quite some time, so many consumers might be disappointed that it’s missing again.
Updates in watchOS 6
The hardware isn’t the only consideration in the face-off between the Apple Watch Series 5 vs Series 4. Some of these new features will be coming to the previous models because they are part of watchOS 6, but we would expect the Series 5 to streamline them.
For example, there is a new Noise app which can come in handy when you’re at a concert or other event where the sound is extremely loud. The Apple Watch will alert you that the ambient sounds are too loud and that hearing could be damaged.
watchOS 6 also brings a new Cycle Tracking app to help women keep track of their menstrual and fertility cycles. The new Activity Trends on iPhone app provides an overview of activities to help users see their progress in different areas. watchOS6 also brings a number of new dynamic watch faces, including some with the compass display right on them. The new faces include Solar Dial, Modular Compact and Meridian.
The Apple Watch Series 5 starts at $399 for the GPS-only model and $499 for the cellular model and is available for preorder now. It will become available on store shelves on Sept. 20. Interestingly, the Series 4 has been discontinued, so if you want to save money and don’t care about the new features in the Series 5, you shouldn’t wait because there won’t be anymore inventory after the current stock available at retailers is sold. The Apple Watch Series 3 will still be available at a much lower $199 starting price.