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Review: Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular

Note: Author's carrier is TELUS which has yet to provide an ETA on Apple Watch compatibility. A second part to this review, which focuses on the LTE aspect, will follow as soon as the service can be tested.

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Apple Watch Series 3 brings improvements across the board for Apple's smartwatch and wearable. 

The biggest feature is the addition of cellular capability which makes it possible to use the Watch independently of paired iPhones. 

An embedded SIM card allows users to make phone calls, send SMS or iMessages, query Siri for information  and access Apple Music on demand.

Apple has apparently always wanted the Apple Watch to be able to manage its own connections. It did a great job incorporating Wi-Fi into Apple Watch. I've left my iPhone to charge at home and use the Apple Watch to access my gym's Wi-Fi connection to get notifications, messages and even mail.

With the addition of cellular, the new Apple Watch Series 3 could be considered a true satellite device, a second phone and a versatile communication tool irregardless of whether an iPhone is within reach.

As far as improvements from Apple Watch Series 2 go, we have a way faster and more responsive watch. One that quickly cycles through apps and menu items and banishes the often infuriating 'loading' animation.

The new dual-core processor powering the Series 3 devices offer 70 per cent  more performance.  The W2 wireless chip enhances Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity by being 50 per cent more power efficient.

Aside from the speed gains, which are significant, even on a device this small. The battery life feels very much improved when not connected to cellular. Just using the Apple Watch Series 3 with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi saw it last for almost two-days on a single charge. This is simply a noticeable and much appreciated leap forward and eliminates the 'range anxiety' attached to having to charge the Watch nightly.

Also new is the barometric altimeter measures relative elevation and gives you more credit for steps climbed and when moving uphill which should come in handy for cycling or climbing as well as elliptical machines or stair steppers.

The big overhaul comes thanks to Watch OS 4. The updated OS has more detailed and easy to access activity selections. It also manages go maximize the Apple Watch's display buy placing more information on the screen.

The Workout app gets even better and makes it possible to chain together various workout types in a single session. This is more effective than simply starting and ending workouts. Activity coaching has also been improved and helps keep momentum going by coaching you to let you know how much more activity is needed to 'close the rings' and make one's fitness targets. It isn't obtrusive yet I found it to be helpful and motivational. 

Heart Rate insights are now more comprehensive and helpful in determining not just fitness, but also for people with pre-existing conditions

A new Siri Watch Face pushes time and location-based reminders on the screen.  A new Explorer watchface that comes with the Series 3 gives cellular signal strength indicator .

There are new Pixar watch faces, a redesigned Apple Music experience for cellular streaming, and the ability to pair gym equipment for more specific activity tracking. 

Apple's managed to nail down the functionality and focus of Apple Watch and it deliver an improved user experience as a smart timepiece, a notifications tool, a communications tool as well as the company's smallest iPod and an all-around fitness and health tracking solution.

Apple Watch buyers now have a wider range of devices to choose from. The entry-level is the Apple Watch Series 1 which brings basic tracking and iPhone connectivity without water resistance, a GPS or cellular connectivity. 

A Series 3 GPS version brings all the features and performance of the latest, greatest but without the cellular connectivity. This should be the ideal choice for most users.


The Series 3 GPS + Cellular is the most advanced, most connected Apple Watch and it is also the most iPhone independent model that can work on a user's existing cellular number (where supported) for an extra monthly subscription fee of around $10 a month (SRT).

Consumers now have more choice than ever with the Apple Watch Series 1 (starting at $322), the Series 3 with GPS ($ 429) and the cellular enabled Series 3 ($519) as well as respective Hermes, Nike and the ceramic Edition versions.

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