The Series 2 Apple Watch was released last September for a price tag of $369. At the same time, the Series 1 watch was released with a much cheaper price tag of only $269. So, is that extra $100 justifiable? Let’s find out…
What is the difference?
The Series 2 Apple Watch has the latest S2 processor, 50m water resistance – which Apple class as ‘swim proof’, a brighter display – 1000 nits – which is brighter than any other Apple product (the Series one has only a 350 nit display and the iPhone 7 around 700), there is also now an integrated GPS chip so if location tracking is important, you won’t have to carry your phone around anymore when you go for a run. There are also some hardware changes like a new GPU.
If you are a keen swimmer or do lots of outdoor exercise, then not having 50m water resistance or a GPS chip may be a deal breaker. If so, go for the Series 2. But, if you are like me and you want the Apple Watch as a smart watch, not a fitness watch then wouldn’t you rather have an extra $100 in your pocket? You could argue that slightly better graphics performance and a brighter display are good features, but are they essential? Probably not – in which case the Series 1 is absolutely fine.
One thing to look out for – The original model, now discounted by Apple, can still be found for sale in some places. Do not confuse this with the Series 1, it does not have the current S2 processor and in my opinion is not worth it.
What’s it like living with the Series 1 Apple Watch?
I have had the Series 1 watch for about 3 months now. So far I am very impressed, the performance is great, the screen is bright – indoors and outdoors, although in direct sunlight it can be hard to see the display – which is where the brighter display in the Series 2 comes in handy. The software integration in Watch OS speeds things up as the dock keeps 10 of your chosen apps running all of the time and will open these almost instantly. Other apps that are not in the dock still open fast but you do have to wait a couple of seconds before you can use them.
Battery life of course, is something that Apple need to improve on, it lasts about a day and a half, so I end up charging it most nights otherwise it wouldn’t last the next day. There is a helpful feature called power reserve which disables everything apart from the time. The Series 2 battery life is better and will last up to 2 days, so this could be another reason why you might find the Series 2 better.
There are lots of different straps available, Series 1 can only be bought with the sport strap, whereas Series 2 you can choose whichever you prefer (most at additional cost). The sport strap is good quality and comfortable, although for a change I thought I’d buy an additional woven nylon strap – I was disappointed, it felt like a cheaper alternative to the sport strap, and I ended up returning it.
Overall, in my opinion the Apple Watch Series one is still very much worth it, especially if you don’t use your watch for fitness or need the GPS chip. The speed difference between the two is not much but the Series 1 and 2 are a lot faster than the original discontinued model. I feel that the extra features in the Series 2 are classed as ‘nice to have’ but certainly not essential for your average smart watch user.