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Apple Watch Series 4 Hands-On: Apple’s Most Advanced Wearable Yet

by Brandon Russell | September 12, 2018September 12, 2018 4:31 pm EST

At its iPhone event on Wednesday, Apple also introduced a brand new Apple Watch. And it isn’t an ordinary upgrade, with a particular focus on what the wearable can do as a health companion.

First and foremost, the Apple Watch Series 4 features a more expansive screen. It isn’t quite edge-to-edge, but it’s an improvement over previous models. Point of fact, the Series 4 is an improvement over previous models all around, including performance and health tracking.

It also feels a little more comfortable to wear, with a slightly thinner build. The displays corners have also been rounded, making the device appear more like a traditional watch (though it’s still square-ish).

The displays aren’t just rounded, but they’re larger. Apple says the screens are 30 percent bigger than existing models. The Series 4 now comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes; I wore the 40mm around the demo area and barely noticed it was on my wrist.

The Series 4 also now features a digital crown that provides users with haptic feedback. It’s a nice flourish, and provides users with a better connection with the watch while in use. During my brief hands-on, I appreciated using the digital crown to navigate, because there was the sensation of a touch.

To take advantage of the bigger displays, Apple has introduced different watch faces that support even more complications. One of which, dubbed infograph watch face, features everything from the time to air quality index to activity and more. I liked the density of information, which goes against my more minimalist tendencies.

In addition to a tweaked design, Apple made the Series 4 two times faster than previous models. I have never owned an Apple Watch, so I can’t say if what Apple said is true. It was, however, very fast to operate, and apps loaded promptly.

Perhaps the biggest focus of the Series 4 is its emphasis on health—particularly heart health. This year, Apple’s wearable features technology for generating an ECG. Apple said the compatible app will launch later this year, so I couldn’t test the feature for myself.

I tried asking Apple more about the ECG features, like what would happen in the event of a false positive, but the company’s PR said it would share more information at a later date. That response doesn’t really put me at ease, though skeptics can rest a little easier knowing the FDA has approved Apple’s watch as a new type of medical device.

Another feature I was unable to test was fall detection. If it works as Apple claims, the Series 4 will detect when a user falls and provide quick access to emergency services. If a user is unresponsive, the Series 4 will know and automatically call emergency services.

As someone who has never owned an Apple Watch, I’ve been eyeing the device for its health and activity tracking features. With even more emphasis on health, I’m more inclined to check it out when it launches later this month.

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.