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Apple Watch Series 2

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star

What's Hot: Jack of all trades with strong notification system, native app support and fitness featues. Waterproof to 50m, GPS, lots of bands available, can makes calls.

What's Not: Works only with iPhone, look has changed little from last gen model.


Reviewed October 1, 2016 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Apple Watch Series 2

There's still no such thing as the perfect smartwatch-- it's a new and evolving product category, and both manufacturers and potential buyers are working out what works best and what they want from these very personal devices. A good starting rule, even though it has nothing to do with technology, is that it should look good. Watches are jewelry, and for men often the only jewelry they'll ever wear. The Apple Watch Series 2 looks identical to the original Apple Watch released last year (the new model is a hair thicker). I leave it to you to decide if it's a great or meh looking watch. I personally find it harmless--it's not huge or cheap or ugly, but it's not something I could imagine calling jewelry... not even the Apple Watch Edition, which is finished in ceramic white this time around (and costs a fraction of the first generation Edition's price). It's square for better use of LCD real estate rather than the round conventional watch design. The bands however--- Apple gets the jewelry angle there with so many materials, colors and styles to choose from. I looked at the Apple Store's "under glass" traditional jewel counter display and was nearly paralyzed by choice. As with the first Apple Watch, it's incredibly simple to swap bands (unlike old fashioned analog watches or most competitors' smartwatch band systems). That means you'll be tempted to pick up a few and change the look to fit what you're doing--exercise, work, soirees or working on your house's siding. Apple even has neat looking Nike and Hermes band models, and beyond that there are third party bands too.

What is it?

The Apple Watches (all of them) are smartwatches that can mirror iPhone notifications and run native apps too. You can use it to send and receive phone calls, respond to text messages, see emails as they arrive and ask Siri for help. It's also a very capable fitness wearable with a heart rate monitor, step counter, GPS (only the Series 2), and the new Breathe app that reminds you to relax and breathe deeply for a minute twice per day. That might sound gimmicky, but we all get caught up in the stress of the day and the Breathe app with its gentle pulse against my wrist and accompanying visual always manages to drop my heart rate by 5 beats. The Apple Watch supports a wide variety of exercise types including running, elliptical, treadmill, rowing machine, exercise bike, outdoor biking and more. The Series 2 has a GPS for run tracking and you can swim with it too.

Apple Watch Series 2

The space gray aluminum Apple Watch Series 2 with Milanese stainless steel mesh band.

Two Series

Apple is selling original Watch with an upgraded dual core CPU for $269. It's called the Series 1. The more significantly upgraded model is the Apple Watch Series 2 covered in this review. It starts at $369 for the aluminum (formerly called Sport) model, and there's a stainless steel option that starts at $550. The white ceramic Apple Watch Edition is $1,249 for the 38mm and $1,299 for the 42mm. That's a lot cheaper than last year's insanely priced Edition watch, but still a lot of money for something that will become technologically obsolete, unlike a Rolex. The aluminum Watch is available in space gray (that's the model we have in for review, paired with the Milanese stainless mesh band), gold and rose gold. The stainless is available in silver and space gray.

What's New

The Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 are faster than the original model, and the original did have a reputation for being sluggish particularly when running native apps (apps that run directly on the watch rather than simply being conduits for info piped from your iPhone). Watch OS 3 that came out with the new models is compatible with the old model, and it actually breathed new life and speed into the first gen model. Even so, the twice faster dual core CPU in the new models is noticeably faster, and most actions on the watch are fairly quick now (no one wants to wait for a smartwatch to think about stuff--it's supposed to save time).

Apple Watch Series 2

The stainless steel Apple Watch Series 2 with leather band.


The Series 2 is water resistant--and not just against splashes or the occasional reach into the sink where you're soaking the dishes. It's water resistant down to 50 meters. You can swim with it, and even use it to track your swims, which is a rare and expensive feature in a fitness oriented wearable. It's OK to swim in the ocean too, salt water is allowed. Since capacitive screens are easily confused by water, there's quick access to the new screen lock feature. Activate it when swimming or washing the watch, then rotate the crown button to re-enable the touch screen. The watch will play a tone from its speaker as it vibrates the speaker membrane to expel any tiny bit of water that might be under the speaker hole. I've tried 20 times and I've yet to see water come out; my guess is pretty much none ever gets in there. Speaking of speakers, we've always appreciated that Apple Watches have one--it's a must have for alarms and for using the watch to send and receive calls (it uses Bluetooth and your iPhone to make calls).

Deals and Shopping:

Apple Watch Series 2 Video Review



Apple Watch Series 2

The Nike space gray aluminum Apple Watch Series 2.

A Friend for your iPhone and Mac

The Apple Watch works only with the iPhone. If you have an Android phone, forget this watch now and forever. I can't imagine Apple supporting Android. If you have a late model Mac running Mac OS Sierra, the watch can automatically unlock your Mac so you don't have to enter a password when it wakes up. This is done via Bluetooth, and it won't work for booting up the Mac first thing in the morning, it only works with sleeping Macs.

Apple Watch Series 2



It's not perfect, and I have a feeling that many folks have different ideal smartwatches. It is however the best jack of all trades smart wrist companion with extensive fitness features (at least if you have an iPhone to bring it to life). It's available in two sizes, and the smaller 38mm size is actually a good fit for women, unlike the smaller size of the Moto 360 that's still huge on my wrist (Apple is one of the few smartwatch makers that thinks us women might want one of these things). The band selection is phenomenal and the Series 2 display is bright enough to be easily viewable in the blinding Texas sun. Tt's fast enough to be pleasant, native app offerings are among the most extensive for wearables, it has a GPS for run tracking and you can play in the water with it... really, really deep water. The fitness features are comprehensive and support third party apps, and I suspect the fitness features are more than enough for all but the hardcore--triathletes, chest borne heart rate monitor people--you'll probably want even more. For the everyday fitness freak like me (biking, weight lifting, rowing machine and swimming) it's great. Given the watch's potential independence for runs thanks the GPS, there's even some internal storage for tunes (but oddly not podcasts).


Price: starting at $369

Related Reviews:

Apple Watch (1st generation) Review

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

Microsoft Band 2 Review

Moto 360 (2nd gen, 2015)

LG G Watch R Review

Huawei Watch Review

Asus ZenWatch Review

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Review

FitBit Flex Review

Garmin Fenix 3 Review

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