In this review of the Apple Watch Series 5, we discuss the pros and cons of this latest Apple Watch. How do you like the new always-on screen and do you like the other improvements? You can read it in this Apple Watch Series 5 review!

Before the announcement of the Apple Watch Series 5, many people wondered if Apple should come up with a successor to the excellent Apple Watch Series 4 this year. We too had our doubts, because which functions were really missing? How could Apple make the Series 4 even better than it already was? We didn’t have to expect a new design and it did contain the most important functions. Yet there is now the Apple Watch Series 5, which has a number of useful improvements. But do those improvements justify the purchase of a new model? Check out our experiences with the new Apple Watch Series 5 in this review.

Introduction

Where Apple made huge leaps with the Apple Watch last year, both in terms of design and performance and functions, Apple Watch Series 5 Apple is a more refined version of that watch. Apple builds on the already great Series 4 and adds a number of functions to it. You could see the Apple Watch Series 5 as a kind of Apple Watch Series 4S, because the improvements are mainly on the inside.

However, Apple has now chosen the name Series 5. In fact, we find this somewhat unjustified, because the step from the Apple Watch Series 4 is a lot smaller than a year ago with the Apple Watch Series 3 to the Apple Watch Series 4. The improvements can be counted on your fingers. However, that does not make Apple Watch Series 5 a bad model, it is the more perfect version of the Series 4 Watch. 

Apple Watch Series 5 Display: Always On

  • New always-on display
  • An energy-efficient LTPO OLED screen
  • Two sizes: 40mm and 44 mm
always-on-display-apple-watch-series-5

Apple has been using an OLED screen since the very first generation of Apple Watch. Since last year it has been a so-called LTPO OLED screen, but you hardly noticed it. Only this year does Apple reap the benefits, thanks to the always-on display. The always-on display ensures that your Apple Watch never goes completely black. Instead, the screen is dimmed and only the watch face is visible (or the Workout app, if you are exercising).

With the Apple Watch Series 4 and earlier, the screen only starts when you tap it or turn your wrist. We have rarely experienced this as a problem ourselves. Yet there was a desire from many users for an always-on display and that wish has now been granted.

Now that we’ve been walking around with this new feature for a while, we think it’s a nice addition. In everyday use, you do not notice it very much, but in some specific situations, we do appreciate the function. For example during exercise, where you are not always able to turn your wrist or tap the screen. The Workout app will always remain on screen, even when you are not actively looking at your screen. A glance at the Apple Watch is then enough to know what your statistics are.

Incidentally, the Work-out app is the only one where information is constantly displayed. Second hand, however, is hidden because the screen in the always-on mode is only refreshed once per second. Apple does this to save battery. 

Other apps where you would like constant information to be displayed constantly, such as the Maps app during navigation or the new Compass app, do not have this. We find that particularly awkward with the Timer app. The timer appears faded in the background, with the digital time in front of it. Although you can always see the time, you cannot take a quick look at your timer. You still have to turn your wrist or tap the screen.

It does not matter which dial you have set for the always-on screen. Bright colors are dimmed or blackened on dials. The second hand is hidden with analog dials. However, it appears automatically as soon as you turn your wrist or tap the screen again. The always-on display is therefore particularly useful when reading the time and statistics via the Work-out app because that is the only thing that is always on the screen. 

Information from other apps, even those that may be useful while resting your arm, does not appear. We think that’s a shame, but hopefully, Apple will adjust this in a future update.

Two Sizes

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Apple still offers two sizes to choose from 40mm and 44mm. This has remained unchanged since the Apple Watch Series 4. We don’t think Apple needs to release an even larger or smaller size. We sometimes see very large traditional watches on the street, but we find that there is always something exaggerated. The sizes are still good: 40mm is great for the smaller wrist, while 44mm is useful if you want a slightly larger screen or have a wider wrist. 

Apple Watch Series 5 Design

  • Unchanged from Apple Watch Series 4
  • Rounder finish is not boring

As far as design is concerned, Apple made major strides last year. We were impressed by this new design and we still support that a year later. We still think the Apple Watch is the nicest smartwatch there is. The design is also not boring, because the playful, rounded appearance makes it look more modern. The design of the older models also seems a bit lumpier. In our opinion, Apple can go on for a few more generations with this design.

The question still remains. Should Apple release a circular Apple Watch? I would personally love to have a circular Apple Watch when looks are a priority. Although from a user point of view, we find this by no means ideal for reading texts, using apps and other functions that you do with an Apple Watch. A round design simply has a much smaller screen surface. A round screen is the widest in the middle so only that area is ideal for reading texts. watchOS is not built on that, so a circular Apple Watch is very awkward in that case.

Apple Watch Studio: choose your own combination

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What we like about buying a new Apple Watch is that you now have the freedom to choose the strap with the case on Apple’s Website or Apple Store. Apple calls this Apple Watch Studio. Ironically, Apple bashed Motorolla in the past for trying out such a feature called the Moto X.

Do you want a 40mm gold-colored Apple Watch with a Kaki woven sports strap? Then that is now possible, thanks to this new option. We think it is good that Apple now gives you much more freedom in putting together your Apple Watch. 

Compass

  • New Compass app
  • Also available in Apple Maps
  • Supported by third-party apps

In addition to the new always-on screen, the compass is the second major feature. When Apple announced the new addition, we only realized that Apple Watch never had a compass before. With the new Compass app, you check where the north is and while navigating with Apple Maps you can see which direction you are pointing. We think this feature is the best thing while walking in using Apple Maps. You then see more clearly in which direction you have to walk. Previously, more card reading was involved and it was a matter of gambling whether you were heading in the right direction.

Do you really need the compass depends on your activities? If you often go out for a brisk walk off the beaten track, then it is handy to have. On the other hand, you may wonder how often you use the compass on your iPhone. If you never use it and never check which direction you are looking in Apple Maps, then you are almost certain that you will never use it on your Apple Watch. We, therefore, find the compass a useful addition, but it is certainly not a must-have.

Finally, third-party apps can also use the compass function. An example is the Night Sky app, with which you know better in which direction you should look for the correct zodiac sign thanks to the compass. It is especially nice to give this a try or if you are very fond of stargazing, but in practice, you probably do not use this function that often.

Performance: Apple Watch Series 5

  • New S5 chip, but with the same performance
  • Twice as much storage: now 32GB

Apple has equipped the Apple Watch Series 5 with a new S5 chip. Although the name suggests that another jump has been made in terms of performance, that is not the case. The name S5 only refers to the improvements for the always-on screen and the sensors for the compass, not for the performance of the watch itself. 

We think that’s a shame. Apple has always managed to improve performance so far, but that has not happened now. Although we don’t have much to complain about the speed of the Apple Watch Series 4 (the watch is pretty fast and apps work smoothly), a small leap in performance improvement would have made a difference in the long run.

Apple often distinguishes between processors in software updates. Older chips are no longer supported at some point because they cannot meet the requirements of the new operating system. Because Apple has now used the same chip in terms of performance, the Apple Watch Series 5 may last as long as the Apple Watch Series 4 from a year ago. It is therefore not the case that you get a more future-proof Apple Watch and we think that is a shame.

What we are very happy with is that there is now more storage. With the Apple Watch Series 4 you received 16GB as standard, but Apple has now increased it to 32GB. That is more than enough for an Apple Watch. It gives you the opportunity to download many apps (which are quite small anyway) and at the same time store music, podcasts and audiobooks. 

We often play music directly via the Apple Watch, because we can leave your iPhone at home. This is very useful especially n combination with the AirPods.

Battery life: Apple Watch Series 5

  • About the same battery life, even with always-on display
  • Still charge every night

Apple promises the same 18-hour battery life for the Apple Watch Series 5 and our test has shown that this is indeed the case. Thanks to all sorts of clever tricks, Apple has achieved this, despite the new always-on screen. 

Although the battery has become slightly larger, it is mainly due to the improved LTPO screen. This allows you to easily reach the end of the day, even if you do multiple workouts. If you still want a little more battery life, you can always switch off the always-on screen. 

By turning this function off, you can do just a little longer with the Apple Watch. However, don’t expect the battery to last twice as long,

Yet we think it is a shame that Apple has not made greater leaps. Although we have no problem charging the Apple Watch every night, battery life of about two days would have been very welcome. 

It would have been better if Apple would make the Apple Watch Series 5 suitable for standard Qi chargers. Now you can only charge the Apple Watch with the specifically designed chargers that you do not always have with you. Wireless chargers are becoming more and more common and we are therefore sorry that the Apple Watch is not yet suitable for this.

Apple Watch Series 5 Software

  • Supplied as standard with watchOS 6
  • Requires at least iPhone 6s or iPhone SE
  • Numerous new functions, such as new standard apps
apple-watch-series-software

watchOS has played an important role in the development of the Apple Watch in recent years. In watchOS 6, which runs as standard on the Apple Watch Series 5, we find a number of new apps. There is a Sound app, with which you can measure how many decibels sound is in your environment. 

You can also put this on your watch face, so you can always see if you run the risk of hearing damage. Other new additions are a Calculator app, the Dictaphone and the new Cycle app for keeping track of menstruation. 

All these new functions of watchOS 6 can be found in both the Apple Watch Series 4 and the new Apple Watch Series 5. No software functions were released this year that only work with the latest model. 

On one hand, that is good, because users of last year’s model are not abandoned. On the other hand, you do miss the feeling that you have something exclusive. There is, of course, the compass, but this year there is no such a major important new feature, such as the ECG app last year.

What you have to keep in mind is that the Apple Watch Series 5 requires at least iPhone 6s or iPhone SE. That’s because watchOS 6 can only work together with iOS 13. This has the indirect consequence that older iPhone models such as the iPhone 6 are not suitable for this new Apple Watch. So keep that in mind before you run to the store.

Who is the Apple Watch Series 5 for?

Since the upgrade of the Apple Watch Series 5 is a lot smaller than last year, it is interesting to see for whom the Apple Watch Series 5 is most suitable. Users who brought in the Apple Watch Series 4 last year have little reason to switch. 

The always-on screen and the compass are too small an improvement for us to spend more than $400 again. In our opinion, it only makes sense if you know how to sell your Apple Watch Series 4 properly or because there are some small scratches that bother you.

For users of the Apple Watch Series 3, we think it is a worthy upgrade, although you can still make it a few years ahead with that model. If you switch from the 2017 model, you immediately benefit from all the improvements that were also added to the Apple Watch Series 4, such as the new design, the ECG function, and the larger screen. If you are more than satisfied with the Apple Watch Series 3 and the new design has no added value for you, it is not necessary to switch. It is not for nothing that Apple is selling the Apple Watch Series 3 for the lower entry price of $199, because it is still a very good smartwatch.

If you still have an Apple Watch Series 2 or maybe older, then we think the Apple Watch Series 5 is a no-brainer. In that case, the improvements in performance are enormous and it will not be long before these models no longer receive the latest software update. 

This year, Apple has already chosen to release watchOS 6 for the Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 at a later date, so it’s not unthinkable that this will be one of the last major software updates. For the original first-generation Apple Watch, we think it’s a logical step forward.

Not sure if you should opt for the Apple Watch Series 3 or Series 5? If you are just looking for an advanced watch, want to view notifications and do some workouts, then the Apple Watch Series 3 is a good choice. For the relatively low amount of $199, you get a large part of the Apple Watch experience. 

If you are willing to invest more and want the extra features such as ECG, the larger screen and the always-on function, then the Apple Watch Series 5 is by far the best choice. 

There are also many other smartwatches and activity trackers available, but we don’t find one that is as good as the Apple Watch. The collaboration with the iPhone does not imitate any other smartwatch, making it the best choice for Apple users. If you are only looking for a pedometer for some simple statistics, then the cheaper activity trackers from Fitbit are the best choice.

The price of the Apple Watch Series 5 is somewhat on the high side starting at a price of $400, but in our opinion, it is still more than worth it. Online stores such as techelectros are even selling it for less than $390. Apple must be careful that the price does not increase further in the coming years. Compared to the Apple Watch Series 4, the price has gone up by a few dollars.

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