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Usually more extended thoughts by Michael Camilleri.

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Reactions to Reactions to the Apple Watch Series 4

At its regular September event this year, Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 4. The reaction from Apple pundits was incredibly positive. John Gruber’s take on Daring Fireball was representative of many:

All three products [the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR and the Series 4]… are interesting, but to me, the Series 4 watch was the standout of the show.

Gruber goes on to explain that the increase in the usable display and the reduction in the thickness are what aroused his interest. This baffled me. It’s silly to get upset at people’s reactions, especially to something as inconsequential as what nerds think about new tech, but the sheer uniformity of the praise being heaped on the Series 4 has started to grate on me a little.

The Apple Watch has some serious limitations. However, those serious limitations are not about the size of the display or the thickness of the device. They’re essentially two-fold:

  • The lack of an always on display. As many have griped (including many of same people praising the Series 4), the lack of an always on display is incredibly frustrating for a wristworn timepiece. It means that what is a one-handed operation with your phone is potentially a two-handed operation with your watch.

  • Daily charging. Needing to charge your watch every day—especially when the charger does not work with any other Apple product—is a persistent (albeit minor) irritation and the kind of thing that dissuades broader adoption.

There are understandable reasons why these problems have yet to be solved by Apple but, until they are, no single revision deserves to be seen as anything other than a minor iteration on what’s come before.

Remember how amazed everyone was when Apple added LTE to the Series 3 last year? How’s that working out? ✺