A reflection on the Series 5 four months since purchase.
Four Months with the Apple Watch Series 5
I’ve been a daily Apple Watch wearer since the initial Apple Watch. I bought the Series 2 when it came out and, after skipping the Series 3 and skipping and complaining about the Series 4, I immediately purchased the Series 5 when it became available. I’ve written in detail (and in less detail) what I think Apple should do with the product line. It’s now been approximately four months since I started wearing the Series 5. What do I think now?
In short: this is it. This is the Apple Watch I’ve been waiting for. An always-on display is to the Apple Watch what a Retina Display is to the iPhone.1 It’s the way it was always meant to be, a feature that once part of the product causes every previous model to feel critically incomplete. If you wear an Apple Watch and you haven’t upgraded to a Series 5, I can’t emphasise enough how great an improvement you’ll find it. All the micro-frustrations you may have not even been conscious of fall away when you can glance at the screen and not need to ‘wake it up’.
I didn’t write a reactions to the reactions to the Series 5 but if I had, the top of that list would have been my surprise at the lack of surprise at the announcement of the always-on display. Everyone mentioned it and noted it as an important feature but I expected there to be more ‘Holy shit! How is this possible?’-ness. The general consensus prior to the announcement seemed to be that an always-on display was a couple more years away. And yet here it was! In 2019!
It doesn’t come completely free, of course. I used to be able to wear my Apple Watch Series 2 for almost 48 hours before it absolutely needed to be charged. Not so with the Series 5. If I neglect to charge it overnight, it will be close to dead the next morning. That said, who cares? I was charging it daily anyway. This was absolutely the correct trade off.
The display is really the beginning and end of things as far as I’m concerned but some half-formed thoughts for what they’re worth:
The Watch is still too slow. The Series 5 is clearly faster than the Series 2 but apps take too long to load and there’s almost always a delay on first launch while the app pulls the data you need.
The size is fine. I thought the previous ‘large’ size was about as big as I wanted to go but I almost immediately acclimated to the larger size. For those who are waiting for a thinner case, you need to keep waiting.
I like the pinker tint to the gold aluminium case (not sure if this is new with Series 5 or not). I still wish you could get the stainless case without cellular but this matches my skin tone better than the original gold aluminium finish did.
So there you have it. It took them longer than would have been ideal but with the Series 5, Apple has brought to market that most difficult of all tech products: the good one. ✺
The reaction to the Series 4 that bothered me the most was John Gruber’s contention that the Series 4 was a ‘landmark’ model akin to the debut of the Retina Display in the iPhone 4. I respect Gruber’s opinion on things a great deal but the Series 5 is further evidence of how wrong he was. This is the landmark model. The Series 4 added a bigger display but the size of the display was never the Apple Watch’s problem. It was always about the fact the display had to be activated.
The thing I found particularly maddening about this is that Gruber himself would always complain about this whenever he talked about the Watch (and, more pertinently, one of the reasons he kept returning to mechanical watches). There were never complaints that the screen was too small. ↩