That’s pretty astonishing when you think that for a while it felt like Apple was still figuring out what people actually wanted from the Watch.
Thankfully, the Series 2 addressed many of those issues, Apple found its stride and released what was in our view, the best smartwatch you could buy.
Well, this is Series 3, and Apple has rocked the boat again by adding a brand-new feature that puts a SIM inside the Watch allowing you to make phone calls and even stream music without your phone.
It’s a great headline to be sure, but over the past week, we found that while great, it’s not the sole reason the Apple Watch is still the best smartwatch you can buy.
The entry-level aluminium finish is available in Space Grey (Black), Silver and Gold. The stainless steel options include Space Grey (still Black) and Silver.
If you’re looking to spend more money than sense then Apple also makes two ceramic models in Grey (definitely Black) and White that are as eye-wateringly expensive as they are absolutely stunning. All of these are then available in a 42mm or 38mm size.
To make sure the Watch is equally at home out running as it is at a nice restaurant Apple has regularly updated its range of straps with new seasonal colours and materials. If you want a good all-rounder we would recommend the Sport or Woven Nylon. They’re both under £50, are incredibly durable and work in pretty much every social situation.
While the hardware itself might look the same but Apple has made some big changes behind the scenes.
Building on the GPS tracking that was added in Series 2 the Series 3 now comes with an altimeter so you can see your elevation (how many stairs you’ve climbed).
It’s a niche feature to be sure but it’s the last piece of the puzzle that means the Watch can now offer truly comprehensive movement tracking.
Then, of course, there’s the addition of LTE/4G.
How it works is incredibly simple. When you set the Watch up for the first time it will ask if you want to activate LTE. If you have a compatible carrier (EE in the UK, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon in the US) you’ll then be given the plans that are available.
For example, on EE you’ll get free data on the Apple Watch for 6 months and then it’s £5 per month added to your bill. If you choose to agree, the Apple Watch will share the same number as your iPhone.
Technically, it all works perfectly. All our calls connected, messages came through, Siri responded as instructed and the setup process itself was seamless. In a few weeks, Apple Music users will also be able to stream any song from its library straight to your Watch.
If you run, cycle or generally find yourself doing an activity that could benefit from leaving your phone behind then the Series 3 with 4G offers a frankly unparalleled sense of freedom.
If you don’t do any of these things or can’t think of a situation where you’d want to leave your phone behind then we’d recommend saving yourself the £5 per month and consider the Series 3 without 4G instead.
Here’s why. Even without 4G, the Series 3 is incredibly good at staying connected. For starters, the Watch remembers all the WiFi networks your iPhone has connected to. Secondly, with the exception of the countryside, it’s hard to walk more than three steps without encountering a shop that doesn’t come with free WiFi.
In fact, for a good majority of the time, we were using our Watch we actually found that it was either tethering to our iPhone or simply latching onto the WiFi networks that we regularly use throughout our daily routine.
To be clear, we’re not saying you shouldn’t get the 4G version, we’re simply saying consider the activities you do regularly and pick the one that works best for what you do the most.
While 4G might have got all the headlines, it’s actually not the thing that impressed us the most about the Series 3.
The Series 3 has a powerful new processor which means that apps now load twice as fast. For a device that’s based on quick, intuitive interactions this can make all the difference.
And it does make all the difference. Not only does the Series 3 feel faster but it enables new features like having Siri actually talk to you on the Watch without relying on your iPhone.
Combine this power with watchOS 4 and you have an experience that provides you with quick yet deeply meaningful pieces of information.
The new Activity experience on Apple Watch encapsulates this perfectly.
As an example, we had spent the day sat in the office which meant that we were clearly behind on our movement goal. At around 4 PM it popped up with a suggestion that if we did a 20-minute brisk walk we could still easily reach our daily target. As a result of that, we took a longer route home that day.
For too long health gadgets have simply been reactive, telling us the information we that deep down we already know. By being proactive, Apple has created a relationship between a person and a device that feels genuinely meaningful. Fitbit does something similar with its sleep tracking and both companies should be applauded for it.
Elsewhere watchOS 4 brings improved heart-rate tracking, and can even alert you when it detects an elevated heart-rate but no strenuous activity.
Apple Watch Series 3 might be sold on the headline of being able to make phone calls from your watch but honestly, we think that’s just one part of the story.
While they’re not headline-grabbing features, we would argue that in fact, it’s the combination of the battery-life, faster processor and software that actually make the Series 3 so impressive.
It helps you manage your physical and mental health in a way that feels effortless and completely normal and that’s exactly what we should be demanding from the modern smartwatch.