Initial Thoughts: Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular connectivity


Today Apple announced their 3rd generation Apple Watch, simply named Apple Watch Series 3.  This new watch is nearly identical in form factor to their 1st and 2nd generation Apple Watch, but now packs in cellular capabilities as well as a far faster processor.

Alongside that, Apple formalized changes coming in their watch operating system (WatchOS), which include new sports features like interval support as well as more general health updates like resting HR tracking/trending, and medical-aligned items like high heart rate notification.

While I don’t yet have a unit on my wrist (soon…very soon), I figured I’d run through the changes quickly and leave this post as a bit of placeholder for discussion until my full in-depth review in likely the near future.

Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular:


First, let’s start with the hardware, and then we’ll dive into some of the software changes that take advantage of that.  From the outside, the new Apple Watch Series 3 is identical in outer casing, but does increase the back depth by .25mm (yes, a quarter of a millimeter).  Apple says that’s the thickness of two sheets of paper.  I’ll take their word on that one, but if you want.


However, internally things are swapped around a bit.  They’ve gone with a dual core processor that increases performance by 70%.  Additionally, they’ve added in WiFi on a new combined WiFi/Bluetooth chipset they’re calling the W2.  They say this is making WiFi 85 percent faster and WiFi/Bluetooth 50 percent more power efficient.

Further, the Series 3 unit now has a barometric altimeter in it.  This is being used for things like stair flight tracking, as well as down the road with apps for skiing and snowboarding.


But of course – the main event here is the cellular capabilities.  Rather than putting in a physical sim card, which would take up too much space, they went with an electronic SIM (eSIM), which is a SIM card without the physical card part.  Meanwhile, the antenna for the watch is the front of the display.


Of course with a SIM card (of any type), you get a phone number.  That’s true today of Android Wear watches and any number of other SIM-based devices you may have in your life today.  But what’s mostly unique here is that with their eSIM, your phone number is shared with your phone.  Thus you have one single phone number no matter where you are.

With that phone number you can take a call directly on the watch itself without any phone nearby.  The watch includes both a speaker and microphone.  To demonstrate this they had an employee stand-up paddle boarding out on a lake and took the phone call live using her watch.


It was a great demonstration of the technology, and the call quality sounded like…well…cellular.  They had a live camera feed zoomed in on her and you could see that as her paddle (and thus wrist) went further from her mouth the audio would fade slightly as expected.  But still quite audible.

Of course, Apple is hardly the first company to put cellular capabilities in a watch.  There are countless examples prior to this, including Android Wear devices, Timex, and even Bia back in the day.  But without question this is the cleanest looking implementation.  As Apple themselves said, most of the existing solutions: “Looks like a house arrest bracelet, and you’re not going to want to wear it.”

Which, was/is true.  That was likely the leading cause of device death of the older Timex One+ GPS.


With the cellular functionality you’ll get a bunch of features that would typically require a phone attached, but sans-phone.  For example:

– You can display and get routing on maps live
– 3rd party apps can take advantage of cellular
– Apple Music will be able to stream songs to the watch
– ‘Find my Friend’ will automatically update based on your watch location (like out for a run)
– Siri can now respond back on the watch

All of these are specific to the cellular functionality within the Apple Watch Series 3 cellular variant.


But there are actually two versions of Apple Watch Series 3: Cellular and non-cellular.

The cellular version will set you back $399 (same as Series 2, sans-cellular), and the non-cellular version will set you back $329.  Interestingly though, the cellular version appears to take a solid whack in battery life, as Apple noted only “18 hours with LTE enabled”, compared to what is normally accepted at 36-48 hours today for the Apple Watch without cellular.  So we’ll have to see if perhaps this is more variable based on actual usage if you also have a phone nearby.

Apple is also releasing a bunch of new colors/finishes, new bands, and new watch faces.  That includes new variants from Nike as well.


You’ll be able to order Apple Watch Series 3 on September 15th for delivery on September 22nd.  Cellular capabilities will be limited initially to the below countries/carriers:


Oh, and while we’re at it – they’ll be dropping the price of Apple Watch Series 1 to $249, or roughly the price you’d find it on sale much of the time.

General WatchOS 4 Updates:


Earlier this summer Apple announced WatchOS 4, which is applied to all existing Apple Watch units, not just new watches.  There’s a bunch of fitness and health focused things in there, alongside boatloads of non-fitness things.  For examples of non-fitness things, I’d start at this video.

Meanwhile, here’s a quick summary of fitness items that Apple highlighted:

– Smart activity coaching: This is aimed at helping you hit various daily goals (rings in Apple parlance).  Smart coaching is, of course, all the rage these days.
– Redesigned workout app: High interval training is now highlighted here, an area that Apple previously lacked
– New features for swimmers: Lap sets are now recognized, versus previously being just one gigantic set.
– GymKit: Allows Apple Watch to pair with a piece of gym equipment and count reps automatically.  This is different than what we’ve seen from ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart for similar functionality.
– Addition of Resting Heart Rate: It’ll now track resting heart rate throughout the day.  Readers know I’m a big fan of using RHR to predict excess fatigue and incoming sickness.
– Addition of Recovery HR: This is shown within the HR page depicting your HR as your recovery (time and HR range)
– Addition of daily HR graph: Pretty straightforward, and something long seen on other company’s devices.
– Addition of HR on main watch face: This will show as soon as you raise your wrist, again, something we’ve seen before for years elsewhere, so good to see here.

vlcsnap-2017-09-12-19h26m40s238 vlcsnap-2017-09-12-19h27m06s295

Finally, Apple also announced work in the medical focused realm with detection of excessively high heart rates while at rest.  The unit will now notify you when it detects an abnormally high heart rate when not active (at rest).  This is something that other members of my extended family have been looking for, for years, and could be hugely impactful to certain individuals.

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 8.27.32 PM

Further, the company has announced a study, Apple Heart Study, with Stanford and the FDA that’s focused on atrial fibrillation, which they believe they can now detect.  In many ways this type of work is similar to what we’re seeing with what Fitbit is talking about as well.  But keep in mind it’s one thing to collect data for a study, and a totally different thing to become a certified medical device.


Medical pieces aside, all of the Apple WatchOS 4 changes will be available to all Apple Watch units on September 19th, regardless of which Apple Watch you’re on.



It’s easy to think in the hype of (any) Apple Watch event that Apple will instantly wipe all the competitors off the face of the watch earth.  After all, Apple proclaimed to be the “#1 watch brand in the world” (of any type, not just tech watches).  And likely that’s true. They also noted they’ve got the most used heart rate monitor in the world, and that’s probably true on the technicality of a single watch model – but I’d wager that Fitbit probably has more of a single sensor type.

But keep in mind that since Apple announced the first Apple Watch, other brands have had blockbuster years.  Fitbit’s sold more devices than ever before, as has Garmin.  In effect, a rising tide lifts all boats.  And what everyone has come to realize is that with greater interest in smart watches, everyone in the industry is winning – especially consumers with greater choice.  For hardcore endurance athletes, the Apple Watch still likely won’t be your first choice.  But for many others the option gets more and more compelling.

Most of what Apple showed today is seen on other units.  Almost all of it (resting heartrate, cellular) has been done elsewhere in the industry, albeit usually with less finesse. But what Apple is really good at is that finesse, the cellular is a prime example of that. This finesse is why people buy and love their devices.

What I’m most interested in though is seeing the accuracy of some of the new technology in the Series 3.  For example – with the movement of the cellular antenna to the display, will that impact GPS accuracy?  Or how will the addition of the barometric altimeter improve things?  And has Apple made any quiet changes to optical HR accuracy behind the scenes?

All of which are things I’ll dive into in my full in-depth review.  So stay tuned for that soon.  Wait…update! Here’s my unboxing video!

With that, thanks for reading!


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  1. Zach Wheeler

    If I don’t need LTE, should I buy an S3 or a discounted S2?

  2. Jeroen V

    Good reading.

    Minor typo: arterial fibrillation should be atrial fibrillation ( blood vessels and heart artria are very much not the same :p )

  3. Rich

    Water Resistance????? Same as previous?

    • Same as previous, fully waterproofed.

    • Eli

      For series 2:
      link to support.apple.com
      Apple Watch Series 2 has a water resistance rating of 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010

      Showering with Apple Watch Series 2 is ok, but we recommend not exposing Apple Watch to soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and perfumes as they can negatively affect water seals and acoustic membranes. Apple Watch should be cleaned with fresh water and dried with a lint free-cloth if it comes in contact with anything other than fresh water.

      Water resistance isn’t a permanent condition and may diminish over time. Apple Watch can’t be rechecked or resealed for water resistance. The following may affect the water resistance of your Apple Watch and should be avoided:
      – Dropping Apple Watch or subjecting it to other impacts.
      – Exposing Apple Watch to soap or soapy water.
      – Exposing Apple Watch to perfume, solvents, detergent, acids or acidic foods, insect repellent, lotions, sunscreen, oil, or hair dye.
      – Exposing Apple Watch to high velocity water, for example while water skiing.
      Wearing Apple Watch in the sauna or steam room.
      Not all bands are appropriate for water use. Leather and stainless steel bands are not water resistant.

  4. TimRules

    Holy smokes, you’re all over this!

  5. Luke

    Your big complaint with the series 2 was that all the fitness stuff was permanently locked away in the platform and you couldnt export a CSV file to be analyzed elsewhere. Is this still the case, even if you record with a 3rd party app like Strava?
    And do you think you’ll be able to use Bluetooth devices (power meters etc) to broadcast to the watch?

    • On the first part, it’s definitely got better with WatchOS 4. There’s a bunch of improvements that have been made that make it easy now to export basically anything out, including to .FIT (with 3rd party tools). So I think that mostly resolves that.

      As for connecting to Bluetooth power meter sensors, I don’t know if any apps support that specifically today.

    • Luke

      Great news. Can’t imagine it’ll take long for Strava et al to update their apps to pull in the bluetooth sensors…

    • Terra72

      Great stuff – thanks for the quick firs take, Ray.

      Do you anticipate that the likes of TrainingPeaks will be able to pull data from Apple Watch without too many complicated work-arounds?

    • I suspect we’ll see other 3rd party apps implement push to TrainingPeaks first, since that’d be pretty straight forward.

    • Bsquared

      To be clear, Ray was able to export HR data in the original series 0 review. So ‘all the fitness stuff’ is not permanently locked away, and Ray was able to compare optical HR accuracy on the first review. See for yourself: link to dcrainmaker.com

      I was able to grab HR data just last night – turns out I ran out the door for the gym and forgot chest strap. At the gym I launched Cardiogram app on Watch and told it to continuously record HR. Could have also launched the Apple Fitness app, but I wanted to explore a few more Cardiogram features. Then I fired up Zwift, connected power/cadence to Stages SC3 bike, and started my climbing repeat workout.

      After the ride Zwift synced to Strava, and Strava put a workout in HealthKit. All I had to do was open Heart Graph app and I was able to export TCX with my HR data from the ride. And get a pretty graph from Cardiogram link to cardiogr.am where you can see 4 climbing repeats and then free wheeling around Zwift London course.

      The complaint in series 2 review was about GPS, which arguably is not fitness data. Unlike HR, its not stored in HealthKit and so there is nothing to export if you record a run or ride using the Apple Workout app.

    • Luke

      You mentioned about 7 steps (I open this, which pushed it to that, which then did this other thing etc etc). Should be able to easily record an activity with all the associated bells and whistles (GPS, HR, altitude, power, etc etc etc) and export a single file that has it all to then use in whatever else we want. Getting random access to part of the data doesn’t count.

    • Bsquared

      Luke, point is, your fitness data isn’t locked up like you thought. And it was basically 3 steps: 1) watch in exercise mode, 2) Zwift on phone, and 3) export HR using Heart Graph. Sorry if the behind the scene details were confusing.

      To your point – 1 step now. Installed Zwift on my watch. Launched Zwift on phone and successfully paired watch as HRM. Restarted both watch and phone, launch Zwift and it immediately links watch as HRM.

    • GPS data is recorded in HealthKit now with IOS11 and watchOS 4 which is how RunGap and HealthKit to name two apps can now export a full FIT file into Strava etc.

    • Pavel Houda

      They will, there will be so many of them sold, that they’ll not be able to ignore it. It has all the sensors of my Garmin Fenix, except for the ANT+. There is some opportunity for external converter, but Apple will have to get more “athlete friendly”. In my couple of tests, the HRM was only +/- 1 beat off the Garmin strap. That is better than my Scosche. The GPS seems off a bit, but I don’t know which one is more accurate, but AW3 has lot more of processing horse power in it, so if it can be improved in S/W (again, assuming it is the AW3 to begin with), they can do it. It will mainly depend on how high priority we are and how friendly will Apple be. So far I love everything, except that the display is bit dim on bright sun and that the battery might be limiting in some situations. iSmoothRun rocks!

  6. Silentman

    Hi Ray, how do you think – is there any difference in HR module from hardware point of view?

    • Nothing they stated today, but I find that’s typically the type of info I’d get from them in our usual conference calls. So probably won’t know for a few days there.

    • Silentman


      Btw, it’s not about iwatch, but some time ago I find some info about tracker which very different from what other offer – healbe.com/gobe2

      They promote it as a device which could automatically count your calories and show energy balance as far as standard metrics. Was kind if interested about your thoughts regarding that/ Is it something really new or just a marketing flop?

    • At this point, I’ve seen no evidence of any device that can count inbound calories, except for fake marketing claims.

    • David

      I doubt very much that the HR monitor has changed from a hardware standpoint or they would have mentioned it. While Apple usually doesn’t give details they will state a general truth when it can promote the product ie. “Series 3 now has an even more accurate HR monitor to improve your health tracking!”. Nothing about increased accuracy (I find Apple’s HR monitor for me is worse than any other product on the market except for the Fitbit HR monitors (at least pre-Ionic design) and nothing about 24/7 tracking (still just every 10 minutes or so.)

      I had a stainless Apple Watch 1st gen model but its the first Apple product I was truly disappointed in… not nearly fitness centric enough for me combined with very poor battery life (charge everyday, no sleep tracking because of it), screen that took a moment to appear and more to overcome the classy notification tracking and fun system of band switching. Clearly the watch has improved since then and they claim to be focusing on fitness but its still baby steps from what I can see and chasing LTE connectivity etc. to me is not the right angle.

      I wear a Fenix 5S Sapphire now which is a tank (not a single mark on the screen or case since April) lasts a week (would be 2 with the Fenix 5) and has all the fitness features and increased accuracy I could dream of. That said the UI is dull and not fun like Apple Watch, the notification system works but is utilitarian, the screen looks dull but at least is always on, and Garmin has disappointed me by not delivering acceptable ANT+ reception range for many very popular 3rd party accessories like Stages and Stryd. There is no one clear winner and I keep hoping one year we hit the device that not only does it all, but does it all well.

    • CasualRunner

      Based on some other reviews, also checking hr charts from your other articles (regarding vivoactive 3) it seems like aw3 is much better in hr point of view. Is it comes from os4 changes and improve also aw2 version, or aw3 have somewhat different in hr from hardware?

  7. Pavel

    One minor thing – Wi-Fi was there in the Apple Watch from the very beginning. The watch always have the same hotspot data as your iPhone has so they can connect to the same hotspots (provided the hotspot is open or the iPhone connected to the protected hotspot and has the password saved).

  8. Ryan

    Very excited. Lack of altimeter was a deal breaker for me on the Series 2 because I live in the mountains and like to track elevation gain on my runs. If this doesn’t replace my Fenix 3 it will at least replace my wife’s Vivoactive. I’m thrilled.

  9. Greg Hilton

    As someone who has occasional atrial fibrillation when under high load (ie VO2 repeats on a bike!) this is really interesting.

    Theoretically could a ConnectIQ app do something similiar (perhaps someone has already written one!!)

  10. ReHMN

    Hi Ray,

    Apologies for the off topic in advance…

    1. I miss the Week in Review and Random things I did this weekend blogs. I hope it was just caused by the Eurobike expo and traveling…

    2. Scotsche and Polar optical HRMs got their Chinese competitor. It is even measuring the blood pressure for a ridiculously cheap offer (link to banggood.com)

    3. There are some power meters on a market for swimming metrics. I am looking forward if you could put them into comparison test one day…

    4. Did you rent the RV just for yourself and left the Girl and a Peanut at home? Btw, the Swiss stop scenario and report was excellent!

    • 1) Yup, purely a backlog type thing. When the list of things to do grows, those are usually the first two posts to go. But they’ll return this weekend I suspect.

      2) The problem with knockoffs is that they usually look good, but suck internally. I’ve tried a handful of knockoff optical HR sensors and they frankly suck. I’ll continue to try ones here and there if I get a feeling they’re even half-good.

      3) I haven’t tried any of those yet. May poke at them down the road.

      4) It was for all of us (they were set to join me after Eurobike), but then the weather got really nasty and it just didn’t make sense to have an active and curious 14 month old stuck inside a tiny RV for days on end. Either for her sanity or ours…


  11. Chris

    I’ll be keen to hear about the hands-on battery life you get on the cellular version. Great and timely post!

    • Azryder

      I am VERY interested in battery life as I own the Watch 1 and it looks like the battery life for this watch is the very same crummy 18 hours, which translates to about 5 hours on a bicycle. I am thinking the cellular option AND all the new stuff on this watch will make it even worse. Your thoughts DC Rainmaker are extremely needed on this one. I’m not shelling out the bucks if the battery life still sucks!

    • Paul S.

      What good is an Apple Watch on a bicycle? I leave my original at home…

  12. Doug

    Any possibility of broadcast HR (like fenix)?

  13. Robert

    How nice does WatchOS play with Android? Not sure I can go full Apple but I might bite on the Apple Watch 3. Although I think it’s one of the least aesthetically pleasing Apple devices.

  14. Greg P

    Oh snap…this will force Garmin to get on board with internal 3G chip soon I hope! Garmin 945xt w/ livetrack without phone :)

    • Nathan B

      I doubt it. They haven’t even gotten on the onboard music storage yet, and only recently adopted Bluetooth sensors. Perhaps the 975xt!

    • David

      I guess it truly is personal choice but I’ve run with my iPhone is a “spibelt” waist belt that is slim, hidden under my shirt, and I can’t even feel it there (doesn’t bounce at all.) Don’t most these days bring their cell with them? I certainly do for safety but even if I had an Apple Watch LTE with me I bet I’d bring the iPhone with me anyway just in case I need it for the 1,000,000 other tasks it can easily do. The moment I take my iPhone with me (essentially always) it creates a scenario where why would I need LTE in the watch ever? Apple Music streaming etc. could all come from the phone etc.

      The LTE capability of the iPhone is really amazing technology (especially in the 38 mm version) that makes you go “gee whiz” but I wonder what percentage of people would honestly take advantage of it?

    • David

      meant to say LTE capability of the APPLE WATCH… (PS: Ray, any chance comments can get an editing function?) :-)

  15. Mike S.

    Is there an extra carrier charge for this?

    I hope your series 3 review is out soon. Holiday season coming up and supplies will probably be limited at first.

  16. Dan Morse

    I sure hope Wahoo will get an ELEMNT app together for this. Would be pretty sweet to be able to have loved ones track your ride without having to bring your phone with. Also would be nice to be able to pair it as a HR sensor to ELEMNT.

  17. Doug

    If the Apple Watch 3 uses the same cell number as your iPhone, will carriers be charging a separate device fee? If I have to pay Verizon another penny to use a watch on its network, it will be a non-starter for me and I’ll keep my Apple a watch 2.

    • David

      all US carriers are charging $10 per month for service to the Apple Watch on your existing plan. Some have intro deals for 3 free months to start.

  18. fisao

    Just one addition for the cellular version: it will only work if you have the same provider for your phone AND the watch, and since here in France it is only offered by one carrier only (Orange), I will not get that version. Shame, would have bought it.

  19. Andrew

    I’m wondering what the added cost per month will be if I go the LTE route? Is there one? If it’s the same number as my phone.

    • Andrew lerner

      For that matter if I bought an LTE version and somehow broke my cell phone could I go on just using my watch as my phone

    • David

      $10 per month in the US on all carriers. Some have intro deals that give you 3 months free to start.

    • Mike Richie

      Andrew, in theory you could do that but the watch requires the phone to update and download apps. So it would probably work as long as it is just a short while (like getting your phone fixed).

    • Robert

      It’s a shame that, with LTE and WiFi, they don’t get rid of the sloooow BT link to the phone for apps loading and updates.

  20. Charles

    What I’m really missing is an app that will upload the workouts straight to Trainingpeaks! Otherwise the Apple Watch Series 2 and my AirPods work like a champ. If an app would pick up power from my Stages power meter and upload the bike workouts to TP that would be nice – while I’m wishing – But I’m fine continuing to use my Garmin 500 for bike workouts!:-)

  21. TK

    Ray, it would be interesting to see your test results if heart rate tracking is more accurate with watchOS 4 new heart rate algorithms for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts.

  22. Jero

    Hi Ray! Do you think intervals workouts will be good for triathlon races or training? Is there any triathlon related app for he Apple Watch? Cheers

    • They didn’t specify any algorithm or sensor changes, at least publicly. So until that happens we wouldn’t see much in the way of differences from an accuracy standpoint. Now privately, something may have changed – but I’ll have to wait for behind the scenes meetings to fish that out.

      The changes noted here are more just around general interval features.

    • Mike Richie

      Given that Apple hasn’t claimed to have changed their OHR hardware since the beginning and has consistently noted improvements in the past, I suspect that they feel that the hardware they are using is fully capable and that firmware/software changes is where improvements would take place. For instance, according to the presentation, they are now measuring HRV which could open many new avenues. They were originally using this hardware to get blood oxygen and there was even talk of blood pressure. That has not so far panned out. We will have to see if there is any improvements in their heart rate accuracy either 24/7 or during exercise.

  23. Andrew

    This is the first apple watch that is making me seriously consider a switch away from Garmin. I’ve been eyeing off a new running watch some time towards the end of the year and the ability to FINALLY leave my phone at home and just run with a watch while streaming my apple music is bloody brilliant. I assume podcasts work too?

    The only real hurdles now will be whether or not they’ve improved optical HR accuracy, and also seeing exactly how the HIIT training works. I have a tonne of custom workouts on my garmin so it will need to match that ability for me to switch.

    • Pam

      Andrew – I feel exactly the same. I could drop my phone and heart rate monitor if this version 3 watch is as good as they’re saying. And I, too, have a ton of Garmin workouts, so if the intervals feature is any good, I would be super happy!

  24. ekutter

    Cellular connectivity is almost enough to make me switch from Garmin. Something tells me the battery won’t last long enough though, for long runs/rides. I really like how Garmin has gotten to the point where you can use a single device for your everyday watch and any fitness activity you throw at it.

    Ray, do you have any info you can share or just feelings about if/when Garmin will provide direct cell connectivity from any of there devices?

    • I don’t expect anything from Garmin there near-term on cellular. It’s really a tough nut to crack, but Apple is doing it the right way via eSIM.

      The challenge is somewhat two-fold: Certification, and getting carriers onboard.

      Apple has the muscle to force carriers beyond the US, but Garmin’s doesn’t (Garmin could easily do in the US). Fitbit probably barely has the muscle to make this work internationally. Again, in the US is trivial.

      I think a good litmus test of this will be seeing how Garmin’s lineup of Garmin Pay looks internationally, both in a few weeks, and then by say, the end of the year. That’ll give you an indication of how much muscle they have outside the US.

    • Eli

      Garmin Pay is really a third party, FitPay, a wholly owned subsidiary of smart wallet company NXT-ID

    • Of course, but since best I can tell FitPay’s only production customer is Garmin at this time, it’s the Garmin brand that’s convincing banks to work with FitPay.

    • Dan Morse

      From what I’ve heard, you get 4 hours on Series 3 using LTE and GPS.

    • Gabriel Eguia

      A feature I’ve been asking for from Garmin.

      The edge devices could handle the battery life say for emergency beacons.

    • Christian Köhler

      I don’t think they are actually doing it the right way.

      There is an interesting statement from O2 Germany (the network with the most users in Germany).
      They say, eSIM was standardized by the GSM association in a vendor and network independent way. Any device that is compatible with the standard can be used on any netework that supports this standardized eSIM. No negotiations between the hardware vendor and the network operator are necessary and there is freedom of choice for the customer. O2 does support all such devices.

      The Apple watch does not fit this specification. It uses proprietary eSIM technology. For this reason O2 does not support the LTE Apple watch.

      T-Mobile Germany is the only operator that currently sells it. Even within the T-Mobile network prepaid customers and all reseller customers cannot get it.

      There is no statement from Vodafone (the third network operator), yet.

      IMHO there are two conclusions:
      – Apple did not do the right thing or at least they did not do it the right way by using proprietary technology eSIM instead of a standard that is available. Maybe this is the usual way in the US mobile industry (people are used to devices locked into a single network), but a very bad decision in Europe with its diverse market and many operators.

      – Other companies (even smaller ones) are actually able to sell such devices wordwide. If they conform to that standard and support the right frequency bands, there is no need to negotiate with carriers worldwide. The devices will work ‘out of the box’. A watch with UMTS2100 and LTE 800/1800/2600 would work everywhere in Europe for example.

      Here is a link to the original statement from O2 (in German):

      link to hilfe.o2online.de

    • Did some digging, but can’t find a lot on it yet. I found one article by someone that appears incredibly knowledgeable on the topic, and doesn’t seem to throw any flags on it.

      link to medium.com

      Keep in mind that there may be a slight mixing of things going on here. There’s Apple’s usual telecom-specific launch type details, which may be limiting devices to certain telecoms and have nothing to do with tech but just various deals. The fact that T-Mobile is only offering it on certain plans is likely an indication of them wanting to drive sales in a given direction.

      There’s also likely some behind the scenes tech between the watch and the phone for NumberSync (or whatever you want to call it on other providers) that’s ensuring a clean transition. The fact that some of these attributes show up within both the watch and the phone apps seems to indicate it’s not just simply assigning a data plan to the watch.

      And that’s probably the key difference here compared to existing watches on the market – the lack of complete integration.

      Finally, as a funny aside – having spent considerable time in my previous job working with one of the German telecom providers listed above on technical implementation issues, I can say that sometimes…it’s just the provider. ;)

  25. Scott Hunter

    I can’t see myself replacing my Forerunner 935 with this. I’d hate to rely on touch screen only controls in a race situation. And you can forget about 100 mile bike rides with that battery life. I’d love to have one for training runs so that I could listen to music via Bluetooth headphones, but my little iPod Shuffle does the job just fine.

    • Marios

      I have been using a Sony Walkman with a remote control ring for quite a while and I love it (see link):
      link to sony.com

      If some third party were to introduce a “ring” to control start/stop/laps as well as music (next, volume up/down) or if Apple allowed the existing Sony BT ring to connect to the Watch, it would be fantastic!

      I honestly think it’s a great way to control the Apple watch given that operating the touchscreen during races/workouts is very hard.

    • Scott Hunter

      Thanks Marios. Apple has discontinued the iPod Shuffle so I am looking for alternatives. Do you know if it’s straightforward to transfer music to the Sony from iTunes?

    • Robert

      Those things are huge. Are they lighter than they look?

      Was I the only one that used the Nike bracelet music controller? That was a pretty cool device for controlling music while working out. I can’t figure out why Apple and Nike dropped it. I still have it, somewhere, and don’t imagine it would still work. Sad…

      I liked the Fuelband too, so much easier to use than some others I tried. And all my Nike+ data is gone. More pissed about that than anything.

    • Clark

      Especially if you are a heavy sweater … I can’t stop a run half the time in the summer when the watch and my fingers are wet from sweat.

    • Marios

      Are you referring to the Sony ring controller?

      Initially it feels big but I can guarantee you it disappears on your finger. Plus you can twist it inwards and kinda hold it inside your fist. Anyway, for me it has been a liberating experience to be able to pause the music without thinking about it (or without reaching for any controls) mid-stride as I need to listen to my surroundings.

      Imagine being on the track and taking laps as you complete an all-out 400m without even crossing your arms to reach for the Watch (whether it is a Garmin or Apple watch for that matter). Just click the ring and take a lap.

    • Robert

      I was referring to the ear parts. They look HUGE! Are they lighter than they look?

    • David

      They are much lighter than they look if you get the aluminum version. Still a thick watch. The real issue for athletes is the lack of detailed metrics in the apps, a pretty weak HR sensor that struggles mightly IMHO, and a touchscreen that doesn’t work with wet fingers.

    • Paul S.

      The Apple Watch usually rates the best in HR accuracy of the OHR sensors, for example
      here. Personally I wish they (and Garmin) made watches without OHR, since I use a ANT+ chest strap when I care and I don’t care otherwise to know what my heart rate is out of context (as long as it’s > 0). But they have this idea that the AW is going to be a medical device, so they include it, even though it became a point of failure in the original AW.

    • Scott Hunter

      I use the EarPods (the ones that come with the iPhone) with my iPod Shuffle and they have a remote control on the cable, which sits just below where your chin is. You can use it to skip tracks, pause, and change volume really easily.

  26. Tim Grose

    I am from the UK and Apple have only partnered with EE it seems but am on O2 at present. So would need to get a new phone contract and the watch of course. Apple Watch always seemed somewhat underwhelming for serious athletes and it doesn’t appear much has really changed here? Exciting development though.

    • Scott Hunter

      There seems to be more emphasis on ‘closing the rings’ than clocking up miles, which has always put me off Apple Watch. Most runners and cyclists use Strava and the Strava app lacks the many customisable data fields that the latest Garmin Forerunners have. There were also serious issues with pace accuracy with the previous series which may or may not have been addressed. It would be cool if it uploads to Strava without a phone though.

  27. jake s

    with cellular, it looks like live race (triathlon) tracking is pretty straightforward and simple now. plus, as a racer, you’d theoretically be able to track and monitor your current race placing/position in real-time.

  28. Zac

    “Apple noted only “18 hours with LTE enabled””

    I think only 18 hours is what they’ve promised for earlier models as well, although in practice the battery life is much better.

    Without exercise I usually have about 40% left after *two* full days. I have gone three full days without charging.

    Let’s hope they are just being conservative again, but surely using the LTE radio will consume way more battery than BT.

  29. Craig Eggleton

    With LTE and altimeter i am pretty sure I will be retiring my 630. Things I will miss are recovery advisor and V02 max score.

  30. Ian dela Cruz

    “detects an abnormally high heart rate when not active (at rest).”

    Most likely this will be a useless feature because the watch is in the charging dock when you are at rest and/or sleeping. Only buy Apple Watch if you like charging every night.

  31. Brett

    Didn’t a tear down of the series 2 show an altimeter?

  32. Charles Nicholas

    link to fortune.com
    Apparently $10.00 a month for Verizon and ATT in US.

    • Paul S.

      That’s Verizon’s usual extra device (like a hotspot device) “line charge”. I guess that’s not surprising. Half what they charge for an actual extra phone.

  33. Richard Littleton

    Two questions for Ray and the DCR groupthink:

    1. Any mention or opinion on the watchOS4 addition of “multisport” (Apple’s version, anyway – quickly stopping one workout type and starting another)? Thought I saw this on their website for the OS4 prior to today… not same as Garmin’s triathlon mode, but seems to be step in right direction…

    2. Any mention of a way to send workouts to the watch, like with Garmin’s? Only ones I’ve found have the training plans on the phone, but kind of defeats the purpose of trying to run just with the watch…


    • 1) They do mention some element of back to back workouts that allow a single time and calorie total, but it’s not super clear to me how that works in a detailed manner (or if distance is part of that). I’ll probably load the final WatchOS 4 onto my watch here today or tomorrow and check it out.

      2) Nothing natively, but there are 3rd party apps.

    • Richard Littleton

      Thanks so much, Ray!
      Would you be able to mention a couple of the 3rd party apps? I haven’t been able to find any, but that’s more related to my search skills than anything I’m sure…

      Look forward to more of your thoughts in the future!

    • RunMeter is a good place to start.

    • Richard Littleton

      Thank you!!

    • dawnn

      RunMeter puts even Garmin to shame.

    • Marios

      Speaking about Runmeter, did anybody catch the new version 10.7 they released yesterday (2017/09/18)? From the update notes I copy:

      “Apple Watch App updates:
      – Pressing the digital crown and side buttons when our app is on screen starts and stops your workouts. May be changed to signal a lap or announcement.”

      Can someone with Runmeter and WatchOS 4 verify this? Start/stop/lap using the side buttons could be a huge gamechanger!!!

    • Yep just tried that on my Apple Watch series 2 running wastchOS 4 and pressing the Digital Crown and side button together starts and stops the run.

      The Apple workout app has always had that option, but I guess it has only just been allowed for third party apps,



    • Marios

      Thanks Ian, that’s great news indeed!

      Could you possibly also explain how the lap feature works?

    • It’s works the same way. Basically you have to choose which you want for the crown / button press: off, start/stop, lap or announcement.


    • I put a short blog post together on multi-sport workouts with watchOS 4 here: link to theapplewatchtriathlete.com

      Spoiler: it’s basic but useable.

  34. Brian Simpson

    Just wanted to pass along to the group that I contacted Stryd last month and asked them if they were planning on making their running power meter work with the Apple watch on a stand alone basis (no need to carry the iPhone) and they told me they are working on it and hope to have the product available in November.

    • That’s fantastic news!

    • Marios

      Indeed, fantastic news! I hope they also support the Gen1 Stryd (chest strap).

      Imagine using Runmeter with button start/stop, Stryd as a super accurate footpod and Wahoo Tickr X for running dynamics! All that with cellular connectivity and music.

      I still wouldn’t be able to race with this, but then again for racing you only need a stopwatch so even a $30 Timex will do with a constant on display ;)

  35. Dominique

    I used to have up to 3 SIM cards with the same number on SingTel (Singapore Telecom) For multiple devices and pay S$10 a month for each.
    What the real question is for me:
    What happens when you switch country for good or just a trip? Can one reprogram the eSim card for another network, temporarily- duration of the trip- or when one moves to a new country permanently?
    I swap my iphone SIM card for a Local one when I go to another country (EEU Just abolished roaming charges but not in Asia).

    • Bertram

      Looking at the Kindle (Amazon e-reader), that should not be a problem. My Kindle has worldwide 3G coverage (or lower if that is only available). Sim card limitations are a marketing only problem, a producer with enough power (or willing to pay enough) can work around them.
      Of course when you change sim cards/providers in your phone, you will need to tell your watch the new card numbers somehow…

    • David Evans

      The FAQ on the Apple website says that the Watch 3 LTE functions will not work internationally.

    • I think it depends on the network provider.

      I read that the eSim is different depending on which network you sign up with. It’s not like the Apple Sim in an iPad which can switch networks, this one will be tied to the initial provider for life.

  36. abe

    will the watch have a feature to do hotspot

  37. Ryan

    Any chance the LTE connection will help with tracking pacing during activities? That’s my biggest hangup on the Series 2.

  38. Robert

    Thanks for the timely observations. The cellular connectivity definitely makes it a more compelling possibility to dump my Garmin Fenix3 Hrm. To me, the pros and cons are.

    Garmin pros
    – prefer the look of the Fenix 3 hrm including wearing it at work with the metal band
    – battery life of multiple days before charging including many GPS runs
    – use the vibration alarm to get up for early AM workouts without waking my wife

    Garmin cons
    – continually disappointed when a new garmin watch comes out and new software features come out that should be supported on the older watch but are not. (Note that I’m in tech and understand when you come out with a new feature that depends on hardware in the new product, such as NFC, or a product is too old and you want to deprecate it to keep your support costs down). Before the Fenix3 HRM, I had the Fenix sapphire, and the 910xt before it.
    – value for my money. It seems that if I want to keep update on the Fenix track, i’d Have to spend $700/yer
    – the inability to use the heart rate tracker in pool mode. I understand they think it’s imprecise but I should be able to decide myself if I find it worthwhile. When I had a polar loop, I used the Mio link with it.
    – have never found value from the notifications

    Apple Watch series 3 with LTE pros
    – can leave my iPhone 7 Plus at home on my runs (music and ability to communicate if any issues occur)
    – heart rate while doing a pool swim (according to one of my masters teammates the Apple Watch supports it )
    – expecting i’ll get alive out of its notifications throughout the day, including responding and texting
    – voice calls
    – my reminders and calendar on the watch (without the iPhone nearby)

    Apple Watch cons
    – maybe i’ll get used to it; but whenever I see one it looks like a “geek”object (iPod Nano) to me and not a Watch
    – daily charging (hopefully, no more than daily)
    – can’t tell if I’ll be okay with the rings
    – don’t see a compelling watch band at my desired price point (looking for something like the Fenix3 steel band )

    • Mike S.

      Here’s a big PRO for the Apple Watch. The screen. I can read it easily indoors and out including notifications and any other text.

      On the other hand, my garmin 235 is almost unreadable when it comes to some things. The washed out “backlight” almost makes it worse. I’m in my early 50’s but I still find the AW very readable.

      I’m not sure how much the backlight on the Fenix improves things. A friend at work has a Fenix 5 and I find the display unimpressive.

      That’s the trade off for having an OLED display, terrible battery life.

    • Mike Richie

      Lots of inexpensive bands on Amazon – good reviews. Priced $10 to $20, including for leather, Milanese loop, or Stainless.

  39. chris gachowski


    It’s reported that “Apple has tweaked the sensor set” they are talking about the OHR sensor…

    link to theverge.com


    • I think that’s actually drawing a conclusion from words that weren’t said. Meaning that all of the new HR things people attributed, are actually just WatchOS 4 items, not Series 3 items. Said differently: Older devices are getting those features, hence, it’s not a new sensor driving them.

      There certainly can be changes in the unit, but all of the wording I’ve seen from tech sites is merely incorrectly mixing up statements made in the WatchOS 4 portion of the presentation.

  40. jon

    what’s the implications of the eSim while travelling on vacation? i usually swap sims for my iPhone depending on the country i’m in, how would it work with the watch?

    • Tim Grose

      From what have been reading, you would be out of luck as the eSIM shares the same phone number as your iPhone so you would have to have both from the same carrier and presume under the same contract. Good news at least in the UK is that we can now use our UK contracts in the EU without additional charges – well at least until we leave the EU that is :)

  41. Owen

    Apple Watch 3 certainly adds another compelling option to the mix. I’m currently using a Forerunner 235, but the Apple Watch seems to have a lot of features that interest me. I’ll definitely consider it when I’m looking at another running watch. Here are the main questions I’d want answered before I ditch my Garmin.

    1. Is there a way to add structured running workouts to the device?

    The biggest drawcard of my Garmin is the ability to program a running workout with intervals at different paces throughout it. I’ve noticed the iSmoothRun app can accomplish this on the iPhone but I’d definitely want something along these lines on the Apple Watch.

    2. How reliable is the HR monitor?

    Optical heart rate works well most of the time for monitoring how hard I’m training, but I’ve noticed from your previous reviews that this is definitely an area where the Apple Watch struggles. 24hr heart rate monitoring is useless if the data isn’t reliable. The option to add an external heart rate monitor is also something that would be desirable for speed sessions/bike riding.

    3. What’s the battery life like?

    This is not something that concerns me as much as it does others by the looks of it. I already charge my phone every night, so if I have to do the same with my watch it’s no big deal for me. But I’d definitely want it to have enough battery life to sustain a marathon at least with GPS/cellular.

    Other than these three questions the rest of it looks really good. The addition of cellular is a massive announcement to my mind. I like running with music so the option to leave my phone at home is fantastic. The ability to make calls without an iPhone is also terrific news. I’ll be interested to see how it stacks up on these fronts when your review is released.

    • Hi Owen,

      I have just released the stand alone iSmoothRun apple watch app, that will load structured workouts defined on the phone. The app can also import workouts from 2PEAK.com and most probably I’ll support Training Peak workouts very soon.

      As for the Watch OS4 update all Bluetooth functionality is being ported to the watch, that means support for all kind of sensors, with real time updates even for custom metrics like the ones of Styd (power, contact time etc) or Milestone pod.

    • Mike Richie

      So, are you saying your app will now run on the watch without the phone connected? And connect to Bluetooth sensors, provide accelerometer cadence and GPS track, as well as your workouts?

    • Hi Mike,

      Current version on the app store supports both the pedometer and GPS. Will record a run with both sensors (it works both outdoors and indoors). Can display cadence and all other metrics in two customizable screens. You also pick a workout (as they are defined on the phone) and the app will notify for interval start/end..
      BLE sensor support is in development (all sensors the phone app supports with Sstryd and Milestone pod custom metrics except KIKCR).
      In general the watch is now my main dev device for performing/recording a run so you can expect heavy development (audio prompts, interval/race pacing etc)

    • Excellent news Mike.

      Have you come across the max 2 BLE devices attached to the watch limitation referenced above? Would be limiting for some scenarios

    • Mike M

      iSmoothRun, are you able to save data from your watch standalone tracking to the Apple Activity app? Both in Workouts and the move circle?

    • Mike Richie

      All right, that sounds great. (Better than I expected, at this point) Just to be clear, this will all work without the phone, correct? This could make the AW a very competitive device. I take it, that I can connect the Wahoo Speed/Cadence now, if I take my phone, and still record the HR with the watch. Anyways, I will get this now, so I can get up to speed while I am waiting for my watch. Also, you might want to try testing this out with the CABLE device mentioned above, from North Pole Engineering for Ant+ connectivity. This might get around the 2 device limitation as well.

    • @Mike yes, a workout is saved in HealthKit and the circle is filled. The speed/cadence combo should work by the time your watch arrives. contact me to add you to the beta list if it’s not in the store by then…

    • yes, there is a max of 2 connections restriction (BT earphones connected don’t change that).
      I think for running its enough, two footpods and AW HRM or a footpod and a BT HRM.
      In cycling it might be a bigger problem if you want to use a power meter, combo cadence/speed and a HRM. Viiiiva can help as a bridge.

    • Mike Richie

      Not a problem for me at the moment, since I don’t currently use a power meter and I take it that speed/cadence is just one device. However, it might be interesting to look at the CABLE device (the link is actually below, from Ian), since it is just one BT connection but can provide many BT profiles from Ant+. Ray might know more. Or you might know whether the limit is on actual hardware BT connections or on BT profiles. This would allow you to connect to many more PMs (although I don’t think it does Private Ant, just Ant+) I think it “just works”. I guess I’ll know soon enough. I’ll take a look at the Viiiiva as well, however the CABLE will solve another problem I have with an older Spin bike that outputs power but using the all-but-abandones FE (not FEC) Ant+ profile that is supported by North Pole Engineering’s device.

  42. David W

    I have a broken Apple Watch 2. Unfortunately, the Watch 3 has what I consider the same fatal design flaw- no bezel- just a glass edge. For me, not having a bezel is a watch killer. The reason is that I wear my watch 24 hours a day even when I am working around the house. My watch fairly frequently brushes against things in a glancing blow. My Watch 2 died when I dropped it after only having it for 4 months. It landed what looked like completely flat on the glass face of the watch and cracked one edge of the glass. Repair cost was $279 through Apple which is 2/3 of the cost of a brand new watch. I understand that the look really matters to Apple but for me it also needs to be practical as well. I can’t afford a new watch several times a year. A completely glass front is a mistake.

  43. Alex

    Have I missed something : still no sleep tracking, right ?
    Is the HR monitoring provides for your resting HR and/or is their some HR variability analysis which Ray is so keen of ?
    I am a Garmin user and would be thinking of the AW3 as a possible every day watch.

  44. Keith Wakeham

    The Apple watch 3 LTE, or the as it’ll be known in Canada, the Apple watch 3 LTE with LTE disabled after a few months because of the crazy high prices of cell data. 150 dollars a month for 6gb. Oh…. Canada…. c’mon.

  45. Geoffrey

    I just want to know if I can use my Wahoo Tickrx to override the HR sensor om the apple watch during runs. Any idea DC?

  46. Scott Hunter

    I would only use the native Strava app if was to make the jump from a Garmin to an Apple Watch. But at this time I’m still waiting for what should be basic features of a running app:

    1. Accurate distance

    2. Average lap pace

    3. Manual lap function for intervals

    4. Haptic feedback for split notifications

    5. Auto-pause that does not trigger just by looking at my wrist while running

    6. Reliably starting/stopping an activity (even in heavy rain or with sweaty hands)

    I’m interested to know how many serious runners currently use AW instead of a Garmin or Suunto.

    • Tim Grose

      Not many at the moment I suspect. Shane Miller did a piece on device usage by Strava users in the London Marathon and City to Surf and Garmin devices were well ahead on the watch front although the iOS phone app was the most popular out of anything. I still think you get an AW for a great smart watch and not necessarily a great fitness device but given most of the time all I really do is note how far and how fast have run and at what HR, a “simple” fitness GPS watch is often all I actually need although there have enough times that I do like more to see this a bit too much of a compromise. The features of something like a 935 which I do have couples with the eSIM capability here would suit me very nicely but suspect might take a few more years before that comes to market.

  47. chris juden

    just your thoughts… is what you think Pebble had in mind with the core?

  48. the fitness features seem more like ‘catch up’. I’m not convinced that their SMART coaching will be smarter than anyone’s else’s. Maybe it should be generally re-classified as ‘less dumb’ coaching. that would certainly be a more entertaining title for Mssrs Apple et al.

    But of more interest is the cellular

    “– You can display and get routing on maps live
    “– 3rd party apps can take advantage of cellular
    “– Apple Music will be able to stream songs to the watch
    “– ‘Find my Friend’ will automatically update based on your watch location (like out for a run)
    “– Siri can now respond back on the watch”

    XPLOVA’s X5 made me think more about this (it has an onboard SIM).
    The lack of music appearing on sports watches this year made me think about this too (why hasn’t it happened? A: streaming is the trend but how do you stream to a watch?…SIM).
    What’s the problem with garmin livetrack, wahoo’s live tracks and everyone else’s group/livetrack? Answer: the group tracking can’t ever really work as many people have different watches (certainly outside of cycling). a generic live/group track service is what is needed independent of a smartphone. (A: sim enables this)

    this is where you tell me strava already do it ;-)

    • Yeah, Strava’s play is interesting here, but I think the service overlaps too much with Garmin’s and Wahoo’s that it ends up confusing users. Heck, even talking with all three of these companies they themselves will admit they’re confused as to where and how best to integrate the live tracking pieces with Strava.

      I do also agree Apple’s Smart Coaching will likely be pretty basic, especially compared to what Fitbit is doing which is far more vast.

      The challenge with SIM cards in secondary devices is the whole second number issue. I think it’s really been the reason the tech hasn’t caught on, as people just mentally don’t want to deal with that. But with eSIM and what Apple is doing here, it’s kinda brilliant. I don’t have to think about it – I just got for a run with the Apple Watch and The Girl can ring/test me mid-run if need be and I don’t need a phone. More importantly though: She doesn’t need to know what device I’m on. It’s seamless to her.

      Music has always been messy because of A) Getting it on the device, and then B) Streaming services having wonky ass agreements to deal with. The look on the face of Fitbit’s CEO when I talked to him about Spotify/Pandora/etc and getting those in place was essentially “I wanted to punch myself in the balls…hourly.”. Those industries fight tooth and nail to any consumer advancement. He of course said it in a much more boring and CYA way, but his face said it all.

  49. Sal

    Great first thoughts!

    What do you think, is this AW a “great chance” for running-apps like Strava, Runtastic, Endomondo, Runkeeper, etc.?
    Some reasons why people prefer to run with smartphone and running-app instead of a dedicated running-watch like Garmin, Polar, Suunto, etc. is that with phone+app they
    – get audio-feedbacks
    – can stream music
    – are reachable (phone)
    – social-network components like beacons, live-segments, live-tracking,…

    With cellular support the app developper could implement all those feature in the apple-watch-App.
    Will they?

  50. Michal

    How would you compare Ray the news features and the new Apple Watch to the new Garmin Vivoactive 3? Still AW is an overall fitness watch and the Garmin more of a sport focused watch?

    • I’d generally agree with that. Apple is going to be a better all-around smartwatch due to the app side being deeper.

      Whereas Garmin will continue to likely be a better sport-specific option, at least without extra apps. Also, the battery life will be better.

      I do think though that Garmin undercut some of their physical benefits (namely, buttons), with the Vivoactive 3 that they had over Apple. Those were real things that I often noted as key reason to recommend Garmin/Polar/Suunto over Apple for fitness.

    • Michal

      I want to buy a fitness watch this fall so I am waiting for the new vivo series review. My focuses? Monitoring sleep, HR – I also do indoor cycling (a lot) and play tennis. Would love to have and all around fitness watch. AW3, 735 or new vivoactive 3. Would like to hear your short thoughts on my choices.

  51. Lachlan

    I just want to know if they have Apple Music on the watch only with cellular will they have Spotify. If I can use Spotify on a watch without losing gps accuracy I would be very tempted to switch from Garmin.

  52. Tim Grose

    One thing of possible interest is that wearing this watch in a running race would appear to break current IAAF rules of competition which are generally adopted by most nations including the UK where I am. The reason is that it can be used for communication. In fact it transpires that all athletes in this year’s British track champs were told to remove their watches prior to competition seemingly regardless of what watch they actually had. Now hard to see this rule being enforceable for your average weekend warrior but imagine could be different for pro/elite level athletes.

    • Scott Hunter

      I can’t imagine serious runners using one of these. In a competitive race situation, you want to be pressing a physical side button to start and stop, not touching the screen. I also want to see time, distance, lap pace and average pace on the same screen. I’m not sure if this is possible with the Strava app for AW as I have not used one – perhaps the data fields are there but spread across multiple screens?

      I admit the AW has a lot of cool advantages over the 935 – mainly music and cellular – but has too many limitations for the serious runner, and the battery would not last for long bike rides or ultra marathons.

    • I would have loved to have had this so my my family could have tracked me on my IronMan in Aug. Ironman tracking via their app relies on your timing chip and crossing the mats around the course which they found to not be very accurate. The rules do ban “communication” devices in IronMan too though, so I guess they wouldn’t be allowed -which is a shame. Other long distance tri’s (eg Outlaw in the UK) are less strict.

      I’m going to get a AW3 though, and I’m going to see how it would stand up looking after the swim and run part of a long course tri. I prefer using a bike computer anyway even when wearing the 935, perhaps charging the AW3 on the bike.

    • Stephen Brown

      Tim, I’d be interested to hear some more details on athletes having to remove watches prior to competition. Was this at the senior championships only (i.e. elite level) or was it at age group level too?

    • Christian Kölner

      As far as I know this rule only applies to track races. Road or cross races have no limitation on this. But double check, I could be wrong.

      In some ultra races ( 100 miles Berlin) you even have to carry a phone for safety reasons.

    • Stephen Brown

      Only thing I can find is RULE 144 Assistance to Athletes, but this has the exception of ‘Heart rate or speed distance monitors or stride sensors or similar devices carried or worn personally by athletes during an event, provided that such device cannot be used to
      communicate with any other person.’
      I can maybe see how you could use an Apple watch with a sim to communicate, but I’m not sure how you would use a garmin, so I don’t see how these would not be allowed.

    • With regard to IronMan branded events rules

      link to eu.ironman.com – “Athletes may not use communication devices of any type, including but not limited to cell phones, smart watches, and two-way radios, in any distractive manner during the Race. A “distractive manner” includes but is not limited to making and receiving phone calls, sending and receiving text messages, playing music, using social media, and taking photographs. Using a communication device in a distractive manner during the Race will result in disqualification”

      I think that actually means you could use the Apple Watch – just don’t make a call or use messages on it – this is different from what I’d understood before…

    • Colin Steinke

      I don’t think that any of the Apple Watches would last long enough to survive an Ironman, half or full.

    • That sort of depends how quick you are ;)

      FYI: I got just over 4hrs 35m on a ride at the weekend with cellular on using the optical HR and the workout app. I suspect if you turn cellular off, and maybe use a BLE HR strap then you could stretch to a half of 6hrs 30 say. (I will be trying this out by the way). For a full then I reckon you could do the swim, charge the watch during the ride on the bike (I’m sussing out ways you could do that), and then be fully charged for the marathon. So not ideal, but could actually be possible at a stretch :)



  53. Jeff T.

    Ray, do you see with the more open source for developers to tap into the AW in the WatchOS4, do you see the likely hood of the current AW2 and AW3 series watch having the ability to pair such external devices as foot pod for more accurate real pace info and the cadence sensors for bicycles?
    I’m a current AW2 owner and the newAW3 with the LTE and music streaming and larger storage space is a very tempting upgrade.

  54. Jeff Schumann

    First, thank you for all the information you create and share!

    I’m an age group triathlete and have completed over 150 tris including an ironman mostly with out using any device except a cheap computer on my bike. I was all set to take the plunge and get the Garmin 935 and now the Apple 3 might be a better option to give me some data for triathlon and also lots of everyday use.

    Hopefully your full review of the Apple 3 will help me make a choice.

    • Paul S.

      There’s simply no comparison. You’ll be much happier with the 935. Here are the problems with the Apple Watch (I have the original, and will probably be ordering a series 3 on Friday) as a serious fitness device. 1) No ANT+. Forget about all the ANT+ sensors you might already have. 2) The screen isn’t always on, you have to either tap it or do the arm raise. Not so easy at times if you’re on a bicycle (then again, watches in general make poor cycling devices). 3) The series 3 screen will certainly be better than the original, but from what I’ve read the series 2 screen is still not that visible in direct sunlight, where the screens on the Garmin watches I’ve owned (Epix and original Fenix) are easily visible in direct sunlight. Since you’re using them outdoors, that’s a problem.

      And there are the more minor considerations, some of which apply to even Garmin devices. In cooler weather do you want optical HR or not? You either wear it over clothing (no HR) or wear it under (you can’t see it without effort). And in the case of the Apple Watch, it locks when it detects that it’s no longer on your wrist; I’m not sure how much apps can override this behavior. You can’t just plug it in and grab whatever FIT file you want off the device, the file system (like the iPhone, although on the iPhone that is apparently going to change a little with iOS 11) is never visible. Battery life is poor compared to Garmin watches. On the other hand, it’s a much better smart watch than anything Garmin makes, and apps should be able to fix whatever deficiencies the native fitness software has. (I have all of the fitness stuff turned off on my Apple Watch as much as possible, and I wish they made one without OHR.) The ideal would be to buy both and use them for what they’re individually good for, but if it’s one device for your triathlons, buy the one that’s designed for that.

    • Michal

      Probably the AW3 will die before you complete an Ironman. How frustraiting would it be?

    • Jeffrey J. Early

      I’m not sure I agree with Paul–I absolutely *hate* my Garmin Epix, and am considering replacing it with an AW3.

      My primary criteria for purchasing the Epix was the ability to use topographic maps on runs and hikes. Also the big battery life is important. The problem is that the maps themselves suck (in the way they always have on Garmin devices, but it’s worse on a small screen), and the UI for scrolling around is almost useless (I mean that quite literally). Bottom line is that in practice, the Epix maps may as well not exist as a feature.

      The Apple Watches, on the other hand, all can display *much* higher quality graphics, including the raster versions of USGS topogs, as well as any of the numerous alternative topog products out there. Battery life is/will be a problem, so on longer hikes/runs, I will just have to recharge.

      I’ve also too many hardware fails with the Epix. I’ve had the watch replaced, but it continues to be plagued with, what I assume are design flaws resulting in super noisy tracks (rarely and randomly), random hard freezes, and random corrupt tracks. I’ve owned Garmin devices since 2004, and this one is, I think, the final straw for me.

    • Paul S.

      I have an Epix and I use it for hiking and cross country skiing, although on occasion I use it to generate a GPS track for photo geotagging, usually at DIsneyWorld, where the battery life comes in very handy (usually 10 hours or more). I use both Garmin’s TOPO 24k and OSM maps (from openmtb.org) on it. Don’t mind the quality at all, although it’s not what I’d call great and I avoid scrolling if possible. Otherwise I’ve had no problems. Tracks are adequate considering the small antenna, and match up well with my Edges away from forests. No hardware problems, the only thing I really dislike is the “display one altitude, record another” bug, but I can deal with that. My Apple Watch stays home when I’m skiing.

      You say “you can use USGS rasters”. Is there an good app for that for the AW? Can you record fitness data simultaneously? I own paper USGS maps for my area, but of course I don’t even try to carry them any more.

    • Jeffrey J. Early

      I haven’t personally tried these since I have yet converted, but I know GaiaGPS supports the Caltopo USGS raster topos (reprojected, boo). Also, apparently there are others, like Topo Maps+. The map quality is just absurdly better on the AW, e.g., link to glacierpeakstudios.com

      AFAIK, nothing should prevent recording fitness data at the same time as using any of the mapping apps.

      Yes, I’ve probably gotten unlucky with the Garmin hardware. I have recorded 432 tracks with my Garmin Epix, and only about a dozen of those have failed in some way…. but still, it’s super annoying!

      I’ll be the first to admit there are definitely some real tradeoffs here, but at this point I’m likely going to switch, at least for most applications.

    • Paul S.

      Thanks! I just tried Topo Maps+ and they do look good. Although it’s a reminder of how badly the background USGS maps need to be updated in my area. The entire “new” (at least 20 years old now) section of my neighborhood is missing, and I’m sure that if I check various road realignments are missing, too. But they seem to use up-to-date trail overlays, so everything looks right there. On an original AW the scrolling is slow, but that’s not surprising.

    • Scott Hunter

      I would agree with what Paul said, but I would also add that the native navigation functionality on the 935 is brilliant. I’ve been using it for several months now and the ability to navigate back to a saved waypoint using the built GPS and compass is really useful, and works as you would expect it to.

  55. Jonas

    Well at least they have an interval app now. That’s a step in the right direction for fitness. Increased battery life too. The cellular doesn’t really interest me long term although I suppose it’d be nice for way-finding gps with constantly uploading maps in foreign lands.

    Ray does it appear the integration with 3rd party is any better? From what I remember about the series 2 you basically can’t even load to strava unless you’re using the strava app? And other sites are a no-go?

    • WatchOS4 makes 3rd party integration of fitness data better, so that certainly helps. Natively speaking, Watch Series 3 doesn’t really do anything different from a hardware standpoint for 3rd parties.

  56. Sara

    Any word of how its battery life performs in low temps? My fully charged iPhone can only stream music for about 40 minutes during Boston winters.

  57. Pat

    I’ve been running with my S2 since January, and generally like the Strava app.Not sure about utility of LTE. I recently switched to a Forerunner 15 after getting a little more serious about my running, and appreciate how much easier it is to look at. The wrist flick to get the AW screen to turn on is a little awkward, and usually takes 0.5-1 seconds to register while running. Seems minor but definitely makes a difference – any thoughts if Watch OS4 will improve this?

  58. Tom

    Cellular: Its only good for emergency or quick calls – 1 hour talk time. Don’t think its a replacement for your phone!

  59. Chris

    Applerv HD for zwift, will we get a review??

  60. Hi
    Your reports are the best on the web in this area. I am a user and a fan of Apple and Suunto.
    Greetings from Prague


  61. Me personally I think this is a huge update.
    I can now leave my phone at home while running in the summer, where I hate carriyng the thing.
    AND you can listen to music over your Bluetooth Earplugs anyway. Big update, first reason to buy this thing!

    If it had only triathlon tracking mode or something like it (like garmin tria mode), I could sell my 920XT as well.

    Anyone did a triathlon with the apple watch (2) and tracked swim, bike and run?

  62. Glenn D

    Do you think the new GPS+Celluar will work on WiFi calling on the networks, specifically ATT without the phone being nearby? Living in a questionable coverage area, I am forced to depend heavily on Wi-Fi Calling.

  63. Djkayce

    So I could record an activity straight to the Strava app with Beacon turned on? I seem to remember there being an app for Strava on the Apple Watch…

  64. Jordi

    I could see myself using my suunto for pace and routing, and wear an Apple Watch just to not have to carry my phone for music and calls. I’m still skeptical that instant pace and hr will be good enough compared to Suunto and Garmin. Also, with such short battery life and depending on the cellular usage, the likelyhood of running out of battery if you’re not fully charged is probably quite high if you run towards the end of the day.

  65. Jesper N

    On the part about Siri now being able to talk back. The way I understood the keynote, was that this was now possible due to the faster CPU. If that’s the case, should work on the non-cell version too. When the phone is within reach off course. so maybe that feature don’t belong in the same list as the other cell enabled things?

  66. John

    Hi Ray. I thought I remembered seeing that the new Watch OS will have a bunch of new sports profiles such as tennis, badminton, etc… When you get the watch can you look into this? I don’t see this mentioned anywhere on the ? website. Thanks

    • They’re sorting through the logistical details of watches at the moment (being in Europe but still American and being in the states next week means I end up splitting different PR teams, so kinda a mess).

  67. Giles

    The potential for live race stats with respect to your friends or teammates in marathons etc would be pretty awesome with the LTE built in, knowing how far behind or ahead they are etc, great bit of gamification.

  68. Anonymous Coward

    Any thoughts on Fjuul on Apple Watch? Looks like they license the Firstbeat algs, and it would be interesting to know if Fjuul’s stack is worth the 5 € / month fee.

  69. John

    For those of us who are on Android, you wonder why Google with its vast resources could not put out a jack of all trades watch like this. As it stands, Android Wear is a total mess and only the fashion brands seem to be picking it up. I demo’d the LG Watch Sport, Polar M600 and the Huawei 2. The Sport and M600 were probably the most uncomfortable things I had ever worn. The Huawei wasn’t even syncing up with Google Fit and the Fit app would not use the watch’s GPS. They don’t even have the LTE version in the U.S. As it stands, it looks like the Gear Sport is the closest equivalent as it has 5ATM. That is, of course, if you have a Samsung phone, which I do not. Ok–semi-rant over. Enjoy, Iphone users!

  70. Claude

    Wow, what a giant step from Apple in 3 generations. If you compare vs fenix: 4 generations, yes a few more features, mapping at a premium but clearly not that innovative. Imagine AW gen 4!

  71. William

    After reading all the comments looks like I should just wear my Fenix 3HR to track my workouts and AW LTE on my other wrist for music/messages/calls :-)

  72. Jeff

    Would the series 3 with cellular but no mobile plan (ie no wireless carrier plan) be able to make emergency calls? I definitely see the one-time $70 premium worth it if you can…

  73. Gordon Mikula

    First class reviews, the “gold” standard!!

  74. Marcel

    Being an Android user in the Netherlands, means this would basically is not an option even if I wanted it to be. Even if I did switch to iphone, there is as yet no carrier in the Netherlands. And assuming there will be by the time of release, there is still three big concerns:

    battery life, battery life, battery life. Well, and sensor accuracy of course.

    18 hours isn’t much, but it’s longer than I plan to be awake on a daily basis. But for it to replace my Garmin, it’ll have to be able to function properly during my longest runs, i.e. a marathon. For me to leave my phone behind, that means 4-5 hours of music+bluethooth+gps. With phone, the minumum scenario is 4-5 hours of GPS+bluetooth. And then I mean 4-5 hours not just new straight out of the box, but after a year or two as well.
    Otherwise it would be a daily watch, not a sports watch.

    Looking forward to the in-depth. Thanks as usual for the work, Ray!

  75. I’m gonna give AW3 a shot at being a triathlete watch as I train for my next long course event in 2018 – I know there are plenty of limitations and issues but I’m interested in really digging deep on what they are and how they can be solved (or not!) – so I’ve created this: link to theapplewatchtriathlete.com in case anyone wants to follow along…

  76. Dave

    Ray I’d be interested in ceramic vs stainless steel signal quality. Would you expect much difference?

  77. Bill

    from the Forbes article “watch can make and receive calls and text messages on its own by sharing the phone number of an associated iPhone”

    Question: Does this Apple watch call making ability require and iPhone, in other words it won’t work with a Samsung Galaxy?

  78. Chris Y

    I’ve been considering the Garmin Fenix 5/5s for sometime. Now with the Apple Watch 3, I need help to make a decision. What do you think Ray? I cycle, run , hike and splitboard.

    • Hi Chris,

      I’d say it ultimately depends on what data from what sensors you need and will AW support that, and what apps for say structured training you want, and will AW support that. If it does, then your decision is do you want a more rounded every day watch that can do things like Apple Pay, and have lots of others types of apps available, or a more dedicated Sports watch.

    • Agree with Ian here. There’s a lot that you get on the sports/outdoors side with a Fenix, that may be important to you if you’re more focused there. Whereas otherwise a more rounded option is the Apple Watch units.

    • Chris Y

      I guess I’m looking for something that will track/ record my activities on Strava. Occasionally may want to monitor my heart rate and perhaps power from a pwoermeter ( for cycling) in future.

  79. Mike P

    So EE in the UK are charging £5 per month to link to the watch, today tethered its free, this is totally putting me off the watch, I love the idea of not having to take my phone with me, the watch now makes sense, but the stupid network has put a stop to that, why should I pay £60 a year more ? they already have my contract, just share the damn allowance, it is such a short sighted move and I know will put people off buying the watch just like me.

    • Hi Mike – where did you get that £5 EE price from? Did you call them? I registered on the EE site but not heard anything yet..

    • Mike P

      Stuff Magazine… plus also other web sites are reporting it.

    • Thanks :)

      A fiver seems reasonable to me, but only because it’s $10 in the States and it’s not a 1:1 conversion (unlike Apple products now).

      But I take your point about why can’t it just come from you current allowance. They get you every way they can! Perhaps when other networks get on board, the competition will make one of them offer it as included.

    • Mike P

      It’s worse…. you don’t get any extra data allowance, it only works on 4G (which isn’t great in my area) and no roaming, so what’s the extra £5 for, I agree £5 isn’t much… but when you already pay for a contract, and if you tether it doesn’t cost you anymore ! so basically you pay £400 for a watch and to use the most useful feature (not tethered) you have to pay £60 a year, how can this make any sense, and with limitations, I am very annoyed that yet again we are being ripped off, I live in hope that you are correct and when other networks come onboard it will change, to be honest I would pay £5 if there was no limitation, roaming and 3G as well as 4G.

    • Mike Richie

      In order for this to work, you have to use fancy “number sharing” technology that has to work throughout their network (back end, cell towers, distribution points and devices). The bigger players invested in this tech and need a return. I suspect that when others can use the technology or if one of the big players cracks (I.e., lowers the price) completion will make this cost less.

    • Mike Richie

      Er, “competition”, love that autocorrect “completion”.

  80. Mex2309

    Why do you not write an article on the new Samsung Gear Sport? Does it not compare at all to the likes of Garmin or apple? To me it seems like it has all of the check marks of a sport watch.

  81. KJ


    Up to 18 hours of casual use
    Up to 10 hours of local audio playback
    Up to 10 hours of workout with heart rate
    Up to 5 hours of workout with heart rate and GPS
    Up to 4 hours of workout with heart rate, GPS and LTE
    Up to 3 hours for a Bluetooth-connected phone call
    “Over 1 hour” for an LTE-connected phone call

  82. Terry

    Any hope for auto-pause for cycling on the Apple Watch 3?

    • The Strava watch app has auto-pause for Cycling. I’m sure other apps do too.

      The built in Apple Workouts app, inexplicably still only supports AutoPause for running in watch OS4 (at least on a series 2 watch)

  83. Jeff

    You forgot to mention the Cellular Model will have 16GB of Internal Storage vs 8GB on the non-cellular models. I own the 1st gen I will give to my wife and get the 3rd Gen with Cellular –

  84. Hi Ray.

    On the topic of connecting ANT+ sensors to the Apple Watch have you tried this: link to npe-inc.com not for AW but just generally. Any good?

    (I know there aren’t any apps that could do anything with that data currently for say power though, but hopefully in the future…)



    • Yup, it works really well in general (to convert over). The NPE guys are awesome, and super on top of spec like things.

    • Excellent – gonna order me one of them :)

    • Mike Richie

      Wow, thank you Ian and Ray. I just ordered the Apple Watch (should have it by 22nd), but now can use my Ant+ stuff. But the real magic of this CABLE device is that I have the Star Trac Ion Blade and this will take the (now, largely unsupported) Ant+ Fitness Equipment profile (as opposed to FE Control) and convert it to Bluetooth power. Zwift did not support this profile even on their laptop. Brilliant – I now have a stand-alone trainer for Zwift with iPad (I hope).

  85. Dan Hermann

    Do you recommend the Nike face variants for performance use, or is it just personal preference?

    • There is no functional difference for the Nike ones, apart from a new watch face. So yes it’s just personal preference on looks.

    • Mike Richie

      I think the only change is a Watch face that has a complication to directly access Nike Run Club. You can still download the app and buy the Nike bands. I didn’t get it because I would have had to wait until October release for the watch. NRC does not get good reviews, but maybe has improved for Watch OS 4.

  86. Roger Attard

    This is a real game changer for me. Music/Phone/Run watch all in one. All things I need for a long run.
    Seems like the only question marks compared to my Fenix 3 are:

    1) Is it true that Watch now predicts VO2 Max? If so in what app?
    2) Can I record running dynamics from Wahoo Tickr Run/X without a phone?

    If so I am in.

    • on 1) I saw some reports that this was coming. It’s not showing currently in watchOS4 using a series 2 watch, but could appear for series 3 which I’ll be getting next week, so hopefully we’ll know then. I’ll post here if no-one else does before.

      2) I would think you could do this, because the Tickr X stores that data internally, which you could then open up in the Wahoo Fitness app.

    • Roger Attard

      I thought that but I heard that it’s the phone app that logs the dynamics data.

    • I know in the past that when I’ve worn the TickrX connected to a Garmin device it works fine, and then if I fire up the Wahoo app sometime in the future it downloads all the data from the strap then, but I haven’t tried it recently.

      Wahoo sometimes hang out on these comments – maybe they or Ray can give you the definitive answer…

    • Hayvlad

      Just don’t forget to charge AW before your long runs. AW needs to be charged everyday. Be prepared for that.

      Just a word of warning coming from another Fenix 3/hr owner and former owner of an AW.

  87. Asger

    Any chance for using Apple Watch as a wrist HR monitor broadcasting HR to e.g. Garmin Edge?
    I would love to lose the chest HR monitor…

    • At present Apple doesn’t re-broadcast the HR via BLE. Else, it would actually work for Garmin’s 2017 devices (Edge 1030, Fenix 5, FR935, Vivoactive 3 and probably something else I’m forgetting).

  88. Fredric Luthman

    Just ordered my AW S3 + LTE, currently on a AW S0, so will bring me a lot of benefits. I’ve heard that watchOS 4 on S0 is king of sluggish so the improved speed will be welcome.

    Will get in mid October. Was considering Garmin Fenix 5, but the lack on on device music is a deal breaker for me.

    I hardly use my Vivoactive or TomTom Adventurer these days (TomTom gets to come with me on Hiking and such activities). For regular exercise such as cycling, running I use AW in combination with iSmoothRun. iSmoothRun is now available as a native app for the AW.

    • Jeff T.

      Federic, do you know if it provides audio feedback using standalone mode? Also, there release notes say it has two data pages with three data fields each. What are the available metrics you can show? My main ones are lap pace, avg pace, recording time and distance, maybe heart rate as well. Thanks.

    • Hi Jeff,

      I don’t know about audio yet until I get my AW3 next Friday, but I don’t see why not – it has a speaker that can be used for calls standalone for example. There is also the haptic engine for feedback of course.

      In terms of metrics – unless something changes when you hook AW3 up to watchOS4 then you only get one screen of metrics. You can choose either to show a single value in there and it will rotate through all the values, or you can customise per sport.

      As it happens I was just creating some screen shots of the fields available in watchOS4 in the Activity app for my blog which is attached here for you :)

      Bear in mind that I am just talking about the built in Workout app – there are lots of other apps which may have more options…

    • I think the image file was too big so didn’t upload (is there a size limit Ray?) – but you can view it here: link to theapplewatchtriathlete.com

    • I think it’s a 2MB limit. I don’t really know why to be honest, as my normal limit when I upload is 512MB per photo. :-/

    • Ok reduced file attached :)

    • Jeff T.

      Thanks Ian,
      I was referring to the iSmoothRun app and it’s latest version were it supports standalone use on AW without having iphone around.
      I think the screenshot you sent is the native apple workout app metrics.

    • Ah sorry – yes screenshot is the Standard Workout app as you suggest.

    • Mike Richie

      Question – (for Fredric or Ian, if you know) the screenshots above do not show cadence. Can you get cadence from the accelerometer for running or BT cadence sensor for biking? That would be a big miss if not.

    • Audio feedback will be added on the OS4 version of the AW iSmoothRun app, soon.

      Metrics supported currently by iSmoothRun are:
      “Lap Calories”, “Calories”, “Lap Count”, “Lap Time”, “Time”, “Total time”, “Time Of Day”, “Time Ahead/Behind Target”, “Distance”, “Lap Distance”, “Average Pace”, “Lap Average Pace”, “Split Average Pace”, “Pace”, “Average Speed”, “Speed”, “Lap Average Speed”, “Max Speed”, “Cadence”, “Average Cadence”, “Lap Average Cadence”, “Steps”, “HeartRate”, “Heart Rate Zone”, “Lap Average HR”, “Average HR”, “Lap Max HR”, “Max HR”, “Lap Min HR”, “Min HR”, “Power”, “Altitude”, “Ascend”, “Lap Ascend”

      I ‘ll be adding custom ones too, for sensors like stryd milespod and run scribe, like Contact time, Vertical Oscilation, Foot Strike etc…

    • Jeff T.

      So these metrics, soon to be available audio cues and support for external sensors will work on the Apple Watch 2 and 3 series running OS4 as a stand alone feature without having to the iPhone available?

    • @Jeff T exactly. I haven’t tested audio yet, but it should work.

    • Jeff T.

      iSmoothRun, this is great news for the AW2 and AW3 users. I just download and purchased the app. So far, what I noticed and hope for is a 4 metric screen instead of 3, especially for running, it would be great to see both split and avg pace all in one page. Not sure if this is in your plans. Another thing I noticed is there is not an option to discard an activity. Also, I am hoping to get the AW3 in the coming weeks, will my current purchase of this app can be install and used on the new AW? Looking forward to all the standalone features and sensor functionalities of your app with the new AW3 and OS4.

    • Jeff T.

      So when do you anticipate the support for audio cue and foot pod sensors will be available in your app? I updated my AW2 to OS4 yesterday but doesn’t appear any of these features currently work. I have an addidas SpeedCell, would that be supported?

    • iSmoothRun

      I plan for a mid October release so most people will have migrated to OS4.
      Footpod support is ready (I currently run with my Stryd supporting all of its metrics). I haven’t tested the audio yet but it shouldn’t be difficult …

    • Jeff T.

      That’s great news. Happy to be on your beta testing if that’s available.

  89. Sarah R

    I’ve been eyeing the Apple Watch for awhile now, and I am very tempted to get one. My main drawback – Fitbit. I am in several fitbit competitions with friends and find it to be rewarding, both physically and socially. I don’t really want to wear a fitbit AND an apple watch. Any thoughts or ideas when they may integrate, or share information in a way that I as a user won’t have to choose between the two platforms?

    • Unfortunately the two companies are in a solid battle, so virtually no integration (less than all other companies in fact).

      I wouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon. You may want to consider the new Fitbit Ionic. It’s really clean, and pretty solid.

    • Fredric Luthman

      You can use the Fitbit app on your iPhone and use mobile sync, but it only works if you have the phone with you.

      I would consider using a clip it and forget it device such as the Fitbit Zip if you are serious about trying the AW while maintaining the social aspect of the Fitbit community.

      My wife used a Fitbit One for two years before switch to AW, she hasn’t looked back but she doesn’t use the social features.

      I share my AW circles with my closest friend and it’s really nice way to stay motivated, but if your friends are stuck on Fitbit you might have to dual carry.

      With a Zip you loose altimeter data so no stairs climbed, for that you would need a One. I also think there were supposed to come a clip for the Fitbit Flex 2.

      Good luck!

  90. Maria

    I don’t think I would get any of the apple watches am more of a Garmin person (still debating between a Fenix 5 or the new Vivoactive 3) but I do like apple products and of course I visited their web store to read all of the specifications on their new products and I noticed that they don’t have the watch series 2 on sale anymore. Does anyone knows why would they take off the “newest older one” and keep the way older one “series 1”?

    • Mike Richie

      The Series 2 does not have any benefits cost wise, since the Series 3 without LTE is just better (processor, build, etc.) with the same feature set at $329. The Series 1 does not have GPS or waterproofing, so they can make it cheaper.

    • Eli

      There is a downside to keeping the series 1 though. It is the one with the oldest CPU meaning apps that run well on series 2 and 3 may not run well on it

    • John

      Between the 3 and the 1, which would you choose? That is why Apple is worth a zillion. If they kept the 2, people would buy that.

    • William

      It’s just like their iPhone offering..64GB and 256GB. If there was a 128GB..most will buy that I think.

    • Paul S.

      Series 1 has the same CPU as series 2. It’s the original (sometimes called “series 0”) that has the older CPU. The difference between series 1 and series 2 is the built in GPS and a better screen in the 2. Series 2 seems to have disappeared from the Apple Store. I ordered my series 3 there this morning. It’ll show up in late October.

  91. Mike Richie

    Ray, so I went ahead and bought the Series 3 with LTE, primarily for programming purposes, although I definitely expect to use it as well. I have, however, gotten really used to having all my metrics in GC (and Strava) and don’t really want to lose that if I switch back and forth. Have you found any way to keep the data “rolling” without doing a full geek and wearing two watches. Is there a way to either found a way to update GC from Health Kit or does the Garmin Mobile app sync to a Health Kit correctly now. (It use to update 2 to 10 times as many steps as was actually recorded – so I gave up on Health Kit with a Garmin).

  92. bryan

    Another great update Ray, thank you!

    Do you think running the Strava app on the Series 3 Apple watch will include the Beacon feature from Strava? I am guessing it could with LTE, but wanted to be sure before buying.

    I love the freedom of running with music on my Apple watch and the AirPods, but miss the Beacon feature from Strava to let the family at home know where I am.

  93. John

    Alot of people have been concerned in the past about cell phones because of the radiation they give off. I am not sure if this is still an issue or not. But, you do not strap on a cell phone. Most of us take the phones out of our pockets/purses when we are not walking with them. What about a watch giving off LTE strapped to your wrist? Should people be concerned?

    • Paul S.

      No. It’s a foolish concern. The frequencies involved are too low to cause any damage to anything in your body. The use the scare word “radiation”, but it has nothing to do with the ionizing radiation from radioactive material and things like X-ray and UV that are actually dangerous.

    • John

      I do not appreciate you calling it a foolish concern. I am just raising a question. That’s all.

  94. TK

    Ray, when do you think you will receive your Apple Watch 3 ?

    • Historically they’ve worked to do something this Monday/Tuesday, but since I’m travelling from Europe to the US for Interbike this Monday, that throws a wrench into that. At worst, I’ve got one for pickup at 8:00AM on the 22nd in Vegas.

  95. Tams

    Any thoughts on the Samsung Gear Sport and Gear Fit 2 Pro? They look like they might be good for swimmers.

    The smart bit probably won’t be too good, as even after several years Tizen hasn’t received a lot of app support.

  96. Bill ziegler

    Was the paddle board demo all Apple Watch or was she listening and speaking through EarPods?

  97. Conor Duffy

    I’m sure you’ll be going in depth as is your M.O., but I’d love to see some early impressions of the swimming set / session enhancements.

    • I just posted a blog on using the standard workout app for pool swimming. I found it to be pretty good, and even had decent HR tracking :). link to theapplewatchtriathlete.com

    • Jeff T.

      I have to agree. The Apple workout apps is pretty good. I have been getting pretty good gps tracks from the workout out running in my AW2 since the OS4 update. Not sure if anything change with gps track recording with the new OS4 but the gps tracks looks so much smoother and the track lines are much straighter. Did any one else noticed this?

  98. Timothy J Carrier

    Are there any apps that transmit power meter data to the Apple Watch?

  99. Martin P.

    I would like to exchange my Garmin VAHR against the Apple Watch 3 because of the build in mp3 Player. I’m a 50 years old runner with approx. 1500 miles a year.
    But a prerequisite for me is the usage of the Apple watch more-or-less independent from an iPhones. I have an iPhone from my job but privat I’m an Android user.
    My question is if I use the Nike running club app does this app sync the runs direct via my home WLAN to the Nike server without any iPhone?
    If then I can use the Nike running club app on my Android to view my runs.
    Please does anyone know if the sync of Nike Club app is possible without an iPhone?
    Thank’s a lot Martin

    • Well you need an iPhone to set up the watch, but after that in theory an app could use a connection directly to a server without the iPhone being involved (using this link to developer.apple.com). Not sure there are any apps that do that yet, but it will become clear in the coming weeks as apps are updated for AW3.



  100. In relation I think that iOS 11 is great news for Apple Watch users with outdoor workouts tracked using the “Workouts” app. Finally Apple has opened up their eco system so that 3rd party developers can read and write complete workouts including the GPS maps.

    [shameless plug on] link to rungap.zendesk.com [shameless plug off]

    • RunGap 2.9 looks really good Kristian – looking forward to trying that out. The fact you can finally read and write workouts with maps and export that into other platforms is great :)

    • Michael Bruton

      RunGap is actually awesome! I just installed and this solves so many issues with what app to use for my new Apple Watch series 3. I’m sooooo glad I read these comments!

  101. Boricuatri

    Hurry up and get one. I can’t wait to read your full review before I purchase one.

  102. dawnn

    I finally decided to preorder one today. I walk my dog and use my headsets to talk on the phone ( wireless beats ) Do you know if we would be able to connect the same way with the watch so I wouldn’t have to carry the phone?

  103. Hello!!! I’m currently deciding between this apple watch or the vivosport thats coming soon from Garmin.
    The reason why I like this watch is only because I could be able to listen to music without my phone, however, I would need the cellular capabilities right? (That’s another expense that I dont want :S)
    The Vivosport looks like a great activity tracker, even a much better one than the apple watch. But like, I’m thinking if I’m going to spend money, why not get the one that does more things (like many 3rd party apps supported with Apple Watch)
    I dont know! lol I’m confused in to which of the 2 to get!
    The features I want the most:
    1) Sleek design, not big or clunky (thats why i like the vivosport)
    2) Waterproof
    3) Heart Rate Monitor

    Thank you all for the insight and mostly for Ray’s posts!! They have been amazingly helpful.

    • You won’t need cellular to listen to music, you can sync playlists over from your iPhone (its slow to sync over BLE though, and only when the watch is on a charger). You can even designate a workout playlist that starts automatically when you begin a standard workout.

      However If you want to stream Apple Music, and have millions of tracks available you either need your phone with you or the cellular watch.

  104. Josh

    Seeing as how the Stryd app will be here soon for AW3, will it be possible to pair an external hr strap, Stryd footpod, and the phone at the same time so that you receive notifications? Or does the phone not count as a Bluetooth sensor?

    • That should work just fine. The phone doesn’t count as a sensor.

      And just to clarify the one-concurrent sensor limit, that’s actually for a BLE-driven sensor not in master mode. So things like a HR strap or a footpod. Not for a master device like the watch or your phone. Of course, in theory BT5 will change this, but nobody’s done so yet. And even then, this capability was actually available in BT4.1 – and nobody used it then either.

  105. Hey all!

    Just as a quick heads up for those following along in the comments section, you can now check out my full unboxing video here: link to youtube.com

    I dive into things like size and weight comparisons, as well as setup. Enjoy!

  106. Richard

    Can you make an SOS call with the Cellular/GPS Apple watch without subscribing to the $10 monthly service fee without having your iPhone nearby?

    • I have a series 3, and haven’t been able to enable it with EE yet (EE in the UK have really messed this up),

      I just put my phone in Airplane mode and tried an emergency call from the watch phone app and got “call failed” However holding down the side button and swiping the Emergency SOS option seemed to start a call (I didn’t want to actually make the call so I cancelled). Not sure if that helps – really needs proper clarification from Apple.

  107. Mario


    I might think at the Apple Watch once the cellular model is available in my country. Just few questions in the meantime:

    1) can I pair any bluetooth headset or only the Apple AirPods?

    2) to listen music do I need to use a streaming service or can push songs from my iPhone too? I mean songs that I have on my iPhone music library.

    3) if I want to use streaming do I need to subscribe for Apple Music or can use something else like Spotify?


    • 1) yes you can pair any Bluetooth headset
      2) you can sync music from your iPhone to your watch (over Bluetooth and only when your watch is on charge) -it’s slow but it works. So as long as you have music in your library on iPhone you should be good to go.
      3) you can only stream over Apple Music (and it’s not available until next month). I understand they haven’t made the music API’s available for third party’s either so no possibility currently of a developer creating an app for Spotify in the near future.

  108. Mark I.

    The heart rate sensors on the back of the unit are at least mounted different, if not outright different sensors between the Series 2 and 3 in my side-by-side comparison.

    I’m three HIIT workouts into the Series 3 and places I sometimes (not always) would lose HR or have artificially low HR on the Series 2 have not (yet) occurred on the Series 3. Closest to a wrong heart rate was a HR of 105 briefly when I might have expected 135 on the very first interval this morning.

    I honestly bought the 3 for the hope it will be a better fitness device while retaining/improving on all the optimal smartwatch features that come with iPhone pairing. My first fitness/smart watch was a Garmin 235. Great battery, poor screen visibility, HR disruption on HIIT. The Garmin app store did little (in 2016) to make the Garmin very smart. I definitely miss the Garmin Connect platform, far more robust than what Apple has, even with improvements from ios 11 and watchos 4.

    I didn’t get the LTE version of the 3 since I did not want to add $120/yr to my phone plan. I have 14 days to determine whether the 3 is a meaningful improvement over the 2 or I’ll return it. Performance improvement is noticeable on apps. Checking email on the 2 was laughably slow (sometimes it just gave up). In contrast, the 3 is quick to update what is on my phone (I have phone set to manual retrieve). Have not yet tested GPS. I do like that when I am listening to a podcast sourced from my phone. or similarly listening to phone-sourced music, the turn of the wrist keeps the music/podcast controls as the default while playing. Just scratching the surface of using Siri from the wrist, but that too is showing itself more responsive than on the 2. Seems to track quicker when speaking text message responses or asking for timers to be set.

    • Lance F.

      I have been having cadence lock issues with my Series 3. It often takes 2.5 miles for it to lock onto my HR and not my cadence. Have you experienced that? Today I tried to wear it tighter and farther up on my arm towards my elbow but it didn’t help. After a mile I losened the strap and let it lose HR for a seconds and then tightened it back down and it instantly grabbed my HR instead of my cadence and then was great for the rest of the run. It’s a pain to have to fight with it every run. Does anyone have any other tips for stopping cadence lock/crossover? I am tempted to go back to my Gamin 920xt for my workouts.

      However for the rest of the day that I am not working out I looooovvvve the Series 3! It is so fast! Huge improvement over my Series 1. (I didn’t even bother to run with the series 1 just went straight to the garmin)

    • Mark I.

      A few more workouts in, and I am cautiously pleased with Series 3. This morning’s workout included 3 exercises (total of six sets) that often throw off the OHRM on the Series 2: burpies, straight-arm-to-forearm planks, and mountain climbers. Series 3 went 6 for 6 on those sets. Will keep testing.

    • Lance F.

      I finally had a run last night that didn’t have a cadence lock issue. I think I finally figured out where on my arm and how tight to wear it. Hopefully that fixes my issue!

    • Jeff T.

      How’s the instant pace on the AW3 been like? What apps are you guys using for your runs? The native Workout apps or 3rd party?

    • Lance F.

      I have been using Strava, and it doesn’t even attempt to show instant pace. I get average pace for the run, or split average. I have not tried the built in app so I can’t comment on that, maybe i’ll take a lunch walk and see how the pace looks using the built in app. I’ll report back in a few hours.

    • Lance F.

      ok just did a walk to lunch and back using the build in workout app. On the way there I used the watch paired to the phone using the phones GPS, on the way back I put the phone in airplane mode and used the GPS on the watch. Both settings had similar results. The instant pace setting showed what I was doing approximately 15 seconds ago. So not great but not terrible I guess. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the pace as I have no idea what my normal walking pace is, and I didn’t want to break out into a full on run in my business attire. ;)

      My take on the Apple Watch S3 is that is fine for long slow runs, but if I am doing speed work or something that I care about HR and PACE accuracy I will be grabbing my Garmin.

    • Jeff T.

      Thank you Lance for testing. I agreed, if doing intervals or speed work, I would use my Garmin. I think it’s happy medium with using the AW3 for longer runs so I dont need to take my phone with me and still can listen and stream music. Do you have the LTE version?

    • Lance F.

      Yeah I have the LTE version. However I often still bring my phone as I often listen to a book on tape on my long runs, and there is no app that lets you stream that yet (maybe ever). But it is very freeing when I run with just the watch, no HR strap, no phone, it feels amazing. I haven’t been able to really nail down battery life usage when running LTE, first run was about 25% after an hour (probably because I was playing with it the whole time, and sending texts, etc) Second run seemed much less maybe 11-15% after an hour. The reddit crowd is reporting about 11% per hour.

      Overall I am loving the watch (so fast compared to my Series 0) but I don’t think it’s quite ready to replace the dedicated running watches just yet, but it’s getting pretty close. And for a more casual runner it’s probably all they will ever need.

    • Casebase

      ISmoothRun seems to have nailed instant pace for me on series 3 LTE without iPhone including when doing intervals. Way better than RunKeeper which was all over the place. Strava doesn’t do pace on standalone app.

    • Jeff T.

      Casebase, that great news. I also have been using iSmoothRun on my AW2 running OS4, IMHO, its definitely the best 3rd party run app available now. One thing I do noticed is when I turn my wrist to view the display, there seems to be a second or so of lag time before the data fields gets updated to the current stats. Not sure if this is a refresh issue with AW2 or a combination of both app and AW2. Are you seeing this on your AW3?

    • Casebase

      Sadly there is the same issue an AW3.

    • Richard

      I’ve been trying to use the iSmoothRun app but can’t get it to start. I open the app on the trail. No phone. Force touch to start. Select running/running and then start. It acts like it starts but goes back to the beginning to start run. I’ve also had it ask for the iPhone app to be open. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong. Am I missing a step?

    • Rick

      I’ve been trying to use the iSmoothRun app but can’t get it to start. I open the app on the trail. No phone. Force touch to start. Select running/running and then start. It acts like it starts but goes back to the beginning to start run. I’ve also had it ask for the iPhone app to be open. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong. Am I missing a step?

    • Casebase

      Force touch then Start then running and Watch only and free and choose shoes and start works for me fine. Not sure what the problem might be for you…? Sorry I can’t help.

    • Rick

      My options after selecting start are running, watch+iPhone and free. I select running and get running, treadmill, ………never mind. I just figured it out lmao. I needed to select the watch+iPhone and select watch only. Thanks for the assistance!

      I tried the workout app, Nike run club and Strava apps. So far the workout app seemed to be the best. I will try out this app soon.

    • Lance F.

      I gave the iSmoothRun app a try on my run this morning. When I raise my wrist it took quite a bit for the pace to settle down into my actual pace, it’s better than the built in app and strava but not by a whole lot. I also had another instance of cadence lock and it took me a few mins of messing with the watch to get it to lock back onto my HR instead of my cadence. I am also worried about controlling the touch screen on the watch when winter hits and I am wearing my gloves, even today it was raining and made it a bit problematic to work with the wet touch screen.

      Sadly I think I will be going back to my Garmin 920xt for my running. I love the AW3 and it will be on my wrist the other 22-23 hours of the day, but it’s not quite there for running yet.

  109. Vicky

    I love you look, details and comparison of new stuff

  110. Matt

    I was considering this device to try, but since the cell version doesn’t work on anything besides Deutsche Telekom here in Germany it’s a no go for me. I currently have a tiny spare phone (check out the Jelly Pro) that I use to connect my Fenix to for livetracking. And use it for music with some truly wirelss earbuds (VAVA – only about 40 euro).

    Would be nice to have it all in one. But I’d still be concerned with the usability of the AW for interval workouts, etc. Especially when not pre-planned.

  111. Jeff T.

    Hi Ray, Looking forward to your review. When do you expect to have a review out for this watch?

    • Dawnn Wienecke

      Received my Series 3 with the loop band Friday, I tested this weekend with a run and weights optical only, the beauty of this band you can wear it far up like seen here. It’s SO much more accurate than my Nike Series 2 I believe it’s both the placement and the optical is better.

    • William

      Do you get a better HR reading with the band higher on your arm?

  112. bmd2

    I got the non LTE series 3. This is not a running watch what so ever. I tried Strava, runkeeper and the native workout app. Strava was close to worthless. Runkeeper was ok but the light blue fonts were hard to read I didn’t know I had to manually tell it my phone wasn’t there.

    The workout app has all the data fields I need and are customizable but I don’t believe it is using GPS for any of the workouts if your phone isn’t there. With the phone paired to the watch, it read the same as my Garmin 220. When I unpaired it all hell broke lose. One run had loops on the trails missing but some how it recorded a longer distance then the 220. The next day it didn’t record any GPS data and was long again, (not that it told me it wasn’t using GPS, didnt find out till the upload). The only way that could happen was if they are just using accelerometer data and just pulling a little gps data every now and then to make a “show” map.

    RunGap works great, but the watch stinks.

    Taking it back today, thankfully they have a 14 return policy. I’m sure dealing with the apple geeks will be as much fun as this watch has been for 2 weeks.

    • Mark I.

      Maybe you have a defective unit? This is a GPS tracking of me playing a soccer game on the AW2, watch functioning standalone of course as I don’t carry my phone playing sports.. Unless app and watch functionality regressed from the AW2 to AW3, you should be able to track on the native Activity app. I’ll be using the AW3 GPS for the first time this Sunday and will let you know if I have issues.

    • Bmd

      2.5 hours of “help” later my watch was returned. No one could tell me why the gps was soo off. Just by a real gps watch if you are running anything more than a couch potato to 5k.

    • Tony

      I do triathlons – done 2 15km runs and one 2km swim in the pool.

      No issues against my Garmin 935.

    • Bmd

      I’ll buy your 935.

    • Tony

      I have a 235 and 735 for sale

  113. It’s a pity because I’m not with Orange in France. I imagine that the cellular connectivity could also be used to calculate a more precise location and it might be more accurate than a watch with a GPS only.

  114. Alex

    Hi, I am interested in knowing how much data space is free for music. In Apple Watch 2 it was limited to 2 GB. In Apple Store they told me, in Apple Watch 3 it is unlimited. I cant find that information anywhere. I talk about music local on the Apple Watch, not about streaming with Apple Music. Do you have any idea?

  115. Brad

    It’s hard to keep up with the available apps and such, so I was wondering if anyone could tell me:

    1) Is there any running app (native or otherwise) that offers “lap pace” as a data field (as in the average pace of the current lap you’re in)? That’s an essential pacing tool for me, and a deal breaker if it’s not available. I remember Ray doing a demonstration of how horrible the current pace feature was on a previous version of the AW. And the average pace for the entire run isn’t particularly useful when you’re targeting different paces throughout your run.

    2) Does there exist the capability to get data to Strava and/or Final Surge, or is it all stuck in Apple Health?

    3) Does there exist the capability to do structured workouts and/or is there a way to initiate a manual lap?

    Throughout my training I’ve discovered these are some of the essentials (beyond the basics) that I need in a running watch. The Apple watch with cellular and music sounds very appealing.

    • iSmoothRun can do all three (apart from posting to Final Surge), and much more.

    • Jan B.

      1) Apples native workout app shows current lap pace as well as overall average pace by default. Although I‘ll guess lap wise you need to stick with 1km distance and you can‘t adjust it.

      2) Training data is stuck to my knowledge when recorded with the native app. This hasn‘t changed with OS4. One could of cause go running with the Strava App on the watch and than this is a different story. I use the Apple Watch and Garmin 920XT in parallel.

      3) Not sure what you exactly mean with structured workouts, but from what I‘ve seen you can‘t set up any own defined trainings as a combination of distance/heart rate/time.

    • On point 2 that s not correct. Apple opened up HealthKit to enable export of data including gps routes with ios11 and WatchOS 4. RunGap, HealthKit (and other apps I’m sure) are already doing this. I wrote up how to do this with RunGap here : link to theapplewatchtriathlete.com

      Note that there are some issues with swimming uploads I have experienced using RunGap, HealthKit appears to be much better here though requires an extra step of export, then import (rather than post directly to strava, tp etc). I’ll be writing about that on my blog soon.

  116. dan r

    So my ant+ SRM power meter and newer ant+ Garmin speed and cadence monitors get replaced by ??? when I switch to the Apple Watch 3? Seems like a nice watch and I definitely have gear envy, but I’m probably sticking with my trusty Garmin 920 XT…unless somebody has a better idea of how to convert ant+ to bluetooth short of biking with my MacBook and attached USB ant+ dongle.

  117. Jan B.

    On Thursday I‘ve received my Nike Version of the Series 3 cellular watch. And thanks to the Deutsche Telekom who offers the first 6 month of data for free I was able to test the new model in full detail.

    For me the most notable upgrades from a series 2 version is the new band and the faster watch. Screens are changing very fluently and you don‘t have the lag between screens which you experience with AW2 and OS4.

    My usecase to purchase the LTE version was to have the ability to let my wife know if everything is ok on long runs without taking the phone with me.

    Unfortunately the AW3 is a badass battery sucker. On a 1.5hrs run with LTE on, HR coming from Scorche‘s Rhytm+ and no music running the battery decreased to 50%. Bummer! I‘ll guess with that setting a half marathon would be possible but no way a full one. Even with the latest OS 4.0.1 update. That‘s why I‘m sending back the AW3 as it is not giving me any added value over the AW2.

    • Interesting comments Jan.

      I’m seeing around 3.5 to 4 hours with everything on. I am currently testing with cellular off – not ideal because my sceanario is like yours, to be contactable by my wife. However when I think back on when she has contacted me, it’s much less then when I have contacted her to pick me up because of some issue (you know I’m knacksred, or maybe a broken spoke) and in that case I could toggle cellular back on.

    • Tony

      I have done two runs over 1.5hrs and did t have any battery issues , no phone with me , running in cover most of the time

    • ComPH

      Jan, which app are you using? How do you turn off the on-board AW3 HRM and activate the BT for the Scosche? Thanks.

  118. Rick

    I’ve been using the Vivoactive HR since Dec (running and cycling), and now 2 weeks with the Series 3 LTE (fitness use restricted to one ride). Very short conclusion: you will be very disappointed if you expect this to replace any higher end Garmin. I will either return it all together, or downgrade to non-LTE version (or get Series 2) just to keep the Apple functions (messaging, email, etc.).

    • Could you elaborate Rick – given battery life is under discussion, what else made you disappointed after your ride?

    • Rick

      Mainly the battery consumption when using Strava. It was not fully charged at the time prob 50-60% (not used to needing to charge daily), and only made it about 15mi (my phone was in my jersey too). The Strava app was also very basic in functionality, and was not displaying HR (maybe it requires premium which I just cancelled?). The heart icon was there, but did nothing.

      In comparison the Vivo HR is much better on battery, pairs with ANT+ on my bike, ANT+ on indoor cycling when I do spin class, transmits HR to my Edge so I don’t have to wear a HR strap, doesn’t trap the data (or make it multiple steps to export), syncs well with Strava (when Garmin Connect plays nice), is stylish for daily wearing, gives me basic notifications of messages and alerts, and easily finds my phone when I consistently leave it laying around the house somewhere.

      And in addition to all this I’m having significant issues with mail and messaging on the Apple Watch. I need access to email when I’m out riding, even if it’s just a preview of the message to know if I need to reply. The thought of leaving my phone at home when out riding or running was a huge draw for me. I just got off a support call with Apple and have to re-pair it (again) after the latest update to see if it helps the messaging and email issues. But, it sounds like it really requires the phone close by to get the functionality I want, which defeats the purpose of LTE. So at best I will downgrade to the non-LTE version for the messaging and mail functionality in day-to-day life (in addition to other non-essential, but cool perks like Apple Pay, Sbux, navigation, etc.). But for fitness, a higher end Garmin (Vivo HR, or upgrading to Fenix 5 or 935) will be hard to beat. A single watch to be both productive in daily life, and fitness is still not possible for me. Oh well…life goes on. :)

    • Rick

      Actually, I take that back. Just checked Strava and it made it 28mi, 1:58 elapsed time. So, it wasn’t that bad, but I’m used to going days without charging my Vivo, multiple 3 hour rides (typically my avg early morning ride).

    • Paul S.

      I don’t know where people got the idea that the LTE was a Wrist iPhone independent of a real iPhone. I don’t think Apple ever made that claim. The AW has always been an appendage of an iPhone. I got the AW3 LTE to replace an AW0, and it’s great to have a watch where using apps is actually useful and you don’t have to wait all day. Anything that works without my iPhone, though, I’ll take as a pleasant surprise. I know it can make and receive calls and texts and Siri is supposed to work, but I don’t expect any apps to work away from my iPhone.

      For that kind of cycling, you should get an Edge or Bolt or something. Watches are awful for cycling, and the AW3 even worse than most. The AW is a smart watch, not a fitness device, despite the ludicrous claims made by Apple/the Apple press.

    • Thanks for the feedback Rick – I haven’t tried the Strava app on series 3 yet (though I know they haven’t updated for cellular yet), but I wasn’t a huge fan last time I tried it on series 2. The built in Workout app is what I have concentrated on so far, and is sufficient. iSmoothRun and others will improve on it I believe (from the comments I have heard) – and you can now export any workout to Strava etc with various apps which offers some flexibility, but I understand your point.

      HR I have personally found to be excellent on AW3 – comparable (or even better in my experience) than a Garmin 935 optical, and tracks well against a HR strap (with the expected slight lag of optical). As has GPS routes (though we await Ray’s thorough analysis in his full review)

      Not had any issues with Mail or Messaging personally – but yeah that would be frustrating. I have seen some rough edges in apps (for example turning on workout low-power mode which is supposed to disable cellular as well as the optical HR actually didn’t turn off cellular for me, and using Siri is pretty random at times. While running I asked Siri to turn the volume up using AirPods and she read me a poem haha)

      I don’t necessarily agree that a high end Garmin is better for all activities though – I have a 935 and though it is much richer in features, the frustrating variability of Garmin software also gets me down (like the recent update that made HR all wonky – apparently related to other CIQ apps) and given the choice of wearing just one watch I would prefer it to be Apple Watch if I could, so I am pushing hard to make it work for me. Not everyone will want to do that of course!

      I would say that AW has come a long way since first release, and the updates we will see from Apple each year will be relentless – will be interesting to see where it is in 2-3 years. For now I am keeping the 935 to compare with, and also using a Elemnt Bolt on my bike, though that’s changing for short training sessions already. Overall I’m pretty impressing with AW3 so far.



    • Jeff T.

      Hi Ian, this questions is a little off the topic. Does the native running workout app in AW3 provide the Lap Pace metric. I only see current and average pace on my AW2. Thanks.

    • Rick

      Hey Paul, I wasn’t expecting the AW3 to replace my iPhone. But, I was expecting to be able to receive/send mail, messages, and track fitness activities without my iPhone, which I think is consistent with Apple’s pitch. As of now, it cannot do that, so for me, it’s not ideal.

    • Rick

      Good points Ian. Maybe I should be a little more patient with it. And maybe the re-pairing after the update will fix some of my issues.

    • Rick

      Also, I disagree that watches are horrible for cycling. I do have an Edge (and regularly use the Vivo to broadcast HR to it), but there are many days where I don’t care about seeing any of the data while riding. I do mostly group rides, and rarely look down at it except to occasionally check the time or current HR. The Vivo tracks everything flawlessly (except for possible inaccuracies related to its optical HR sensor) and lasts several days without charging.

    • Maybe worth a shot – there has been a small update already (to address the issues found in the verge review: link to theverge.com), and I expect more to come so could be worth waiting a while (as long as it doesn’t get outside your return window)

    • Hi Jeff – no it doesn’t provide lap pace (in fact it doesn’t have a lap option), but iSmoothRun does… (and others I’m sure – I am going to be working through all running, cycling, swimming, tri apps I can find on my blog btw ?)

    • Paul S.

      I would never expect mail to work. I just now tried Mail on my AW, and it’s lagging behind what my phone or computers show me. There’s no IMAP client on the Watch as far as I know, all of what it’s showing comes from the phone, not from the server(s in my case) independently of the phone. Absent an actual full mail client there’s no way for it to work independently of the phone, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to get it to update to current state anyway. Possibly someone will (or already has; lots of things turn up when you search for “mail” in the Watch App Store) write a full mail client for it. Texts are another story, since they’re related to LTE phone service which the watch can do. And tracking fitness it can do in its own feeble (compared to a Garmin; I own an Epix) way. When I’m out riding, I leave my AW at home (carry the iPhone although I pay no attention to it and am sometimes out of cell service) and use my Edge 1000.

      Although the AW has had WiFi from the beginning, I don’t think app developers took advantage (were allowed to take advantage?) of that to be used for an independent connection to the Internet, and I don’t know of anything that would work on the AW[0-2] independently of the iPhone except for very basic stuff. Now that it’s more of a possibility, maybe new apps will be written that can take advantage of an independent connection. Someday I think there’ll be a wrist iPhone, but we haven’t gotten there yet.

    • Hi Jeff – just a small update – you can record a lap (or segment as Apple calls it) by double tapping the screen during an activity using the Workout app (as long as the screen isn’t locked like in a swim) This then shows up in the summary at the end, but there is no way to see lap data live as you run/ride.

    • @Paul S.

      Mail definitely works – I’ve sent and received emails from gmail, icloud and exchange accounts using the watch alone. I think it may be doing some clever things in communicating with the phone over the Internet when they are apart rather than having a rich mail client on the watch (I think this because when troubleshooting some issues with EE in the UK, they asked more than once if I had left my iPhone on back at home when I was out running with my watch) – I haven’t tested going out with the phone turned off.

    • Rick

      After talking with Applecare yesterday, the AW definitely requires your iPhone for Mail. I also read elsewhere that even if it is away from your iPhone it uses it.

      After the update to WatchOS 4.0.1 and re-linking, things seem to be working better but I will still probably switch to the non-LTE for my scenario. Thanks for the discussion here.

    • Thanks Rick – makes sense. Feels strange thinking that your phone sitting on it’s charger at home is still doing stuff for you to deliver mail to your wrist no matter where you are in the world! On the negative side, that scenario might not fit every edge case (leaving your phone in the car where there’s no signal for example, or if your phone battery is low), and I think Apple should probably make it clearer that it’s required somehow, but on the positive, it is one of those “just works” scenarios for most people.

  119. jared

    When is the review coming? Any thoughts on VO2 Max? It seems to be over estimating mine compared to Garmin.

  120. James N

    Been using mine for a few days now without the phone. Good GPS, HRM is ok, 4G, have taken calls on the run and had emails/texts arrive while I’m out. I’m sold, the phone stays at home and the Fenix 5 on the shelf to just be used on race days :)

    Oh, and found the Strava app to be the best so far, no phone and tap the screen for split/average pace changes etc, syncs to the phone straight away when you’re back in range too.

    • Rick

      Does your AW display HR when using Strava? If so, are you a premium acct?

    • James N

      Yep, it does. Don’t think it requires a premium account but can’t test as I’m on premium. Had some good runs with the Strava app so far, no complaints over my Fenix 5.

    • Brett

      Maybe Strava has made some updates. I had such bad results with my AW2 and Strava running (missed the first 0.25 to 1+ mile of almost every run) that I switched to Runkeeper on the AW and tapirik to port to Strava. Since the OS4 update I have been using Apple’s Workout app with very good results, porting to Strava with RunGap.

    • jared

      Do you get GPS data to Strava using the Apple Workout app and RunGap now?

    • Yep :). Also try HealthFit (link to itunes.apple.com) which works very well too (and is a one-off payment rather than subscription)

    • Yup, I use HealthFit for getting .FIT files out. Works well for me in the Analyzer. Also, they just added in Strava in the last day or so.

    • William

      Looks like HealthFit and RunGap offer the same functions? Is the only difference being HealthFit is a one-time payment and RunGap is a subscription?

    • HealthFit is a bit more basic in terms of sync partners, etc… RunGap definitely has more features, but also costs more.

      For what I want specifically – which is simply to get the .FIT file, I like HealthFit (it also uploads to Strava, but I don’t tend to use that as much since it just was added). Whereas if you’re syncing to a bunch of services, then RunGap is probably a better fit.

    • RunGap has many more config and options – you can export to many different platforms as well as Strava, edit titles etc before exporting, even tag photo’s to associate with the activity.

      HealthFit has just an export to Strava, or export FIT files to iCloud or email (which you can then import into other platforms). I found HealthFit to be more accurate for swimming data exports, but RunGap more comprehensive and quicker if you want to export to Strava, TP, GC, dropbox with one tap.

    • Pavel Houda

      I like the iSmoothRun on the watch S3 the best. The app is always most advanced (THAT I COULD FIND), is not nearly as “political” as the big guys, works and exports to nearly anything. No doubt there are some features not yet supported, but that is mostly because Apple is very restrictive.

    • Yussu

      Do you get the GPS track when exporting to eg Strava? I can not get it working. In phone -permissions – location I have set the Ismoothrun “Always” however no map view post run.

  121. cj_torres

    Hi, do you know if there is any upcoming support for pairing watch to Stages Power meter? Do any watch apps display Power meter paired to iphone?

    • iSmoothRun

      iSmoothRun can pair with a Stages PM and display power on the phone. Support for the apple watch will be available till the end of the year.

  122. Jhayes

    When doing the full review, I would be interested to see if this feed information to systems like the live tracker on the wahoo elemnt. I am like that feature, but I would love to leave the phone at home and let the watch do the work.

  123. Tony

    As a hobby developer the only limitation I can see with the watch as a stand alone fitness watch without the phone compared to Garmin / suunto / polar is battery life.

    The options now for devs to support various activities is good and I can only see it getting better in the next 12 months. Also Bluetooth has been expanded to export support for external fitness devices to come out from third parties.

    Also Apple won’t limit its revenue by supplying fitness apps that are detailed like a forerunner for example, they will leverage this revenue stream off of devs. I have been testing my AW3 against the 935 in run/bike/swim and it is performing well.

    I’m currently writing a fitness app (triathlon focused) that is Watch first and phone second and so far I’m impressed with the flexibility and haven’t really seen any limitations yet.

    • Paul S.

      “…the only limitation I can see with the watch as a stand alone fitness watch without the phone compared to Garmin / suunto / polar is battery life.” You’re not looking hard enough, especially since you’re developing a triathlon app, so people will have cycling sensors. No ANT+. Bluetooth is not a replacement for ANT+, at least until they actually fulfill the “real soon now” of a sensor connecting to multiple head units. You’re familiar with the API’s; can you command the screen to always on, or prevent it from locking if taken off the wrist (cold weather wearing outside clothing or handlebar mounting)? I have an AW3 LTE and it’s useless to me as a “fitness” device, since I don’t care about “steps” or continuous HR.

    • Tony

      Hahaha – most companies support bluetooth and ant+ now days. Just supporting ant+ is backwards. Quarq, stages, polar, suunto , tacx , just to name a few, Garmin needs to move on.

      You don’t need a screen always on – the watch screen works when you look at it.

      There will always be the consumer that is so pedantic they miss the point of targeted training, there are pages of posts on Garmin forums on gps accuracy for example , I hardly look at my Garmin or Apple Watch training , I just know what zone I’m in by feel.

  124. dp

    LTE sounds great in concept by i barely used it when i had it in a watch. The Gear S3 has it and the watch aint half bad. I thought i would use it all the time – surfing, running, etc. In reality, I found having to recharge after using that (used up the S3 in about 5ish hours), made me never use it. It had the pay feature which worked everywhere – I also rarely used it. I felt like an idiot swiping my watch at a grocery store or any other store.

    After a year of paying 20/month to Verizon, I realized I was just burning 20/month on a watch I constantly had to recharge (every day or quicker if I used the LTE). I rarely need to charge my Garmin and it functions like a watch. Granted the notifications blow compared to the smartwatches…

  125. Jeff T

    Hello, have been using my AW3 with LTE for the past 4 days running along side with my 935. What I noticed is the AW2 and AW3 gps appears to be very similar the distance measurement. It always appears to measure over by .02 of every mile compared to my 935 or 235. Any of you observed this on your AW2 or 3? I’m not sure which is give me the more accurate distance but I’m leaning more taughts my trusted 935.

    • Tony

      Hi ~ check out desfit on YouTube he sums up what I’m finding and is a 6 year Garmin user.

      My 14k run this morning was 300m difference between Apple watch 3 cellular (no phone) and 935.

      When I look at the gps overlay both watches are out in places so who knows.

  126. Nathan Schwartz

    Does the new Apple Watch Series 3 have a run/walk mode as a feature – I don think the earlier apple watches did??

    • Tony

      You could change activity from run to walk during the workout but I don’t see the point personally. I have been doing bike / run intervals and changing from bike to run but that two completely different body movements

    • I assume you are referring to the Alerts that Garmin have for example – so you can set a 4min run, then a 1 min walk – which is a good strategy for an IronMan Marathon!

      There isn’t anything in the built in Workout app but I think iSmoothRun may support it (or other third party apps)



  127. Fredrik Tagevi

    Has anyone seen any details about the how frequent AW3 registers the gps?
    It’s 1 sec on my Fenix3.

    • Fredrik Tagevi

      And also, is there any app where it’s possible to upload a gpx and use navigation like Garmins versions.
      If there was one like with Fenix 3 i would be more than satisfied.

    • Tony

      It depends on the developers location accuracy and distance filter properties. Setting it to navigation the device receives updates continuously and consumes battery power , it definitely delivers updates 1 sec or less. Also note devs can put in an accuracy filter to only receive data that is within a given accuracy, so while you may get updates every second or less some data maybe ignored due to bad horizontal accuracy (i use this smoothing in my dev work)

    • Tony

      Definitely possible in a fitness app, perhaps contact one of the popular apps as feature request.

    • RunGo (https://www.rungoapp.com) is a decent app for navigation while running – it uses voice navigation and you can create/find/upload routes on the web site and iPhone app.

    • Mark Cohen

      Take a look at WorkoutDoors. You get a live GPS map and you can import GPX routes. Lots of other features and a load of activities, including on water, all with live maps on your watch. workoutdoors.net

  128. TK

    Ray, how is it going with your AW Series 3 review ? When can we expect it ?

    • I’m waiting on Apple to track down some answers to things I want answers on (notably, the poor hand-off of GPS from phone to watch, as well as we the lack of ability to see on the native app whether GPS or optical is ready).

    • Carmi

      Ray –
      One more thing to check is if one can make an emergency call on the watch if one has no LTE subscription. If one can, then the $70 extra becomes an emergency safety blanket even for those who do not purchase LTE.

  129. Did anyone else notice that the route maps created by the Apple Watch seem to be very inaccurate, often cutting corners and bends?

    I have found that the watch records the GPS location every second – but the recorded positions seem to be approximated from a lot fewer actual measurements.

    The result is a pleasant, smooth route – but services like Strava and Runkeeper will end up with a wrong distance when re-calculating it from the GPS locations.

    Example here: link to rungap.zendesk.com

    • Tony

      My AW3 has been longer than my Garmin 935 when comparing to Garmin Connect. Both watches jump around the road and corners on a map view.

    • For some reason the watch reports the correct distance. It is only when you recalculate the distance from the recorded route that it turns out shorter.

    • Jeff T.

      Same here, my AW3 aways measure longer than my 935 and 235.

    • Yeah, I always get the Mariokart style mapping around corners. It just sorta floats around, often not super-accurately.

      I do think it may have something to do with whether or not your phone is handy though.

    • Tony

      I have come to conclusion after my own testing for triathlon- AW3 vs Garmin 935

      The nutshell result – AW3 is good for non podium training (fitness and fun demographic). The GPS accuracy isn’t out by much but will impact those wanting to podium when looking for accurate pacing. Roughly out by 5-10 secs a km

      – Running , GPS accuracy is out and Garmin is most accurate.
      – Open water swimming, GPS accuracy is out and Garmin is most accurate.
      – Pool swimming, AW3 I prefer its automation of laps/pauses both are equal with accuracy
      – Riding , GPS accuracy is out and Garmin is most accurate. ( I use a bike computer anyway)

      Optical Heart rate – AW3 doesn’t lock for a few mins but after that within a few beats of HRM Tri.

      PolarH10 pairs with AW3 so its a mute point if you want accuracy, Im not a fan of optical heart rates and wear a strap.

      Battery life is an issue with AW3 for long endurance events > 4 hours

  130. Jeff T.

    Not sure if anyone else is seeing this problem on their AW3 + LTE. Since the release of the new OS4.1, I have decided to install the latest OS4.1 and enable the Cellular LTE service on my AW3. Since then, I have noticed a issue where my workout screen using the native Workout or iSmoothrun screen would just froze. The only way to unfreeze the screen. The only way I was able to unfreeze the workout screen was clicking on the side button in the dock view and toggle back to the same workout screen. It seems to be pretty consistent issue. Would be interesting to hear if others are also experience this issue. Not sure if its a combination of the new IO4.1 software and LTE or just 4.1 update that is causing this issue. Its quite an ignoring issue as the workout screen just completely froze while on your run.

    • Hi Jeff

      I’ve not seen those issues on my series 3 LTE, but so far I have been concentrating on the Workout app only and not using third party apps. Maybe try uninstalling iSmoothRun for a run and that could help isolate the issue?

      One thought – I did have an issue with music pausing after each song when it should have kept playing on one run; after restarting the watch and making sure only the workout app was running it was solved (I think a podcast app was also trying to control playback) – this was in 4.0 not 4.1 but with the changes to music in 4.1 I wonder if this is causing some conflict between apps?



  131. Margaret

    Thank you DCR, Most informative! Margaret Pulaski NY

  132. Ben

    Great first thoughts!

    What do you think, is this AW a “great chance” for running-apps like Strava, Runtastic, Endomondo, Runkeeper, etc.?
    Some reasons why people prefer to run with smartphone and running-app instead of a dedicated running-watch like Garmin, Polar, Suunto, etc. is that with phone+app they
    – get audio-feedbacks
    – can stream music
    – are reachable (phone)
    – social-network components like beacons, live-segments, live-tracking,…

    With cellular support the app developper could implement all those feature in the apple-watch-App.
    Will they?