Apple announces third generation smartwatch with LTE

Apple has announced its Apple Watch Series 3 at today’s keynote event, with LTE compatibility, a faster processor/wireless chip and a barometric altimeter.

There will be two versions to choose from, Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular connectivity which will costs $399, and a version without it retailing for $329. You can pre-order from September 15th in selected countries, with actual availability starting a week later.

Tim Cook kicked off the proceedings by announcing that his company’s wearable has overtaken Rolex to become the number one selling watch in the world. He also said the Apple Watch has experienced  a 50% year-on-year increase in sales. We will have to take his word for it as Apple does not release sales figures.

As expected, the main news with the Series 3 version is cellular connectivity which is apparently built into the display itself. The watch will use the same number as your smartphone. Although users still need a SIM, the Series 3 features a small electronic SIM card. And when we say small we mean it – its one percent of the size of a traditional SIM.

Essential reading: Our quick verdict on the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker

When you are away from your phone, the watch automatically switches to the cellular signal. This means you will be able to make and receive calls, as well as messages, while away from your smartphone. Third party apps will be able to tap into this signal as well.

The third generation watch will sport a 70% faster dual-core processor. This will enable Siri to talk for the first time. There is also a W2 chip for Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity which allows for a 85% faster connection while being 50% more efficient.

Apple Music is also coming to the device. You will be able to choose from over 40 million songs and stream them directly to your wrist.

Unfortunately battery life is still the same. With up to 18 hours of battery life, you will be charging it every day. Perhaps that was to be expected taking into account the bump in specs.

In terms of fitness, there is a new barometric altimeter sensor. This means the watch will finally be able to count floors climbed and estimate your altitude. A great feature which the company will no doubt take advantage of when it comes to tracking skiing workouts. No mention of sleep tracking, but with 18 hour battery life having this feature would be kind of pointless.

Other changes are to do with the heart rate sensor. You will now be able to see your current heart rate just by raising your wrist due to a new complication on the watch face. There is the addition of a “recovering heart rate” which shows how fast your heart rate drops after a workout, and the watch will alert you when it detects an abnormal spike in your readings.

For the first time, the Apple Watch will also be able to tell you your resting heart rate. This is a great addition and obvious omission in the past, as your resting heart rate is perhaps the most important indicator of your health and fitness. The Apple Watch heart rate sensor is considered to be pretty good for a wrist wearable. We also reported earlier today on a new Apple Heart Study to detect atrial fibrillation, and this was confirmed in today’s event.

Lookswise, apart from the red dot on the crown, the next generation looks exactly the same as the previous one. The case is the same size, the only difference being that the back crystal is slightly extended (0.2 millimeters).

There is a host of new bands and watch face styles. Because its pretty much the same size, existing owners will be happy to know there is backwards compatibility with existing straps and bands.

View full technical specs

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