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The Apple Watch Series 4, together with the iPhone Xr was arguably the most exciting new device Apple announced at the September keynote. To help you understand what the differences are between the Apple Watch Series 4 vs. Series 3, here is an in-depth comparison.
Even though I already owned an Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular, I decided to upgrade to find out if the new hardware would be worth the asking price.
Apple Watch Models
The new Apple Watch Series 4 is available as a GPS-only and GPS + Cellular model. Beyond the type of wireless connectivity, you can choose between a silver aluminum, space gray aluminum, and a stainless steel case, as well as various band types and colors.
Apple also continued its partnership with Nike and Hermès by offering the following, branded models:
- Apple Watch Hermès
- Apple Watch Nike+
Note that Apple appeared to have discontinued the high-end Edition models, including the gold and ceramic versions. While I never cared for an 18 karat gold Apple Watch, I liked the white ceramic body Apple offered with the Series 3. I also know that many fans were looking forward to a black ceramic timekeeper they thought Apple had in the works.
Apple Watch Series 4 Pros and Cons
- A 30% larger screen and thinner body
- Improved heart rate sensor with EKG/ECG
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Fall Detection
- Faster CPU
- Compatibility with my old bands and straps
- No always-on screen option
- Expensive for a gadget you may upgrade every year
Case and Display
One of the things you’ll immediately notice with the Apple Watch Series 4 is the bigger display, rounded corners, and thinner bezels. The smaller watch used to have a 38mm case, offering 563 square millimeters of a display area. In Series 4, the smaller clock now has a 40mm case and 759 sq mm of a display area. That’s larger than what the older model had.
As a result of those improvements, watchOS, Apple’s wearable operating system can display much more information, such as additional complications or richer notifications. Apple has also managed to reduce the thickness of the Apple Watch from 11.4 to 10.7 millimeter.
From a display technology perspective, the new Apple Watch features a Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide (LTPO) OLED panel, which combines both LTPS TFTs and Oxide TFTs. These panels are more difficult to manufacture, but they are 5-15% more power efficient.
What’s great for all current Apple Watch owners is that the Apple Watch Series 4 is compatible with all of the old bands! That’s great news for me because I have collected quite a few leather straps and workout bands.
When I ordered the Series 3 last year, I chose the olive green Sport Loop because Apple didn’t offer the Sport Loop in black. This year, when I placed the order for the Series 4, Apple offered it in black as well! So I’m super excited to finally get the band I love in the color I like.
One thing I didn’t notice while watching Apple’s keynote was that the company evidently discontinued the “Apple Watch Edition.” I understand why Apple stopped selling the $18k Edition in yellow gold, but I thought the much less expensive Ceramic watch was a reasonable compromise between luxury and affordability. I guess Apple didn’t sell enough of those either to warrant keeping them around.