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Hands-On With the New Apple Watch Series 5

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Apple last Friday released the Apple Watch Series 5, the newest iteration of the Apple Watch that first debuted in 2015. The Apple Watch Series 5 isn’t much different from the Series 4, but there are some notable changes.

In our latest YouTube video, we went hands-on with the Apple Watch Series 5 to check out what’s new.

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Design wise, the Apple Watch Series 5 is identical to the Apple Watch Series 4, featuring the same larger display over the Series 3 and 40 and 44mm case size options. There are two new materials this year, though.2017

Titanium, a never before used material, is lighter and more durable than stainless steel, and $100 more expensive, starting at $799 (stainless steel models start at $699). Also new this year is ceramic ($1299), which we had in 2016 and 2017 but wasn’t an option in 2018. Ceramic and titanium Apple Watch models are considered higher-end “Edition” models.

Apple is still offering the standard stainless steel and aluminum, which starts at $399. As with last year, there are GPS only models and GPS + LTE models.

Aside from new case materials, the other major change to the Series 5 lineup is an Always-On display feature. As the name suggests, the display of the Series 5 Apple Watch is always lit up so you can glance down at your wrist to see the time, your complications, your notifications, or, with the Workout app running, your exercise metrics.

The display does dim when not in use, of course, but the watch face is clearly visible without the need to raise your wrist up.

There were no processor changes in the Series 5, so though Apple says it uses an S5 chip, the processor is identical to the Series 5. Display improvements, a low power display driver, and an efficient power management integrated circuit enable the Always-On display.

Apple says that battery life on the Series 5 should last for up to 18 hours just like the Series 4 despite the Always-On display, but we’ve seen some mixed results.

Some of us here at MacRumors haven’t seen battery life changes, but others feel that the battery is draining quicker than before. Apple may have some optimizations coming in future software updates to solve any battery issues.

Other new changes include 32GB of internal storage, likely for the new standalone App Store in watchOS 6, and a new compass feature. The compass feature is available in a Compass app that tells you your heading, incline, latitude, and longitude, plus the feature is used in the Maps app so you can finally see which direction you’re facing.

For LTE Apple Watch owners, there’s an updated Emergency SOS feature that will contact emergency services in whatever country you’re in when activated, something that’s nice for peace of mind when traveling. In prior models, this feature was limited to the emergency services in the country of purchase.

All in all, while there are some useful features in the Series 4, there’s not a compelling reason to update if you already have a Series 4. If you have a Series 1, 2, 3, or original Apple Watch, there’s a lot more to gain in the Series 5 and it’s potentially a worthwhile upgrade.

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