Apple Watch Series 2 review: Pretty close to perfect

IDG.TV | Sep 26, 2016

The second-generation Apple Watch is a fitness fanatic’s dream, with swim workouts, GPS, and fast-loading apps.

The Apple Watch is just a year or two away from being perfect, if Apple’s second-generation model is any indication.

The Apple Watch Series 2 looks identical to the OG version, but it’s faster, brighter, and more fitness-oriented than its predecessor. That matters—to some people.

Even running watchOS 3, my original Apple Watch loads apps much more slowly than the Series 2. It’s also harder to see the original’s screen in bright sunlight. The Series 2 display is two times brighter than the original, and its dual-core processor is up to 50 percent faster. Those differences are key.

I run several miles a week, usually with my phone in tow. Now that I’ve upgraded to the gigantic iPhone 7 Plus, I’d rather leave my phone at home. The GPS-equipped Series 2 makes that possible. It accurately tracks my mileage, splits, and route in the built-in Workout app or in a third-party app. With on-board music storage I can save Apple Music playlists on my watch and listen to them with a pair of Bluetooth earphones. It’s the perfect workout companion.

The new watch’s waterproofing makes it compelling for swimmers, who can now track their pool or open water workouts up to 50 meters deep. When you select one of those workouts, the watch will lock and its speaker will suck in water. When you’re done, rotating the Digital Crown unlocks the watch so you can end your workout, and the watch then uses sound vibrations to force the water back out. It’s incredibly cool.

I wore the original Apple Watch almost every day, but it needed some improvements. Some of those tweaks arrived with watchOS 3, which brought activity-sharing, new messaging features, and an easily accessible dock so your most-used apps would launch more quickly. Apple Watch Series 2 is the perfect complement to those software improvements.

But there’s another new Apple Watch, the Series 1, which is just as fast and bright as the Series 2, but costs $100 less. It has the same dual-core processor as the Series 2, so it’s much faster than the original watch.

It lacks GPS and it isn’t swim-proof, but if you’re not a runner, biker, or swimmer, those features might not be worth the extra 100 bucks.

The Apple Watch isn’t perfect yet, because it can’t stand on its own. But it’s getting closer to that ideal with every update. If you’re passionate about fitness, the Series 2 is pretty close to perfect.