Apple Watch Series 3 Review (GPS, Non-LTE)


I’ve been a hardcore Apple Watch fan ever since the original version debuted. Over the last 2 years, it’s almost never been off my wrist. I skipped the Series 1 and Series 2 updates because they just didn’t seem different enough from what I already had, but the Series 3 finally got me to pull the trigger and I’m super happy that I did. Here’s why I upgraded to the Series 3 and why I chose the non-LTE, GPS-only model over the one with a cellular connection — and I think the reason is probably going to surprise you.

I’m also going to cover everything that makes this latest version of the Apple Watch awesome including: WatchOS 4 and Siri, the new watch faces, apps that are actually worth using, the new settings and options, AirPods and the Apple Watch and more.

Finally, I’m going to tell you why (and how) I’m now using 2 Apple Watches.

So lets get the big question out of the way first which is: why didn’t I buy the LTE version?

For me this was never a question of need. I don’t need an Apple Watch with LTE because I can basically always have my phone with me. Instead, the question was actually whether or not I ever wanted to be without my phone and the answer to that is that there are some times when I wouldn’t mind being without my phone but there are no times when I would want to be without my camera. And ya, the CMRA band may never actually be a reality. And that’s it: it all came down to the camera for me. It wasn’t the added cost. But I will say, I don’t like the red dot Apple put on the LTE model to distinguish it. It’s not the end of the world or anything; but it really doesn’t look good.

So the model I did end up buying was the 42mm Silver Aluminum Case with Fog Sport Band. I got a little sick of the grey and black case and band I had before, so I knew I wanted to do a different color. What I actually wanted was the Stainless Steel case. The difference is harder to appreciate online but in person it really looks so much cooler than the aluminum. But at the end of the day I really didn’t feel like paying $600 for it. But hey, at least the version I got doesn’t have the ugly red dot.

OK, so the main reason that I finally upgraded front the Series 0 to the Series 3 was speed; especially now that WatchOS 4 has landed. The Series 3 is 70% faster than the previous model and many generations faster than my Series 0. As a seasoned Apple Watch veteran let me tell you: speed really makes or breaks the Apple Watch experience. On my old Apple Watch, I would literally give up waiting for Siri to work or for text or apps to load. Now all of these things happen as fast as they need to and now the Apple Watch finally feels like the device it was meant to be and I can finally say that it just works. And where that extra speed bump really makes me the happiest is probably with Siri in it’s various forms in WatchOS 4.

Of all the ways to interact with Siri on the Apple Watch my favorite is definitely the new Siri watch face. It’s brilliant. I love the personalized cards that show up at just the right time for things like appointments, reminders, HomeKit controls, timers, news, photo memories and more.

The one bummer for me is that not all apps seem to be integrated just yet like items from my favorite todo app aren’t showing up in the feed. And there’s a slight trade off when using the Siri watch face when it comes to complications because there’s only room for 2.

But talking to Siri works a lot better on the Series 3, especially now that Siri can talk back to you.

Actually, Siri wouldn’t talk to me for about 24 hours after I bought the watch. In the Watch’s Siri settings I saw a message saying that the voice needed to download from my phone but I couldn’t get it to trigger for the life of me and I’m still not sure what finally started it.

Now the Kaleidoscope watch face, when I first heard about it, had me thinking it was stupid and pointless but I’ve really changed my mind on that. I thought it was static and didn’t move unless you turned the Digital Crown but that’s not true because it actually slowly moves as the seconds tick by. So what’s cool is that every time you look at it, it’s a bit different which can help break up the monotony of looking at the same thing all day long, so ya I’ve come to like this new watch face actually.

The Pixar faces, on the other hand, are definitely pointless though. I wish Apple didn’t insist on inflicting Disney themes upon us. It’s well executed but it would be better if you could pick any character from anything or even just anything that’s not in the Disney universe. I’d way rather have R2-D2 on here.

Here’s where we talk about apps and in reality there are about 10 apps that I’m actually excited about and use. Most of them are just going to get brief mentions but 2 of them deserve to be highlighted a bit more.

The first one is Drafts which lets me take notes on the go and get thoughts out of my head and make sure they’re saved. Later on I can then export them in a number of different formats using my iPhone. This app is so simple but so useful. In fact I used it to make a lot of my notes for this video!

The second is Things which is my go to todo list app on any device and this is the app that I use to keep my work life organized. Not only does it keep me productive by letting me see and check off what I need to do but it’s really easy to create new todos as well.

And then the handful of apps that I think deserve at least a brief mention are Just Press Record for voice memos, ETA for traffic estimates, Glancify for loading any one piece of information (mine shows me my current subscriber count) and then Tile for tracking my wallet and keys.

When I’m super-bored I’ll even fire up a game or two on the Apple Watch — I mean you have to be really bored — but Rules!, Lifeline, Micropolis and Elevate are all surprisingly entertaining.

Lastly I want to mention that the built-in iPhone camera remote is really useful and has definitely been clutch for taking family portraits.

There are 2 specific new settings worth mentioning in WatchOS 4. Let me touch on each briefly.

There’s a new list view which you can use instead of the original grid or bubble-looking view but I actually turned out to not like that very much. The thing is I have enough apps installed that it just takes too long to find what I’m looking for and the bubble view is actually faster for me. The dock also looks and functions a bit differently now and I like the cards floating through space look, that’s pretty cool and usable. But the new default is to show the most recently used apps and I changed that back to show my favorite apps, which are preselected, instead because it’s just a faster and more reliable way to find what I’m looking for.

Next up let’s talk about AirPods which are an important accessory for the Apple Watch because sometimes you don’t need the world around you hearing your calls or music. In a technical sense, AirPods work great with the Apple Watch — like pairing is a cinch. I think they really work best for music and to a lesser extent Siri but when it comes to phone calls I’d say it’s 50/50. Like any Bluetooth accessory, people always struggle to hear me when I’m using AirPods to make a call.

Apple Pay has always been one of my favorite Apple Watch features and that hasn’t changed. It works just as flawlessly on my new watch as it did on my old one!

I should probably mention watch bands briefly. I actually really like the Sport Band that ships with the cheaper models. In terms of straight-up comfort and ease-of-use it’s really hard to beat. I’ve tested a lot of third party Apple Watch bands — you can go back through my channel and see a lot of reviews — but somehow I always end up coming back to the Sport Band. It might not necessarily look the coolest or cost the most but I really like it.

By now you’re probably wondering why I’m using 2 apple watches: the old one and the new one. Well, I wear the Series 3 during the day and then while it’s charging at night I’ve been using the Series 0 to track my sleep. I haven’t found the perfect sleep tracking app yet but I’m excited that I don’t have to worry about weird charging schedules like some people try to do when they wear their watch all day and all night.

To wrap things up, I honestly do think this is a good time to get in on the Apple Watch craze if you haven’t already or to upgrade even if you’re coming from the Series 2. WatchOS 4 deserves to run with as much speed as possible and when it does it’s a thing of beauty.

On a side note my wife still thinks the Apple Watch is super dorky. She still equates it to wearing a Casio, ha, so I realize it’s not for everybody.

Hey I’d love to hear your thoughts about the Series 3, WatchOS 4 or the Apple Watch in general. Do you own one or are you buying one and if so which one and why? Leave me a comment down below.

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