Updated: Read our latest review of Apple’s new 2020 watch, the Apple Watch Series 6.
I’ve been walking with Apple Watch Series 5 for three weeks. They really like — except for battery life.
Before that, I had Series 0 for four years, and the difference between them and the new model is simply huge, it’s almost a completely different device.
However, there are not so many differences from the previous generation. Always active display, compass and… in principle, everything.
So who better to take the Series 5, and who can confidently walk in their Apple Watch for at least another year? Now let’s figure it out.
The hull hasn’t changed much. Was perfect, perfect and left
Last year’s Apple Watch redesign stays with us for another year. Watches in 2018 have become thinner, the display is noticeably larger, and the case is slightly rounder. It was a real leap forward, comparable to the release of the iPhone 4. So you can sit with such a case for another year or two, there will be few disappointed.
For the Series 5, Apple decided for the first time to use 100 percent recycled aluminum. No matter how much I tried, I did not find a difference with Series 4. The same metal is used in the new MacBooks, iPad 7th generation and «multi-colored» iPhone 11. Zero complaints.
Just be aware that at one time your watch was part of the cutoff left over from turning Unibody Mac cases.
Covering the screen with your hand, it is simply impossible to distinguish the previous generation of aluminum AW from the new one. As for me, this is normal.
The Apple Watch case is good and needs no work. The watch is comfortable, versatile, and complete backwards compatible with straps of at least 2015 allows you to pick up hundreds, if not a thousand combinations.
The design was and remains a five, the ceramic and steel models look especially cool. And the new titanium one will find fans (it’s lighter, you know?). It’s a pity that they don’t exist in Russia, that’s just very insulting.
The display in Series 5 is not entirely new, the difference is different
For how many years the adherents of traditional watches have been repeating: we do not want something that does not always show time! Okay, get it, sign it.
This is not the first time Apple has used a relatively young type of OLED display in the Series 5: LTPO. A similar display was installed in the last generation, Series 4. The difference is in the auxiliary hardware.
LTPO stands for (and translates into Russian) as low temperature polysilicon oxide display. Apple has been working on it since 2013-14 — that’s when the US Patent Office received the first application for a screen using this technology.
How is LTPO different from conventional OLED displays? A special controller «on the fly» adjusts the screen refresh rate between full (60 hertz) and minimum (1 hertz). In fact, this allows the display update information 1 time per second and even less frequently.
A low refresh rate is necessary to conserve battery power. Thanks to such a display, Series 4 surprised the world with unusually long battery life, breaking all records of previous generations of Apple Watch.
But what then changed in Series 5? It’s just that now LTPO is monitoring energy efficiency separate chipand for brightness adaptation — new ambient light sensor.
To this we add the optimization of watchOS 6 for a new type of display, including the processing of all dials for the features of LTPO. And we get the main new feature of Series 5: Always On Displaythe same “always-on display”.
Adding the same feature to the Series 4 would not work, because it does not have the necessary chip. I’m sure that Cupertino experimented on this, but if they didn’t launch it, then there were reasons for that.
Okay, with technology, everything is more or less clear. How does the always-on display work in the Series 5 in reality?
What the Series 5 always-on display does (and doesn’t)
When you look at the Series 5 in the active state, the difference with the Series 4 is impossible to notice. The resolution is just as clear. The black color is real, deep, merging with the frame of the watch glass. Color reproduction is excellent and contrast is strong.
Just drop your wrist now, uh display does not turn off completely. The brightness decreases, the dial changes, the second hand disappears. Hiding actively updated information of some extensions. But the screen itself continues to work.
Under this feature, many dials have been redesigned. Personally, I love minimalism, so most often I use «One Color»new to watchOS 6. It shows a single large Roman numeral overlaid with arrows.
When you lower your hand, the fill of the number fades, and only its colored outlines remain. The hands remain, except for the second. But they are updated more slowly, on average once a minute.
Approximately the same principle is relevant for all other dials: the minute and hour hands remain, static information too. And what is updated quickly fades.
Interestingly, the icon for an active app or new notifications remains — so if you miss something from an iPhone, it will be clear even before you raise your wrist.
It is a pity, but at the same time it is logical that watch faces with animations (for example, “liquid metal”) and large images (for example, “Photo” or “Astronomy”) completely hidden in inactive mode, replacing with a dry digital clock in the upper left corner. The clock location cannot be configured in these scenarios.
The training mode has been given a separate approach. Unlike other extensions and watch faces, basic calorie consumption and distance data will be updated from time to time even when the display is idle.
So you don’t have to raise your hand in a special way when you are exercising in order to see the training statistics.
Always-on display as a whole – unequivocal plus, I don’t see the point in turning it off, even to save battery (more on that later). Now there is one less difference between the Apple Watch and the regular watch, and that’s commendable.
Is it possible to turn off the always-on display so it’s the same as before?
Yesno problem: come from the clock to Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Always On and turn off the item Always on That’s it, the watch now activates the screen when you turn your wrist.
There are no differences from Series 4 (as well as all previous generations of AW) in this scenario. The main bonus for those who refuse the always-on display is quite significant: battery life increases for several hours, which I have repeatedly tested on myself.
I tried to walk for several days without an always-on display, but in the end I turned it back on. It is strange to refuse the most noticeable feature of the new watch, in this situation it is more logical to find Series 4. Plus, it’s convenient when time, workouts and basic information from extensions can be seen in any scenario, and not just after a minted throwing up of a hand.
If it bothers you privacy issue (especially after news like this, 18+), Apple has everything under control.
Firstly, in the Watch app, you can customize which extensions show personal information on the watch face and which do not. Some of them in any case will not display all the information when the display is inactive.
So the risk of telling everyone around about personal problems is zero.
Secondlyeven if the extensions displayed terrible secrets, reading their contents on someone else’s hand and a distance of half a meter would be difficult.
Add to this the natural dimming of the display brightness in standby mode — and that’s it, even the paranoid have nothing to fear.
Performance. Hours fly, no lags
For the last 4 years I have been using the very first Apple Watch series (it’s 2015!). They are surprisingly alive, although they are falling apart, unsuccessfully fell on the tile. This is an absolutely outdated model in every sense, which is only capable of displaying dials and showing notifications with brakes.
It is strange to expect something different from a device almost five years ago (announced in 2014) with a 32-bit, significantly weakened Apple A5-level processor, a chip from iPhone 4s.
Therefore, the first week with the Apple Watch Series 5 seems leap into the future. Wow, you can open the menu, go to some application, even switch between them. And don’t get old!
And after 3 weeks of use, the impressions did not get worse. Fifth watch series flies on watchOS 6, everything is smooth and cool. Replies to messages fly away instantly, applications load quickly, the menu for choosing and personalizing watch faces is responsive and peppy.
The Music application briskly rummages through playlists and plays tracks. Workouts are created and stopped at once. The response to receiving calls is prompt, there are no lags and freezes. Beauty, in a word. The watch has once again gone from an accessory on the wrist to a useful item.
The Series 5 S5 system-on-a-chip is last year’s Series 4 S4 CPU, but with integrated always-on display hardware, an improved GPS chip, and 32GB of internal storage instead of the previous 16GB.
These changes do not affect the performance of the watch for better or for worse. Not surprisingly, compared to the AW Series 4, the new watch works exactly the same. That’s just zero difference, and there is nowhere to take it from.
By the way, 32 gigabytes – this is very good, because now you can download more music to listen to offline during training, as well as applications from the now separately available App Store. I was able to upload all my best playlists to memory and now I often listen to music not from an iPhone, but directly from my watch via Bluetooth headphones.
What does the compass give in Series 5 and why was it not added to Series 4?
Logical question. On previous generations of watches, it was like this: the watch found out your location and the trajectory of movement, but in fact did not know where the north is, where the south is. The direction was determined by the fact of a change in geo-position.
Thanks to the improved GPS chip in the Series 5, the watch now has a complete compass that can do a lot. At the same time, here is the answer to why Apple did not add both the application and the innovation-related features to the previous generation of AW.
When the application is first launched Compass it takes 2-4 seconds before it activates and adjusts. I noticed that if you twist it by hand, it happens faster.
What the Compass app shows on one screen:
▪ digital degree and current heading (for example, 192 SW)
▪ height in meters (for example, in our office — 190 m)
▪ slope in degrees
▪ slope-level (with visual fixation on the ideal center)
▪ latitude and longitude (will not say)
▪ well, the compass needle itself
If you press the compass hard, you can manually reset the magnetic heading for personal navigation tasks, and in the app settings on your watch, you can change the north direction from magnetic (pole of the earth) on true (geographic point).
I noticed that running Compass causes the Taptic Engine to tap when the needle touches north every 30-degree division. In theory, so can be guided blindly. But the AW screen must be active and not off, because otherwise the compass will go into the background and the tracking will stop to save battery power.
The appearance of the compass expands the functionality of the Apple Watch as a household tool. The level is a good help in repairs, you can put the Apple Watch on any object and measure the angle of inclination in three planes.
Some watchOS 6 apps have already started using the compass functionality. For example, the well-known Russian program Night Sky, which shows the position of stars, planets and satellites, now works on AW regardless of the iPhone. The watch becomes a window into space: you point your wrist towards the star and immediately see what it is called.
On the Apple Mapsbuilt into the clock, now direction is also displayed. Comfortable? Comfortable. It has become easier to understand where to turn relative to your current location in order to get to the final waypoint in the fastest way.
The compass in the Apple Watch Series 5 is an essential item for outdoor enthusiasts. For example, it allows skiers to measure the angle of the slope, find out the latitude and longitude in one motion. If there is a boat, then there is definitely a compass there, but a copy of it in the watch will definitely not hurt.
Moreover, if you find yourself without the Internet and even a smartphone, Series 5 will help you navigate the cardinal points and a paper map. Even if you don’t have the latter, you won’t get lost with a compass in your watch if you have completed orienteering courses at least once or have good knowledge in physics, biology and astronomy.
The compass can be added as label on almost any dial, or display it interactive widget. For some reason, it reminded me personally of navigation in Skyrim — although in fact this is a standard horizontal scale widely used, say, in German cars.
With a widget, it is easier to navigate the poles without launching the application itself. Keep in mind that if the screen is off or idle, the widget stops updating to save battery.
Offline work. Survive until the night and no more
The only thing that I don’t really like about the Series 5. I don’t know how Apple will solve this issue in the next generation of AW, but without increasing the battery and further optimizing the hardware and display, IMHO, you can’t do it.
For the first two days, my Apple Watch Series 5 just didn’t make it to the evening. I could not understand the cause of the problem, I already thought it was a marriage.
Then I realized: a combination of factors is to blame. Don’t repeat my mistakes.
Firstly, I turned on constant noise level control. This is a new feature in watchOS 6. The watch continuously monitors ambient sounds and records their decibel level right in the app Health on the iPhone. Everything works fine, only the clock is discharged much faster due to constantly active microphones.
The feature is disabled by default. I turned it on, just activating the clock: Watch -> Noise -> Measurement of ambient sounds. Don’t do this if you want AW5s to last until the evening.
Secondly, I turned on auto-discovery of workouts. In this mode, the watch measures the pulse much more often and longer, then offers to start the training mode with the statistics already collected from the moment it actually started. The feature is made more for the forgetful, because nothing prevents you from manually starting a workout from the menu in two taps.
I can’t say anything about the second point, but noise monitoring definitely drains the clock a third faster. So make sure the feature is turned off if you don’t want to charge your AW at 6pm.
Even after turning off all auxiliary background functions, I couldn’t get at least one full day of battery life from Series 5. On a day when I was on my feet for more than 24 hours, my 40mm S5 still shut down a little before the start of the second day.
So yeah they work 18-20 hours on average.
The result of the 44mm model should be better. Do not expect the same revelations from the Series 5 as from the Series 4. A day and a half without charging can be achieved if you only cut down the main feature of the new model — the always-on display. Only then it is not entirely clear why they are needed.
That’s all Apple really improved on the Apple Watch Series 5.
Other changes, like a separate App Store on the watch, a menstrual and noise monitoring app, and new watch faces, are part of watchOS 6 and are equally available on the previous generation, the Series 4.
I don’t see any negative in this. After all, this is not the first iterative upgrade of the Apple smartwatch. After all, there were almost identical to the previous generation of Series 1 and only internal improvements in Series 3 (LTE does not count, Russia is in flight). Why change what works great?
The success of the Apple Watch is obvious, so this year Cupertino saw no reason to break the mold. The previous generation, the Series 4, was such a big upgrade across the board that it just doesn’t make sense to jump too far. They’ve been taken off the market.
Restrictions for Russia in Series 5. What will not work and be sold
I believe: the day is not far off when you don’t have to write all this in the review of new Apple gadgets. The start of sales of both the new iPhone and the Apple Watch took place in Russia on the first wave, in fact, before the US and Europe. This happened for the first time, almost an epochal moment.
With sales, everything is smooth (except for the deficit), but with functions, not so much. Apple Watch Series 5 officially sold in Russia, like Series 4 and Series 3, by software deprived of several opportunitiesand bureaucratically — also significant part of the range.
What features are not available in the Apple Watch Series 5 sold in Russia:
ECG is still blocked. You will not enable irregular heart rate monitoring on the AW from Russia, even if you travel to another country that claims to support this feature.
Tricks with changing the SIM card to a local one, foreign VPN, changing the region and language on the iPhone will not work. Apple closed the «hole» last year, so as not to fall under the fire of state regulators.
I can only say that work in this direction is underway — for example, in July, the ECG was turned on in Singapore, and in September the turn came to India. Apple has not forgotten about Russia, but it does not comment on issues of this nature, and we will only learn about activation after the fact.
LTE mobile network not working. Starting with Series 3, eSIM support has been added to select Apple Watch models. But even if you get such a version of the watch, you won’t be able to connect it to a Russian operator in a normal way.
eSIM in Russia is issued only by the TELE2 operator (already tested on the iPhone 11), and technically they can even connect the card to the watch. But Apple has not activated this feature in Russia. Moreover, it is not entirely clear on whose side the “ball” is on: either they are not allowed, or they themselves do not want to.
Because of this, we get the following sad fact.
Which Apple Watch Series 5 models are not sold in Russia:
▪ all models with eSIM (LTE) support, regardless of case
▪ with steel case
▪ Edition models with titanium case
▪ Ceramic Edition models
▪ all Hermès models
The first item on this list explains the other four. Absolutely all models «higher» in class than standard aluminum models have eSIM support. And … further theories diverge.
There is two. According to the first, Apple is simply not allowed to activate eSIM in Russia for Apple Watch for technical reasons. Let’s say, but everything was allowed for iPhones, right? Something doesn’t add up.
The second theory sounds more realistic. If eSIM in AW is activated in Cupertino, according to Russian law, the watch may be equated to the same device category as smartphones. This means that other conditions for certification, import, sale will begin to apply to them … Yes, and taxes will become heavier.
What is really going on, only Apple knows. But the fact remains: in Russia they are officially sold only aluminum Series 5 with GPS and without eSIM support.
All this makes me sad and confused. As the owner of steel Series 0 until recently, I would be happy to change them to Series 5 in the same case — with a wonderful sapphire crystal, which is still found on all watch models except aluminum. But for some reason I can’t.
No one will forbid you to buy any Series 5 with eSIM in another country, I thought about it myself. Only in Russia they will not be accepted for repairs under warranty or even for money. Seriously, this is the official position of all authorized service centers.
And yes, the aluminum Apple Watch Series 5 is great on its own, no doubt about it. I just love steel watches, I can’t help it. And I don’t want to buy them in Germany, Finn, the USA and remain without a guarantee. I hope that by next autumn the issue will move from this incomprehensible dead point.
Eventually. Who should buy, who should change, who should keep the old ones?
Apple Watch Series 5 is the most technically advanced and high-quality smartwatch in the world. By buying them, you get both a gadget and a useful tool, and top quality watcheswhich are nice to wear and great to use.
Like everything in this world, they have something to strive for. Battery life per day is not very impressive, although it does not cause discomfort in reality. Sleep tracking also comes in handy in a device whose health-enhancing capabilities are considered to be leading the way in the smartwatch category.
Can you remember about Garmin, its long battery life and advanced GPS capabilities. But their multimedia functions and work with the iPhone are not even close. The design is good in its own way, brutal, but not universal.
Someone timidly whispers in a childish voice «xiaomi amazfit». But wearing ugly and glitchy rattles with a poor display, the design of which could not be copied normally from the Apple Watch, is possible only for the sake of gadget-maniac interest or from the inability to buy AW.
Everything else related to Android Wear, in general, it is sad to remember. The competitor is simply rotten, hopelessly stuck in 2015, and no fashionable collaborations with consumer brands will save the outdated platform, at least until the total core update of the hastily cobbled together “wrist” Google OS.
So real Apple Watch can only be an alternative to Apple Watch. So who gets new ones?
Apple Watch Series 5 is a watch for those who:
▸ has been using Apple Watch before Series 2 inclusive
▸ did not buy AW because the display was turning off
Series 0 long gone off the radar without even getting last year’s watchOS update. Series 1 obviously live the last 10 months and decently slow down on the latest current firmware version. BUT Series 2 for a year now they have not “flyed”, starting to remind that nothing stands still in the world of technology. Especially the watch.
Taking Series 5, you will immediately notice the differenceand it will be worth every ruble spent.
I advise you to think a little before taking the Series 5 if:
▹ you have Series 3and their small display is fine
▹ Don’t use an Apple Watch yet, but have an iPhone
Series 3 will be relevant for a couple more years, but they are no longer receiving new features in watchOS: they do not have the Noise app, most of the new watch faces and improvements to wireless connection.
As a watch with notifications and apps, it’s still good. It’s just that the technical base is slowly becoming obsolete, as is the lower display resolution, which Apple is systematically removing from the software development agenda.
For those who have never used an Apple watch, you should consider: maybe better to take Series 3 for only 16 thousand rubles, and not Series 5? A twofold difference in price is a serious help.
So you can more easily understand what this category of gadgets can offer you in everyday life. Maybe fall in love. Maybe not. Everyone has different tastes and preferences.
Finally, I wouldn’t recommend the Series 5 if:
… you Series 4
… you have Android and no iPhone
In the first case, the difference is small and specific. The always active display is good, but it doesn’t change the picture so much — it’s easy to raise your hand. The compass, on the contrary, is really useful for active people, but if you are one of them, it is unlikely that you needed to explain this at all, you have already bought a novelty.
One way or another, the hardware of the models is similar, and the battery life of the Series 4 even exceeds that of the Series 5 in some scenarios by as much as one and a half times. Honestly, I would waiting for the next generation on your site.
Well, it’s usually useless for owners of Android exclusively to explain anything, so I won’t.