The Best Apple Watch to Buy in 2018 For a Smart Lifestyle

The Apple Watch has taken the wearables world by storm and is currently the best selling smartwatch in the world. The Apple Watch is not just a timekeeper but is also a fitness tracker, heart rate monitor, and with the latest version, can also measure ECG. The Apple Watch is currently in its Series 4 iteration, which brings vast improvements to the display, sensors, and battery life over previous models.

While Series 4 offers the latest and greatest, Apple still sells the Series 3 as well at discounted prices. There are a variety of Apple Watch models to choose from depending on requirements and budget. From Series 3 onwards, Apple started offering native cellular capability with the Apple Watch so you need not carry an iPhone with you all the time. However, if your iPhone never leaves your side, then opting for a GPS-only version will save some money.

The Series 3 comes in 38mm and 42mm dial sizes while the Series 4 offers 40mm and 44mm dial sizes for female and male wrists respectively. That said, apart from the size, there are no other distinguishing features between the models and you would do with either of them just fine.

For comparing some of the best selling Apple Watches, we took into account factors such as the software, processing speed, connectivity options, sensors, customization options, and more. With that information, here are the 8 best Apple Watch models you can buy in 2018.

1. Apple Watch Series 4 with GPS

Apple Watch Series 4 with GPS

  • Features: Apple W3 wireless chip; 16 GB storage; OLED Retina display (1000 nits); 18 hours of battery life; 50m water resistant
  • CPU / OS: Apple S4 64-bit dual-core / watchOS 5
  • Communication: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 5.0; GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS
  • Sensors: Optical heart sensor; Electrical heart sensor; Accelerometer; Gyroscope; Ambient light sensor; Altimeter
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 38 x 44 x 10.7 mm
  • Weight: 36.7 g

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the latest Apple Watch to hit the market and sports marked improvements in almost all aspects over its predecessor. The Watch Series 4 now sports a 30% larger display that can offer up to 9 complications on the watch face thereby, all important information is available at a glance. The crown now supports haptic feedback and Apple is introducing an improved accelerometer and gyroscope for fall detection. The upgraded S4 dual-core CPU helps in lag-free navigation and improved battery life.

The Apple Watch Series 4 also sports an ECG sensor that can record an ECG in just 30 seconds and collate the information into a PDF that can then be shared with a physician. It can also detect an irregular heartbeat and alert the wearer immediately. With a host of watch bands to choose from, the Apple Watch Series 4 is one of the best smartwatches you can buy today.

  • Pros: Improved sensors and processing; Bigger screen; Updated OS
  • Cons: ECG support US-only at the moment

2. Apple Watch Series 4 with GPS + Cellular

Apple Watch Series 4 with GPS + Cellular

  • Features: Apple W3 wireless chip; 16 GB storage; OLED Retina display (1000 nits); 18 hours of battery life; 50m water resistant
  • CPU / OS: Apple S4 64-bit dual-core / watchOS 5
  • Communication: LTE, UMTS; Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 5.0; GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS
  • Sensors: Optical heart sensor; Electrical heart sensor; Accelerometer; Gyroscope; Ambient light sensor; Altimeter
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 38 x 44 x 10.7 mm
  • Weight: 36.7 g

The Apple Watch Series 4 is also available in a GPS + Cellular version. The additional cellular functionality removes the need to constantly keep an iPhone paired with the Apple Watch. Therefore, you need not have to reach your pockets for taking calls, sending messages, receiving notifications, or streaming Apple Music. That said, the initial setup still requires an iPhone to be paired with the Watch. Cellular connectivity is provided via an eSIM that should be on the same network as the iPhone. For example, if you have an iPhone on the AT&T network, your Apple Watch’s cellular features will work on the same network only.

Not all carriers in the US support the Apple Watch and it is not possible to enable cellular functionality without carrier support. At present, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile support the Apple Watch with more providers being added constantly. You also need to pair the Watch with an iPhone 6 or later running iOS 12 or above to enable cellular.

  • Pros: No need to carry iPhone for cellular; Can send and receive calls, texts, and stream music on LTE
  • Cons: Requires carrier support; iPhone needed for initial setup

3. Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS

Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS

  • Features: Apple W2 wireless chip; 8 GB storage; OLED Retina display; 18 hours of battery life; 50m water resistant
  • CPU / OS: Apple S3 dual-core / watchOS 5
  • Communication: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2; GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS
  • Sensors: Optical heart sensor; Accelerometer; Gyroscope; Altimeter
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 36.4 x 42.5 x 11.4 mm
  • Weight: 32.3 g

The Apple Watch Series 3 is still a best seller and is a great entry point for those wishing to step into the Apple wearables territory. The battery life might not rival some of the other dedicated fitness trackers out there but the Apple Watch Series 3 offers an overall richer experience than most wearables. The GPS-only model is the way to go if you are always carrying an iPhone around. The Apple S3 CPU is more than sufficient for keeping track of your daily activities and running watchOS apps without breaking a sweat. You also get the standard suite of sensors including a heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and an altimeter.

While the GPS-only version offers the best value, it does lack a few customization options found only in the cellular version. For example, there are a limited set of band options with the GPS version and the onboard storage is also on the lower side. Having said that, the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS-only model is a great option if you already use an iPhone or if cellular connectivity is not supported in your country.

  • Pros: Good features and tracking; Good number of onboard sensors
  • Cons: Limited set of bands available; Lower storage than cellular; Battery life is on the lower side

4. Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS + Cellular

Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS + Cellular

  • Features: Apple W2 wireless chip; 16 GB storage; OLED Retina display; 18 hours of battery life; 50m water resistant
  • CPU / OS: Apple S3 dual-core / watchOS 5
  • Communication: LTE, UMTS; Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2; GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS
  • Sensors: Optical heart sensor; Accelerometer; Gyroscope; Altimeter
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 36.4 x 42.5 x 11.4 mm
  • Weight: 34.9 g

The Apple Watch Series 3 also comes with a GPS + cellular version. It features all the good things found in the GPS-only version and adds LTE cellular connectivity on top so you can take calls, receive messages and notifications, and stream music without the need for an iPhone all the time. Even with LTE connectivity, battery life is on par with the GPS-only version. Opting for the cellular version also opens up more case choices from the standard aluminum case to the sapphire-screened steel or ceramic cases. You also get additional band options such as the exercise band and the Sports Loop.

There are few pointers to keep in mind before considering the Apple Watch Series 3 cellular version. Not all carriers in all countries support the Apple Watch Series 3 cellular yet and international roaming on cellular might not be possible as the Watch has only a limited set of LTE bands. Those in the US might have to pay extra charges per month for using the Apple Watch on their network. Also, an iPhone is still required for the initial setup process.

  • Pros: Cellular connectivity without an iPhone; Works with most major US carriers; Extra case and wristband options
  • Cons: Not all carriers support the Apple Watch; International roaming on cellular might not be possible

5. Apple Watch Nike+ Series 3 with GPS

Apple Watch Nike+ Series 3 with GPS

  • Features: Siri integration with the Nike+ app; Nike+ watch faces; Apple W2 wireless chip; 8 GB storage; OLED Retina display; 18 hours of battery life; 50m water resistant
  • CPU / OS: Apple S3 dual-core / watchOS 5
  • Communication: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2; GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS
  • Sensors: Optical heart sensor; Accelerometer; Gyroscope; Altimeter
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 33.3 x 38.6 x 11.4 mm
  • Weight: 26.7 g

The Apple Watch Series 3 also comes in a Nike+ option for those invested in the Nike ecosystem. The Nike+ variant will find takers among runners and sports enthusiasts. This variant bundles in the Nike+ app for watchOS that helps keep track of your daily sprints. It also brings some unique Nike watch faces and perforated wristbands and Sport Loops. Other than these minor differences, the Nike+ edition is the same Apple Watch Series 3 for all intents and purposes. Do bear in mind that these extras will increase the base price of the Apple Watch higher.

  • Pros: Unique Nike watch faces and wristbands
  • Cons: Expensive

6. Apple Watch Series 3 Hermès with GPS + Cellular

Apple Watch Series 3 Hermès with GPS + Cellular

  • Features: Premium Hermès wristbands and custom watch faces; Apple W2 wireless chip; 16 GB storage; OLED Retina display; 18 hours of battery life; 50m water resistant
  • CPU / OS: Apple S3 dual-core / watchOS 5
  • Communication: LTE, UMTS; Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2; GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS
  • Sensors: Optical heart sensor; Accelerometer; Gyroscope; Altimeter
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 36.4 x 42.5 x 11.4 mm
  • Weight: 34.9 g

If you are willing to cough up the extra dough for premium fashion, the Apple Watch Series 3 Hermès deserves a look. The Hermès lineup sports exclusively designed premium leather wristbands and watch faces co-designed with Apple for that exquisite look. Hermès offers multiple band options to signify a particular lifestyle and has bands for both the 38mm and 42mm watch sizes. The Hermès collection is a premium offering so be prepared to pay through the nose. Apart from the Apple Store, the Hermès collection is available in select retail locations across the world.

  • Pros: Premium leather wristbands and a unique watch face for the Apple Watch
  • Cons: Very expensive; Limited availability

7. Apple Watch Series 2

Apple Watch Series 2

  • Features: OLED Retina display; 18 hours of battery life; 50m water resistant
  • CPU / OS: Apple dual-core CPU / watchOS 3
  • Communication: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0; GPS, GLONASS
  • Sensors: Optical heart sensor; Accelerometer; Gyroscope; an Ambient light sensor
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 36.4 x 42.5 x 11.4 mm
  • Weight: 34.2 g

Those looking at a cheaper option than the Apple Watch Series 3 can have a look at Series 2. The Series 2 sports a 312 x 390 resolution OLED Retina display at up to 1000 nits. The regular aluminum watch has an Ion-X glass display while the stainless and ceramic cases feature a Sapphire crystal display. The Apple Watch Series 2 comes with watchOS 3 that can be upgraded to the latest version, watchOS 5. There are no cellular variants in this iteration so you would need an iPhone to make the best use of Series 2. Similar to the Apple Watch Series 3, Series 2 also comes in Nike+, Hermès, and Edition flavors.

Getting the Watch Series 2 might be a tad bit difficult these days as the model has been discontinued. But it still makes a good affordable purchase as it can be upgraded to watchOS 5 and features the same battery life and tracking as the newer models.

  • Pros: Affordable; Good display and performance; Can be updated to watchOS 5
  • Cons: Not in production

8. Apple Watch Series 1

For those looking at the bare minimum in an Apple Watch, Series 1 should be a good option. The Series 1 is an upgrade over the first-gen Apple Watch and it sports an upgraded Apple S1P SoC. The S1P is the same as what can be seen in Series 2 but it lacks a built-in GPS function. Therefore, it always needs to be paired with an iPhone to be of any use in tracking. That said, it does offer other sensors such as a heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and an ambient light sensor. Series 1 can be updated to the latest watchOS version as well but owing to the slow CPU, it might not perform as well as the newer models.

The Series 1 offers very limited customization options and the battery life is also on the lower side. There is no ceramic model available (only aluminum) and the lack of GPS and an altimeter limits its outdoor potential. Nevertheless, for those looking to experience their first smartwatch, Series 1 offers a low-cost entry option.

  • Pros: Very affordable; Same SoC as Apple Watch Series 2
  • Cons: Limited color choices; No GPS and altimeter; Slow CPU

Final Thoughts

Dear readers, that was a look at some of the popular Apple Watch models available in the market today. While there are other smartwatches and wearables available, the Apple Watch retains its top spot due to its ease of use, developer support, and customization options. The fact that the cellular version of the Apple Watch can be used without carrying an iPhone will be of great use to those who value the feature. It is important to be aware of which Apple Watch series you intend to invest in because some of the accessories will not work across generations.

We hope this article provided a sense of what to consider when shopping for an Apple Watch. As always, we look forward to your comments and questions, if any.

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