The Apple Watch 3 release date is just days away, and the 4G smartwatch is said to be selling faster than expected.
In a note, obtained by MacRumors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI Securities said the Apple Watch 3 is doing “particularly well” in sales for the model that comes with GPS and data.
Before the announcement, sales were forecasted to be in the region of 30-40% but data from preorders suggests this is closer to 80%.
The Apple Watch 3 was unveiled at Apple’s September event in Cupertino and preorders opened on the Apple website and EE in the UK last week. The Watch goes on sale on Friday.
Prices range from £329 up to £799, depending on the Watch material, configuration, and band. The top-level price will get you the larger 42mm, Space Black Stainless Steel Case with Space Black Milanese Loop. You will, additionally, need to get an EE contract for the Watch (unless you have an EE phone contract already).
If you buy directly from EE, you can get an Apple Watch 3 for £25 a month with no upfront cost. The most expensive package costs £25 a month, with £159 upfront, for the 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Soft White Sport Band model.
Apple Watch tends to divide opinion – people live by it, can’t see the point of it or baulk at the design, not to mention the price.
Yet despite reports of falling sales, Apple announced at its recent keynote that the Apple Watch is now the most popular watch brand in the world, overtaking Rolex and Fossil. This may explain why the company is seemingly ploughing ahead with the Apple Watch Series 3, or Watch 3 for short.
Apple Watch 3 release date and key specs
- Screen: 1.65in
- CPU: S3
- Battery life: Up to 18 hours
- Connections: Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and 4G (on select models)
- Price: £399 for GPS+4G from EE, £329 for GPS only
- Release date: 22 September
Apple Watch 3 review: Design, key features and first impressions
To give it its full title, the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) is Apple’s first smartwatch that works without being connected to your phone. Having partnered with various carriers globally (EE in the UK), the Apple Watch 3 is a “full 4G LTE” wearable that switches to data when it is away from an iPhone. Apple did not specify how far away you need to be for data to kick in, but current estimates of range are around 100 metres, so that seems like a reasonable assumption.
Once your Watch 3 drops its connection with your iPhone, 4G kicks in. This is “seamless”, according to Apple, and is a much-needed update. Plus, with Apple Music, you’ll be able to use this 4G network to stream 40 million songs.
Previous versions of the Apple Watch were a little redundant without a phone and some of the best features, namely the fitness apps, couldn’t be used on their own. With the Watch 3, you’ll be able to go running, track all your data and listen to music without having to lug your phone around in your hand or on an armband. This could be a game changer.
With the Watch 3, you’ll continue to get calls, which you can take via wireless headphones (namely AirPods), receive messages and see notifications sent to your phone without needing the handset nearby. And, because the 4G SIM shares your phone number, you don’t need to get a new plan (unless you’re not already on EE, of course). EE is offering introductory plans but the full details have not yet been revealed.
Inside the Apple Watch Series 3 – which comes in a new gold version alongside grey and silver – is the S3 chip, Apple’s third-generation processor with a faster dual-core processor designed to open apps faster and make graphics smoother. Plus, for the first time, enables Siri to speak using the built-in speaker. This is vital if you’re going to use the Apple Watch 3 without a phone and lets you use the smartwatch to take and receive calls even if you don’t have your AirPods with you.
Software-wise, Apple Watch 3 will run on watchOS 4. The most significant update to this next-generation OS is an updated Heart Rate app. You will be able to more accurately track your heart rate and can choose to receive a notification when it becomes elevated above a specific threshold while inactive. This could be a sign of a heart condition and the app will let you monitor it.
Other watchOS 4 features include a Siri watch face that shows the “information users need most throughout the day”, a new Workout app with clearer display and, with GymKit, you’ll soon be able to sync your Apple Watch 3 to certain pieces of compatible gym equipment so the data is automatically added. As part of the refresh, the Nike Run Club app has been updated to add Audio-Guided Runs, voiced by Nike coaches and athletes, and the Cheers feature lets friends send audio-based cheers.
And, a new Apple Watch would not be complete without new Apple Watch bands. The Woven Nylon has been updated with a new pattern, while the Apple Watch Edition expands to include a dark grey ceramic case that pairs with a new two-toned Sport Band. Continuing its partnership with Nike, Apple is also launching a platinum/black Nike Sport Band or Sport Loop in exclusive later this year, and Apple Watch Hermès models will come with built-in data and a new collection of bands including the Single Tour Rallye, inspired by the Hermès driving glove and the Single Tour Eperon d’Or, inspired by the equestrian scarf pattern designed by Henri d’Origny in 1974 – both in calfskin. There is also a new Hermés watch face.
Apple Watch 3 review: Early verdict
My biggest bugbear of previous Apple Watches has been their reliance on the phone.
You effectively need to spend in the region of £900 to make the current system work (to buy the Watch and have the iPhone to connect it to), plus the benefits of having the fitness tracker as a lightweight wearable is undermined by having to lug around your phone when exercising.
Apple Watch 3 solves all this. Yes, you’ll need to spend £400 for the 4G model, but it’s likely to have a much longer shelf-life and will be genuinely more useful than before. The Apple Watch 3 additionally comes in a GPS-only model for £329, but we’d recommend spending the extra for the myriad extra features.
Or, if you’re new to the Apple Watch, the launch of the Watch 3 has seen the original Apple Watch (known as Series 1) drop in price to £249 – still an expensive piece of kit but one that feels more justified. There wasn’t any mention of the Apple Watch Series 2 though so I guess it’s RIP.