Apple Watch Series 3 LTE Review
Over the past decade I’ve owned a lot Apple products. In the last few years, I’ve made use of several iPads, iPhones, iPods and Macbooks. And when the tech giant released its first-generation Apple Watch, I got one for myself. At the moment, I make use of the Apple watch Series 2. The only time when it’s off my wrist is when I’m testing other smartwatches as I did with the release of the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE. At the end of the day, I must say the smartwatch is far from perfect and costs way too much.
Truth is, Apple is going to have a really hard time selling out this product.
The Discrepancy between What You Are Promised and What You Get
The purpose of creating a smartwatch is to make it easy for anyone to connect to their smartphone just from their wrist. Those who initially criticized the Apple Watch claimed it over-relied on the phone for even the most basic tasks. Apple moved to work on that and effected a change.
With a good number of software updates and a faster processor, the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE comes improved. The smartwatch is equipped to connect to WiFi networks your phone has dealt with in the past; it is also able to run apps natively.
You can now receive and make phone calls with the watch, send messages and get some app notifications while distant from your iPhone.
Apart from these, the smartwatch is still heavily dependent on your iPhone.
So if you decide to purchase the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE because you think it’s going to do everything for you when your iPhone is out of reach, I’d advise you look elsewhere or wait for a more advanced version. I care too much for you and don’t want you spending a huge amount of money purchasing this device only to find out later on it isn’t everything you wanted.
The height of disappointment when one realizes he/she has spent $ 399 for the 38-millimeter model or $ 429 for the 42-mm version and an extra $ 10 on phone monthly subscription for a device that falls below expectation isn’t something anyone should deal with.
Activating the Watch: A Really Frustrating Experience
Pairing this Apple Watch with your iPhone works in the same way as other smartwatches before it. As usual, all you need do is place your phone camera over the image on the watch’s face. And you’re good to go. The one place where I ran into a lot of problems was the area of activating its cellular connectivity.
Although I eventually got to activate the watch’s cellular connectivity, I spent a lot of time and energy to do that. It was really hectic for lack of better words. I tried activating the smartwatch on my wireless network plan AT&T, but hit a wall. Tried contacting several customer service agents, but they all couldn’t figure out the problem. Anyways, after much trouble I finally got to connect it to an Apple-provided iPhone 8 on T-Mobile.
Which isn’t what I wanted.
Following connection, I encountered another set of problem with phone calls. Receiving and making calls on the smartwatch wasn’t going smoothly. Last I checked, those phone call related issues have been resolved thanks to software updates. For those still experiencing phone call related problems on the Series 3 LTE, all you need do is deactivate the watch’s data plan, and then reactivate and reboot. That should fix the problem.
After much headache and visiting an AT&T store, I eventually got an AT&T network activated on my Series 3 LTE. And did I fail to mention it took more than an hour to complete the setup? I tell you, the process was just too complicated and annoying.
Apple did roll out an update a few weeks following its release to fix its connectivity issue though. So you should have no problem switching from WiFi to cellular network on the smartwatch now. The update included a manual setting to be found in the control center that allows you switch to different connections.
Prior to this update, one could only connect to cellular network by activating airplane mode on phone. But at the moment thanks to the update, you can manually switch to connect to cellular in the case where the watch has a problem connecting to a WiFi network.
Cellular Connectivity: Number One Battery Killer
So let’s get to the aspect of its battery. I got myself the Series 3 LTE believing the battery life was going to be top-notch. But then something happened. I made an awful discovery one morning I decided to leave the house for a while for the sake of working out.
I dropped my iPhone at home and streamed Apple Music’s Pop Workout radio station on my watch’s cellular connectivity all through the 3.5 mile run. On getting home, I discovered my Series 3 LTE battery had lost about 40 percent of its power while in use for 37 minutes. The rest of the battery got to last me for the next 12.5 hours only after using it very lightly.
Unlike the Series 2 and non-LTE Series 3, the Series 3 LTE is known to consume a huge of amount of battery life owing to its cellular network connection and other battery-sucking features it comes with.
So don’t count on it lasting you 18 hours after full charge.
Apple understands that the battery life of Series 3 LTE isn’t long lasting when used separately from a phone. The more reason why they made sure the watch is designed in a way that lets it also work with your phone’s connectivity. So you can save the watch’s battery from draining fast by switching off its cellular connection, and using your phone’s connectivity instead for the watch.
Same Old Design, But in a Good Way
In terms of design, the Apple Watch Series 3LTE is still one of best looking smartwatches on the market. Apple deserves an applause for being able to maintain the size of this watch even after including a cellular modem and getting it a larger battery. The size of this watch is still almost same with previous series. In fact, you can hardly notice the difference. One would have expected the Series 3 LTE to be a bit bulky, but it still comes in a small frame.
When compared to the Series 2, the Series 3 LTE is just slightly thicker. You would hardly notice the difference between both. For people with not too large wrists, the 38mm Apple Watch Series 3 will do just fine, but if you’ve got large wrists, I’d recommended you get the 42mm size Apple Watch Series 3.
The Series 3 LTE also comes with the same resolution and ultrabright, 1,000-nit OLED display of previous models.
Its 38mm version offers a 272 x 340 pixels; while its 42mm version offers 312 x 390 pixels.
Aluminum models of the watch come with a screen mode solely of Ion-X glass; stainless steel and ceramic versions of the device come with a screen made of sapphire crystal.
There are also different colors for both of its versions. Its ceramic model comes in white and gray hue; while on the other hand, its aluminum model comes in silver, gold and space gray hue.
Fitness Tracking: At its Best
If there’s one thing the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE is perfect for, it has to be working out.
If you go jogging a lot, you’d agree with me that there’s nothing as frustrating as having the weight of your phone pulling you down as you go about your business. With the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE that is eliminated.
Now you can hit the road with just your smartwatch knowing you’re going to get notifications on your watch if a text enters your iPhone left at home. And if you enjoy listening to music while working out or expect a call, you can take your AirPods with you.
Life is made easy.
The Series 3 LTE as its non-LTE counterpart comes with a barometric altimeter. Now this feature allows the smartwatch measure ascent. This comes in handy during periods of say, climbing stairs and skiing. Before using the Series 3, I knew I did a lot of stair climbing but I just couldn’t place my hands on the actual flights of stairs I climbed on a daily. Now armed with the barometer altimeter embedded in the Series 3 LTE, I’m able to effortlessly now figure out how much heights I ascend.
The Series 3 LTE also comes with a fitness-tracking feature as previous series. It comes embedded with an accurate built-in GPS and heart rate sensor. If you’re a sports person and wish to have more fitness tracking features on your smartwatch, all you’ll need do is upgrade your device to Apple WatchOS 4. Such features includes support for high intensity, interval-training workouts and alerts when your heart rates gets over elevated.
If you’re going for a long run and wish to save the battery life of your Apple Smartwatch Series 3 LTE, you can switch off its hate rate sensor and cellular connectivity. Yes, there’s an option for that on the device.
Streaming Music: The Coolest Feature of All
It’s quite funny that prior to the release of the Smartwatch Series 3 LTE, Apple made boasts of the watch’s music streaming capabilities in lots of TV commercials. The same smartwatch they spoke so highly about in terms of music streaming didn’t get to receive the feature until weeks after its official release.
Anyways, the good thing is it eventually came. Having tested this feature on the Series 3 LTE, I can boldly say its music streaming feature is phenomenal. The streaming feature on this device comes in two apps. The first being Apple Music that requires you to pay a monthly subscription fee of $ 10, and the second being Beats Radio – that allows you stream any song. Both apps can be easily accessed through Siri or you can navigate your way there on the watch.
The recent inclusion of the music streaming feature on the smartwatch is one of the coolest features on the device.
You now have access to 40 million songs on your wrist. Super incredible, I tell you. On testing the Beat Radio feature in my house while my watch was being connected to my iPhone, I encountered no lag or any sort of problem. Not even when I went farther from WiFi or Bluetooth range as I left the house to take a run. And while out there working out, Apple music never cracked or stopped playing for once. Everything went smoothly.
Phone Calls: Works Better With Bluetooth Earphones
Yes, the Series 3 LTE comes embedded with a feature that lets you make and receive calls from the watch, but it just doesn’t look cool doing both from your wrist. That’s sort of an extreme sport. Why stress yourself tilting your head and raising your arm to your face when you can easily make and receive calls using Bluetooth earphones? Please note by Bluetooth earphones I mean – Apple Air Pods.
The very first time I tested how the device functions during a call, I noticed the watch began getting a bit hot after 13-minutes of phone call. A software update has fixed this issue though. So you can now make longer phone calls and not get the watch overheated. In the aspect of call quality, the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE was as impressive as my iPhone.
You Actually Don’t Need the LTE Version
With the inclusion of cellular connectivity to the Series 3, the smartwatch is able to do a few things its counterpart the non-LTE Series 3 couldn’t do. It can work independently of your phone, allowing you receive and make calls, reply to messages with the aid of voice dictation, download emails etc. Apart from all that, the Series 3 LTE is still dependent on your phone as earlier stated.
Not to talk of the fact that the Series 3 LTE still has cellular activation issues, a poor battery life when connected to cellular and is terribly expensive.
I mean, how many people are willing to purchase just a watch not made up of gold, diamond or other precious stones for $ 399 and $ 429? Just a very few people actually. Oh! I forgot to add the monthly subscription of $ 10 for cell service. Summing it all up to $ 409 and $ 439 respectively.
The truth is, some of the most amazing features of this smartwatch is also available on the non-LTE Series 3. So if that’s the case, why spend a huge amount of money just to acquire the Series 3 LTE? It really makes no sense. Think about it!