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Apple Watch Series 2 review: Apple’s wearable gets cheaper

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £399

A great update of the best smartwatch around: the Apple Watch is an exception fitness device


  • Water- and swim-proof
  • Built-in GPS
  • Brighter, more readable screen outdoors


  • The price is high
  • Still no sleep tracking

Deal alert: When we first wrote this review, it would’ve cost you almost £400 to pick up a Series 2 Apple Watch. Now, thanks to offers at Amazon and eBay, you can nab a Nike+ version for just £240.

Our original review continues below.

There are now two main Apple Watch models available – the Series 1 and the Series 2. In this review we look at the updated version, the Series 2, but if you’re looking to spend less money you may want to consider the Series 1. Here’s a brief rundown of the differences:

The Series 1 is essentially an upgrade on the original Apple Watch, which it replaces. You get all the same features as Apple’s first smartwatch, except it now comes with the dual-core S1P processor. This doesn’t have the built-in GPS of the Series 2’ S2 processor, but it does have a faster performance than the original Apple Watch.

The Series 1 is only splash resistant, not water resistant like the Series 2. It has a first-gen OLED Retina display with force touch, which isn’t as bright as the display on the Series 2.

It does however has a cheaper price-tag, starting at £269 compared to the £369 entry-point for the Series 2. If you’re not that fussed about GPS and swimming with your watch on, you’ll need to weigh up whether that extra £100 is worth spending.

Apple Watch Series 2: Review

Okay, I’ll admit it. The Apple Watch I’ve been using for the past year or so has a patchy record on my wrist. 

I absolutely love it, but when I’ve had to remove it – because I’ve been testing an Android phone or smartwatch – I haven’t always automatically put it back on afterwards. This is nothing to do with its quality as a smartwatch. The Apple Watch has been, comfortably, the best smartwatch on the market since it launched, and had it not been for the appearance of the Apple Watch Series 2, it would still reign supreme.

Apple did a great job back in 2015, in producing a wearable that was intuitive to use and looked great. It also achieved that tricky task of establishing a workable platform for wrist-based software, and encouraging developers to produce great apps for it.

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But I wanted more. I wanted a smartwatch that could track my running, swimming, cycling and sleep as proficiently as my favourite fitness trackers. That’s something the original Watch didn’t quite offer. Fortunately, Apple has become rather good at steadily improving its products over the years, and the Apple Watch Series 2 benefits from that vast experience – and then some. In fact, it’s close to being my ideal smartwatch.

Apple Watch Series 2 review: Calling time on its predecessor 

So what’s actually new with the Apple Watch Series 2? You won’t be able to tell by just looking at it, unless you’ve splashed out on the beautiful ceramic version (this year’s iteration of the Apple Watch “Edition”), or plumped for the black-and-neon-yellow Nike+ model, but the changes are there nonetheless.

The differences start out small. Although the squared-off watch face and gorgeously rounded glass screen edges are still there, with the clickable digital crown and narrow button on the right edge, it’s actually fractionally taller and thicker than the original. The left edge is adorned by two small slots for the watch’s speaker, as before, but there are now two pinprick holes instead of one, for the Watch’s new noise-cancelling microphones.

You won’t see a sharper display, this time, either. As with the first Apple Watch, the technology used is AMOLED, and the resolutions are the same too. The 38mm model has a 272 x 340 display, delivering 290ppi, while the 42mm model has a 312 x 390 screen, delivering 302ppi.

It’s inside that the bigger changes begin to emerge. First up, there’s a new processor, the dual-core Apple S2, which Apple says offers 50% faster processing performance and double the graphics speed. Then there’s a brighter display, twice as bright as the original, reaching a peak brightness of 1,000cd/m2. Both these upgrades are welcome, and both make a difference.

Navigating around the confines of watchOS 3 feels more fluid than before, although there are still places where it isn’t 100% smooth, while the screen is noticeably more readable outdoors. I’ll be interested to see how it fares in full, bright sunshine, but since we haven’t seen an awful lot of that in the UK recently, this will have to wait for a later update.

Elsewhere, there’s a bigger Taptic Engine, which gives a slightly stronger buzz than before, and a larger battery. There’s a 273mAh battery in the 38mm model versus the 205mAh one in the previous edition, and although no-one has yet dismantled the 42mm version, it’s safe to say the battery will be similarly improved in that model.

In the time I’ve had the watch for testing, I’ve found it performs at a similar level to the previous model, which is impressive given how much more it’s doing. Even including a 47-minute swim and several short bursts of GPS use, the 42mm Apple Watch Series 2 I tested lasted almost two full days.

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