Saturday 23 September 2017

Apple's new watch lets you make calls, get messages and stream music - with no phone

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Apple’s new Watch lets you make calls, get messages and stream music with no phone around.

The tech giant has built a digital SIM card into the Watch Series 3, which means the Watch has its own mobile connection.

The SIM move means that runners, walkers and cyclists can do their daily routines without needing to take a phone with them.

It also means that running out of battery on a phone doesn’t mean an inability to be in touch.

However, to use the mobile service will mean paying an additional tariff to an operator, even though you’re already paying a mobile bill for your phone. The mobile contract must also be on the same operator as your existing phone.

The Watch 3 has full 4G ability on its own that kicks in whenever the device isn’t within pairing distance with the iPhone. But in Ireland, the company is only selling a GPS version (€379) until an operator comes on board to support the 4G version.

In the UK, mobile operator EE has already launched a £5 per month tariff. But there are no launch operators yet in Ireland. Spokespeople for Ireland’s two biggest operators, Vodafone and Three, are yet to announce whether they will support the Watch 3.

The Watch uses the same number as the accompanying iPhone. To guard against poor reception, the Apple Watch 3 cleverly uses the screen as an antenna. It can also be paired with wireless headphones via a Bluetooth connection. When used with Apple’s wireless Airpod earphones, Apple’s voice-activated Siri system takes full effect.

The Watch 3 is the same size and thickness as the first two Apple Watch devices, despite the added technology. The e-sim card is one hundredth the size of a conventional SIM card.

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The device comes with Apple’s latest Watch software, watchOS4. Apple is increasingly targeting fitness and health users with its Watch software, with the upgraded operating system featuring extra information on heart rate data and an enhanced workout app. Matched with the new Watch’s sensors, the system will now alert users if their heart rate seems abnormal when not working out or exercising.

It also features a barometric altimeter that tracks activity, flights climbed and outdoor workouts, including elevation gain.

New Apple Watch Nike+ models will also be available with new straps and features such as auto-guided runs.

At a higher price point, Apple Watch Hermès models come with built-in cellular and have a choice of new calfskin leather bands.

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Under the hood, Apple has put a faster dual-core processor in, which is designed to allow for quicker app launch times and smoother graphics. It also enables the Siri voice-controlled system to speak using the built-in speaker. Apple says that it designed a new custom wireless chip called W2, making wifi 85 per cent faster and Bluetooth and wifi 50 per cent more power efficient, while still claiming to provide all-day battery life and keep the size similar to before.

Like previous models, the Apple Watch Series 3 is available in two different case sizes, 38mm and 42mm. The cellular version comes in gold, silver or space grey aluminium, or silver or space black stainless steel paired with a variety of bands.

Apple will also retain its Watch Series 1 device on sale at €279.

Online Editors

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