Every year Apple launches a new Apple Watch laden with exciting new updates, and every year there’s one key feature missing on the device. Until this year. Drumroll… The Apple Watch Series 5 will have an always-on retina display.
That pretty much covers everything we truly care about, but there are other new features too, so we’ll carry on. But first, more on that always-on screen. As well as constantly showing your watch face, the screen will remain on throughout your workouts, which is the really important bit. Lifting and turning your wrist then waiting for the screen to wake up is annoying when running, dangerous when cycling, and almost impossible when doing certain gym exercises like press-ups or barbell squats, so having all your workout stats available at a glance is a sizeable improvement. The always-on screen will also be welcomed by anyone who uses any of the guided workout apps on the Apple Watch, of which there are many.
Apple says the always-on screen won’t hit the battery life on the watch, which will still last 18 hours on a single charge. That’s not as much as you get from the new Fitbit Versa 2 or Garmin Venu smartwatches, but that’s nothing new for the Apple Watch, which has always prioritised features over a long battery life. That’s the likely reason there’s no native sleep tracking, because in practice it’s best to plug in the watch every night.
Sports watches from the likes of Garmin and Polar offer an always-on screen as standard and it’s been one of the key reasons why you might opt for a proper sports watch over a smartwatch, despite the latter usually having more vivid, colourful displays. However, with the Versa 2, Venu and now the Apple Watch Series 5 all having an always-on display option, it’s no longer a key difference between sports watches and smartwatches (though the former will still have a longer battery life owing to less flashy screens).
Aside from the display, there aren’t a huge amount of new features on the Series 5 compared with the Series 4. The watch now contains a compass, which will help you line up your position with the maps on the watch, and the cellular version can make emergency calls all over the world regardless of where you bought the watch.
Everything else that’s new on the watch comes with watchOS 6, which will be available from 19th September for all Apple Watch models. The new software brings a standalone watch app store to the device – so you don’t need to download apps via your phone – along with manual tracking of menstrual cycles, activity trends on stats like steps and your active minutes, plus a noise alert that will tell you if the surrounding sound levels are high enough to potentially damage your hearing.
The Apple Watch Series 5 starts at £399 for the standard version and £499 for the cellular version and is available to order now.
Buy from Apple | From £399