Apple Watch Series 5, revisited: still the best smartwatch (2022)

The Apple Watch Series 5 isn't super affordable, starting at $399 (£399, AU$649), and in many ways it's nearly the same watch that last year's Apple Watch Series 4 was. But its always-on display delivers one of the key features I've been waiting for. I notice it a lot because now I can glance at the time when I'm typing. Or casually watching TV. Or driving. No more weird arm twists.

It's a feature that's long overdue: ThePebble,Amazfit Bip, Fitbit Versa 2,Samsung Galaxy Watchand Google Wear OShave had always-on modes for years. Always-on doesn't improve battery life -- in fact, it makes things a bit worse. But among smartwatches, the Apple Watch stands as the most feature-filled, well-performing wearable in existence.

Read more: 13 Apple Watch bands to get on Amazon

You still need an iPhone to use the Apple Watch, but if you have one, it's almost certainly your best bet. It's hard to find any other smartwatch that's as glanceable or as quick to respond to messages and calls. As most of the competition has disappeared, the Apple Watch's position as the best iOS watch keeps strengthening.

I've worn the Series 5 for a few months now, and it's handled my needs in all ways (except for lasting more than a day on a charge). It's a not a perfect device, but in the world of wearables, it's about as close as you can get.

Just understand: The always-on display is the only key new feature in the Apple Watch Series 5. You don't need that feature, but other than better battery life, it's the one thing I was looking for.

If you want an Apple Watch for less, if you can find last year's Series 4 on sale, it should feel nearly the same apart from the always-on screen. And the Series 3, at half the price, is well worth considering too.

Apple Watch Series 5, revisited: still the best smartwatch (1)
(Video) Galaxy Watch Active 2 ⚡️Versus ⚡️ Apple Watch Series 5 - REVISITED - (6months later!)

The other main upgrades are:

  • A compass (magnetometer), which points you in the right direction when navigating with maps -- the iPhone has had one since the 3GS
  • An international SOS trigger on cellular watches (no cellular contract needed)
  • New premium (more expensive) finishes in titanium and ceramic

That's it. If you're not interested in any of these features, you can now get last year's Apple Watch Series 4 on clearance from plenty of retailers. (Right now savings seem to be about $50, but other deals could pop up over the holidays.) If you don't need ECG or the Series 4's larger 40 or 44mm display, Apple still sells the 38mm and 42mm Series 3 at the new official price of $199, which is basically what the watch's sale price was for most of the last year.

Read:13 Apple Watch bands to get on Amazon

All that said, the new display is a killer feature. I've been wearing an aluminum Apple Watch Series 5, and I fell in love with the always-on addition. It's now weird to look at the older models without it. But it's not always what you might think it is.

Always-on makes me feel more normal

I'm now using the Apple Watch more like a normal watch. And I keep thinking about all the people everywhere with Apple Watches on, showing blank dark screens. That's eventually going to change. Interesting watch faces will show up. Maybe ones that match the watches' bands.

The new watch faces in Apple's newest version of its watch software,WatchOS 6, are great. There are 34 watch faces now, with hundreds of variations. A solar dial face shows sunset and sunrise, with room for adding other bits of info such as the weather or the date. Fresh information-rich watch faces such as Meridian and Modular Compact offer new mixes of shortcuts to apps. Download WatchOS 6 before you get a new Apple Watch, because its added features, which include podcasts and an ambient noise meter, could make your old watch feel new.

Apple Watch Series 5, revisited: still the best smartwatch (2)

But even with these options, I find myself getting bored and looking for novelty. I'd like a watch face store for third-party developers to add unique designs, and that still hasn't arrived. The always-on feature further cements that desire. Maybe this will pave the way for Apple to allow third-party watch faces. Perhaps a curated collection from well-known designers to start? I'd buy a few.

Apple's making the always-on display work via new OLED display technology that slows and dims the display, freezing animations but offering up that always-on readout. One side benefit: The screen autoadjusts better in low light, like in movie theaters. It'll be interesting to see if this display tech ends up in other devices, including future iPhones -- which a lot of people still use as their main device for telling time. (Just for comparison, Samsung first launched an always-on display feature in its phones with the Galaxy S7 in 2016.)

(Video) Apple Watch Series 5 Revisited

Apple Watch Series 5, revisited: still the best smartwatch (3)

Here are some quick facts about the Apple Watch's always-on display:

  • It will cause a dip in battery life, but turning it off could increase battery. Apple promises 18 hours of battery life with always-on enabled by default. The new OLED display cycles down its refresh rate and the display lowers its brightness and reduces animations. So far, I've been getting roughly a day and a half. You could turn off always-on, and I'm testing that next to see how much better the battery life could be. Originally, I said "it won't affect battery life," and as I've kept using it, I've seen it limp to the end of a day with less remaining battery life than on the Series 4: on average, maybe I'll be in the 20% or less territory. Turning off always-on, however, brings it to exactly the battery life of the Series 4. Either way, the watch needs a recharge at night. Pick your poison.
  • It's only always-on for watch faces and the Workout app. Apple didn't allow other apps to stay always-on. Which means, when they're open, after a few seconds they'll disappear and a small generic digital watch face will pop up. If you had a dream of having anything on the watch stay always-on, you're out of luck. This can be helpful, though, if you have sensitive info on your watch. Turning it away will cloud it from view, like a privacy screen.
  • Always-on only works on your wrist. The watch waits to sense skin contact before triggering always-on. When it's off your wrist (or charging) the display still turns off.
Apple Watch Series 5, revisited: still the best smartwatch (4)
  • Every watch face has an ambient, dimmed always-on mode that kicks in. Much like Samsung or Wear OS watch faces, Apple's transform in the ambient always-on state. Moving second hands disappear. Background colors tend to fade to black or dim. Readouts shrink a bit. Some watch faces just look dimmed while others take on a second cool identity. Some are just boring analog watch hands.
  • The watch needs to "wake up" before swiping, which takes a half second. You might see the watch face and want to swipe up a new one, or peek at notifications. But the always-on display needs to activate from sleep. Tapping wakes it up. It's a small delay, but be prepared.
  • Active complications, like the new compass or noise levels, go dark. These things still need a wrist-turn to waken.

Compass appears to work well

Hard to believe, but Apple Watches didn't have compasses before. Now there's the novelty of seeing your direction on your wrist. There's a new watch complication -- that's the name for those glanceable readouts that you can stick on the Apple Watch -- that lets you view the compass at a glance, or an app that can lock in your bearing. It's also helpful with the Maps app, where there's finally a blue cone of direction that appears, just like on the iPhone.

The compass seems steady, but coming out of restaurants or subways can still confuse it for a moment, leading to that hey-where-am-I-going feeling. Yes, it's annoying. But, like always-on displays, a compass on a smartwatch is good to have.

Apple Watch Series 5, revisited: still the best smartwatch (6)
(Video) Best Apple Watch Series 5 Review | Is this Best?

International SOS works like the US SOS did before

If you're paying up for a cellular Apple Watch, you're paying $100 for the capability, plus a monthly fee of around $10. You can use the SOS mode by pressing and holding the side button to call 911 or the local equivalent. It works in about 150 countries on the Series 5, and doesn't need a cellular plan. This seems like a helpful travel tool. My phone service doesn't work outside of the US so I might be more in need of assistance in case of emergency. I haven't tested this feature because I'm not overseas right now, and I'm not planning to be for a while.

Apple Watch Series 5, revisited: still the best smartwatch (7)

What's still missing

These few additions to the Series 5 are helpful, but there's more I want to see. Battery life remains two days max, and many watches and fitness trackers do better. I'd like to see days, maybe a week -- even if that means going into a low-power state more often.

If Apple offered longer battery life, maybe that could also mean sleep tracking. Apple still hasn't included built-in sleep tracking with any of its watches. Other smartwatches have been tracking sleep for years, and Fitbit now has an improved Sleep Score feature on its app that will grade a night's rest on several factors, including heart rate.

Apple acquired the sleep tech company Beddit, but sleep still hasn't emerged on the Apple Watch yet. Apple is quick to remind watch owners that there are apps for that. But, the battery life on the Apple Watch means sleeping with it leaves you to worry if you'll have a full charge the next day.

And speaking of charging, the Apple Watch still uses its own proprietary charger. Samsung found a way to charge its watches through the back of the Galaxy S10 phones, offering help for those moments when a charger might be at home -- which happens for me all the time. If the Apple Watch is really going to become a watch for everyone, it needs to last longer on a charge and there needs to be more ways to charge it.

Last but not least, it shouldn't require an iPhone to pair with it. WatchOS 6 takes a step in the right direction by launching its own App Store for the Watch, but there are still miles to go. The Apple Watch continues to be one of the best smartwatches, but it remains limited by being an iPhone accessory for now.

FAQs

Is Apple Watch Series 5 still worth it? ›

However, those who own an Apple Watch already, especially the Series 4, are unlikely to find anything compelling enough with the Series 5 to justify an upgrade. Although if you're coming from a Series 3 or older, it might be worth upgrading to the Apple Watch 5 as the always-on display is quite a game-changer.

What is so special about Apple Watch Series 5? ›

Apple Watch Series 5 is available in a wider range of materials, including aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic and an all-new titanium. Combined with the power of watchOS 6, users are empowered to take charge of their health and fitness with new features like Cycle Tracking, the Noise app and Activity Trends.

Is Apple Watch 2022 still worth it? ›

Whether it's the Apple Watch to buy will depend on what you want from your smartwatch and the depth and complexity of features you need. However at its level, the Watch SE (2022) offers an excellent combination of value for money and features on offer, making it a smartwatch we would highly recommend.

How old is the Apple Watch Series 5? ›

The Apple Watch Series 5 was released in fall 2019 and dominated the smartwatch sector during its one-year run before Apple Watch Series 6 replaced it.

How long does a Series 5 Apple Watch last? ›

Up to 18 hours

Testing conducted by Apple in August 2022 using pre‑production Apple Watch Ultra (GPS + Cellular) paired with an iPhone; all devices tested with pre‑release software. Battery life varies by use, configuration, mobile network, signal strength and many other factors; actual results will vary.

Why dont they sell Apple Watch Series 5 anymore? ›

No they are discontinued to make way for the new models,and the 3 is the budget watch. The manufacturing lines for the Series 6 is mostly the same kind of equipment needed for the Series 4 and 5.

What series Apple Watch is best? ›

The Best Apple Watch

The latest Series 8 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is the best watch for most Apple users, especially people who menstruate or want to track their fertility. The wrist-based temperature sensing feature tracked my skin temperature dropping steadily as I recovered from Covid-19.

Is the Apple Watch 5 waterproof? ›

Your Apple Watch is water resistant, but not waterproof. For example, you can wear and use your Apple Watch during activities such as exercise (exposure to sweat is OK), walking in rain, and washing your hands.

Can Apple Watch Series 5 make calls? ›

If your Apple Watch is connected to Wi-Fi or cellular

With a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, your Apple Watch can do the following things, even if your iPhone isn't with you. Make and answer phone calls. Send and receive messages. Use Siri to get directions, send iMessages, and more.

Which Apple Watch is outdated? ›

Although the Apple Watch Series 7 and SE (1st generation) are discontinued, they're still supported. This means they'll keep receiving new versions of watchOS for at least a couple more years. The exception to this is the Apple Watch Series 3.

Can Apple Watch last for 10 years? ›

While the device might keep working and can still be paired to an iPhone, a lack of updates makes it a security risk. That means the end of life should really be thought of as three to four years, even if the Apple Watch is in perfect condition.

How many years should an Apple Watch last? ›

An Apple Watch will last about three years before its performance noticeably declines and the battery needs to be replaced. At five years, most users will want to upgrade their Apple Watch regardless of whether it still runs.

Is Apple Watch 5 or 6 better? ›

The Apple Watch Series 6 is a fairly minor improvement over the previous Series 5 model, offering new features such as blood oxygen monitoring, the S6 and U1 chips, and an always-on altimeter.

Is Apple Watch SE or 5 better? ›

So, what's the best choice between the two? For most people, the Apple Watch SE is likely the better purchase. It's affordable, has all of the core Apple Watch features, and is still readily sold/supported by Apple.

How much is an Apple Watch Series 5 full price? ›

The Series 5 can be purchased with aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic cases in a variety of finishes. The same straps from previous generations will work with the respectively sized watches. Prices start at $399 (MSRP), but deals are readily available in the Apple Watch Price Guide.

Can you replace the battery in an Apple Watch 5? ›

We can service the battery in your Apple Watch for a fee. Our warranty doesn't cover batteries that wear down from normal use. Your product is eligible for battery service at no additional cost if you have AppleCare+ and your product's battery holds less than 80% of its original capacity.

Are old apple watches still good? ›

Although I try to have all the latest gear, I can say that it's still OK to wear an Apple Watch Series 3 in 2022. A notification or an app may take an extra second to display, yes, but even after five years, I honestly think the battery on Apple Watch Series 3 is years ahead of the Apple Watch Series 7.

Will Apple Watch 5 have no cellular? ›

You can buy the cellular version or you can buy the non-cellular version. The non-cellular is cheaper.

What can I buy instead of Apple Watch? ›

The best Apple Watch alternatives in 2022
  • Fitbit Versa 4. The best Apple Watch alternative overall. ...
  • Garmin Venu 2. The best Apple Watch alternative for runners. ...
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. ...
  • Fitbit Sense. ...
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. ...
  • TicWatch Pro 3. ...
  • Withings ScanWatch Horizon.
14 Oct 2022

Do all Apple watches still work? ›

Definitely. Apple Watches are designed, no matter the model, to last for multiple years of use, so theoretically, yes you could get your Apple Watch to last upwards of 10 years.

Which one is better Apple Watch or smartwatch? ›

The Apple Watch is the best smartwatch money can buy. It has the best operating system, WatchOS, which is slick, with plenty of apps to help reduce the number of times you need to pull out your phone.

Which Apple Watch is best for ladies? ›

Apple Watch SE (40mm GPS+Cellular)

It comes with a cellular option as well, offering the best connectivity. If you want the best-looking watch on a budget, this is it. So the Watch SE remains to be our first choice for the best Apple smartwatches for women.

Which smartwatch is better than Apple? ›

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the best Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra alternative. The second-generation Wear OS 3 watch improves on its predecessor with a much larger battery, a stronger face, and a new skin temperature sensor.

Can I take shower with Apple Watch? ›

"Showering with Apple Watch Series 2 and newer is ok, but we recommend not exposing Apple Watch to soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and perfumes as they can negatively affect water seals and acoustic membranes.

How long can the Series 5 Apple Watch stay underwater? ›

Compare the Apple Watch Series
Waterproofness
Series 3Waterproof up to 50m
Series 4Waterproof up to 50m
Series 5Waterproof up to 50m
Series 6Waterproof up to 50m
4 more rows
23 Aug 2022

Should you sleep Apple Watch? ›

Wearing an Apple Watch whilst you sleep is quite safe – the EMF levels are so low that they are unlikely to cause cancer. The only real precautions that should be taken are to ensure that the watch strap is comfortable and that the watch is set so that it won't disrupt your sleep.

How far can Apple Watch 5 be from iPhone? ›

What to Know. Bluetooth on the Apple Watch has a maximum range of 100 meters/330 feet, though the range may be shorter in practice. If the paired iPhone is connected to a known Wi-Fi network, the Apple Watch and iPhone can communicate over Wi-Fi.

Can you text on Apple Watch? ›

In the Messages app on your Apple Watch Ultra, you can compose and send messages that contain not only text, but also images, emoji, Memoji stickers, and audio clips. You can also send money through Apple Pay and let people know where you are by including your location in a message.

What iPhone do you need for Apple Watch Series 5? ›

Apple Watch Series 5 require an iPhone 6s or later with iOS 13 or later.

Which Apple Watch last the longest? ›

With the ‌Apple Watch Ultra‌, Apple says that users can expect up to 36 hours of normal use and up to 60 hours with Low Power mode enabled, offering the longest battery life ever in an Apple Watch.

Why is Apple Watch dying so fast? ›

If your battery is running out faster than it should, it's possible that there's something wrong with how your watch and phone are paired. You can resolve a lot of issues by un-pairing your watch and then re-pairing it as a new watch, which should wipe out any of the corruption that caused the battery glitch.

How do I know when to replace my Apple Watch? ›

If the battery health of an Apple Watch is less than 80% and above 50% it needs more maintenance and might need replacement. If it is less than 50% it is best to get a replacement within a few weeks. If it is less than 20%, the battery is as good as gone.

How much does it cost to replace an Apple Watch battery? ›

If you're going to replace the battery on your Apple Watch Series 8, which can be any of the models, you're looking at $79 for a battery replacement. Thankfully, replacing the battery on the Apple Watch Ultra doesn't cost too much more coming in at $99.

Do Apple Watches need a screen protector? ›

This depends on your preference entirely. If you're only concerned about the screen of your Apple Watch getting scratched, then a simple screen protector will suffice. However, if you wish to keep the body of the watch scratch free as well, you can opt for a hard case that covers everything.

Should I charge my Apple Watch 5 every night? ›

Is it okay to charge your Apple Watch every night? Users of Apple Watch will know that their watch battery typically do not last more than a day, maybe 1.5 days max. So it makes perfect sense to charge the watch every night.

Which Apple Watch has best battery life? ›

Apple Watch Ultra has the best battery life of any Apple Watch, reaching up to 36 hours during normal use. Additionally, a new low-power setting, ideal for multi-day experiences, can extend battery life to reach up to 60 hours.

Does Apple Watch drain phone battery? ›

I have an iPhone 13 mini. The battery used to last a whole day with about 8hours of screen time. Ever since getting an apple watch, the phone only lasts about 3-4 hours of on-screen time. I even noticed that it dies or loses ~30% battery in the night while I am asleep.

Which is better Apple Watch Series 5 or 4? ›

Overall winner: Apple Watch Series 5

Naturally, the Apple Watch Series 5 is better than the Apple Watch Series 4, but it's still a minor upgrade. There's the always-on display, more storage, the compass, and a couple of extra-expensive options for the body exterior.

Is there any size difference between Apple Watch 5 and 6? ›

Design and build

Both come with Always-On LTPO OLED displays offering 448 x 368 resolutions, although Apple claims that the Series 6 is 2.5x brighter than its predecessor. The chassis dimensions and design are the same, with a rectangular shape augmented by the digital crown and Home button on the right-hand side.

Is Apple Watch Series 5 worth? ›

Apple Watch Series 5: Verdict

Although if you're coming from a Series 3 or older, it might be worth upgrading to the Apple Watch 5 as the always-on display is quite a game-changer. In terms of downsides, expect an average battery life of one day and support limited to Apple devices only.

Is the Apple Watch SE just as good? ›

The Apple Watch SE is a versatile and relatively affordable smartwatch. But it's missing one feature I would have loved to see at this price: an always-on display. The 2022 Apple Watch SE. There also aren't many new features that are exclusive to the SE, which might make a tough case for upgrading.

Why Apple Watch SE is the best? ›

The Apple Watch SE is water resistant to 50 meters and supports Apple Pay with skin authentication much like prior models, and though it lacks ECG and blood oxygen monitoring, it has the same optical heart rate sensor, gyroscope, and accelerometer so it can monitor steps taken, calories burned, stairs climbed, and ...

Why is Apple Watch 7 better than 5? ›

The Series 7 is more durable than the older models of the Apple Watch. The IPX6 certification makes it dust resistant. It is also crack-resistant because of the crystal used for the screen.

What is better about the Apple Watch Series 5? ›

Always-On Retina Display

This combination of hardware innovation and incredible software design allows Apple Watch Series 5 to offer all-day 18-hour battery life. The screen intelligently dims and brightens with the motion of the wrist.

How long does Iwatch 5 battery last? ›

Apple Watch is so capable you'll want to wear it all day long. So we made sure we gave it a battery that lasts all day, too. Our goal for battery life is 18 hours after an overnight charge, factoring in things like checking the time, receiving notifications, using apps, and doing a 60-minute workout.

Which is better to buy Apple Watch 3 or 5? ›

The Series 5 has a slightly bigger screen that occupies more space on the watch's face compared to the Series 3, and comes in new size options. While the Series 5 is available in 40mm and 44mm case options, the Series 3 comes in 38mm and 42mm sizes.

How much can I trade in my Apple Watch Series 5 for? ›

Shop for a new Mac with your trade‑in credit.
Your deviceEstimated trade-in value¹
Apple Watch Series 7Up to $155
Apple Watch Series 6Up to $105
Apple Watch SEUp to $70
Apple Watch Series 5Up to $80
1 more row

Is Apple Watch 5 waterproof? ›

Your Apple Watch is water resistant, but not waterproof. For example, you can wear and use your Apple Watch during activities such as exercise (exposure to sweat is OK), walking in rain, and washing your hands.

What does Apple Watch 5 have that 4 does not? ›

The differences between the Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5 can really be broken down into four major areas: the new always-on display, a built-in compass, battery life, and new ceramic and titanium material options.

Is the Apple Watch Series 3 still worth it in 2022? ›

Although I try to have all the latest gear, I can say that it's still OK to wear an Apple Watch Series 3 in 2022. A notification or an app may take an extra second to display, yes, but even after five years, I honestly think the battery on Apple Watch Series 3 is years ahead of the Apple Watch Series 7.

Is there a watch better than Apple Watch? ›

There are lots of great options from brands like Fitbit, Samsung, Garmin, Withings and AmazFit. And so we've picked the very best Apple Watch alternatives in our list below. All of these smartwatches can be teamed with iPhones as well as Android phones. All of them have advanced and sophisticated smartwatch features.

Does Apple pay for old watches? ›

Trade in your Apple Watch at Apple Trade In/GiveBack

With Trade In/GiveBack, you'll get credit in the form of an Apple Store gift card to put toward any future Apple purchase — iPad, iPhone, whatever you want.

Does Apple give money for old Apple watches? ›

Apple Trade In. Trade in any device in any condition, and we'll give you credit or recycle it for free.

Can you turn in old Apple Watch for money? ›

Yes, if you qualify for instant credit you can use the value of your device towards your order before sending back your Apple Watch (chargebacks will apply if we do not receive the device in the alloted time). Non instant credit customers can use the value once the device is received.

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