Apple Watch Report: Why Series 4 Works for Me


It’s no secret that I love my Apple Watch—I said so in my review of the original Apple Watch in July 2015. I also called it “indispensable” and said, “no analog watch will ever come close” in my column about Series 3 in August 2018. 

I’ve had an Apple Watch Series 4 GPS + Cellular ($499) since late last year and everything I’ve ever said about the original Apple Watch is still true. I still use it every day. 

By the way, I said I felt like a dork talking into my watch in public in the July 2015 column. That’s still true, but I get a kick out of doing it anyway. 

Bigger, Higher-Res Display; Faster; Louder; and Better Battery Life

There are a few new features worth mentioning. The biggest one is the display, which is the biggest and highest-resolution display on an Apple watch yet. This paves the way for new watch faces including my current favorite, Infograph, which allows me to specify as many as 8 complications.

The Infograph face.

So, with a glance at my wrist, I can see my next appointment; my activity rings; today’s weather; and the day and date. I also have three direct access buttons that let me call, text, or email my wife or either kid with one tap. 

It’s also faster; its speaker is 50% louder, and its battery lasts longer than before.

Perhaps its most interesting new features, however, have to do with proactive health monitoring. I’m reassured knowing that my wristwatch is also monitoring my heart rate and will alert me if it detects anything of concern. That’s very cool.

Plus ECGs (Electrocardiograms), Fall Detection, and Emergency SOS

New in Series 4 is an ECG app, which generates a report similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. To use it, I merely press my finger on the Digital Crown for 30 seconds. The ECG app then indicates whether my heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation (bad) or sinus rhythm (good).

Sinus rhythm is good; atrial fibrillation is not.

So far, my heart is fine (as far as I can tell). Still, I like having the ability to spot-check it at my convenience without making an appointment.  

Also new in Series 4 are fall detection and Emergency SOS. The latter allows you to quickly call 911, notify your emergency contacts, send your current location, and display your Medical ID badge on the screen for emergency personnel. Fall detection detects a hard fall and offers Emergency SOS services on the screen. If you don’t respond after 60 seconds, it sends an Emergency SOS. 

Bottom line: These are the Apple Watch Series 4 features that made upgrading from Apple Watch Series 3 an easy call for an old codger like me. 

4 thoughts on “Apple Watch Report: Why Series 4 Works for Me

  • Bob:

    Thanks for sharing that. Codgerism aside, the AW4 is a series upgrade from even the admirable AW3.

    One of the benefits, however, I love most about my AW, and perhaps the single most important reason I’ll never return to an inert watch, is monitoring my workouts. You mentioned achieving a weight loss goal. That is an important, life enhancing achievement, and not to be under-appreciated.

    What I’ve noticed is that, with my extreme workouts, when I first start a new routine, I feel like my performance sucks. In truth, when you start anything new, it probably does suck. But, and this is an important ‘but’, as you practice your performance improves. However, if you’re doing a challenging routine, your subjective experience is that it still hurts and it still sucks. You may not feel that you’re gaining any ground, which is one of the leading reasons why people give up on exercise.

    The AW, by providing you with quantitative feedback, not simply on points, but metrics like max heart rate and recovery time is like having a personal coach (sort of) to provide an outside perspective. I’m a fan of the Insanity series, and awhile back started trying the Max30 half an hour workouts. At first I didn’t think they were sufficiently challenging. As I got more practice (and aged a few more months) I found them to be challenging because my form improved. Then, it seemed that they only became more challenging. What I noted on my watch, is that all of my performance indicators shot way up. My points per workout trebled over my original attempts. I not only felt I was getting more from the routines, I got feedback showing me just how much more. For workout enthusiasts, this is huge and very encouraging.

    Anyway, congrats on the weight loss. Keep it up.

    1. I’m (still) a huge fan… which is surprising considering my lifelong affection for interesting mechanical timepieces… But I love my Apple Watch and give it most of the credit for my 30+ pound weight loss over the past 18 or so months.

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