Apple Watch Series 3 review

Just in time for fall 2017, Apple did released the Apple Watch Series 3 after the models of the original series, the Series 1 and 2, which were released in the previous years. The most significant change was undoubtedly the LTE version, which offers the possibility to make phone calls directly via the watch even when you are not connected to an iPhone. Unfortunately, this feature comes with some restrictions.

For example, only Deutsche Telekom contract customers can install a corresponding eSim on the watch at first. Furthermore, additional monthly fees will be charged after a short test period. The LTE version of the Apple Watch Series 3 also has a quite striking detail: The digital crown on the side of the watch is red. As another advantage, the LTE version has 16 GB instead of 8 GB of internal storage. If you’re looking for a newer model, but not as pricy as the currentl flagship, you might want to take a look at our review for the Apple Watch SE.

Technical details

Screen size1,64 inches
Wrist materialSilicon, Plastic
Size watch case38 / 42 mm
ConnectivityWLAN, Bluetooth 4.2
Battery lifeup to 18 hours
Supported systemsiOS
Water resistanceup to 50 meters
DisplayOLED Retina
Activity tracker, Distance tracker, Elevation tracker, Heart rate monitor, Calorie tracker, GPS, PedometerActivity tracker, Distance tracker, Elevation tracker, Heart rate monitor, Calorie tracker, GPS, Pedometer
Microphone includedNo
Speaker includedNo

Using the electric sim card

What is such an eSim supposed to be good for? Well, let’s take a look at the Apple Watch version history from a runner’s perspective. Version 1: As a runner, the first Apple Watch still requires you to lug around your iPhone because the watch uses the phone’s GPS signal to record activity.

  • Version 2: An integrated GPS sensor makes the watch independent of the smartphone, but Internet is only available via Wi-Fi or smartphone connection.
  • Version 3 : Thanks to eSim, the Apple Watch Series 3 now uses the cellular network, so calls, e-mails and everything that works via the cellular network now work without an iPhone in the pocket – but if the smartphone and watch are within range, the watch uses the smartphone’s connection. By the way, it still does not work without an iPhone. An Apple smartphone is required to set it up and for the full range of functions.

Well, now there will certainly be many who want to have their peace while running and certainly do not want to take calls, write emails or buy running shoes. As the author of these lines, I clearly count myself among them. Regardless of this, however, there are definitely a few thought processes for me in which an Internet-without-smartphone smartwatch can be advantageous. For example, when it comes to music: the new Apple Watch Series 3 allows you to stream music while running and listen to it via Bluetooth headphones.

Apple Watch Series 3 Smartwatch
The Apple Watch Series 3 features a wide amount of apps.

Safety first!

And the safety aspect is not to be neglected either, since with the Apple Watch Series 3 you always have a way to call someone – even if it’s just to let them know at home that your run is going to take a little longer today after all. Because the question came up: You basically don’t need headphones to make a call; the smartwatch has both a microphone and speakers built in.

Another nice feature is the barometric altimeter. This is especially interesting for those who are often in the mountains and want a reliable altitude reading and recording. On the hardware side, this describes all the major innovations. Sure, the Apple Watch Series 3 has a faster processor and better graphics performance, but the mobile capability is the biggest change. For this, the operating system (watchOS 4) has been diligently worked on, but ultimately this is also more of an evo than a revolution.

Fitness tracker for runners and athletes

Sowe also get along right away with the certainly most important app for runners, the activity app of the Apple Watch Series 3. This has been slightly redesigned and offers numerous sports. It automatically recognizes which of them they prefer to do and sorts them accordingly. For us, the running function is of course at the top, which is certainly the most important one for a lot of other sport enthusiasts as well. Otherwise, everything is basically the same.

The operation is no problem after a short familiarization. Select the training app, choose “outdoor running”, wait for the three-second countdown, and the app will start recording. To skip the countdown, it is enough to tap once on the display.

Operation not really optimal

Back to the operation: This is mainly done via the display of the Apple Watch Series 3. If you want to pause briefly, you have to lift the wrist together with the watch, hope that the display turns on (it really almost always works) and swipe to the right. Now you can pause the unit – and end the unit or lock the display. If you double tap the display, you take a lap (also goes preset every kilometer), or you press crown and button at the same time to pause the recording.

However, in my eyes, and those of many other testers, exactly this operation is a flaw that regularly bothered me during training: Even though the watch reacts quickly and reliably to gestures, you check every input with a control look at the display. A touch display cannot replace buttons (so far).

By the way, those who want another app for running are spoiled for choice: Nike+, Endomondo, Strava, Runtastic and many more apps are available for watchOS 4.

Even though the Apple Watch Series 3 is a bit older, it still compares well to newer models.

GPS and heart rate measurement

Let’s move on to probably the most important points from an athlete’s point of view: the measurement accuracy of the built-in GPS module as well as the optical heart rate sensor. The GPS signal always finds the watch in no time and subsequently records quite reliably. However, as in the predecessor, the distances are always a few hundred meters longer than in comparison watches.

However, there were no dropouts or jumps in the recording in the test, so the GPS performance is really completely okay. The situation is different for the heart rate sensor. As with most other watches with an optical sensor, we sometimes get fantasy values, even though the watch and thus the sensor fit tightly on the wrist. Whether Apple can still improve this with a firmware update?

Battery life

Have changed on the subject of battery life nothing. Apple (check out the online store) states that the battery life has remained the same despite the eSim. This impression was confirmed in the test. If you receive a lot of notifications and tap around on the watch, you can manage a day. In our test, the watch also only had to go to the charging station every other evening, although we ran for just under an hour on both days.

But for most runners and fitness enthusiasts, the important question is ‘How long you can run with the Apple Watch?’ The answer: a maximum of five hours with a full battery. If you run every day, you should also charge it every day. Also unchanged is that the Apple Watch always taps into the iPhone’s GPS signal when it’s nearby to conserve its own battery, which in turn can cause the smartphone battery to run out of steam.

Apple Watch Series 3 Smartwatch
Sadly, the battery life isn’t the greatest for the Apple Watch Series 3.


The consideration of using the Apple Watch as the sole means of everyday communication works, but requires a strong willingness to compromise. Conversations gnaw extremely on the already tight battery, so you should at least have a powerbank handy. The Belkin Valet Charger with a built-in charging puck for the Apple Watch is a good choice. Of course, this makes the idea of saving weight with a smartwatch on the wrist absurd.

We also miss a browser and more apps that work completely without an iPhone. The developers are in demand here, and they will certainly update one or the other app in the coming months. On the other hand, this might be the attraction of the thought experiment “away from the smartphone”.

After all, this lies in the reduction to the essentials. If you only wear the watch on your wrist, you can always be reached, but you won’t be distracted as quickly because you won’t have to quickly look at the Facebook or Twitter stream.

Nevertheless, the Apple Watch Series 3 is still a frequent choice for Apple lovers for a reason: While the Apple Watch 7 as well as other Apple Watch models can score with better features and apps, the Watch 3 still offers an extraordinary performance for a meanwhile really fair price. Reason enough to buy it when the budget is a bit smaller.


Author: Smartwatch Fans

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *