Today at a press event held at the Steve Jobs Theater in Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, the company unveiled the Apple Watch Series 3. The latest iteration of Apple Watch adds a new option to its lineup. Now the Apple Watch is available with an optional LTE radio that provides a network connection when out of range of its paired iPhone. The Series 3 is distinguished from its non-LTE siblings by a bright red dot on its Digital Crown. The Series 3 also features a new barometric altimeter that measures relative elevation, which Apple touted as perfect for skiers and snowboarders.
Interestingly, this is not the first sighting of a red-dotted Apple Watch Digital Crown. As Chris Harris reminded everyone after the iOS 11 gold master leak over the weekend, Tim Cook was spotted in a CNBC video wearing one when he visited an Apple Store during the initial Watch launch.
In addition to its unique Digital Crown, the LTE-enabled Apple Watch includes a new face called 'Explorer' that displays LTE signal strength when your Apple Watch is not within range of its paired iPhone. The new Watch also includes a button in Control Center to toggle the cellular radio on and off.
At the keynote today, Apple executive Jeff Williams explained that the new Apple Watch switches seamlessly to cellular when separated from its paired iPhone. The LTE radio allows users to make calls with the same phone number as your iPhone, send iMessages, receive notifications, stream Apple Music, and more. Williams also introduced several new watchOS features like an improved Heart Rate app that we will cover in-depth when watchOS 4 is released on September 19th.
According to Apple, the new S3 chip that powers the Series 3 is 70% faster than the last generation. The chip reduces app launch times and enables Siri to speak using the Apple Watch's built-in speaker. The new Watch also includes a custom W2 chip for faster WiFi and better WiFi and Bluetooth power efficiency. The LTE-enabled Watch will be available in ten countries and territories. The GPS-only version will be available in 28 countries and territories.
The aluminum and ceramic Watch models also gained new colors. The aluminum Watch now comes in a new gold tone that replaces Rose Gold, and the white ceramic Watch has been joined by a gray version. Also, the form factor of the Watch case has not changed, which means it will remain compatible with bands made for all prior Watch models.
I’ve been using the beta version of watchOS 4 for several weeks on my Series 2 Watch, and the advantage of untethering it from my iPhone has become evident. My Watch doesn’t have a cellular radio, however, I’ve been using the new feature that syncs music with the Watch, along with built-in GPS and heart rate sensor when I run. It’s a combination that creates just enough independence from the iPhone that I’ve begun leaving my phone at home more often than not while exercising, which convinces me that adding an Internet connection for notifications and quick responses will significantly elevate the utility of the Series 3 Watch.
The Apple Watch Series 3 will be available for pre-order September 15th and will ship starting September 22nd. The aluminum GPS-only version of the Watch will start at $329 and will be available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK, the US, and US Virgin Islands. The Series 3 (GPS) will also be available in UAE on September 23rd. The aluminum Series 3 Watch with GPS and LTE starts at $399 and will be available in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, the UK, and the US with additional countries to be added in 2018. The ceramic Series 3 Watch starts at $1,299. Also, the Series 1 Watch will remain available at a new starting price of $249.