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Review

Apple Watch Series 3 Review: Marathon-grade fitness that's boardroom ready

As we head towards the most popular marathon in India, here's a look at the Apple Watch that brings the worlds of style and function together.

apple watch 3 main 3

Apple Watch Series 3 4.5 5
BGR Rating :
4.5/5

Highlights

  • If you are serious about fitness, or worse, decide to participate in a marathon, it needs discipline.

  • The Apple Watch brings the worlds of fitness, style, and productivity together.

  • An App Store for the Apple Watch helps you get more out of it

As I sit down to write this review on a January morning, I find myself streaming through updates on social media. They’re all about preparing for the upcoming Mumbai Marathon. I lean back, and wonder how a marathon is anything but a cakewalk. There’s reason why boardroom meetings with their PowerPoint presentations that need to convey a long and arduous journey depict it with a slide that includes the image of a marathon. It’s the usual play, the metaphorical long journey, long term, focus, discipline and the like. It’s not as simple as waking up one fine day, putting on your jogging shoes and sprinting away.

The journey towards fitness or display of endurance begins with a thousand steps. A thousand determined steps well trodden each day of your life would make you fit. And then, to stay fit you take another thousand steps. But that’s exactly where the real battle lies. It sounds easy. It needs a will. And in those moments when the will lacks, it needs encouragement. When lethargy seeps in, it needs a nudge. When the mood swings, it needs the calming reassurance of someone you trust. It needs someone more than a friend.

To sum it up, there’s a science in all of it. How you track data, how you make sense of that information through data visualization, how you stay motivated, how you relax, and how you stay hydrated are all part of a science. That’s science that focuses on the human body, and it needs professional help. The Apple Watch can do all of that. Here’s my review of the Rs 29,900 Apple Watch Series 3.

The differentiator – to switch from a standard watch

I’ve been using the Apple Watch since the time it was launched in India in October 2015. And promptly switched from my Citizen Eco-Drive, which I loved. As a teenager, I aspired to wear it someday. The idea of light powering mechanical parts with intricate movement was jaw-dropping inspiring. Unfortunately that was a short lived togetherness with the Eco-Drive.

The world of timekeeping has changed. Fast forward to October 2017, and the third iteration of the Apple Watch is here. India doesn’t have access to the LTE-enabled Apple Watch, and that’s because telcos in India are still contemplating rollout of support for eSIM cards.

The Apple Watch Series 3 does much more than a standard watch. In the business of wearables, there are fitness wearables, there are smartwatches and then there are watches. They’re all at different price points and they generally serve specific functions. You have cheap fitness bands that cost about a thousand rupees. And you realize that even sitting in a wobbly bus ride results in steps taken and calories burnt. You could pay a fortune and buy a watch from a luxury brand, or a watch with ‘smart’ capabilities that probably does some of those things right. But you’d also find that they’re overpriced. After observing the product mix out there in the smart wearables market, the Apple Watch clearly brings the best of both worlds – function and style.

Besides the steady stream of notifications, the Apple Watch Series 3 lets you keep track of critical health parameters such as heart rate, detecting irregular patterns in your heart rate, even going ahead to warn you about arrhythmia. If you’ve heard that term for the first time, then it’s a condition involving irregular heart rate patterns. It’s built to last perspiration, splashes of water and necessary submergence due to activities such as swimming. It has protective mechanisms that ensure your holistic well being. It truly cares for you as one of your own. The Apple Watch also calculates calories you’ve burned, and motivates you when you when you need it.

You partner in fitness

Like a very close and trusted partner, it always keeps a track of your state of mind. When you’re dull and feel the world is crumbling down on you, it would nudge you to breathe a bit. It can guide you through a well informed breathing rate through a series of nudges and vibrations. That and several other reasons bring me to the point of realization that the Apple Watch is your go to device if #MumbaiMarathon is one of your frequently used hashtags on social media.

Siri on the Apple Watch allows you not only to dictate your messages, but efficiently call anyone in your address book. If you have a pair of Apple AirPods, you can even play music off your Apple Watch – all without needing your iPhone. A nifty feature also allows you to reply to text messages and emails by scribbling your response.

All kinds of exercising regimes

To reveal my sense of fitness, I didn’t know what high intensive interval training is. I learnt about it from the Apple Watch, because it was a preset program. What that means is, irrespective of the activities I do as part of the training, whether I’m doing squats, swings or jogs, and depending on my workout, rest and workout frequency, the Apple Watch accurately calculates and tracks my activity.

Besides high intensive training, the Apple Watch distinguishes between indoor walking, outdoor walking, running, outdoor and indoor cycling, elliptical exercises, rowing and walking stairs. It’s also able to detect and track calories burnt by someone on a wheelchair. As you can see, it has you covered no matter what your inspiration, drive or constraint may be.

Get, set, go for the marathon

As I mentioned earlier, a marathon needs perseverance, persistence and tons of dedication and discipline. It helps to have the Apple Watch with you for it because it can adapt to the occassion with its vast array of bands. Functional silicone for highly perspiring activities such as workouts, and sober, functional leather bands for business meetings. Either way, the Apple Watch tracks your data day in and day out.

Even if you aren’t preparing for a marathon, it’s quite handy in keeping track of data, staying connected, receiving phone calls, texting and emailing your contacts, playing music to your AirPods and so much more. But since this is a specialist device that focuses on your well being, I’ve seen it in the context of marathon readiness. Because that involves a long term use case, with several aspects that everyday life throws at you.

Preparation

Since a marathon is not an affair of a few days, but needs consistency and dependability, the accuracy of steps helps gives me an idea of my body’s capabilities and its limitations. A graphical representation of the number of steps I’ve taken and the ability to corelate it with my heartrate, and then track the stability of my heart rate over a week using a device that closely syncs with my iPhone gives it an immense level of utility and resourcefulness. If you exercise regularly, you’d know the importance of staying hydrated, and ensuring you rest periodically. And for such purposes, you can install quite a few apps from the App Store for the Apple Watch. You’ll find a list of apps that help you do better within your environment and work out within your boundaries.

The ability to verify my performance with data on a continuous basis gives me the ability to do a bit extra every couple of days, till I’ve programmed my body to endure the long and tiring run on a January afternoon in Mumbai with the warm sun and humid wind.

‘Seven – 7 Minute Workout’ is a handy app that you could install on your Apple Watch, and it lets you do more by just sparing 7 minutes of your day. In fact, it suggests regimes without the need for any special equipment.

Tracking

During the preparation phase, I also need to track data of the number of steps I take, the calories I burn and the response in the form of my heartrate. A typical marathon training session could go on from a few weeks to a few months. The more serious contenders prefer training and tracking throughout the year.

Qardio is another app on the App Store for the Apple Watch that are meant for those with hypertension and other related heart related conditions. A couple of months ago, I reviewed a fitness wearable that claimed to measure blood pressure, and it did so without any constriction. While trying it out, I realized that it threw a reading even when I didn’t wear it. It turned out to be best gimmick I’d seen in recent times. It was funny and scary at the same time, because I feared someone would base their lifestyle on the basis of readings they’d see on it.

I feel it’s imperative for me to drop in a word of caution at this point. It’s necessary to always consult a professional, or professional calibrated equipment to track information and seek medical data that eventually will influence dosage and treatment. In fact, always seek professional help for any medical condition you may face.

Motivation

Juma Ikangaa has been a marathon runner, and he won the 1989 New York City Marathon in a record time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 1 second. He’s also come first in similar marathons in Cairo, Melbourne, Tokyo and Beijing among several others during the 1980s. He once quoted, “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.”
There could probably be no better way to emphasize on the importance of preparation, and motivation.

Preparation and motivation have got to be the most important secret to success in a marathon. But for us mortal humans who lack the resilience of a determined track soldier, the only way to motivate ourselves is to gamify the training experience. And one app on the App Store for doing so is Zombies, Run!

Meditation

All of the above focus on the physical aspect of training and conditioning the body. But to win a marathon, you need mental discipline and wellbeing. You need to be at peace, and enjoy what you are attempting. Not just for the first day, but beyond the second day, when you begin to question your decision for a fitter healthy lifestyle. Or as a friend of mine once told me that he signed up for the Mumbai Marathon because his colleagues from work had to be there, and has regretted the decision since he began training for it. To deal with such motivational crises you could use the Calm app.

Verdict

Through this review, I’ve tried to touch upon an elaborate and intensive use case for the Apple Watch. If it can last you intensive preparation and tracking, while still helping you with motivation and meditation, then it’s going to be a cakewalk if all you do is live a sedentary life. The Apple Watch has the capability to rid you of PEBKAC.

On the other hand, if you’re serious about fitness, it allows you to track any parameter you would need for your fitness session, and have past references to compare. It also includes a social element where you can compare with friends or fitness buddies you trust and depend on for additional motivation. A typical battery run time of a day to day and a half of intensive use means that it helps you through your active day.

  • Published Date: January 19, 2018 11:54 AM IST