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Review

Apple Watch Series 4 review: The go to gadget for fitness and marathon training

Apple claims the Watch Series 4 is the perfect companion if you're gearing up for a marathon or just want to take up a healthy lifestyle. But is it? Here's our review.

  • Published: January 18, 2019 1:48 PM IST
Apple Watch Series 4 Images (22)

Apple Watch Series 4 4.5 5
BGR Rating :
4.5/5

Highlights

  • Apple Watch Series 4 starts at Rs 40,900 for the GPS.

  • The key ECG feature isn't active in India currently, pending regulator approval.

  • The Cellular variant lets you independently place calls as well.

Every January, Mumbai gears up for its annual marathon. Over the years, I’ve realized that participating in a marathon needs a great deal of drive and determination. Something that lasts from the time you register for the event starting July, a good six months. This weekend, thousands of determined citizens from across the city, including various nationalities would take the road less traveled. Whether purely for fitness or with determination to win a race, whether young or old, they all would show up, take the first step and continue forward till the finish line.

As I’d observed during the Series 3 review, the Apple Watch is all you’d ever need to prepare yourself for an intensive marathon. With the Series 4, Apple has managed to raise the bar even higher. As far as the incremental updates and other aspects of the device, you could read the initial impressions here. But to know how it would help you do better, read on.

Health: The primary purpose of the Apple Watch

Apple aims to drive adoption of the Apple Watch as a health product. It’s a small package with sensors squeezed in to keep you updated on every aspect of your health. It helps you keep track of your breathing cycles and condition it with some effective breathing exercises using the Breathe app by Apple.

In addition to Breathe, the App Store has several other apps such as Nike+, Strava, iHydrate and more to track various aspects of health. And just like any fitness band or smartwatch, it has standard features such as pedometer (count steps), overall activity tracker such as movement, standing, and exercise, besides GPS to track your route on a map.

The highlight of the device is the onboard ECG system, thanks to the electrical heart sensor that Apple has managed to implement. Unfortunately, this is not active in India just yet. Regulators in India would need to approve this feature for it to be made available. Considering its implications on healthcare, it could come in handy. The service is available in the US market for now.

Fitness: Enabled by sensors and algorithms

Besides health, the Apple Watch pays close attention to your fitness and motivation levels. It includes dedicated activity settings for outdoor walk, stair stepper, outdoor run, outdoor cycle, indoor walk, indoor run, indoor cycle, elliptical, rower, hiking, yoga, pool swim, open water swim and high intensity interval training. As far as walking, stairs and running is concerned, the Apple Watch is accurate in counting steps unlike a lot of the other fitness bands available in the market.

While you could get your hands on a fitness band at a much lower price, you certainly can’t rely on it for keeping a track on your steps or rate of acceleration or deceleration. Even the heart-rate serves as a very important metric in determining how effective your exercise and fitness regime is turning out to be.

Training: Subtle reinforcement to keep you going

As we gear up for marathon day, it’s important to remember that the marathon is only the culmination of months of intensive preparation and training. It starts with long walks for training the cardiological system. This could begin at anywhere between 10-20km per week and could go up to 50km per week. It’s not uncommon to do upwards of 10km in a day either. However, in order to reach such levels of intensity, it’s important to closely track your vital parameters and increase your intensity at a gradual pace. Apple’s effective algorithms ensure that you get messages and alerts like a coach would continuously nudge you.

It’s necessary to also have a record of your progress, something you can refer to and track the impact your workout has on your heart rate. This is a continuous process that takes months. The Apple Watch proves largely accurate in tracking pace, steps as well as heart rate and serves as a ready reference in real time.

In addition to activity, your diet and water intake are crucial. Keeping a track of your food and water intake so you maintain optimum levels of water in your system, as well as leanness helps you with significantly higher levels of endurance. But what gains even more importance is your motivation level.

Communication: Apple shrunk your phone

Much beyond a health and fitness device, the Apple Watch can also serve as an effective communication device. With an improved speaker and mic system, the Apple Watch lets you effectively talk to your contacts and can come in handy especially if your iPhone runs out of juice. Considering that apps such as Uber work with the Watch, even booking a cab can come in handy at times you have no battery on your iPhone.

Watch: Apple Watch Series 4 First Look

But then, all of this is possible only if you use an LTE variant of the Apple Watch that is capable of latching to a cellular network irrespective of the iPhone. If you consider convenience, it helps to have a pair of AirPods connected to your Apple Watch to be able to have seamless calls. Lifting your wrist and talking into it isn’t a practical solution in the long run. Over the past couple of years that I’ve been using an LTE capable Apple Watch, the Watch has served well in rejecting calls rather than speaking into.

Style: Productivity and function without compromising fashion

The Apple Watch is loaded with features and sensors that work together effectively. It manages to help you track your health, stay fit and motivated and track your road to a fitter life while continue to appeal from a fashion and lifestyle point of view. Whether it’s the overall look and feel of the device or the style statement, the Apple Watch stays relevant whether you’re running on the track, unwinding with friends, or in a meeting with colleagues. The possibility of taking on the identity you want it to have with the wide range of bands, and Watch faces.

Verdict

The Apple Watch undoubtedly is among the most contemporary fitness and lifestyle wearables in the market today, in addition to being a smartwatch. Over the years, Apple has managed to make it the most sold smartwatch in the market, beating luxury watch manufacturers as well as other smartwatch players and renowned brands.

Down to the smallest factors such as steps, the Watch tracks it very accurately in real time, and comes across as staying with you all the time for each step. The error margin due to false steps is negligible for most of the time. In addition, features such as fall detection helps you stay safe, and also reassure you that the device is continuously ensuring help is just a phone call away.

At a starting price of Rs 40,900 for GPS and Rs 49,900 for the Cellular variant, it comes at a premium compared to the current price of the Series 3 starting at Rs 28,900 for the GPS variant. Considering that the highlight ECG feature isn’t currently available in India, you’d not be missing out even if you opted for the Series 3. However, the marginally larger and bright display with the new elements and new watch face makes it a desirable product. And it comes down to just that.

It’s an attractive product, but it comes at a price. If health, fitness, and continuous improvement is your agenda and goal then you’re better off going with the series 4 and wait for the ECG feature to get enabled, besides future proofing yourself a good couple of years. If getting started is your need, then you can opt for the Series 3 instead, and you’d not miss out on anything.

  • Published Date: January 18, 2019 1:48 PM IST