Alright, you've asked for it and here it is! The GYMCADDY™ Team got a hold of a few Apple Watch Series 2’s and put them through their paces to put a review together for you guys. Lets get the obvious out of the way, the Apple Watch Series 2 is perhaps one of the best built smartwatches on the market today. The aluminum and glass case is perfectly fitted together and the new brighter display is both beautiful and easy to read in direct sunlight. Our Apple Watch Series 2 review will focus mostly on how it performs as a fitness tracker.
Apple’s second generation smartwatch has a few very welcomed improvements that should have been included in the original Apple Watch. The improvements include a larger battery, built in GPS, a much brighter display, water proofing, and a faster processor. The Apple Watch Series 2 is what Apple should have released the first time around. Sadly, the addition of the new hardware has INCREASED the thickness of the watch by 1 millimeter. Will you notice the difference? Not really. Unfortunately, Apple did not upgrade their heart rate monitor on the new watch. Which is unfortunate because we found it to be very inaccurate. After testing the Apple Watch Series 2 heart rate monitor against the fitbit charge 2, monitors found on treadmills, and an EKG machine we found Apple’s heart rate monitor to be sporadic at best. It would regularly report heart rate as 80 beats per minute when it was actually at 160 BPM. Sometimes it wouldn't even report a heartbeat at all, even after we changed the placement of the watch multiple times. Apple also made it very clear during their 2016 September Keynote that they are now catering towards runners and swimmers for the most part. If thats the case then this highly inaccurate heart rate monitor will be useless to most runners. Sure you can strap on a chest monitor and pair it with your watch, but if I'm paying a minimum of $400 for a piece of hardware with fitness capabilities then I’d expect it to be able to accurately report my heart rate.
The included GPS now allows you to go for a run without having to bring your phone with you. After a few runs in NYC, and a few hikes in Northern NJ we found the GPS to be very accurate. The only gripe we have with the GPS is that the watch wont display to the user if its connected to GPS or not, you have to assume it is working. We are not the only ones to have an issue with that, other tech blogs have reported the same. We’re sure Apple with change that with an update in a few weeks. If you do plan on doing a lot of running with the Apple Watch Series 2 just be prepared to charge your watch every night, sometimes twice in a day.
Honestly the Apple Watch is really only useful if you're a runner, swimmer, or do yoga. If you try to do another other style of training the Apple Watch will either not work due to its spotty heart rate sensor or will just constantly restart itself due to its crown. Let me explain… the Apple Watch has a crown on its side that you use to scroll through messages, press to go back, press and hold to start Siri, or press and hold to restart the watch. If you do any exercise that causes you to bend your wrist like a plank, push up, barbell squat, burpees or whatever, it’ll cause you to press the crown which will then activate Siri or even restart your watch mid exercise. This crown design makes the Apple Watch unusable for any serious lifter, bodybuilder, powerlifter or crossfitter.
Just like any other fitness tracker, you're not just buying the hardware but also its accompanying phone application. The Apple Watch Series 2 is no different. Unlike the the Samsung Gear Fit2, the Apple Watch cant function on its own. Apple Watch’s default app is called Activity and boy is it simple. The Activity app will only show you calories burned, steps taken, distance walked, hours stood, minutes exercised, and log your workouts. Apple also has implemented an achievements tabs that tries to mimic those of fitbit, but falls short. There is also a social sharing feature that is lack luster. The Apple Watch also records information in the Health App, but its layout and the way it reports information back to the user are also subpar. This is a true testament as to how awesome and well thought out fitbit’s mobile application really is. It manages to be simple, uses language that encourages the user, but is also able to report complex data in an engaging manner. Sure you can connect your Apple Watch with other fitness tracking apps, but you won't have a simple dedicated hub where you can get all of your information in one place in a well made and thought out app.
In conclusion, the Apple Watch Series 2 is a much needed improvement from the original. Sadly the new additions to the Apple Watch have not successfully made it into the fitness tracker everyone was hoping it would be. The highly inaccurate heart rate sensor make it almost unusable for any athlete out there. The poor battery life will cause you to constantly worry if its charged or not. If you go running with your watch be ready to charge it twice in the same day. The crown on the Apple Watch is its worst enemy if its being used for any kind of weight training or crossfit. It’ll surely active Siri or restart the watch. If you’re looking for a dedicated fitness tracker then we advise you pass on the Apple Watch Series 2. Instead we recommend the fitbit charge 2. We had nothing but good things to say about it in our fitbit charge 2 review HERE. Keep in mind this is GYMCADDY’s review on how the Apple Watch Series 2 preforms as a fitness tracker. The Apple Watch 2 is an overall good smartwatch if you're just using it for notifications.