Everything you need to know about the new Apple Watch Series 4, which is available to pre-order now and brings a major redesign and a wide range of health and fitness features
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The Apple Watch Series 4 was unveiled at the company's 12 Sept iPhone XS launch event and is now available to buy. It's been substantially redesigned, upgraded internally, and equipped with a range of new health and fitness features.
In this article we've got everything you need to know about the new Apple Watch for 2018: its release date, price, specs, design and new features.
For related advice, take a look at our Apple Watch buying guide.
The UK Tech Weekly Podcast discuss the Series 4 in episode 102:
Apple Watch 4 release date
The Series 4 was announced on 12 Sept 2018 (alongside new iPhones). It went on sale on 21 Sept.
You can buy from Apple or from various networks and resellers such as EE, Vodafone and Currys PC World. Read our best Apple Watch deals roundup for the best places to buy.
Apple Watch 4 prices
The Series 4 starts at £399/$399 (with GPS) or £499/$499 (with cellular). Here's the line-up:
|Material||Strap||40mm, GPS||44mm, GPS||40mm, cellular||44mm, cellular||Buy link|
|Aluminium||Sport Band||£399/$399||£429/$429||£499/$499||£529/$529||Apple Store|
|Aluminium||Sport Loop||£399/$399||£429/$429||£499/$499||£529/$529||Apple Store|
|Aluminium||Nike Sport Band||£399/$399||£429/$429||£499/$499||£529/$529||Apple Store|
|Aluminium||Nike Sport Loop||£399/$399||£429/$429||£499/$499||£529/$529||Apple Store|
|Steel||Sport Band||n/a||n/a||£699/$699||£749/$749||Apple Store|
|Steel||Sport Loop||n/a||n/a||£699/$699||£749/$749||Apple Store|
|Steel||Milanese Loop||n/a||n/a||£799/$799||£849/$849||Apple Store|
|Steel||Hermes Leather Single||n/a||n/a||£1,249/$1,249||£1,299/$1,299||Apple Store|
|Steel||Hermes Leather Double||n/a||n/a||£1,399/$1,399||n/a||Apple Store|
|Steel||Hermes Leather Rallye||n/a||n/a||n/a||£1,399/$1,399||Apple Store|
|Steel||Hermes Leather Deployment Buckle||n/a||n/a||n/a||£1,499/$1,499||Apple Store|
Note that for each model above there will be numerous colour combinations. Read the full price list on Apple's website.
Before the event, the Series 3 started at £399/$399 (with cellular) or £329/$329 (without), but it gets a price cut as part of the Series 4 launch. It now starts at $279/£279.
Apple kept the same design for three generations in a row (aside from some minor cosmetic tweaks, such as a new material and colour options, and a red spot on the cellular model). We were therefore expecting a major redesign for the Series 4 – and we got precisely that.
The most obvious change is the inclusion of screens which are more than 30% larger. They're now 40mm and 44mm (up from 38mm and 42mm).
Apple has achieved this by reducing the size of the bezels around the edge. The screen also has curved corners, fitting more closely to the shape of the face.
The new watches are slimmer than the Series 3, which means that despite the larger screens they have less volume than their predecessors. Note, however, that straps released with the Series 3 and earlier models are compatible with the Series 4, and vice versa.
Colours & materials
The Series 4 is available in stainless steel or aluminium; the all-ceramic Edition offering has been quietly dropped.
The aluminium models are available in silver, gold and Space Grey. If you go for stainless steel your options are 'polished', Space Black and a new gold.
We said ceramic is gone, but the steel and aluminium models now have black ceramic undersides. This is significant because it allows radio waves to pass through and should lead to improved cellular reception.
The Crown has been redesigned too, and now features haptic 'click' feedback as the dial is turned. Apple says this will allow for more accurate scrolling.
Speaker & microphone
Finally, the speaker has been bumped up – the company says it's 50% louder now – and the microphone aperture has swapped sides to move it away from the speaker. Hopefully this will all result in much better call quality.
Some intriguing updates here, mainly to take advantage of the larger screens.
The Breathe app now has its own face (and three different graphical variations).
There are new dynamic faces with fire, water and vapour graphics (the latter two look gorgeous).
And you can now have up to eight complications on the face.
Apple described the watch as "an intelligent guardian for your health", and backed that up with a raft of health-related updates.
The Series 4 is clever enough to work out when you're falling – it works this out from the movement of your arms, which are different when falling to when slipping or doing other similar actions.
If you fall and then remain still for a certain time, it will assume that something bad has happened and contact the emergency services and send your location to your emergency contacts using the SOS feature.
The Apple Watch already had the ability to detect and warn of a prolonged elevated heart rate when not exercising, but its heart-monitoring abilities get far more sophisticated with the Series 4 update.
Most simply, it will now be able to spot low rates too – less commonly a problem, but potentially something to look out for. The 4 will also look out for irregular heart rhythms, notifying you of a potential atrial fibrillation.
But the biggest interest was shown for a new ECG function. By placing a finger on the Digital Crown you can get the watch to run an ECG test on you, which Apple says marks the first time an ECG device has been made available over the counter direct to consumers.
Note, however, that the ECG function requires a separate app, and this will not be available at launch. Apple says only that it is "coming later this year".
All of the health-related data is stored in the Heath app, and the company was at pains to reassure customers that their privacy will be protected. Patients visiting their doctors will often complain of heart problems that aren't happening at that moment, so having detailed and long-term heart data on file is potentially very useful.
The Series 4, as expected, comes with an S4 processor chip. Apple says this offers twice the speed of the previous generation.
Battery life remains the same, with Apple somehow managing to make a virtue of this. The company still claims 18 hours, which we suppose is reasonably impressive given the larger screen, upgraded components and thinner body.
Nevertheless, better battery life would have opened up more functionality, mainly with regards to sleep tracking. One problem with the Apple Watch is that the necessity of charging it at night means that people can't use it for sleep tracking. With a longer battery life, users could wear the watch to bed and get accurate stats about their sleep – information that's pretty popular, judging by the success of sleep-tracking apps such as Sleep Cycle.
The new Apple Watch will come with watchOS 5 preinstalled. This was announced at WWDC 2018 on 4 June and released on 17 Sept.
watchOS 5 brings a range of new features and interface tweaks to the Apple Watch. These will be optimised to run best on the new Series 4 hardware, but owners of most Apple Watch models (all but the original) will be able to upgrade and get the new features for free.