Hardware

Apple Watch Series 3: Everything the pros need to know

Apple Watch Series 3 has the option of cellular connectivity. For business users who are already bogged down with tech, the prospect of not carrying their iPhone all the time could be attractive.

Just as Apple's iPhone revolutionized the smartphone industry, Apple's Watch is changing the watch that millions of people wear, from office workers to fitness buffs to retirees. The Apple Watch is designed to help people stay connected, active, and motivated, and it boasts an industry-leading customer satisfaction rating of 97% worldwide.

Since the launch of the Series 2 device, Apple Watch has experienced significant growth. Apple CEO Tim Cook reported at the company's September 2017 special event that the Apple Watch grew over 50% last quarter compared to the previous year. Cook further confirmed that the Apple Watch has become the world's number one watch.

The Apple Watch Series 3 introduces significant new features that improve functionality. The biggest change, bordering on revolutionary, is the addition of cellular connectivity. Apple Watch users are no longer tethered to their iPhone; instead, they can remain connected, make and receive calls, stream music, send and receive texts, and more without having their iPhone nearby.

New Watch Series 3 models pack a faster dual-core processor and barometric altimeter. Series 3 devices also offer new styles and bands, which help owners demonstrate individuality by mating a variety of different band options (types and colors) with Apple's many Watch case styles.

This Apple Watch Series 3 cheat sheet has the details you need to know to determine whether this wearable is right for you. We'll update the guide periodically as new information about the watch is available.

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Image: Apple Inc.

Executive summary

  • What is Apple Watch Series 3? Apple Watch Series 3 is the newest generation of Apple Watch. In addition to telling time across the world, the digital wearable device tracks health and fitness, provides access to iTunes Music, connects to numerous applications, and now offers the option of sending and receiving calls, text messages, and email without needing to have your iPhone nearby.
  • Why does Apple Watch Series 3 matter? Apple Watch Series 3 introduces significant new connecting technologies without requiring an iPhone, which provides greater freedom of movement and mobility. The new devices, thanks to the debut of watchOS 4, will also include a significant heart rate monitoring advancement believed to potentially assist the detection of previously undiagnosed health conditions.
  • Who does Apple Watch Series 3 affect? While users who have a compatible iPhone will enjoy the greatest benefits when using an Apple Watch, almost everyone seeking a contemporary digital wearable watch and fitness device is impacted by the Apple Watch Series 3. The wearable also affects IT departments that adhere to BYOD or mobile computing policies.
  • When is Apple Watch Series 3 available? Apple began accepting pre-orders for Apple Watch Series 3 models on September 15, 2017. Most Apple Watch Series 3 orders begin shipping September 22, 2017; Nike+ Apple Watch Series 3 units begin shipping October 5, 2017. (See Apple's site for pricing and availability details.) Apple watchOS 4 is available on September 19, 2017; it is compatible with all previous generation Apple Watch models and will be loaded, by default, on all Apple Watch Series 3 devices.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's smart person's guides

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Image: TechRepublic/Brandon Vigliarolo


What is Apple Watch Series 3?

Apple Watch Series 3 is the newest generation of Apple Watch, which has become the world's number one watch. In addition to telling time, surfacing customizable news alerts, tracking health and fitness information and reminders, linking to Apple's iTunes Music, and connecting to a multitude of Apple and third-party applications, Series 3 models also offer customers versions with built-in cellular connectivity.

Integrated full LTE and UMTS cellular networking, along with a built-in eSIM card, combine to constitute a potentially revolutionary feature. With the technology, Apple Watch Series 3 models can send and receive phone calls, text messages, and email without needing to have an iPhone nearby.

Thanks to the S3 dual-core processor, Series 3 watches accelerate device performance up to 70%. Wi-Fi connectivity improves, too, thanks to Apple's custom W2 chip.

An integrated barometric altimeter provides accurate vertical feet gain, even when exercising or adventuring without an iPhone. And built-in GPS and GLONASS further extend the watch's standalone fitness, navigation, and adventuring capabilities.

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New models offer fashion-conscious owners new styles and bands. Series 3 devices include many of the mainstay options, including Space Gray, Stainless Steel, Space Black Stainless Steel, and Silver Aluminum cases with a variety of traditional bands, as well as new Gold Aluminum and Dark Gray Ceramic styles, and a comfortable stretchy new Sport Loop Band and a new two-toned Sport Band.

Additional resources

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Image: TechRepublic/Brandon Vigliarolo

Specifications for the Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch Series 3 models are available in three case materials: aluminum, stainless steel, and ceramic. Four band types are available: Sport Loop, Sport, Leather, and Stainless Steel. Band colors are available in a wide range, including silver, gray, pink, white, red, brown, green, blue, and black.

Series 3 models include GPS or GPS and cellular connectivity.

Four Apple Watch Series 3 models are available: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Nike+, Apple Watch Hermès, and Apple Watch Edition.

As with previous Series 1 and 2 versions, Apple Watch Series 3 models can be purchased in 38mm and 42mm case sizes.

Faster S3 dual-core processors and W2 Apple wireless chips power the Series 3 models, which also feature all the following:

  • Built-in GPS and GLONASS
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Water resistant to 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010
  • Heart rate sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Siri speaks
  • 16GB capacity
  • Ceramic back
  • 2nd-generation OLED Retina display with Force Touch
  • 1,000 nits display
  • Ion-X glass (on aluminum case models)
  • 272 x 340 pixels (38mm cases)
  • 312 x 390 pixels (42mm cases)
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Up to 18 hours battery life

The owner's Apple Watch Series 3 and iPhone must both be on the same cellular provider's network for the watch to function properly.

Additional resources

Why does Apple Watch Series 3 matter?

Apple has a track record of revolutionizing numerous industry segments, including the Mac and personal computing, the iPhone and smartphones, the iPad and tablets, and now the Apple Watch continues that streak.

Apple Watch Series 3 introduces significant new connecting technologies without requiring an iPhone. The benefit is greater freedom of movement and enhanced mobility.

The new devices, thanks to the debut of watchOS 4, will include a significant heart rate monitoring advancement believed to potentially assist the detection of previously undiagnosed health conditions, such as atrial fibrillation. New workout options, including auto-sets for pool swims and high-intensity training, also debut with the new models.

Additional resources

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Image: Apple Inc.

Who does Apple Watch Series 3 affect?

Watch Series 3 models connect and synchronize with compatible iPhones—Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular models require an iPhone 6 or later running iOS 11—thereby further extending the iPhone's existing applications and functionality. Users with compatible iPhones will benefit most from using an Apple Watch, though almost anyone seeking a contemporary digital wearable watch and fitness device is impacted by the Apple Watch Series 3.

Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 owners are minimally impacted. The legacy devices will be compatible with watchOS 4, the release with which Watch Series 3 models are loaded upon launch.

The Apple Watch also impacts business professionals. In addition to using the device to track calendar information, email notifications, news alerts, phone calls, instant messages, and common reminders, owners can leverage cellular-connected Series 3 devices to remain connected to their office when not carrying iPhones. This benefit poses a potential problem for tech administrators.

IT departments must review the new device's capabilities and determine what corresponding policies the organization might need to implement in response. For example, with Apple Watch Series 3's introduction of standalone cellular connectivity, the devices possess internet connectivity without the presence of a standalone iPhone, so long-standing corporate policies that protect the organization by precluding personal phone possession or operation in the workplace may require updating to address the Series 3's new cellular feature.

Plus, the device's new connectivity feature profile will press competitors to maintain pace or fall behind.

Additional resources

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Image: Apple Inc.

Competitors to the Apple Watch Series 3

While competing fitness devices and digital wearables don't provide such tight iCloud and iPhone integration, and few others offer cellular data networking, several products strive to compete with the Apple Watch Series 3, including the following.

Additional resources

When is Apple Watch Series 3 available?

Customers could start placing orders for Apple Watch Series 3 devices beginning September 15, 2017. Apple Watch Series 3 orders, with the exception of Nike+ models, will begin shipping September 22, 2017. The Nike+ Apple Watch Series 3 units will begin shipping October 5, 2017. See Apple's site for specifics about Apple Watch Series 3 pricing and availability.

All new Apple Watch Series 3 models will ship with watchOS 4. Apple will introduce the latest version of its watchOS on September 19, 2017.

As is common with many new technology products, Apple's Series 3 launch wasn't without hiccups. Multiple media reports confirmed the new device encountered glitches making calls and accessing data when an iPhone wasn't nearby. An Apple spokesperson admitted the watch can experience cellular connectivity issues when connected to open Wi-Fi networks lacking connectivity and announced it was exploring fixing the issue via a software update.

Additional resources

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Apple Watch Series 3 pricing was announced at Apple's September 2017 event.

Image: TechRepublic/Brandon Vigliarolo
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TechRepublic writer Brandon Vigliarolo reported these are the countries and carriers that will support the Watch Series 3 cellular capabilities at launch.

Image: TechRepublic/Brandon Vigliarolo

About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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