Let me answer the question posed in the title of this post first…
No, you absolutely don’t NEED an Apple Watch. While smartphones have become an essential tool for professionals, wearables like the Apple Watch still fall into the WANT category. So if you don’t have the urge (or the disposable income) to be a gadget guru, skip this review. (But check out the iPhone 7 review for a gadget you just might need).
Still with me? You must love shiny objects as much as I do.
The Apple Watch Series 2 is a much-needed upgrade to the first model (see the unboxing and the follow-up reviews). The new version addresses some of the major problems I had with the first version, but we still have some fundamental issues.
Apple Watch Series 2 Pros
The biggest improvement by far is the addition of independent GPS. The first version was way too dependent on the iPhone to use it as a stand-alone fitness device. My first big fitness event with the first Watch was a half marathon, and the device was way, way, way off — recording that I traveled more than 20 miles rather than the 13.1. Even after I calibrated the Watch, I still noticed a big discrepancy between the mileage my phone recorded and what the Watch said.
The Series 2 doesn’t have that challenge because the GPS is built into the device. This means you can use it like the other fitness wearables and feel confident that your movements are being properly recorded.
The Series 2 also expands the types of activities that it can capture, most notably adding swimming (and water/sweat resistance).
But the bigger question here is… do you really need a $400 fitness device? If you’re looking for a great fitness device, there are other options that are better suited and much less expensive.
One more note on the activity tracking though… the new Watch seems to be much more generous in terms of measuring my exercise/movement levels in everyday life. When I walked through an airport with the other watch, I rarely earned any exercise credit. The new Watch says I’m practically an Olympic athlete (well, maybe not that generous). But it could be just the upgrade in operating system because I gave my first Watch to my hubby, and he, too, is getting a lot of movement points.
My first experiences with talking to my wrist for a phone call were both awkward and frustrating. I could barely hear the other person, and I felt like the lamest James Bond ever. It may be my imagination, but I feel like the new device has much better audio. And I discovered that the feature comes in very handy when you’re in a rental car and want to stay hands-free while catching up on calls.
Apple Watch Series 2 Cons
Truthfully the major con of the Watch is that the device itself hasn’t advanced enough to make it essential. If you’re someone who has to sit in a lot of meetings, the ability to quickly glance at your wrist to check email and texts is very helpful. And if you travel a lot like I do, the Watch is handy for boarding passes, quick updates and easy access to your technology while not having to come up with a third hand for your device while you’re schlepping two suitcases (and a briefcase and a purse) through the airport.
Would I have purchased one if I wasn’t Your Nerdy Best Friend? Probably not. It’s just not necessary.
Oh, and one more annoying thing. For whatever reason, Apple really wants its users to chill out. In addition to asking you to stand up at least once an hour, the Watch now prompts you to breathe multiple times a day. I know I can probably just fix the setting, but it’s both a little patronizing and completely annoying to get a chime on your wrist and a request to breathe deep for a minute. (I’m not good at meditation or yoga either.)