Apple Watch Series 4 Launches With Bigger Display, ECG Sensor, watchOS 5

Posted on September 12, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple with 32 Comments

Apple is launching a brand-new Apple Watch along with three new iPhones today. The company just took the wraps off the new Apple Watch Series 4, the fourth iteration to the Apple Watch line.

Apple Watch Series 4 brings radical improvements to the Apple Watch line. It now includes a larger display, with a nearly edge-to-edge design that looks way more immersive than ever before. Apple says the displays are larger by up to 35%. The larger display means the device is slightly bigger as well, increasing by 2mm — so the Watch Series 4 is only available in 40mm and 44mm sizes, as opposed to the previous 38mm and 42mm sizes.

Under the hood, Apple has included a new S4 dual-core 64bit processor to offer up to 2x boost in performance. The company is even including a “next-gen” gyroscope that can detect when you fall. For people with heart problems, the company is introducing new features like getting notified when your heart rate is low and detect heart rhythm like atrial fibrillation, both powered by the optical sensor. There’s a new sensor that now lets you take an electrocardiogram, aka ECG, right with your Series 4 Watch which is certainly a big step forward for the Watch.

In other parts of the device, Apple says the crown on the Watch has been completely redesigned, and now gives you haptic feedback, so you will get a mechanical feel when you scroll or whenever you interact with the digital crown. The speakers inside the Watch has been redesigned to be louder, too, helping with watchOS 5’s new features like Walkie-Talkie. The company’s moved the microphone around to make your voice sound clearer to Siri and on calls as well.

With the bigger display on the Watch Series 4, Apple is tweaking the OS powering the product itself. First things first, with watchOS 5, the watch faces will now make better use of the larger display. The default watch face, for example, now displays more complications (read: widgets), than ever before. There are a bunch of new faces like the new Fire watchface, and Breathe watchface coming with the new Series 4 Watch. With the larger display, you will get more information at a glance, as long as your favorite watch face gets updated to make use of the bigger display. This applies to regular apps, like Maps, Music, etc.

Despite all the updates and new sensors, Apple has somehow managed to make the watch slightly slimmer compared to the previous generations. Although the watch bands for the Series 4 Watch will likely be slightly different from the previous generations, you should still be able to use your old watch bands with the new models. As for the battery life, Apple says the new Watch will continue to provide the same 18 hours of battery life as the Series 3, despite all the new upgrades.

Apple Watch Series 4 looks like a solid upgrade for the Apple Watch. The company’s even launching a wide variety of Sport Bands, Sport Loops, Modern Buckles, Hermés bands, and Milanese Loops, with a new Milanese band available in gold for the first time. The device will be available for $399, with the cellular model selling for $499. Apple’s reducing the price of the Series 3 Watch to $279, too.

Start shipping September 21.

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “Apple Watch Series 4 Launches With Bigger Display, ECG Sensor, watchOS 5”

  1. Chris_Kez

    Oof, those prices are eye-watering. Assuming they stop selling Series 1 they have now raised the entry-level price point by $30, the base price point by $70, and the LTE premium by another $20 on top of that. Only Apple; only Apple. ???

    • red.radar

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      Screen is bigger so I would argue the value is the same. But that is what you can do with a captive auidence. App stores need to go....

      • Chris_Kez

        In reply to red.radar:

        Screen is bigger, body is thinner, they've added ECG and whatnot, etc. They increase the value but they always seem to ratchet up the price and squeeze just a little bit more out of people. On the iPhone side they would also switch up the available storage configurations from year to year so it was even harder to pin down an apples to apples price comparison. These guys are just the masters at this kind of stuff. I imagine when this year is over we'll see unit and ASP growth for both iPhone and Apple Watch. It is really kind of amazing.

  2. pesos

    No ceramic, will stick with my s3 I guess.

  3. Josh

    "Way more immersive than ever before". No. It's a watch. Nobody is getting immersed in the display of a watch.

  4. Chris_Kez

    Please tell me I can use my health care flex spend to buy this thing.

  5. red.radar

    Disappointed that watch OS 5 wont run on the original watch but its been a good run. I think i am going to pare down the number of devices I have because its getting hard to keep up and continue spending to make sure everything is supported.

  6. provision l-3

    To Apple's credit the FDA approved health features of this version of the Apple Watch easily put it in a class above its competitors. They can legitimately claim "health and fitness" device. It's hard to see Fitbit, Garmin etc.. matching it any time soon. I would think that Smasung is the most likely candidate to catch up given that they have the resources to invest.

    • Andi

      In reply to provision l-3:

      I wouldn't hurry to call it a medical device. PhoneArena lists it as FDA cleared which is not the same as FDA approved.

      • provision l-3

        In reply to Andi:

        Clearance requests are for medical devices that are exactly like those already on the market. Approved requests are for items that are completely new and need to be inspected for safety in case of new hazards. Apple did not invent ECG it added something existing to it's device. So, you are correct it is not "Approved" it is "Cleared" but for the layperson that is largely a distinction without a difference. and it is in fact a medical device.

        • Andi

          In reply to provision l-3:

          No. That is not what it means.

          "Before a Class II product can be sold it must show the FDA that it is “substantially equivalent” to another product that the FDA has already given clearance. The reasoning goes that if it’s pretty similar to another “cleared” product then it’s as safe and effective as the other device.

          Now, approved is this:

          Class III products (about 10 percent of all medical devices) are subject to a rigorous review process by the FDA, and are eventually known as “FDA approved” devices. These devices usually sustain or support life, are implanted, or present potential unreasonable risk of illness or injury.

          So, clearance is given in relation to other "cleared" and NOT "approved" devices. FDA approved is another ball game. The Apple Watch is not a medical device. I cannot post the link since the site sees it as spam. It is from truthinadvertising.

          • provision l-3

            In reply to Andi:

            Okay, if we are going to use truthinadvertising as the source of record that is fine but selectively quoting the source is not.

            Second paragraph:

            "The FDA puts medical devices into three different buckets, creatively listed as Class I (low risk — think bedpans), Class II (higher risk — think exercise equipment and pregnancy test kits), and Class III (highest risk — think pacemakers)."

            All three classes are referred to as medical devices. 

            Here is the sentence for Class II devices that proceeded the one you quoted:

            "Class II productsA slightly smaller percentage of medical devices, 43 percent, fall into this category."

            Again, the term medical device is used. 

            Based on your choice for source the Apple Watch is clearly a medical device and you are simply ignoring the designation.

            As far as "Cleared" vs. "Approved" goes, I called out the distinction you are making. Not sure where you are going with that but I'll concede again that Approved and Cleared are technically not the same thing. 

            • Andi

              In reply to provision l-3:

              Here is where I am going with the distinction. All "cleared" devices stand only against others like themselves. The criteria to be awarded FDA clearance is comparison with another "cleared" product already on the market. Think about it; at the top of the FDA "cleared" food chain is not one single proper FDA "approved" device.

              Also by your reasoning any fitbit is a medical device(class I or class II). Anything with a optical heart rate sensor and maybe a SpO2(a la Garmin) gets the "medical device" moniker(surely it can pass class I classification) but, to me at least, loosely. An ECG machine at your cardiologist is a real medical device. The AW will not perform a medical grade ECG.

              • provision l-3

                In reply to Andi:

                This isn't my "reasoning" Class I, II and II are designations of medical devices per the FDA. So, it is the FDA that has classified them medical devices. That is objectively verifiable. Fitbit and Garmin could be called medical devices and I wouldn't take issue with it. My point was that Apple Watch having gone through FDA clearing is on better standing than the likes Fitbit and Garmin as it has passed through some level or of regulation. Fitbit and Garmin haven't done that.

                I, nor anyone else I am aware of, have not calmed that an Apple Watch will perform at the same level as an ECG used in a hospital. In addition it is entirely irrelevant to the discussion.

                What is clear is that you are, in addition to selectively quoting sources, completely moving the goal posts and no creating a category of your own making called "real medical devices". That's great and I won't argue what falls in and out of a category that you have personally defined.

                Anyway, now that we are at the point where you cherry pick quotes and make up categories it is clearly that there is actual honest discussion to be had here. Best of luck to you.

                • Andi

                  In reply to provision l-3:

                  The FDA is honestly guilty of allowing the diluting of the term "medical devices" to allow all kind of gimmicks to be sold using the FDA letters as a badge of quality. You haven't made a claim on the accuracy but you sure defended the FDA tie-in initially.

                  Truthinadvertising spells it right. The "clearance" moniker is basically a wall of dominos. It is not any regulation whatsoever.

                  The "approved" moniker is a guarantee of quality, accuracy, precision, etc. AW is not one of those.

                  Believe me, in the future when a wrist computer will accurately be able to measure glucose, all the brands that will make it will rush to have it approved not cleared.

                • Jeffsters

                  In reply to Andi:

                  You people have far to much time on your hands.

              • behindmyscreen

                In reply to Andi:

                Are you daft? All device makers that want to incorporate ECG into their products need to get them cleared because they are a Class II medical device. No other OEM for wearable consumer tech has ECG that has passed the FDA review process so Apple stands on it's own.

                Other than you wanting to come up with some reason to claim you were right, why do you bother arguing this point? It makes you look silly and immature.

                • Andi

                  In reply to behindmyscreen:

                  Just because the word "cleared" and "approved" are contextual synonyms doesn't mean that the said feature is FDA approved. Simply put it's not as accurate as the real thing.

                  I'm trying to cut through the marketing bull that unfortunately most tech blogs espouse. Just on Gizmodo they mentioned some AW bands that have ECG capability that are also FDA "cleared". So, yes, there already is wearable consumer tech that is FDA "cleared" to which the AW can compare.

                  Finally no, the AW is not FDA approved and has not been rigorously tested for this purpose by the FDA.

                  Edit: theverge put out an article validating my separation between "cleared" and "approved" devices - explaining the difference.

          • skane2600

            In reply to Andi:

            Unlike most of the others here, you sound like you have had experience with FDA requirements, as I have. The issue is whether performing an ECG at a novel location on the body is "substantially equivalent" to measuring it at the chest. Obviously attaching multiple sensors to the chest isn't done for aesthetic purposes, but because it's believed they are required for an accurate reading.

  7. locust infested orchard inc

    Just imagine if Microsoft launched a competing product with similar functionality and more, perhaps called Microsoft Timepiece™, which synced data to and from a Microsoft Surface Foldable™/Microsoft Surface Go Pro with Windows Core OS/Andromeda.

    That would be the ultimate in human on-the-go productivity.

    Alas, I can only but dream...

  8. skane2600

    Unless the watch has been approved by the FDA as a medical device, the ECG should probably be considered a novelty feature rather than a serious diagnostic tool.

    • Jeffsters

      In reply to skane2600:

      The FDA has approved it. Use the Google. Apple wouldn't release a "medical novelty feature" that gets them sued.

    • richardfenoglio

      In reply to skane2600:

      It was indeed announced that they got FDA approval for the ECG app.

      • skane2600

        In reply to RichardFenoglio:

        It would be interesting to see the clinical research behind this, if there is some. I found the FDA statement disturbing. The head of the FDA is a resident fellow at the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute. As a Trump appointee it wouldn't surprise me if, like most of the others, he's more pro-business than being motivated by the fundamental purpose of the agency he heads. It's not the FDA's job to "spur innovation" but to ensure the safety and efficacy of medical products.

        • behindmyscreen

          In reply to skane2600:

          I think the worst that will come of this is more visits to the Emergency Department by people who think they have a previously diagnosed issue because Siri told them they had a problem.....No doctor will use it as diagnostic....Maybe if it is shown to be accurate enough over time, some PCPs may have patients use the watch to track Afib.

  9. sott3

    $399 seems steep but I've worn my now "Series 0" Apple Watch every day since I got it in 2015. For something I use every day, it feels like the upgrade is justified.