The Apple Watch Series 2: faster, brighter, and waterproof

08 September 2016

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus may be the stars of today’s Apple event, but the company spared some spotlight for wearable tech by introducing the next-generation Apple Watch. 

The Apple Watch Series 2 replicates the square design and 1.5 to 1.65-inch screen of last year’s original Watch. You’ll get basically the same interface and screen navigation, and the so-called ‘digital crown’  (the small dial on your screen’s upper right) remains intact.

Internally, however, Apple has bumped up the specs for an all-round smoother, faster experience. Series 2 runs on an upgraded dual-core processor for a 50% performance bump, and includes a new, brighter screen for clearer daylight viewing.

Fitness updates: waterproofing, GPS, and more

Fitness is definitely a big focus for Apple, and the Series 2 Watch retains all the requisite workout accessories, including heart rate sensors, training apps, an advanced activity tracker and coach, the Health app, and much more.

While the original Watch was splash proof, Series 2 adds even more liquid resistance : the 2016 model is now waterproof at a depth of up to 50 metres. This is great news for swimmers looking for the ultimate fitness-tracking smartwatch, and Apple is tapping into the market aquatic with the inclusion of several swim-specific workouts on Series 2 devices.

Apple has also updated the Watch with built-in GPS for accurate sports and location tracking. Runners, cyclists and outdoor fitness enthusiasts can leave the iPhone behind and get fully GPS-tracked workouts with the new Watch, even without the option of cellular connectivity - but should keep in mind that the Series 2 still can’t make or receive calls and texts without a WiFi or Bluetooth connection.

Info at a glance

For Apple fans wanting convenience over fitness tools, the Watch still functions as an always-on personal assistant, albeit with an upgrade thanks to the watchOS 3 operating system. Siri is still ever-present and able to be activated with a literal flick of your wrist and a ‘Hey, Siri’, so help, reminders and easy app-access is never far away.

One-touch notifications for calls, messages, emails and appointments is still included, and your favourite apps and frequently-viewed info - such as weather, stocks, and news in general - is available with a quick press of a button. There’s also plenty of options for users to customise their Watch face and home screen, both for their own taste and for added convenience.

Pokémon Go, on the go

Of course, much of Apple’s success is due to the company’s impact and influence on pop culture, which is why it’s no surprise that the Series 2 will be compatible with a new, wearable-optimised version of Pokémon Go.

While the Watch version will probably just focus on finding Pokémon and alerting users to important poké-locations (so players will still be required to whip out their iPhones to actually catch and battle Pokémon), it’s still a fun update and good news for the countless Go-addicted Apple users out there. 

Despite the improvements, there's still one important feature that hasn't been given an update this time around. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t appear to have upgraded battery life for the Series 2 - while you’ll still get up to eighteen hours, that's still significantly less than one day of use from a single charge. 

Pricing, editions, and availability

Standard and Nike versions

As with the original Watch, Series 2 will be available in several pricing tiers, starting with the standard Series 2 watch from $529. The Series 2 comes with either an aluminium or stainless steel case, and your choice of a Sport, Woven Nylon, stainless steel or leather band.

Apple is also partnering with leading fitness brand Nike to launch the special Watch Nike+ edition, also starting at $369 upfront. This version features an aluminium case and a specially-designed Nike Sport Band, based on the company’s now-discontinued FuelBand fitness tracker.

Go deluxe with Hermès and Edition 

Although the future of the much-maligned $10,000-plus Gold Apple Watch Edition wasn't mentioned, there are still luxury options available for the more refined smartwatch owner. 

Apple will be releasing a special Hermès version in partnership with the renowned fashion house, which includes a stainless steel case and Hermès band combination and is priced at $1779 and up.

Finally, if you have a minimum of $1799 to spare, you can take home the top-tier Apple Watch Edition, which includes a ‘luxurious’ ceramic white case and a magnetic charging dock with purchase.

When can I get it?

The Series 2 Apple Watches will be available for pre-order from Friday, September 9, with in-store availability from September 13. The Nike+ version can be ordered this week, but will not be commercially available until late October.

If you’d prefer a cheaper option, Apple will also be re-releasing its original Series 1 Watch with an upgraded dual-core processor and the latest watchOS 3 update, with prices starting from $399.

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