Three years later, the apple Watch Series 3 is still one of the best smartwatches around. As long as you get the non-LTE model, that is.

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The future of smartwatches is being connected, but the táo bị cắn dở Watch Series 3 doesn"t quite deliver on that promise. Get the non-LTE mã sản phẩm instead.


Excellent fitness-tracking features


Faster Siri


LTE is convenient while you"re working out


Apple Music streaming

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The LTE táo apple Watch Series 3 is designed to bridge that gap, but that"s it. It"s not an iPhone replacement. If you"re expecting khổng lồ leave your phone for extended periods of time and use the watch lớn handle all your tasks, you will be disappointed. That disappointment sinks in after you add up the costs — $399 for the 38-millimeter model or $429 for the 42-mm version, & then an extra $10 on your monthly cellphone bill so that the watch can draw from your data bucket. All that, & it can"t even last a full day on its own.

But even though I knew the watch couldn"t replace my iPhone, I still had high hopes. Those floated down khổng lồ earth as soon as I unboxed the device.

Apple Watch Series 3 activation: A frustrating process

The Series 3 pairs to lớn your iPhone the same way past generations did, with a dynamic image on the watch face that you scan with your iPhone camera. That part is just as seamless as usual. But then I got to the part where I had lớn activate the watch"s cellular connectivity.

I eventually got my watch activated on AT&T"s network, but it took a trip to lớn my nearby AT&T store và the help of five customer service reps — four in-store và one over the phone — more than an hour lớn navigate the complicated setup process.

I ran into a myriad of issues when trying lớn activate the watch on my AT&T plan. A customer service agent couldn"t help me figure out the problem over the phone, so I eventually paired the device lớn an Apple-provided iPhone 8 on T-Mobile to chạy thử it out.

I experienced some launch-weekend jitters with phone điện thoại tư vấn reliability, where calls on the watch over LTE would fail, but those issues seem to lớn have been resolved. (If you run into a similar problem, try deactivating the watch"s data plan, và then reactivating và rebooting. That did the trick for me.) A look at Twitter and Reddit shows that other Series 3 buyers experienced the same early problems I did.

I eventually got my watch activated on AT&T"s network, but it took a trip to lớn my nearby AT&T store & the help of five customer service reps — four in-store & one over the phone — more than an hour to navigate the complicated cài đặt process.

A watchOS update that táo apple pushed out a few weeks after the Series 3"s launch fixed a bug that affected the watch"s ability khổng lồ switch from Wi-Fi to lớn cellular. The software update also added a manual setting in the Control Center, accessible by swiping up on the watch face, that lets you toggle among the iPhone"s connection, a Wi-Fi network & the watch"s own cellular connection.

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Before the update, you could connect to lớn cellular only by putting your iPhone in airplane mode or leaving it out of bluetooth không dây range altogether. Now, if your watch gets hung up trying to lớn connect khổng lồ a Wi-Fi network, you can manually push it lớn connect khổng lồ cellular.

Apple Watch Series 3 cellular connectivity: Battery killer

I quickly discovered the LTE Series 3"s limitations when I left my iPhone at home. I started the day with a 3.5-mile run, during which I streamed táo apple Music"s Pop Workout radio station the entire 37 minutes. When I returned trang chủ to eat breakfast, I checked my watch battery. It had drained khổng lồ 60 percent after running every battery-sucking feature simultaneously. I managed to lớn squeeze another 12.5 hours out of the watch by not relying on it too heavily for the rest of the day.

These activities aren"t battery killers on the Series 2 or Series 3 without LTE, but with the Series 3"s constant cellular connection, you can forget about it lasting 18 hours on a charge. Simply being connected lớn a cell network will reduce the battery life with mixed use from 18 hours lớn about 8 hours.

That"s why the watch is designed to lớn rely on your phone"s connectivity khổng lồ keep its own cellular connection from draining the device — và why it"s so important to lớn have manual control over that connection.

Apple Watch Series 3 design: Unchanged, in a good way

Apple"s ability khổng lồ put a cellular modem & bigger battery into the Series 3 without dramatically adding lớn its form size is impressive. The watch is slightly thicker than the Series 2 — about two sheets of paper thicker, táo says — but not noticeably so. The 38mm táo khuyết Watch Series 3 is the only LTE smartwatch that looks good on my wrist. The Series 3 also comes in a larger, 42mm form size for people with larger wrists.

The ultrabright, 1,000-nit OLED display has the same size and resolution as the previous models: 272 x 340 pixels on the 38mm model and 312 x 390 on the 42mm version. The screen is Ion-X glass on the aluminum models và sapphire crystal on the stainless-steel and ceramic versions. The aluminum variety comes in gold, silver và space gray, while the ceramic version is available in white & gray.

Basically, it"s still one of the better-looking smartwatches on the market (yes, even though it"s square).

Apple Watch Series 3 fitness-tracking: Better than ever

Working out is the one use for which an LTE apple Watch is perfect. There is nothing quite lượt thích lacing up my sneakers, pairing my AirPods to my watch và hitting the pavement with no phone weighing me down. (I love my iPhone 7 Plus, but it feels like a giant barnacle attached to my body when I"m running.) Knowing that I can still get text messages và important notifications on my watch is reassuring.

Both Series 3 models, the one with cellular and the one without, sport a new barometric altimeter, which is a handy new data point for measuring elevation. That"s useful for hiking and skiing as well as actual stair climbing. I knew I climbed a lot of stairs, considering almost all subway stations are located underground, but I never really tallied them up before. After I saw that I powered through 21 flights of stairs after a Mets trò chơi at Citi Field, I realized why I was so tired (and promptly took a nap).

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Otherwise, the Series 3 with LTE has the same great fitness-tracking features that the Series 2 and Series 3 without cellular connectivity have, including accurate built-in GPS và an equally accurate heart rate sensor. Apple"s watchOS 4 tăng cấp put more fitness-tracking features on all of its smartwatches, such as alerts when your heart rate is elevated and support for high-intensity, interval-training workouts. A feature that connects your watch khổng lồ your gym"s equipment for more accurate exercise tracking is slowly rolling out.

Apple has added a feature to the LTE watch that allows you to turn off cellular connectivity & the heart rate sensor to save battery life, which is great if you"re going on a long run. I toggled on this feature for one run, but if you do this frequently, it makes it kind of pointless khổng lồ own an LTE watch. But with or without LTE, the táo Watch 3 is one of the best fitness trackers.

Series 3 music: The missing piece falls into place

Apple touted the Series 3"s music-streaming capabilities in a series of TV commercials ahead of the device"s launch. Yet táo bị cắn dở Music streaming took weeks lớn arrive on the watch.

The good news: Now that it"s here, táo khuyết Music streaming over cellular is an incredibly chất lượng feature that actually makes me feel like I could ditch my phone someday. Táo packaged the streaming service in two apps: táo bị cắn Music, which requires a $10-per-month subscription, và Radio, a free watch tiện ích that anyone can use lớn stream songs. Streaming music makes the smartwatch experience almost — dare I say it — magical.

There was no lag as I launched a radio station in my house, where my watch was connected lớn my iPhone, or when I moved out of Bluetooth và Wi-Fi range as I set off on my run. Táo khuyết Music never stuttered or dropped, even as I ran through Brooklyn"s massive, tree-filled Prospect Park.

I was hoping that the Series 3 would also support on-device podcast playback, but that hasn"t happened due khổng lồ limitations in watchOS 4, as Overcast developer Marco Arment details here.

I still have to carry my phone with me when I want lớn listen to podcasts on my commute, which I do every day. The watch does allow you khổng lồ control audio playback and save music offline from apple Music to lớn listen khổng lồ via bluetooth không dây headphones, but those features are neither new nor exclusive to lớn the LTE model.

(Editor"s note: With watchOS 6, you can stream podcasts & audiobooks over cellular. You can also store them directly on the watch for offline listening.)

Now that it"s here, apple Music streaming over cellular is an incredibly quality feature that actually makes me feel like I could ditch my phone someday.

Series 3 phone calls: Better with bluetooth không dây earbuds

Sure, you can phone home from your watch. But bởi vì you really want to? Making or taking phone calls from your wrist is something of a novelty, và you"ll definitely tire of it. A pair of công nghệ bluetooth earphones, such as Apple"s AirPods, elevates the experience — it"s about as pleasurable as a phone gọi can possibly be.

When I first reviewed the watch, the device started to lớn heat up after a few minutes of talk time. I actually had to end a 13-minute phone call because the watch became uncomfortably warm on my wrist. After the software update, I didn"t experience those overheating issues.

The watch"s call quality is comparable to that of my iPhone, & when it"s paired with Apple"s AirPods, talking on the watch is effortless. You will definitely look lượt thích you"re talking khổng lồ yourself without a phone in hand, but if you don"t care about looking slightly awkward in public, then proceed.

For quick check-ins with friends or significant others, the watch will vì just fine.

Why you don"t need LTE

When the watch is connected lớn a cellular network, it can quickly make calls, respond to lớn messages using voice dictation or the Scribble handwriting-to-text feature, & activate Siri lớn answer questions or pull up directions. I experienced some issues downloading emails from my Gmail trương mục in Apple"s native Mail tiện ích on cellular, và there were periods of time when the cellular connection would unexpectedly drop (denoted with a red X at the đứng đầu of the display), even when I hadn"t moved.

The things I love most about the táo bị cắn dở Watch have nothing to do with its LTE capabilities. I appreciate being able lớn save music offline to listen khổng lồ with AirPods, use táo apple Pay lớn buy stuff without carrying my wallet around, glance at the Siri watch face khổng lồ get an overview of my day and track my daily activity in the Workout & Activity apps. But I can bởi vì all those things with a Series 3 that doesn"t have LTE, & those models start at $329. In fact, you can get all of these features with every watch táo apple sells.

Series 3 vs. Series 5

The táo khuyết Watch Series 3 is more affordable now that the Series 5 is the newest watch in the lineup. But the Series 5 also has bells & whistles that the Series 3 can"t match, including a larger, more immersive always-on display, built-in compass, faster processor, & advanced heart health features such as an FDA-cleared ECG app for taking on-the-go electrocardiograms and a passive atrial fibrillation alert that monitors your heart"s rhythm in the background.

If display, speed & medical-grade health features are essential, the Series 5 is worth the splurge. But if what you"re after is a solid smartwatch that works well with your iPhone, then the Series 3 is just fine. Check out our in-depth Series 3 vs. Series 5 face-off here.

Bottom line

The Series 3 with LTE has had its problems, like the Wi-Fi software bug and launch-weekend carrier hiccups. But the watch has already improved by leaps & bounds, thanks to lớn a software update that added streaming music và manual control over cellular và Wi-Fi connectivity so your watch doesn"t get stuck somewhere between the two. Longer battery life will continue lớn be a struggle at this size, even though the Series 3 has a bigger battery than its predecessors.

There are moments when LTE makes the watch feel truly magical: receiving a text while I"m running with just the táo Watch and AirPods, or downloading emails without a phone nearby after escaping the office lớn pick up lunch. But those moments aren"t as frequent as I would lượt thích them lớn be. If you want the Series 3, get the non-LTE version, which starts at an affordable $199.

I can imagine a future in which a smartwatch can replace a điện thoại for most of the tasks we use it for, but the Series 3 with LTE is not that future. At least not yet.