Apple Watch Series 5 review: the constantly available display is great – CNET


At $ 399 (£ 399, AU $ 649), the Apple Watch Series 5 is not particularly affordable and in many ways almost the same watch as last year Apple Watch Series 4 was. However, the constantly on display offers one of the most important functions that I have been waiting for. I notice it very much because I can now take a look at the time I am writing. Or watch TV casually. Or drive. No more strange arm winches.

It is a function that is long overdue: the pebble. Amazfit Bip. Fitbit Versa 2. Samsung Galaxy Watch and Google Wear OS have had always-on modes for years. Always one doesn't improve battery life – in fact it makes things a little bit worse. Among the smartwatches, however, the Apple Watch is considered the most powerful wearable ever.

Continue reading: 13 Apple Watch bands to get on Amazon

You still need an iPhone to use the Apple Watch, but if you have one, it's almost certainly the best choice. It is hard to find another smartwatch that is so easy to spot or that responds to messages and calls as quickly. Since most of the competition has disappeared, the position of the Apple Watch as the best iOS watch is further expanded.

I've been wearing the Series 5 for a few months now and it meets all of my requirements (except for more than a day without charging). It's not a perfect device, but it is as close as possible in the world of wearables.

Just understand: the constantly on display is the only important new feature in Apple Watch Series 5. You don't need this feature, but apart from a longer battery life, that's what I was looking for.

If you want to buy an Apple Watch at a cheaper price and find last year's Series 4 on sale, it should feel almost the same, apart from the constantly pop-up screen. And the Series 3At half the price, it's also worth thinking about.


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The Solar Dial dial, maybe one of my new favorites (you can get it with WatchOS 6, you don't need a new watch for that).

Sarah Tew / CNET

The other major upgrades are:

  • A compass (magnetometer) that points in the right direction when navigating with maps – that iPhone has had one since the 3GS
  • An international SOS trigger for radio clocks (no mobile phone contract required)
  • New (more expensive) premium surfaces in titanium and ceramic

That's it. If you are not interested in any of these features, you can get them now Apple Watch Series 4 from last year has been released by numerous retailers, (At the moment, the savings appear to be around $ 50, but other offers could turn up during the holidays.) If you don't need an EKG or a larger 40 or 44 mm Series 4 display, Apple sells the 38 mm – and 42mm Series 3 official price of $ 199 at the new date, which is basically the watch's selling price for most of last year.

Read: 13 Apple Watch bands to get on Amazon

Nevertheless, the new display is a killer feature. I wore an aluminum Apple Watch Series 5 and fell in love with the permanent addition. It's funny now to look at the older models without looking at them. But it's not always what you think.

Always on, I feel more normal

I now use the Apple Watch more like a normal watch. And I keep thinking about all the people with Apple Watches and blank, dark screens. That will change at some point. Interesting dials will appear. Maybe those that match the watch straps.

The new watch faces in Apple's latest version of its watch software WatchOS 6, are great. There are currently 34 dials with hundreds of variations. A solar dial shows the sunset and sunrise and provides space for further information such as the weather or the date. Fresh, information-rich dials like Meridian and Modular Compact offer new combinations of links to apps. Download WatchOS 6 before purchasing a new Apple Watch because the extra features that include podcasts and an ambient noise meter can make your old watch feel new.


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In always-on mode, the display is dimmed and some dials are changed slightly.

Sarah Tew / CNET

But even with these options, I'm bored and looking for something new. I want a third-party watch store to add unique designs, and that hasn't arrived yet. The always-on feature further cemented this wish. Maybe this will pave the way for Apple should allow third-party watch faces, Perhaps a curated collection of well-known designers? I would buy a few.

With the new OLED display technology, Apple ensures that the display is always ready for use. This slows down and dims the display, freezes animations, and keeps the display on. A side effect: the screen adapts better in low light conditions, like in cinemas. It will be interesting to see whether this display technology will also be used in other devices, including future iPhones – which many still use as the main device for timing. (Just for comparison, With the Galaxy S7, Samsung has introduced an always-on display function for its cell phones for the first time in 2016.)


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It gets a little difficult to always turn on the dimmer in bright light (sometimes wrist / tapping is required).

Sarah Tew / CNET

Here are some facts about the Apple Watch's always-on display:

  • This shortens battery life, but turning it off can increase battery life. Apple promises an 18-hour battery life with always-on enabled by default. The new OLED display lowers the refresh rate and the display lowers the brightness and reduces animations. So far I've been about a day and a half old. You can always turn on the device, and I'll test it next to see how much better battery life can be. I originally said "it won't affect battery life" and as I continued to use it I saw that it was limping to the end of a day and the remaining battery life was less than Series 4: on average maybe I will be in the area of 20% or less. However, if you always turn on this option, the battery life of the Series 4 is exactly achieved. In both cases, the watch needs to be charged at night. Choose your poison.
  • It is always active only for watch faces and the workout app. Apple has not allowed other apps to always be active. That means if they are open they disappear after a few seconds and a small digital dial appears. If you dreamed that something was going to be on the clock, you're out of luck. However, this can be helpful if you have sensitive information on your watch. If you turn it away, it will no longer be visible like a privacy screen.
  • Always-on only works on the wrist. The watch waits for skin contact before it always turns on. If it's not on your wrist (or charging), the display will still turn off.

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Most apps wear off after a few seconds and show a simple dial.

Scott Stein / CNET

  • Each dial has a surrounding, dimmed, always-on mode that is activated. Similar to Samsung or Wear OS, Apple's environmental functions are always switched on. Moving seconds hands disappear. Background colors tend to turn black or dark. Ads are shrinking a bit. Some watch faces just look dimmed, while others take on a second cool identity. Some are just boring analog hands.
  • The watch must "wake up" before wiping, which takes half a second. You may see the watch face and want to swipe up a new one or look at the notifications. However, the constantly active display must be activated from the idle state. Tapping wakes it up. It's a little delay, but be prepared.
  • Active complications like the new compass or the noise level go dark. These things still need a wrist turn to wake up.