Apple like every tech company is known for their yearly incremental upgrades to persuade current customers to upgrade to the “latest and greatest”. Sometimes an upgrade is worth it depending upon what features you’re looking for but once in a while an upgrade turns out to be, well, a downgrade. It turns out the Apple Watch Series 4 is simply better than the Series 5.
To be honest I was happy with the Apple Watch Series 4 40mm version. For a full-featured smartwatch that did pretty much everything I could want, it had decent battery life. I never worried about the battery throughout the day because I knew the battery lasted at least a day and half easily. That isn’t the case with the Series 5 40 mm.
Somedays battery life on my Series 5 is good and easily gets me through the day and then other days it drains rather quickly for unknown reasons. It still lasts 24 hours but not if I throw in a couple workouts at the gym or use GPS.
That wasn’t the case with the Series 4. I could still do those things and count on the watch to reliably last throughout the day and night.
And I’m not the only one who has noticed this. Everyone has!
The only reason that I upgraded to the Series 5 was because I wanted cellular service. I wanted to be able to leave my phone at home and be able to run to the store or go for a walk around the neighborhood, do yard work, ride my bike, or whatever and be free of my phone and still have the ability to answer or make a phone call.
The cellular service, through Verizon, works very well. I have no complaints about that. It does drain a little more quickly when the watch is using cellular service as opposed to being tethered to my iPhone XR by Bluetooth but it’s not a big difference. I can live with it and I am happy that I have cellular service on the watch. It’s been very handy and well worth it for me.
I’m just sick of having to charge the watch so dang much and for so dang long. Yes, I charged the Series 4 every day too but it seemed like it charged more quickly than the Series 5. I sure don’t remember having to wait so long to fully charge the battery but then again maybe it isn’t so much charging time as it is the fact that the Series 5 is just drained more when I place it on the charger.
It would stand to reason that the watch, either version, would take longer to charge if it only has 20% of battery remaining compared to 40%. That’s probably why it seems like it takes so long. I’m used to more battery remaining in the morning when I plop it on the charger and head off to shower and get ready for the day.
Another area where the Series 5 has disappointed me is mic and speaker quality. The Series 4 impressed me with its great sound quality at both ends of the conversation. I never hesitated to answer a call using the watch even if it was an important phone call.
My husband didn’t know when I answered through my watch or phone when using the Series 4 but immediately notices the difference when I answer using the Series 5.
He thinks I’m using speakerphone or the Bluetooth mic in my car but couldn’t tell the difference when I answered using the Series 4.
The speaker of the Series 5 sounds inferior on my end as well. That’s a bummer.
And the only feature that the Series 5 has above the Series 4 is the always-on display but I don’t use it because it affects the already not so great battery life.
With all of that said, the Apple Watch Series 5 is still a very, very good smartwatch. It does about everything I could ask for. No version of the Apple Watch is known for great battery life. We’re only talking a difference of hours not days between the Series 4 and Series 5 but those hours make a difference.
The Samsung Galaxy Active 2 can last for a couple days and it is getting pretty darn close to being as good as the Apple Watch. All it needs is more third-party app support and it will be right there. It also has a better mic and speaker and support for third-party watchfaces but I digress.
You can read a comparison between the Galaxy Active 2 and Apple Watch Series 5 here.
The moral of the story is if you can find an Apple Watch Series 4 you should probably save yourself some money and choose it over the Series 5, unless you really want that alway-on display.
Or you can save even more money and grab the Series 3 available on Amazon and other retailers. It’s brand new and still being manufactured by Apple so you can purchase the full AppleCare warranty. That’s the watch I purchased for my son for Christmas and he loves it.
As for me, I really don’t want to spend the money to “upgrade” again this fall when the Series 6 will likely be announced— unless battery life has been drastically improved.
Apple, you’re going to have to step up your game this time.