It seems the media embargo is up, with seemingly dozens of publications publishing their Apple Watch Series 5 review today (The Verge and Hodinkee being perhaps the best). But, I always look to Jonathan Gruber’s Daring Fireball for the best and hottest Apple takes. He’s particularly adept at explaining his experiences with the Apple Watch from the perspective of a self-professed watch lover. He’s talked about his love affair with his Rolex Submariner before, explaining that, even as an Apple fanboy, he prefers analog watches.
Gruber’s got a short review of his week with the Apple Watch Series 5, and he’s impressed, but mainly by one feature: the always-on display. He writes:
“I’d have placed an order for a Series 5 watch even if Apple had put up a slide that said “Just one new feature: Always-on display.”
From his perspective, the other changes are mostly minor. And he’s right: the aesthetics and dimensions are essentially the same, though Apple has brought back the Watch Edition, the more premium version of the Watch that was absent in the Series 4 lineup. The Edition features premium materials like titanium and ceramic — Hodinkee’s review goes to great lengths to describe these — but I can’t imagine most people will be buying these, or really care that much. As a product that’s disposable on a yearly, or every-few-years, basis, it’s going to be difficult to convince the average SoulCycler to shell out nearly $1,000 for what is still basically an extension of your iPhone.
And I agree with Gruber. When I saw the news of the Apple Watch Series 5’s always-on display, I immediately looked up trade in values for my seemingly obsolete Series 3 — $60, if you were wondering. How’s that for residual value (no worse than a Hublot, I suppose)?
The new Series 5 starts at $399 for the 40mm version and $429 for the 44mm version. That’s a bit hard for me to justify when I know the price will drop by $100 in just a year when Apple releases the next version. Additionally, Apple has done something tricky this year: they’ve cut the Series 4 from their official lineup, such that you can only get the Series 3 or Series 5 from Apple. That makes it difficult for those like me who tend to operate under the modus operandi that last year’s Apple release will do just fine, thank you very much. Now, customers have the option of the new Series 5, or the Series 3, which Apple has dropped to as low as $199. I need my $299 option, Apple!