Wearing Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular, I went phoneless on Valentine's Day. Here's what happened
Let freedom ring
For the sake of total transparency, I have to admit that I lied. Sort of. Not really? Okay, I did not go completely phoneless on Valentine's Day — hey, it was still a working day after all — but I did leave my iPhone (read: safety net) in my purse as much as I could. To mimic the freedom Apple is touting regarding the Apple Watch Series 3 with built-in cellular and GPS, I tested its limits, subjecting it to my usual daily routine whenever possible.
Before I spill on the results of my experimentation, a few key points about the gadget that existing fans and hopeful converts should know:
- Apple Watch Series 3 comes in two variables: GPS plus cellular, and only GPS models; both feature a faster processor, a new barometric altimeter, and watchOS 4. (The barometric alimeter measures relative elevation for accurate calculation of steps climbed and steps taken when moving uphill.) The cellular variation differentiates itself with the little red dot on the digital crown.
- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS and cellular's unique selling point is the display, which doubles as an antenna. It supports voice and data over LTE/UMTS, switching to the most power-efficient wireless option available so you're connected 24/7.
- The cellular function in Singapore is available for Singtel users only. At the time of publishing, roaming option is not available.
- Siri talks on the Apple Watch Series 3.
- Apple Music users can now stream music and radio from the Music and new Radio app respectively.
- Apple Watch Series 3 is made for speed. The third-generation processor is up to 70% faster than its predecessors, and the new wireless chip delivers faster, more power efficient Wi-Fi performance.
8am: A run around the neighbourhood
For the first time, I completed my five-clicker outdoors with just my Apple Watch and AirPods while my iPhone was charging in my room — just as well too, because I forgot to plug it in the night before. I'm useless on the pavement without music, so Apple's new Radio app came in handy, streaming without a glitch during the entire duration of my workout. Note: To fully utilise this feature, AirPods is mandatory, for Apple Music will not play on speaker. Also, since Spotify lacks an app on the Apple Watch, users will not be able to use the app without the phone.
8.30am: Receiving a phone call
I generally don't pick up calls mid-run, but seeing that I had a few appointments lined up the next few days, I decided not to ignore this one. My Apple Watch, vibrating, put Def Leppard on pause; the Workout app however, kept going. After a quick tap on the green phone icon displayed on the screen, I spoke with a restaurant manager for less than a minute through the Airpods without having to break my stride. 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' resumed automatically the moment the call ended. I'm liking how seamless this feels.
9.30am: Citymapper, I love you
Citymapper is not a new Apple Watch app, but it's new to me. Since I'm giving my iPhone a break, I prayed that the app is just as user-friendly on my mini device. It didn't perform as fast as it does on the phone, though it's worth noting the additional five-second wait didn't annoy me. Simple enough to use, I found out for certain what I already suspected: It would take me too long to get to work by public transportation. Uber it is! And guess what? There's an Apple Watch app for that too — of which the main difference from the iPhone version is that typing in your location is unnecessary; GPS will figure out your coordinates. For more information on how the Uber app works on Apple Watch, click here.
12pm: The camera is sorely missed
I truly felt naked without my iPhone right about noon. Technically, I was still able to whip it out during lunch to take a picture of my food for Instagram Stories (I'm basic but not so basic I can't admit it) but I resisted the urge. My food tasted marginally better since I consumed it a little warmer than usual now that photography wasn't part of the ritual. A fair trade.
3.15pm: Calendar app comes to rescue
Moleskines have never been a part of my professional life; I've been a loyal Calendar app since I had my first iPhone in 2009, when I was still in college. The app on Apple Watch reminded me that I had a fashion event in half an hour, though I miss the notification on my iPhone; it only buzzes me when I have to leave, based on its traffic calculation from where I am to where I need to be.
7pm: Siri works with Maps
Wondering if I needed an Uber to dinner, I called on Siri on the Apple Watch to figure out the distance between my work and my dinner spot. She told me that Kandahar Street is less than a kilometre away from Syed Alwi Road (though she said she's not sure). Walking it is. I took my chances and used the Maps app on the watch to navigate myself to the restaurant while listening to music.
7.05pm: Making a phone call
My date texted me via Whatsapp, assuming to tell me he's running late. Because I couldn't read it on the watch (Whatsapp does not have an app within the watch) unlike how I could if he had iMessaged me, I instructed Siri to give him a ring. This time, I conversed without the AirPods. The good news: It's not necessary to speak closely to the Apple Watch speakers. With my arm placed diagonally to my body on the table, my date was able to hear me — and I, him — loud and clear.
8.15pm: The camera is sorely missed, part 2
Realistically speaking, I wouldn't leave my phone at home if I was going to dinner, but I would for sure leave my phone when I want to go for a run, and seriously consider it for nights out where shots will be involved. Hence, I allowed myself a quick snap of my pizza and a wefie with my date. You know what they say... if it's not on Instagram, did it really happen? Speaking of, the Instagram app, at time of publication, shows "The network connection was lost" error on the screen, a problem also noticed by other Apple Watch users. Strange.
9.30pm: Apple Pay for the win
No discernable difference between the Apple Pay function between Series 2 and Series 3 watches, which is good news, because I can't imagine the feature being more seamless than it is now.
Does the Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS and cellular deliver as much freedom as it promises? Pretty much. Unless you think the Spotify and Whatsapp apps are paramount during your periodic phoneless existence, consider this user impressed.