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Apple Watch 5

When it comes to smartwatches, there's Apple, and then there's everyone else. The computer giants are so far ahead of the wrist-worn gadget game that they barely need to make any year on year improvements to rinse their competition. And if you don't believe us, take for example the recently launched Apple Watch 5.

Released in the tail-end of 2019, the fifth iteration of Apple's premium-rate time-teller is said to offer few tech improvements and almost nothing in the way of new features, prompting even the most lavish spenders to wonder whether it's worth another upgrade.
But is this really fair?

Apple Watch 4 vs Apple Watch 5

With competitors so far behind, the only meaningful way to assess the Apple Watch 5 is to compare it to its predecessor, which came out in 2018 to almost universial acclaim.

So, let's get down to it. Here are the major points of difference.

The "always-on" display
The big - and perhaps only - feature addition in the fifth installment is the so-called always-on display, which effectively keeps the interface visible even when you're not raising your hand to peek a glimpse at the time.

Everyone agrees this is a welcome upgrade, although it's not without a cost. The battery life is slightly lower as a result, and some have complained that the screen is too bright to keep on the bedside cabinet at night.

New apps
The new operating system, WatchOS 6, also comes replete with a selection of new apps, all of which - in a break from Apple tradition - are actually pretty functional.

One example is Noise, which allows you to measure sound levels in the environment. This works in the same way as your phone when you turn your volume up too loud, popping up with a handy message to let you know that consistent exposure to loud noise is bad for your ears.

There's also good news for more adventurous users in the shape of the new Compass app, which not only shows you the direction in which you're traveling but also coordinates and elevation. If you spend your weekends hiking, that could come in handy.

The only sour note, in terms of apps, is that you still need to pull out your phone every now and then to download and install features, which is kind of a drag. In 2020, it really ought to function completely independent of any other device.

Lower battery life
As above, users are reporting a slight dip in battery life. Apple themselves claim that it should still last a solid 20 hours, but even then, it's not exactly ideal.

To be fair, though, this has never and probably will never be the strength of an Apple smartwatch. If you really want one of these on your wrist, you might as well get in the habit of charging up on (at least) a nightly basis.

Our verdict

Even with only minor improvements, the latest Apple Watch still blows all its competitors out the water in terms of performance - and at at £500 it doesn't fare too badly in terms of price either (the average Rolex is at least double that).

Admittedly, it would have been nice if Apple had spent a little more time fine-tuning the tech, and the battery in particular, but there're enough new apps to justify an upgrade, with plenty more to be released over the course of the next year.

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