The bottom line: Our quick verdict on the Apple Watch Series 2

Most people are better off with the lower-priced Series 1.

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The Apple Watch Series 2 is what the company should have put out last year: It's faster than the original, with longer battery life, a more intuitive OS, brighter screen, built-in GPS and waterproof design. If this were Apple's only new smartwatch, we would have given it an even stronger recommendation than we actually did. The problem is, the company does indeed have another wearable on offer. The Series 1, as it's called, costs a hundred dollars less and is basically last year's model, upgraded with the same dual-core processor used in the Series 2. It, too, runs watchOS 3 out of the box. As an all-purpose smartwatch, then, the experience should be similar to what you'd get on the souped-up version.

Meanwhile, though the GPS inside the Series 2 mostly matches readouts on other devices, the difference is often big enough to have big implications for estimated pace. That shouldn't be a big deal for walkers, but more serious athletes who train for events where speed matters won't want to give up their dedicated sports watches just yet. Given that, the Series 2 mostly makes sense for either swimmers or people who want distance tracking but don't care about accurate pace tracking (like we said: walkers, hikers and joggers). Everyone else, save yourself a hundred bucks and get the Series 1 instead.

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Apple Watch Series 2

Pros

  • Faster performance and longer battery life than before
  • watchOS 3 feels much more intuitive
  • Waterproof design means you can take it swimming
  • Built-in GPS is good for walkers, hikers and casual joggers
  • Screen is more than twice as bright
  • Works with the same bands as the first-gen watch

Cons

  • Average pace calculations in workouts are often off the mark
  • Distance tracking in running falters if you stop to walk
  • Activity app is missing features you'll find in other fitness apps
  • More watch faces, please
  • The Series 1 watch offers many of the same features for $100 less
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