Nailing the smartwatch recipe

Apple Watch Series 2

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Apple Watch Series 2
My Reading Room

Last year’s Apple Watch was Apple’s first smartwatch and also the company’s first major all-new product since the debut of the iPad in 2010. Though it’s far from perfect, the Apple Watch has been a quiet success for the company. Apple is now the leader in the smartwatch category and the number two watch brand in the world in terms of sales, ahead of other illustrious names such as Omega, Cartier, and Patek Philippe, and behind only Rolex. This is quite an achievement. 

A year on, the successor to the Apple Watch is called the Apple Watch Series 2. If you were hoping for a round smartwatch, look away because Apple has stuck to their guns with a square design. In fact, the new Apple Watch Series 2 is nearly indistinguishable from its predecessor save for the slight increase in thickness and different markings on the case back; the new watch is a barely noticeable 0.9mm thicker. 

Admittedly, most people would prefer a conventional round watch, but I think a square dial suits a smartwatch best as it’s the most natural and efficient way to show text. In addition, I think Apple has done a stellar job on the case design of the Apple Watch. Even with the display powered down, most people will be able to tell an Apple Watch apart just by looking at the case. That for me is the mark of a powerful and successful design.

Like its predecessor, the new Apple Watch Series 2 is available in aluminum and stainless steel cases, and there’s a new Apple Watch Edition that comes in a striking pure white ceramic case. Gone are the watches with gold cases. There will also be models designed in collaboration with French luxury house Hermés and sporting giant Nike. 

So if the Apple Watch Series 2 looks identical, what’s new? There are a couple of big changes and improvements, and the first is the new processor. Dubbed the Apple S2, this new dual-core processor is said to be 50% faster and with twice the graphics performance. And indeed, the Apple Watch Series 2 does feel more fluid and responsive as compared to the first generation Apple Watch, even if the latter has also been upgraded to the new and speedier watchOS 3. 

The other thing that users might notice is the brighter display. The display on the Apple Watch Series 2 has a brightness rating of 1,000 nits, which makes it more than twice as bright as its predecessor and also the brightest display on any Apple device ever. Though the brighter display improves legibility in most circumstances, it can still be hard to read in direct sunlight since the sun can be extremely harsh in Singapore. 

Perhaps more crucially, the Apple Watch Series 2 is now water resistant up to 50 meters. This means you can finally take your Apple smartwatch swimming and into the shower. And to complement this new ability, the Apple Watch Series 2 also comes with additional workout modes for swimming - Pool Swim and Open Water Swim. What’s interesting about these new modes is that the algorithms to accurately track swimming activities were developed by testing on over 700 different swimmers of varying abilities. 

The other big news is the inclusion of a built-in GPS. The Apple Watch Series 2 will now use a combination of its built-in GPS, Wi-Fi, and locally stored satellite data to quickly identify your location and map your workouts. I found the GPS to be fairly accurate, and once you are done, you can view your exercise route on the Activity app on your iPhone. These improvements make the Apple Watch Series 2 a bona fide sports watch that is equally at home on the track logging your runs as it is in the water monitoring your swims. 

That said, the new Apple Watch Series 2 isn’t perfect. The GPS integration isn’t as full-fledged as some of its competitors, and it doesn’t track elevation, which makes it a little less useful for hiking. And while watchOS 3 has sped operations up significantly, the Apple Watch Series 2 is still heavily reliant on the iPhone for information updates. In addition, the battery still requires charging every night after a day of use, and apps that are not in dock still take a long time to load. 

Nevertheless, if you are already an owner of an Apple Watch and find it an indispensable part of your life, then there’s much to love about the Apple Watch Series 2, simply because it is a much more capable smartwatch.



Apple S2 


38mm and 42mm 


Aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic 


From $548