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Apple Watch Series 3 results shows 4G cuts battery life in half

Our labs have revealed a massive hit to the battery on the Apple Watch 4G. Are the extra features still worth the extra cost?

Apple Watch Series 3 results shows 4G cuts battery life in half

We’ve put the latest smartwatches from Apple – the Series 3 GPS and Series 3 GPS + Cellular – through their paces in our test labs, and the results are in.

The big news about one of Apple’s new watches is the much discussed 4G functionality – its ability to make calls and send texts without a phone, and how much impact it has on battery. Our results show that it’s significant – you can expect to get around half the time of the non-4G version, even without actively making calls and using data.

Read on for a look at the key specifications offered by both versions, and more details on how they performed.

Best Buy smartwatches – see which devices aced our tests

Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular

The new Series 3 Apple Watch, which starts at £399, is the first smartwatch from Apple that can be used independently to make calls, meaning you can leave your phone at home and navigate your digital life from your wrist.

It has a built-in eSim which gives it cellular or 4G connectivity. This means the watch doesn’t have to be connected to your iPhone in order to make or receive calls or text messages. You will have to be an EE network user though, and take out a separate mobile data package.

When it comes to fitness and health tracking, there’s a heart-rate monitor, a guided breathing app, and built-in GPS for tracking your distance independently of your iPhone. It will also keep an eye on your steps, calories burned and distance traveled. A water-resistance rating of 50 meters makes it great for swimmers or surfers – it can be used in both fresh and salt water, although it shouldn’t be used for more extreme activities like scuba diving, water skiing or diving.

Apple Watch GPS + Cellular battery life

We reported on problems with the battery life of the cellular Apple Watch back in September, with people finding that using 4G connectivity to make calls resulted in a drastic reduction in battery life duration.

We challenged the Series 3 GPS + Cellular watch in our battery test, both when connected to an iPhone and solely using the cellular mobile network. In both situations we found that it successfully outdid Apple’s battery life claims, based on our average usage scenario.

However, using only the cellular connectivity cut battery life in half. If you use the 4G a lot, you’ll need to charge your Apple Watch at least once a day. Even when paired with an iPhone, battery life isn’t as long as we’d like, and is on the short side compared with other smartwatches.

Does this do enough to undermine the Apple Watch, and can it still score enough to become a Best Buy? We look at the battery performance in more detail, and what we thought of the 4G functionality, in our Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular review.

Apple Watch Series 3 GPS

Apple also offers a new Series 3 model without cellular connectivity, which is useful if you don’t have an iPhone tied to the EE network, or don’t want to spend extra for 4G connectivity plus a data package. It’s cheaper than the 4G version, starting at £329 for the 38mm model, or £359 for the larger 42mm display.

Aside from the lack of 4G, the Series 3 GPS is fairly similar to the Series 3 GPS + Cellular. But, is it the right Apple Watch for you? And if you already have the Apple Watch Series 2, is it worth upgrading?

We answer both of these questions, plus reveal how it performed in our fitness and battery life testing, in our full Apple Watch Series 3 GPS review.

More interested in tracking fitness? Read our guide on whether to buy a fitness tracker or a smartwatch.

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