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Apple Watch Series 4. What's new?


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Apple has just unveiled its new watch, the Apple Watch Series 4. I'm sure that by the time you click the "publish" button for this post there will already be hundreds of articles from other publications. But how many of those posts are going to focus on the sports part of the new Apple Watch? Well, that's what I'm here for, so let's find out what new features the new Apple Watch brings and what they mean for sports.

Apple Watch Series 4, New

Despite Apple's good words in the presentation of the watch and how it represents a revolution... the truth is that it is rather a slight evolution. With novelties, of course, but there is no notable jump in its characteristics.

But to make it easy, here's all the news:

  • Slightly modified design, with a larger screen.
  • New watch faces with more possibilities in terms of complications
  • The crown now has haptic vibration
  • Speaker enhancements, now more powerful
  • Ceramic and sapphire glass back
  • Of course, new, more powerful Apple S4 processor
  • Enhanced accelerometer and gyroscope
  • Optical pulse sensor now with electrodes
  • Autonomy of 18 hours in the day to day and 6 hours with use of GPS

As you can see there is no revolution in any aspect, except in the optical sensor with electrodes. At Apple they have been quick to claim that they are the first device to incorporate this technology, and it is true. In fact right now it is the only one... at least until tomorrow.

Apple Watch Series 4

These changes in hardware have allowed for some new developments in the software aspect.

Fall detection

Thanks to the new accelerometer and gyroscope, which are capable of recording movement more accurately, Apple has now added a fall detection feature. So if you fall, the watch will be able to detect it and automatically trigger an alarm. And if there's no movement within a minute (for example, if you've split your head open), it will alert the emergency phone directly, including your position.

Although Apple focuses this function mainly on everyday life, it is clear that it is also quite useful in sporting activity. It may not make much sense for the asphalt runner, but for the mountain runner or cyclist it is something else.

Obviously, the alert will depend on the device being able to communicate. Therefore, in the 4 Series without 4G connectivity, you will need to take your phone with you (as is the case with Garmin Edge devices that incorporate a similar function), while the 4G - which will finally be available in Spain - will be able to communicate autonomously... as long as you do not run out of battery.

HR and pulse variability

Apple had already included heart rate alerts in iOS Watch 4, but they were for high HR. Now alerts are included when the heart rate is abnormally low as well.


The sensor is now also capable of tracking pulse variability, but only at rest. At the moment there is no optical sensor capable of doing this during activity. By reading the variability the Apple Watch will focus on detecting atrial fibrillation, but not on sport-specific functions such as the ability to measure post-training recovery.


Yes, the Apple Watch Series 4 now features electrodes - as with the pulse variability log, these will be used specifically for health, not sport (we'll see what Polar has to say about that tomorrow).

Apple Watch Series 4 - Electrodes

It is still a function that can be of vital importance for patients who have heart problems, as they can take an electrocardiogram at any time to check if they are having any problems with their heart and it will even be stored on the clock (and then on the phone) so that they can create reports to share with their doctor.

Both features are medically validated by the FDA, so Apple is pretty confident in their capabilities.

However, to be taken into account and very important detail. At the moment both functions will only be available in the United StatesFor some reason I don't know (and I guess it's related to medical certifications) the rest of the world will have to wait.

It remains to be seen whether these new sensors will be open to developers and whether, although Apple does not give them a sporting focus, others will be able to offer it.

So... what about sport?

So if you have an Apple Watch Series 3 and were looking for an excuse to trade it in for the new model, I'm sorry to say you'll have to look elsewhere for the excuse.

Well... we can consider the increased autonomy. But the developments have focused more on other aspects of the clock.

Apple Watch Series 4 - Display

My opinion on the Apple Watch as a training watch remains the same, despite the new model: It is a great choice for the casual athlete, but not for the competitive athlete.

Obviously Apple knows that the first profile is much broader than the second, so they don't want to alter their goal too much either, it wouldn't make sense. The truth is that adding more sport-focused features could confuse the less demanding user, who prefers something simple and straightforward rather than a multitude of data such as recovery, VO2Max, oxygen consumption, etc.

But as a smart watch I have no doubt, the Apple Watch continues to be the best option available today, far ahead of the rest of the competitors.

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Good morning.
    Thank you very much for your first analysis.
    The truth is that it looks great but I understand that those visual changes will somewhat inherit the previous versions when the Watch Os 4 comes out.
    I understand from what I read that the EKG function will not be available in Spain at the moment, right?
    Well... apart from the new pulse sensor with electrodes and the screen amplitude I still have mine, for me if there is no excuse to change from series 3 to 4 there is no excuse to change, in my opinion, from series 2 to 4 which is the one I have and 42mm stainless steel box. Another thing would be the user of the series 1, the 2 could already dive. The good thing I see from the 4 to not walk charging with the mobile when you go running is that this time I can be independent in Spain with the 4G.
    In case anyone is wondering, the belts and chains of the previous versions will be valid for this new series 4.
    Greetings and thank you very much for always being there to inform us and go deeper.

    1. Yes, the visual changes in dials are related to the operating system and not to the clock model, so everyone who upgrades to the latest version will receive it.
      What I am not clear about is whether the 3 with 4G connectivity will also be available in Spain, now that there are two operators that support Apple's eSIM, or if the support will be exclusively for the new models.

      1. Yes, it seems that the series 3 and 4 with 4G will arrive to Spain, but I don't think it's right that the third operator that has participated in the development of eSim is left out, so I have another excuse to keep the series 2 with the new spheres :-).
        On the other hand in my previous comment I indicated Watch Os 4 when I meant 5.

  2. First of all, congratulations for your analysis, it is nice to know these devices in such a deep and professional way as you do.
    I wanted to ask you if the new Watch 4 still has the GPS problems in the activities you analyzed in Watch 2. I remember that in general you spoke very well about the watch itself and the parameters in the pool but that the GPS took a signal when it seemed to it that it ended up messing up all the metrics. In other words, it has improved somewhat as a sports watch or it is still a minor issue for Apple.

    I'm looking for a watch for everyday sports (gym, running and swimming and that is resistant for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding) and since I put it has some kind of incentive Pay systems, music option, route navigation. From what I've seen in the market I see as feasible options by price the Forerunner 645 music, the Apple Watch 4, the Samsung Sport and then already past the price of the Fenix 5 plus. With what I say you would recommend me?

    Thank you very much and keep it up!

    1. Thank you, Javi.

      I haven't used an Apple Watch for sport for a long time so I haven't made any comparisons lately. I can't tell you if the latest versions have improved in this respect. However, my opinion remains the same. As a smart watch it is the best possible option, adding occasional sport and not at a very demanding level.

      But if sport is the most important thing, the Apple Watch falls short of that task, because Apple doesn't want to direct it to that kind of use either.

  3. Hi! I wanted to ask you a couple of things to see if you could help me:

    - do you know if there is any application or possibility of tracking activity in real time with garmin's live track for the apple watch?

    - in the activity there the possibility of "walking", "hiking" or "trekking" as in the garmin?

    Thank you very much! And congratulations on your analysis.

    1. There is no Garmin app for Apple Watch, so you can't have Garmin's Live Track. The only thing similar would be Strava's Beacon.

      As for activity profiles, with Strava you could have it too.

  4. Hello I have seen that the theme of making Laps (laps) while you run makes them, but the clock continues with the total time, total plus lap time option is not there?

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