Apple finally nails the smartwatch

The Apple Watch Series 3 uses a new type of electronic SIM and works independently of the iPhone

Apple Watch Series 3 GPS+Cellular, from £399
Apple Watch Series 3 GPS+Cellular, from £399 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

I liked the original Apple Watch for its haptic vibrating navigation hints, but overall it was more intriguing than useful. It improved with firmware updates, but for me it was the Series 2 that dramatically advanced the product’s usefulness, in large part due to its being water-resistant, which meant I could stay connected in the shower and while swimming. But the watch was still a satellite of the iPhone and needed to be close by to work as anything more than a timepiece.


Apple Watch Series 3, however, is as big an improvement as I can remember in successive versions of a consumer tech product. It works independently of the phone: install a new type of electronic SIM – currently only available in the UK from EE – and it is a proper wristwatch telephone that also streams music. In phone mode, it cleverly integrates with existing EE numbers, so no need for a separate Apple Watch number. Call and audio quality is decent – use it with Apple wireless in-ear AirPods. 


The built-in phone is not the model’s sole benefit either. Among the enhancements I love is its new barometric altimeter, which, when calculating your exercise data, factors in flights of stairs scaled and slopes climbed. And if your heart exceeds a BPM rate you determine, the watch will warn you. Do bear in mind that if you receive one for Christmas, you may need to wait for the festivities to end before you have enough time to get the phone connection sorted – it can be quite fiddly.