When Apple introduced the Apple Watch three years ago, orders were almost immediately backordered. Apple made a special offer to developers, granting us the opportunity to order a 42mm Sport edition with a blue strap, with minimal delay. I jumped at the chance and have been wearing the same “Series 0” ever since.
I’ve come to appreciate Apple Watch for all the ways it extends my iPhone: less intrusive notifications, casual Siri access, and effortless Apple Pay. I also appreciate the fitness monitoring, and have switched to using it as my exclusive running watch, in spite of its lack of GPS. It’s a pretty darned good debut product, and it has served me well.
That said, I dropped and cracked the screen over a year ago. With repair costs approaching the cost of replacement, I have long thought that I would hold out for the next big update before buying a new one. As I watched Apple introduce the Apple Watch Series 3 during their event last week, I knew that the time had come to upgrade.
Selecting a replacement has been more difficult than I expected. I always slightly regretted not getting the smaller, 38mm version of the watch, but I think I will err on the side of fat-fingered tappability and stick with 42mm. A harder decision has been choosing between the LTE Cellular version of the Watch, and the slightly cheaper WiFi/GPS-only model.
I thought it would be easy, because I don’t care about LTE. Or at least, I don’t think I do. Since I got in the habit of running with a belt, I’m accustomed to having my iPhone with me all the time. This ever-so-slight encumbrance has brought with it two unexpected benefits: I feel safer, knowing that I can always (in most locales) make an emergency phone call, and I feel empowered to take photos mid-run when something particularly interesting catches my eye. This has come in handy when jogging in foreign countries, through nature, or when I want to capture a selfie while running in a New England blizzard.
The LTE Watch certainly would provide the same emergency calling comfort, but am I willing to give up access to a camera for the freedom from wearing a running belt? I suspect not.
Nonetheless, I’ve decided to go for the LTE edition. Why? For one thing, apart from the option to add a cellular plan, the LTE models also feature twice the storage. I tend to err on the side of extra capacity, so even if LTE were not an option, I would probably choose to pay $70 for this alone.
Sweetening the deal, Apple offers configurations with the LTE models that are not available with the GPS version. After reading Serenity Caldwell’s iMore article about the merits of the Sport Loop, I’m convinced I’ll want to give this a try. Choosing the LTE model means I can preconfigure the Watch with it, instead of paying extra for the Sport Loop, and getting another rubber Sport Band that I’ll never use. (I’ve been loyal to the Nylon Band since they were introduced.)
In short, even if I never use the LTE functionality, the LTE model is the right choice for me. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up trying the cellular access, and it will be a big hit. Maybe I’ll cast my running belt aside, and not worry about lost photo-taking opportunities. Maybe LTE on my wrist will be a revelation, and I’ll laugh at myself for ever having doubted its usefulness. Maybe I’ll come around.
The only downside is that gaudy red crown.
Update: If you’re in the US and a Verizon customer, they’re offering to waive the activation fee and give 3 months of free service, but only if you buy the Apple Watch from them. Their site is a mess but you can get at most of the models here. Good news is their ship date for the model I chose is a few weeks ahead of Apple’s!