Apple Watch generation comparison

Be3G

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 19, 2007
67
4
Hi all,

I'm not sure how useful this will be to anyone else but having been an Apple Watch series 0 owner for a couple of years I've been pondering upgrading to something a bit newer, but was getting a bit confused by what the actual differences are between different generations. So I thought I'd compare spec sheets and Apple's Watch user guide to make a comprehensive list of changes to aid my decision! Having done that, I thought I might as well post it here too in case any else does find the information useful.

Note that I haven't bothered including series 0 in the list as I just wanted to document the changes between it and subsequent generations. Also note that the list is cumulative, i.e. every generation includes the new features from the generations above (aside obviously from CPU changes).

Series 1

Dual-core processor
Full heart rate features
Workout playlists

Series 2

GPS and GLONASS
Water resistant to 50m + water lock
2.22× screen brightness
Wake screen on crown up

Series 3 GPS

Faster dual-core processor
W2 wireless chip
Galileo and QZSS
Barometric altimeter
Siri speaks
Supports AirPower
Bluetooth 4.2*
Radio + music streaming

Series 3 LTE (requires iPhone 6)

2× storage capacity
LTE and UMTS
Explorer watch face

* Actually the situation with Bluetooth doesn't seem to be as simple as this: scouring spec sheets, it looks like the series 1 has had a silent spec change to include BT4.2 too as of series 3's release in 2017. As far as I can tell, series 2 only ever included BT4.0.
 
Last edited:

Lennyvalentin

macrumors 65816
Apr 25, 2011
1,433
783
As I recall, the S1 and S2 both shared the same SoC/dual core CPU.

Also, didn't the S2 have dual mics or somesuch? It has two holes below the speaker, versus just 1 hole on the OG Watch models.
 

Be3G

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 19, 2007
67
4
As I recall, the S1 and S2 both shared the same SoC/dual core CPU.

Also, didn't the S2 have dual mics or somesuch? It has two holes below the speaker, versus just 1 hole on the OG Watch models.
There's definitely a different chip in each of the two watches (see here) although I make no comment on the practical differences in terms of speed etc.

As for microphones, I haven't seen anything to suggest there's a different microphone configuration on the series 2, so I suspect the holes you're thinking of are the air vents which are part of the added water resistance for swimming.
 

tobefirst

macrumors 601
Jan 24, 2005
4,110
1,257
St. Louis, MO
As I recall, the S1 and S2 both shared the same SoC/dual core CPU.

Also, didn't the S2 have dual mics or somesuch? It has two holes below the speaker, versus just 1 hole on the OG Watch models.
There's definitely a different chip in each of the two watches (see here) although I make no comment on the practical differences in terms of speed etc.

As for microphones, I haven't seen anything to suggest there's a different microphone configuration on the series 2, so I suspect the holes you're thinking of are the air vents which are part of the added water resistance for swimming.
My initial thought was what @Lennyvalentin said. @Be3G 's link shows that there are differences, but that might just be the GPS Glonass part. I do recall them being the same speed, but that was awhile ago, admittedly.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
34,064
35,071
There's definitely a different chip in each of the two watches (see here) although I make no comment on the practical differences in terms of speed etc..
Both watches actually share the _same_ dual core processor (SoC/dual core CPU) for the Series 1 and Series 2, Thats Actually the core similarity between both models, which Apple specifically commented on during the keynote.

Also, the Series 1 is only 450 Nits of brightness (Same as First Gen Watch), where as the Series 2 is 1000 Nits, Which was inherently shared for the Series 3 accordingly.
 
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klymr

macrumors 65816
May 16, 2007
1,447
98
Utah
As I recall, the S1 and S2 both shared the same SoC/dual core CPU.

Also, didn't the S2 have dual mics or somesuch? It has two holes below the speaker, versus just 1 hole on the OG Watch models.
There's definitely a different chip in each of the two watches (see here) although I make no comment on the practical differences in terms of speed etc.

As for microphones, I haven't seen anything to suggest there's a different microphone configuration on the series 2, so I suspect the holes you're thinking of are the air vents which are part of the added water resistance for swimming.
My initial thought was what @Lennyvalentin said. @Be3G 's link shows that there are differences, but that might just be the GPS Glonass part. I do recall them being the same speed, but that was awhile ago, admittedly.
Lennyvalentin is correct. The S1P and the S2 contain the same dual-core processor and GPU in the SiP (System in a Package). The difference in the package is the addition of the GPS/Glonass in the S2.
 
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Lennyvalentin

macrumors 65816
Apr 25, 2011
1,433
783
As for microphones, I haven't seen anything to suggest there's a different microphone configuration on the series 2, so I suspect the holes you're thinking of are the air vents which are part of the added water resistance for swimming.
But the 'air vent' you're thinking of is for pressure equalization for the barometer, which afaik the watch didn't get until S3... So the second hole has to fill some other purpose I'd think, because just plain water proofing would have no need for extra holes in the casing. In fact more holes is counterproductive from a purely waterproofing point of view. :)
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,299
4,297
Atlanta
But the 'air vent' you're thinking of is for pressure equalization for the barometer, which afaik the watch didn't get until S3... So the second hole has to fill some other purpose I'd think, because just plain water proofing would have no need for extra holes in the casing. In fact more holes is counterproductive from a purely waterproofing point of view. :)
[Theory]Apple may have determined that the one hole was not sufficient in all circumstances for the barometer and therefor decided not to activate it until a redesign.[/Theory]
 

Be3G

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 19, 2007
67
4
Both watches actually share the _same_ dual core processor (SoC/dual core CPU) for the Series 1 and Series 2, Thats Actually the core similarity between both models, which Apple specifically commented on during the keynote.
Noted. Will amend the post!

Also, the Series 1 is only 450 Nits of brightness (Same as First Gen Watch), where as the Series 2 is 1000 Nits, Which was inherently shared for the Series 3 accordingly.
This is already mentioned in my list of differences. :)

But the 'air vent' you're thinking of is for pressure equalization for the barometer, which afaik the watch didn't get until S3... So the second hole has to fill some other purpose I'd think, because just plain water proofing would have no need for extra holes in the casing. In fact more holes is counterproductive from a purely waterproofing point of view. :)
Well, it's shown as an air vent in the watchOS user guide, marked as present in series 2 or above, so I assumed it was something to do with moisture control (helping the watch dry out after a swim?) but that is speculation on my part.
 
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