Apple Watch: Everything You Need to Know

The biggest updates between models, the naming conventions and more


Since introducing its smartwatch back in 2015, Apple's been upgrading its wearable on a regular basis. However, with various naming conventions and some very incremental, granular changes, it can be hard to keep tabs on the latest Apple Watch info. Here's your handy guide to the latest details on the most recent popular device.

Apple Watch Names and Models

Before we get into specifics, there are two main versions of the Apple Watch:

  • Series 1
  • Series 3

Note that the Apple Watch Series 2 was officially discontinued after the release of the Apple Watch Series 3, but you still may be able to find it available for purchase through third-party (non-Apple) retailers.

Apple Watch Series 1

The Series 1 remains unchanged from the previous Series 1 introduced in the Fall of 2016 with the exception of its new lower price.

The Series 1 is the entry-level smartwatch and aimed at buyers who want a basic smartwatch. The Series 1 will tracks fitness, receive notifications and, of course, tell the time.

This list might come across as highlighting the negatives, but if you are buying an Apple Watch for the first time (as a gift or for yourself) keep in mind the Series 1 does not include these features:

  • Cellular capability
  • Waterproofing
  • Built-in GPS
  • Standalone run-tracking
  • Extra bright display (it has a 450-nit display)

Apple Watch Series 3

The Series 3 is the current flagship watch and comes in different versions, yet all share the same case shape and underlying technology. The Series 3 versions you'll come across are called:

  • Series 3
  • Nike+ (referred to as the Nike Plus)
  • Apple Watch Hermès
  • Apple Watch Edition (this is the luxury model that you might have heard about in the past when it was solid gold–that version of the Edition has been discontinued)

Note: If you're curious how the actual Series 3 Watch compares to the rumors that were flying around prior to its release, here's a quick look at those rumors.

All standard Series 3 and Nike+ have optional cellular capability. The Hermès and Edition models come with cellular included (there is no option to forgo cellular).

Technical Highlights of the Apple Watch Series 3:

  • LTE antenna for making calls from the watch (this is the optional feature of the Series 3)
  • Barometric altimeter for tracking elevation (for stairs climbed, etc.) to factor into your total activity-tracking data
  • S3 processor, which Apple promises will offer up to 70% faster performance
  • W2 chip said to deliver 85% faster Wi-Fi

Notable Updates:

  • New straps, including Sport Loop and additional colors for existing band options
  • New case options, including a Gray Ceramic Case for the Apple Watch Edition

If you're curious read New Apple Watch Rumors to find out how the existing features stack up to the rumors that were flying around prior to the devices release.

Apple Watch Nike+

The Apple Watch Nike+ currently available through Apple is essentially a Nike-branded Apple Watch Series 3. It's available with or without cellular connectivity.

Features Unique to This Model:

  • Exclusive Nike+ watch faces
  • Nike Sport Loop and Nike Sport bands (you can buy these separately, too)
  • Nike+ Run Club app
  • Nike branding on back of watch

Apple Watch Hèrmes

Again, this is essentially a luxury version of the Apple Watch Series 3, made in partnership with the French design house Hèrmes.

Features Unique to This Model:

  • Various leather bands with buckles, starting north of $300 (technically, you can buy these separately)
  • Hèrmes branding on back of watch
  • Hèrmes watch face

Apple Watch Edition

Once again, this is a special version of the Apple Watch Series 3, with the draw here being more premium build quality. The case is made out of solid ceramic.

Features Unique to This Model:

  • Available with gray or white ceramic casing

Sizing of the Apple Watch

All versions of the Apple comes in two sizes. The size refers to the diagonal corner-to-corner measurement of the screen:

  • 38mm
  • 42mm

The difference of 4mm might not seem like much, but there's a big difference when you see it on your wrist. And, yes, there is a slight price increase for the larger size. You do get a bigger battery in the larger device, so that's a bit of a bonus.