Apple Watch Series 2 vs Apple Watch

A big upgrade for a small wearable

Apple Watch 2

While the iPhone 7 was the star of Apple's September launch event it wasn't the only major announcement, with a sequel to the world's most popular smartwatch also revealed.

The Apple Watch Series 2 sports better battery life than the original Apple Watch, and a GPS chip for more phone-free functionality, but how much difference is that likely to make? And what else has changed?

Read on for the answers to these questions and more, in a full specs showdown between the Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Series 2.

Design

If you were hoping for a big design change then you're out of luck, as the Apple Watch Series 2 looks much the same as the original Apple Watch.

Fortunately, that's already a great-looking wearable, just so long as you're okay with the square form factor.

Both devices have a metal body in aluminum or stainless steel, although the Apple Watch Series 2 adds a ceramic option too.

Apple Watch 2

Both have a digital crown on the right edge, and they're both available with a wide range of straps, including sporty rubber options, metal, and leather, many of which come in different colors and styles.

There is one significant design change though: the Apple Watch Series 2 is water-resistant to 50 meters, where the original Apple Watch is just splash-proof.

Display

The big difference here brightness. The Apple Watch Series 2's display is a blinding 1000 nits, making it more than twice as bright the original Apple Watch. In fact, it's the brightest screen Apple has ever shipped on a product, so outdoor visibility should be hugely improved.

Power and OS

This is where you'll find the biggest changes. For a start the Apple Watch Series 2 is far more powerful, with a new dual-core processor that's up to 50% faster than the chip in the Apple Watch, and a GPU that offers twice the graphics performance of the original Watch.

Having said that, the original Apple Watch is being relaunched as the Apple Watch Series 1, with the new processor, so if you buy one of those you'll get some of that power.

One thing unique to the Apple Watch Series 2 though is a GPS chip, enabling it to track your runs and other activity without your iPhone having to be connected.

This is a huge deal, especially if you're currently rocking, or considering, a fitness band. Both Watch models have a heart rate monitor and fitness tracking apps, but by untethering the Apple Watch Series 2 from your iPhone (not to mention making it swim-proof) it becomes a far more viable workout companion.

Apple Watch 2

Sadly, there's still no cellular chip, so you can't completely free your Watch from your phone, but the addition of a GPS chip is a big step in the right direction.

On the operating system front we're back to no real change, as while the Apple Watch Series 2 and Series 1 run the brand new watchOS 3 right out of the box, the original Apple Watch will soon be able to download it as a software update.

The new watchOS version brings a slicker interface, complete with a new dock, accessed via the side button, an expanded version of Control Center with more toggles, faster watch face switching, improvements to messaging and a new Breathe app to help you relax.

The only real advantage of the operating system on the Apple Watch Series 2 is that as a new device it's likely to be supported with updates for longer.

Battery

A GPS chip could play havoc with the Apple Watch's already fragile battery life, so we're hoping that Apple has improved the juice pack for the Apple Watch Series 2.

Apple Watch

Oddly the battery didn't get mentioned, so it's probably not a big improvement, but if nothing else the processor is likely more efficient in the Apple Watch Series 2, and with any luck that'll be enough for the wearable to extend beyond the day-and-a-half of life you'll typically get out of the original Apple Watch – though probably only if you use the GPS chip sparingly.

Release date and price

The Apple Watch is still available in stores for now, while the reworked Series 1 with the new processor is being launched alongside the Apple Watch Series 2, for $269/£269/AU$399.

The new Watch Series 2, meanwhile, costs roughly the same as the original version launched at, namely $369/£369/AU$529, or more, depending on how fancy a version you want.

Pre-orders for the Series 1 and Series 2 open on Friday September 9, and the new Watches will be available in stores from September 16.

Article continues below