Apple Watch Series 5 Review Roundup: Always-on Display Is the Real Deal

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 18 Sep 2019

A day after the first batch of iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro reviews went live, the initial reviews of the Apple Watch Series 5 have also gone live. The new Apple Watch is an incremental update over last year’s model featuring an Always-On Display, Compass, and some new apps.

Last year’s Apple Watch Series 4 was widely praised as the best wearable in the market, and its the same story with the Apple Watch Series 5. Other players in the smartwatch industry are simply nowhere close to the Apple Watch and if you use an iPhone, the Apple Watch is a no-brainer for you.

Apple Watch Series 5 Review Roundup

The Verge

That Always-on display on the Apple Watch Series 5 does not hurt battery life.

I love the always-on screen on the Series 5. Apple’s implementation is better than other smartwatches I’ve used for two reasons: it legitimately doesn’t hurt the battery life as much, and Apple keeps a little color visible in ambient mode.

But the big question is battery life: Apple claims it still gets 18 hours with standard use, and I have gotten that. So, box checked — except that the Series 4 usually outperformed that estimate. I won’t go so far as to say that the Series 5 gets notably worse battery life than the Series 4, but at best, it’s on par. You’ll be charging it every day.

The best part of the Apple Watch is that I’m able to talk about those features at all. Every other smartwatch I have used in the past few years (and, reader, I have used a lot) has failed to cross very basic thresholds of usability. Some don’t last more than 12 hours, some can’t seem to open apps in fewer than 10 seconds, some are hard to navigate, and some have really buggy software.


You will be charging your Apple Watch on a daily basis. The smartwatch lives up to Apple’s claim of 18 hours battery life but that’s about it.

While improved battery life would almost certainly be a welcomed feature in future updates, Apple’s made a bit of a compromise, offering an always-on watch that lasts the same stated 18 hours as its predecessors. I found I was, indeed, able to get through a day no problem with standard use. My own usage had the product lasting closer to 20 hours without the need to recharge, but even so, the device needs to get charged once a day, regardless — otherwise you’ll almost certainly be out of juice the following day.


Once you get used to that Always-On display, there’s no going back.

After a week of living with the new Apple Watch Series 5, which goes on sale Sept. 20 for $399 (£399, AU$649), I can report that its always-on display delivers what I’ve wanted. It’s an upgrade that was long overdue. I notice it a lot because now I can glance at the time when I’m typing. Or casually watching TV. Or driving. No more weird arm twists

All that said, the new display is a killer feature. I’ve been wearing an aluminum Apple Watch Series 5, and I fell in love with the always-on addition.

The lack of sleep tracking in Apple Watch Series 5 is a serious kink in its armor though.

If Apple offered longer battery life, maybe that could also mean sleep tracking. Apple still hasn’t included built-in sleep tracking with any of its watches. Other smartwatches have been tracking sleep for years, and Fitbit now has an improved Sleep Score feature on its app that will grade a night’s rest on several factors, including heart rate.

Daring Fireball

The inclusion of Always-On display on the Apple Watch Series 5 is a big one for Gruber from Daring Fireball. As per him its the “retina display” moment for the Apple Watch — “once you see it, you can’t go back.”

Series 5’s always-on display solves my single biggest complaint about Apple Watch since day one. It’s not perfect, but it’s more than good enough. No other feature or improvement to Apple Watch to date has ever made me this happy. The watch face doesn’t really stay on on all the time — instead, when on previous Apple Watch generations the display would turn completely off, the watch face goes into a low-power mode. The display dims (but remains bright enough to be legible in most conditions), second hands go away, and you pretty much just see the hour and minutes. Raise your wrist and it fades in to full brightness. Notifications do not appear on screen while the watch is in its low-power state.

The Apple Watch Series 5 might not pack a massive upgrade over the Apple Watch Series 4. But it is clear that the inclusion of Always-On Display is a big thing as in many ways, it changes the way one interacts with the wearable.