Should You Upgrade to Apple Watch 4? A Decision Calculator

BY Khamosh Pathak

Published 14 Sep 2018

Apple Watch’s first true redesign is here. The Series 4 Apple Watch takes everything that made the Series 3 Watch great and makes it better. It’s better at keeping you connected with your loved ones and for keeping you fit. If you’ve been using the Series 1 or Series 2 Apple Watch, a Series 4 upgrade makes sense. But what if you’ve just bought a Series 3 Apple Watch last year? Should you plunk down $400 or more to upgrade? Read on to find out.

Must readThe 10 Best Apple Watch Series 4 Features

Let’s dive in:

Upgrade From Series 1 to Series 4?

If you’re using the original Apple Watch, or Series 1 Apple Watch, upgrading to Series 4 makes complete sense. There’s just so much new in Series 4: GPS support, two-day battery life, Cellular support, up to 25% larger screens, brand new design, heart rate monitoring and so on, that it’s worth the $400 asking price. Plus, Series 4 is going to be so much faster in real-world usage compared to Series 1.

Upgrade From Series 2 to Series 4?

Series 1 and Series 2 share the same CPU and they’re both now two years old. So you’ll see a substantial increase in performance if you choose to upgrade to Series 4. Unlike Series 1, Series 2 does have GPS support, which is also present in Series 4.

Series 4 is also future proof. Just like your Series 2 Apple Watch lasted for two years, so will Series 4 (and hopefully, more). If you love using your Apple Watch, and if you wear it every day, I would say go for the Series 4 upgrade, it will bring you that much more joy. But on the other hand, Series 4 is also more expensive. Starting price is $399 for the 40mm model.

Upgrade From Series 3 to Series 4?

If you can’t afford Series 4, take a look at Series 3. After the price drop, the 38mm model will cost you just $279 (the 42mm model now sells for $309). That’s more than $100 cheaper than the Series 4! It has features like GPS, Cellular, and two-day battery life in a design you’re already used to. Plus Series 3 is fast enough and will receive a couple of more watchOS updates as well.

1. Series 4 Is a Looker

Apple Watch Series 4 hands-on with Mashable

The Apple Watch Series 0 to Series 3 weren’t the best looking smartwatches on the market. They are chunky, with big bezels. The Series 4 on the other hand, kind of looks cool. The screen pushes out towards the edge and the display’s rounded corners match the body’s rounded corners. It’s just aesthetically pleasing.

Plus, the new Gold color is just gorgeous. If you’re the kind of person who likes to accessorize and wants to have the best-looking technology with you, then the new Gold Series 4 Apple Watch with the new design might be reason enough for you to upgrade.

TechCrunch's hands-on time with the Apple Watch Series 4

Also, Apple has announced that all the old bands will still work with this new design. The old 38mm bands will work with the new 40mm Apple Watch (the same goes for old 42mm Watch and the new 44mm model). If you’ve already got a collection of awesome bands, don’t let that stop you from upgrading. They’ll all still look good on the Apple Watch Series 4.

2. Are You Complication Crazy?

The new Apple Watch Series 4 comes in two new sizes – 40mm and 44mm. Both of them carry bigger screens in a slightly bigger casing. The 44mm Apple Watch has a huge screen. It’s 35% bigger than the screen on Series 3 42 mm Watch. In fact, the difference is so striking that even the 40mm Series 4 Apple Watch has a slightly larger screen than the 42mm Series 3.

Apple Watch 4

Apple has redesigned watchOS 5 to make use of all this extra screen real estate. And if you’re crazy about complications, you’re going to love the new Infographic watch face in Series 4. You can put not 4 but 8 complications on the Apple Watch screen! 4 complications outside the clock, 4 complications inside. Plus, for good measure, Apple throws in your next appointment in the top part of the ring itself! That’s a lot of information!

You can have the weather, timer, world clock, activity ring, date, music, podcasts, calendar and more all in one watch face! I’m personally a huge fan of the Modular watch face but I always found the 5 complications limit to be, well, limiting. I ended up creating two different watch faces that I would swipe between. But in Series 4, I can do it all in just one screen.

Apple Watch Series 4 Featured

Apple has also updated the Modular watch face and the complications now have more space to display more information. But the 5 complications limit still exists there.

Read moreHow to Change and Customize Watch Faces on Apple Watch

3. Faster Processor

Series 4 Apple Watch runs on the S4 system-on-chip. According to Apple, the new dual-core 64-bit processor is up to twice as fast compared to Series 3. Now, Series 3 was the first Apple Watch that finally felt like it was fast enough. But the fact that Series 4 is even faster, is great news. Especially if you constantly use apps like Workouts, Music or Calendar on your Apple Watch.

The new S4 chip also has next-gen sensors. The new accelerometer and gyroscope have twice the dynamic range and can process motion data up to 8 times faster. This is a huge improvement if you use your Apple Watch for fitness tracking.

4. Better Heart Tracking and ECG

Apple Watch has new electrodes on the back. And even the new Digital Crown has electrodes built in. This enables two things. Better heart rate tracking and for the first time ever in a consumer wearable, the ability to take an Electrocardiogram (or ECG), right on your wrist.

Series 3 already had the capability to notify you when your heart rate was too high for the activity you were currently doing. The Apple Watch Series 4 can now do the same if your heart rate is too low for your current activity. It can also detect falls and alert the emergency services if you haven’t moved for a minute after the fall.

Series 4 comes with a new ECG app. You simply rest your finger on the Digital Crown for 30 seconds and the app will tell you if your heart rhythm is normal or AFib. You can share this data with your doctor by creating a PDF in the Health app.

ECG feature in Apple Watch is breakthrough sure, but it’s also slightly overhyped. First of all, the feature is only available in the US, and that too won’t be available on launch. Apple will enable the ECG app in a future software update. Rest of the world will have to wait to get the ECG feature as Apple tries to get approval from the relevant medical authorities.

Andrew Moore, an emergency department physician at the Oregon Health and Science University says “The tech that Apple is working with is very rudimentary compared to what we’d do for someone in a hospital or healthcare setting,” You’re not replacing a real hospital scan here. But having this feature on a device you wear already is useful as well.

If you live in the US and you’re planning to upgrade to Series 4 for your parents or grandparents, I would say definitely go for it. The new health tracking features and fall detection features have true life-saving potential and that’s worth the cost of the upgrade.

Reasons Not To Upgrade

Apple Podcasts App for Apple Watch Featured

If you don’t use the health tracking and guidance features that much and if you’re not complication crazy, there’s not much reason to leave behind Series 3. Series 3 will receive watchOS 5 upgrade which will give it features like Raise to Speak for Siri, new Podcasts App, Walkie Talkie app and more. Plus, Series 3 is still fast enough and the battery life is still solid. Series 4, while 0.7mm thinner, doesn’t have an increased battery life over Series 3.

Plus, there’s the matter of the money. The 40mm GPS version costs $399 while the 44mm version is $429. If you’re getting the cellular model, the 40mm version will set you back by $499 and the 44mm will be $529. The difference between GPS and cellular model is now $100 (compared to $70 on Series 3). The Series 3 launched at $329. The Series 4 Apple Watch GPS costs as much as the Series 3 Cellular model did! ($399).

If you’ve paid for a Series 3 in the past couple of months, spending $400 or more on a new Apple Watch might not be the best idea.


Apple Watch Series 4 is the first real redesign of the Apple Watch. It looks amazing, especially in the Gold color. The big screen means you can fit in a lot more information in the watch faces. And the new heart tracking features are revolutionary.

If you think you’ll get the most out of all or some of the features I mentioned above, go for the upgrade. Buy the Series 4 Apple Watch, you’ll love the experience of using the big screen. But if none of that strikes your fancy, it’s best to stick with Series 3.

What are you planning to do? Will you upgrade to Series 4? Why? Share with us in the comments below.