In Brief

Apple Watch Series 2: Specs, straps and all you need to know

Apple is refreshing its smartwatch with three new features. Here are the details.

Apple claims sales of its first generation Apple Watch have made the company the second biggest watchmaker in the world, although many would argue the wearable didn't exactly set the world alight,.

Its second effort – the Apple Watch Series 2 – is out now. Sporting a design that's identical to the original, the smartwatch has been refined and tweaked rather than completely overhauled. There are useful new features that make it less of a luxury and more a practical, utilitarian piece of technology and it's a more powerful smartwatch overall.

Buy the Apple Watch 2 now from John Lewis

 Here are the big new features.

It's waterproof

Unlike its predecessor, the new Apple Watch is swim-friendly – it can easily survive a prolonged dip in a swimming pool and is water resistant to a depth of 50 metres.

Two workout settings – pool and open water – are available and you can track your average lap or length pace, while the watch will automatically detect stroke type to measure how many calories you're burning.  

It's faster and brighter

The Apple Watch Series 2 features a dual-core processor said to be 50 per cent faster than the first generation, while a new GPU should be twice as fast.

"It feels snappier and more responsive, which is pretty important in a smartwatch," says Alphr.

The display technology has taken a step forward too - TechRadar says the watch has had a massive boost in terms of brightness.

It's got GPS

The biggest new feature is the addition of a GPS chip, which promises to make the Apple Watch Series 2 an enticing prospect for fitness fanatics as it makes working out with the device a much simpler affair.

Thanks to the upgrade, you no longer need to tether a smartphone to the watch in order to log and track workout data – so no more running with an iPhone jiggling away in your pocket or strapped to your arm. The GPS also means that apps such as Pokemon Go will be integrated into the Apple Watch soon.

The device does stop short of getting full 4G connectivity, though, which would make the Apple Watch completely independent. You'll still need to pair it for most features.

Reviewers are quietly impressed

One week on and reviewers are quietly impressed by Apple's upgraded smartwatch, saying the not-much-loved gadget has finally found its purpose.

The re-imagined device "begins to make a lot more sense", says City AM's Steve Dinneen. It's primarily a fitness watch, he adds, with the GPS meaning "you can go running without your iPhone".

While Dinneen "stuck with" his original Apple Watch, he says he jettisoned most of the features and ended up using it "to check my messages in meetings, pay for the occasional coffee and tell the time".

But the Series 2 has added a new dimension to his use: with 2GB of memory for music and wireless headphones, it is a lot easier to run with than his large, phablet-style smartphone.

The new watch is "genuinely useful, if still very pricey", he concludes.

Over at 9to5Mac, Chance Miller says he has "never been convinced that [Apple Watch] is a product worth having". But with the new version, "Apple has finally given me reason" to charge and wear the device every day.

The watch is not perfect, he adds, but "progress is being made".

The journalist is particularly impressed with two features he admits might seem trivial at first glance: Auto Unlock and Apple Pay web authentication.

Auto Unlock means Miller no longer needs to use a password to access his Mac computer: as long as he is wearing the watch, the notebook computer unlocks automatically for him.

"Additionally," he continues, "with Apple Pay on the web support in macOS Sierra, I can use Apple Watch to authenticate online purchases there, as well."

Price and release

You can now pick up the Apple Watch Series 2 around the country. Aluminium faces start at £369, while stainless steel ones come in at £549 and above. The top-of-the-range ceramic version is an eye-watering £1,249.

If you're a keen runner, you may be tempted by the special edition Apple Watch Nike Plus, which features an exclusive wristband as well as special Nike watch faces with running apps integrated directly into them. It'll also be £369.

The original device, now branded as Apple Watch Series 1, will remain on sale with some upgrades, such as the quicker processors. Its starting price is now £269, however, it has no GPS chip, nor is it as water resistant.

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