Apple Watch Series 5 vs Apple Watch Series 4 full review

With the reveal of the Apple Watch Series 5 in September 2019, Apple officially retired the Apple Watch Series 4. But while it’s not available from Apple itself, the Series 4 is still available at discounted price from third-party retailers, which begs the question: which Apple Watch should you buy? Apple’s latest and greatest, or a discounted Series 4?

Or perhaps you already own an Apple Watch Series 4 and are considering the upgrade to the latest model? Whatever your reason, here, we break down the key differences between the Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch Series 4.

Price and availability

The Apple Watch Series 5 starts at £399/$399 for the 40mm aluminium model with sport band, but there are a range of materials and straps to choose from, some more premium than others. The Apple Watch Series 5 is set to be released on 30 September 2019, but those interested can pre-order the smartwatch from the Apple Store and third-party retailers like Amazon and Currys PC World in the UK right now.

The Apple Watch Series 4, on the other hand, has officially been discontinued by Apple and is no longer available to buy from the company itself. It is available from third-party retailers including Currys PC World (from £379) and Argos (from £349) in the UK and Best Buy (from $349) in the US at the time of writing, but we imagine stock will become scarce as time goes on.

Design and build

It’ll be hard to tell the difference between the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 4 when examining them side-by-side, and that’s because the physical design is almost completely unchanged. Like the Series 4, the Apple Watch Series 5 is available in 40- and 44mm variants with 1.57- and 1.78in displays respectively, although the newer Apple Watch boasts a slight change in casing material.

As announced by Apple during the September 2019 reveal, the aluminium variant of the Apple Watch Series 5 is now made from 100 percent recycled aluminium.

There’s also a brand-new Titanium variant that boasts improved durability (and a price tag to match!) alongside the return of ceramic and stainless steel cases. For reference, the Apple Watch Series 4 has only ever been available with aluminium or stainless steel bodies.

Features and specs

One of the key differences between the Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch Series 4 is the display; while both offer the same size and resolution, the Series 5 boasts an always-on display instead of the raise-to-wake functionality employed by the Series 4 whilst boasting the same 18-hour battery life.

How? The Series 5 display can intelligently switch refresh rates (from 60Hz to 1Hz) when not in use to improve efficiency, and we imagine the new S5 processor is more power-efficient than its predecessor too.  

Another key difference in features between the Series 5 and Series 4 is the inclusion of compass functionality in the latest model. The compass in the Series 5 provides hikers and explorers with more precise positioning information to help navigate the environment.

There’s also more storage available on the Series 5 at 32GB, compared to the 16GB of storage on offer from the Series 4.

Aside from that, you’ll get the same GPS support, 50m water resistance, ECG, heart rate sensors and enhanced speakers no matter which variant you opt for. Take a look at our breakdown of specs below to see just how similar the two smartwatches are:

 

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple Watch Series 4

Dimensions

40mm: 40 x 34 x 10.7mm

44mm: 44 x 38 x 10.7mm

40mm: 40 x 34 x 10.7mm

44mm: 44 x 38 x 10.7mm

Display

40mm: 1.57in OLED Retina display with Force Touch

44mm: 1.78in OLED Retina display with Force Touch

40mm: 1.57in OLED Retina display with Force Touch

44mm: 1.78in OLED Retina display with Force Touch

Always-on display

Yes

No

Processor

S5

S4

Storage

32GB

16GB

Connectivity

Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n, NFC, optional LTE

Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n, NFC, optional LTE

Accelerometer

Yes

Yes

Gyroscope

Yes

Yes

Ambient Light Sensor

Yes

Yes

Heart rate sensor

Yes

Yes

ECG

Yes

Yes

Barometer

Yes

Yes

GPS

Yes

Yes

Compass

Yes

No

Water resistance

Yes – up to 50m

Yes – up to 50m

Battery life

18 hours

18 hours

Price

From £399/$399

From £399/$399 (Officially discontinued but available from third-party retailers)

Availability

Apple Store

Argos

Verdict

It’s clear to see that the Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch Series 4 are very similar smartwatches in terms of design and build, with only key features – like the always-on display, new processor and increased storage – differing between the two. Of course, the Apple Watch Series 5 is the better smartwatch of the two, but we don’t think there are enough changes on offer to merit an upgrade if you’ve already got an Apple Watch Series 4.

With that being said, if you’re yet to purchase a smartwatch (or have an older Apple Watch) then the Apple Watch Series 5 would be the better choice of the two.

For more Apple Watch help, take a look at our Apple Watch buying advice.  

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