February 25, 2019

My Apple Watch Series 4 Review

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First of all I am not an expert techie, I will not be paid for this review nor will I have any other affiliate links built into the photos or this post. This review is from a normal (??) everyday user that decided to take the leap and buy the new Apple Watch Series 4 almost two months ago on January 4th. I still claim, it's been the best electronic device (toy?) in the last 24 years that I have ever bought.

That includes PCs, DSLRs, every Apple product and my Sony PlayStations.

I watched from a distance after Apple released their first series a few years ago. I knew there would be bugs to be worked out and there would be more improvements with each new release. So I was willing to wait until they had the features I wanted and in some way ... needed.

It was the Fall Detection and EKG Reading features that I had been waiting for. Since I am a borderline hermit that lives alone and never has visitors, I needed some way to let friends know or contact medical services, that I either needed help or had dropped dead. Only one of those friends lives in the same state but not locally. The others live out of state, scattered from Georgia to California and parts in between.

It wasn't so much they needed to know or I needed medical service .... my #1 priority is my hounds. If something were to happen to me, unexpectedly, they need to be rescued and taken care of. Honestly they were the main reason I decided to spend the money on the Apple Watch Series 4. (Just in case something happened to me)


I will most likely outlive my basset hound and bloodhound but in March 2010 I found out in a split second of time ... you never know. I had been sitting at a 3-way stop on a highway waiting for my turn, to make a left hand turn when I was rear-ended by an old modified Ram 3500 truck pulling a horse trailer. It had a huge homemade steel front bumper. Police reports showed he was going 65-70mph when he hit me. There were no signs he applied any brakes.

I'll not go into detail about the wreck but I was not the only car he totaled. That showed me just how fast your life can change unexpectedly. It happened so fast, within seconds.

So if I were to fall, pass out from a medical issue or accident, the chances are good based on studies, that the Apple Watch Series 4 will contact medical services automatically and the friends I have listed in the Apple Health SOS. At least my hounds would not have to wait too long to be rescued and kept from becoming shelter animals.

It was hard to picture having something 44mm on my wrist. I had not worn a watch since the day I bought my new Apple iPhone 3s many years ago. Between the phone and the computers at home or work, I always could tell what time it was. So that was a question in my decision process. Would I want to wear a watch again?

In May 2017 I bought a Garmin VivoSmart3 to wear all the time so I could monitor my pulse rate. I also would use their activity monitor for my the daily hound walks and the Garmin Connect app tracked my sleep. That was some good information I had not counted on ... but it showed me just how much information I had access to concerning my health.

It also had me getting use to wearing something on my wrist again.

So I came home on the 4th of January with the new Apple Watch Series 4. I had it up and operational within 15 minutes. I scanned the Apple Store for a free sleep app and it synchronized with the Apple Health app that was preloaded on my iPhone. I had no issues setting up everything and within minutes it was already showing me the basic information I was wanting:

My pulse rate

Temperature and weather outside

Time

Recording the daily walks

2019 Jan 07

One of the blog readers whom I've kept in contact with over the years by email, discussing Apple products, updates, etc ... had bought her watch a few years before so she was a great source for suggestions, how it worked, and the pros and cons of the watch. She has had to remind me at various times when I have thought about ditching my iPhone and use the Watch as my full-time computer when away from the house .....

You have to have the iPhone to transfer all the iOS updates to the phone. Everything is programmed on the iPhone for the watch. That includes choosing which watch faces you want to use. I rotate between two really. The one face you see above and this one.

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It did come with this screen as the default and would have been very handy during the years I was working and not retired. I could have loaded my calendar, notes, etc.

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I scrolled through all the settings and watch faces on my iPhone, and the changes or additions were immediately transferred to the watch. I never had any kind of synchronization issues between the watch, the phone, Apple Health App and my free app SleepWatch. Here is the iPhone screen where I could decide which feature was arranged on my watch face. A very simple process.

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With my Garmin, synchronization was a problem because it would lose connection frequently. After almost two months of use, I have not had any issues with connectivity between my Apple Watch and iPhone.

I have my Apple Health app on my iPhone connected to the food tracking app I use, Cronometer. It lists the amounts of food in ounces, grams or milligrams for every vitamin, mineral or micro-nutrient. It's amazing everything that it tracks and is easy to see on the iPhone.

Since I am basically a cheapskate most of the time, I never pay for apps even if they are only a $1. If I can find a free app that gives me the information I am wanting, then free it is. I have found the SleepWatch app to be very good and accurate. I can tell by looking at the times during the night I may or may not get up and it's right on the money for accuracy. It will also record sleep data when I take an occasional siesta.

It gives me a 3-day target for sleeping and what percentage of time I have come close to that target. It already tells me what I already know ... I don't sleep a lot. I also don't get a lot of deep restful sleep. One neat thing it does track is the Sleeping Heart Rate Dip. Something I was not aware of. It will tell me if I am average, below average or above average for people my age.

The app also measures Average Sleeping Heart Rate and it measures Sleep Rhythm.

The real test will be this spring and summer as I wear the watch when I am outside doing regular yard work. I'll be sweating, possibly around dirt or gravel and the watch could possibly get banged around.

One thing that has happened that you have to be aware of .... the Fall Detection ... almost works too good!!! I have had it activate while hammering a nail in the wall. I have had the detector activated slapping a soft sided can of biscuits against the edge of my kitchen counter to open the can. I also can swing my left wrist down hard not hitting anything and see the fall detection activate.

The first screen will give you a choice "I'm okay" and the second screen will give you a choice "I did not fall" ... both important to click shortly after you feel the watch vibrate on your wrist and hear a loud buzzing sound. Otherwise emergency services will be called.

Speaking of calling ... using the Apple Watch as a phone, the sound is crystal clear. The few people I keep in contact with over the phone tell me it sounds better to them than when I use my iPhone. All of those calls are long distance and at times the person I have called is driving their car.

The watch has so many notifications loaded as the default setting, that I had to go into settings on my iPhone for the Apple Watch and turn them off. I know I am not using the Apple Watch to its full potential but have the features set up for the information I want.

EVERYTHING is very accurate, from walking time and distance, the GPS map of your walk or run. When I bought the watch, I checked my heart rate manually for 60 seconds to compare it with the watch and the pulse rate was very accurate. The EKG feature works fantastic. It would tell me if I had A-fib when I ran the EKG feature. After the test it told me my heart was above average for someone my age.

All the apps you have on your iPhone are carried over to your Watch. The watch monitor is easy to read, even the texts you receive. I do not use any kind of watch monitor protector and have seen no damage to the screen after wearing the watch 24/7.

WARNING --

The friend I mentioned that has had her watch for a couple of years does have A-fib and she knew that before she bought the watch. Over the past couple of years she has fallen due to that condition. She recently had an episode and told me that the Series 4 watch did NOT warn her in time that her A-fib was taking place. Also when she fell, the fall detection did not work !!! Luckily her husband was in the area to get her the help she needed.

Note: my friend sent me some added information that might change your thoughts or curiosity if the fall detection really works well. She was wearing her older  watch at the time she passed out. That watch was "bricked" when she did the update to the operating system and had to be sent in to Apple to be fixed. You might remember reading about that issue that Apple acknowledged at the time of the update. She things the watch I am wearing and what I am reviewing WOULD HAVE WORKED if she had worn her newer watch.

That sounds so strange since the few times I have had that fall detection activate with a simple slap of my hand, or my wrist in motion with a hammer or even slapping down on the kitchen counter as a test.

I am sure that after I post this review I will remember something that I have left out. If so, I will come back to add what I remember and color the additional thoughts in my crimson color I use here on the blog.

Did the watch cost more than I wanted ... yes. Here is a story about my past Garmin VivoSport and VivoSmart activity monitors (watch) before buying the Apple Watch. I bought my first Garmin VivoSmart for $110. After 17 months the band tore in two, a common problem that I did not find out until it happened. Garmin sent me a free replacement, the VivoSport. That was a model above what I had and it retailed for ~$162. How long would the band lasted on that watch?

So cost wise I was already at ~$273 in less than two years for the Garmin. I bought the Apple Watch Series 4 for around $425.

Conclusion --

If you are in the market for buying a 'smart watch' I feel the Apple Watch Series 4 is the best way to go. Expert reviews agree with me. After two months I still say it's the best electronic device I have ever bought and I have everything from computers, laptops, tablets and iPhones. The watch IS worth the cost and the amount of information that is provide is just like a desktop computer ... amazing amount of information right there on your wrist.

Even if you are in good health but are 60 years old or older, the Series 4 is a great health feature for not only as a warning system if something unexpected goes wrong but also as a health monitor AND as a tool that will get you off the couch doing some sort of healthy activity.

Definitely a good purchase.

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