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Garmin Forerunner 965 review: That AMOLED screen brings it all together –watch out Apple
6:00 pm | October 29, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Garmin Forerunner 965: One minute review

This is the watch that takes one of the best Apple watch features and adds it to Garmin – that stunning AMOLED display. Yet, this manages to offer at least five days more battery life than almost any of the other competition with the same display.

To be clear, this model comes as a screen upgrade following the release of the very similar Forerunner 955, nine months before. So while the upgrades from that to this aren't huge, it's worth noting that the model was a near-perfect jump forward anyway. Add this screen and it's a real heavy hitter. Garmin also released the Forerunner 265 alongside this model, also packing an AMOLED screen but at a lower price point.

For anyone who wants one of the best multisport watches you can buy, the 965 is – as you can see from the star rating – where it's at. As such the price is representative of what you get, meaning it's high.

For what you get this justifies that cost, as this review will clarify. In short, it's got astonishing battery performance, a beautiful display, super accurate location and heart rate tracking plus lots of other smart metrics including new running dynamics without the need for an extra sensor. This is one of the best Garmin watches, so is this the ultimate sports watch?

Garmin Forerunner 965: Specifications

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Garmin Forerunner 965

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Garmin Forerunner 965

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Garmin Forerunner 965: Price and Availability

  • £600 in the UK 
  • $600 in the US
  • AU$999 in Australia

The Garmin Forerunner 965 is definitely one of the more expensive options from the company but that's because it comes packing all the best features rolled into one wonder device. As such you're looking at a price of US$600 / £600 / AU$999.

Of course these are the at-launch prices, so you can expect these to drop as new models come out. It's also worth taking sales into consideration as you can often find deals on even the best Garmin models during these times.

That said, you may find that the Garmin Forerunner 955, which is nearly identical aside from that screen upgrade, can be had at a cheaper price. And if you go for the 955 Solar you'll get a bit more out of your battery performance too.

  •  Value score: 4/5 

Garmin Forerunner 965: Design and screen

Garmin Forerunner 965

(Image credit: Future)
  • 1.4-inch AMOLED display
  • Titanium bezel
  • Comfy silicone strap, 22mm QuickFit compatible

The Garmin Forerunner 965 is all about that superb 1.4-inch AMOLED display which looks superb. It's not only rich with colors and crisp definition between light and dark, but it also has a fantastic 454 x 454-pixel resolution, plus it's super bright. 

All that equates to a screen you can read in any light or situation – including underwater – with lots of data at a glance. You can also activate the always-on display and since this is super low energy consuming that won't even affect battery life much.

Plus it's all coated in a Gorilla Glass DX outer layer which should mean it stays scratch-free too. In our months of using this, including throwing it in bags, there's not a mark on it.

Upgraded from the previous generation is the bezel too, which is now made of lightweight and hardy titanium. This is the metal they put in your body if you have an operation – as it's so nonreactive and won't be affected by moisture – meaning this should stay in perfect condition longer than you're alive.

The strap comes in three options Amp Yellow/Black, Black/Powder Grey, or Whitestone/Powder Grey. In all cases, there is a double clasp, malleable and comfy silicone strap and it can be swapped out as it uses the Garmin 22mm QuickFit system. 

Since everything is waterproof to 50 meters it's also super simple to give it a clean by washing under the tap or in the shower – which in reviewing for months was found to keep it looking as good as new.

  • Design score: 5/5

Garmin Forerunner 965: Features

Garmin Forerunner 965

(Image credit: Future)
  • Offline maps
  • Heart Rate Variability
  • Contactless payments

The Garmin Forerunner 965 crams in nearly all the best features developed over the years, making this a powerhouse of a sports watch. That means it'll track most sports, with over 30 including triathlon and multisport-specific tracking with one-touch transitions. But it does all this with lots and lots of data.

Of course, you have the ever-impressive accuracy of the Garmin when it comes to multi-GNSS GPS but this also packs in heart rate monitoring which offers Heart Rate Variability, VO2 Max, stress tracking, sleep tracking, all-day HR tracking, and more. 

All that means lots of data to work with, not only while training, but also to help advise when you need to rest and even make suggestions on workouts to hit goals. This includes last year's Training Readiness score, recovery times, workload readouts, race predictions (a nifty running feature that uses your training to predict what time you'll get during a marathon, half-marathon, 10k etc), and more. 

That's a whole list of features and it can seem overwhelming, but the watch and Garmin Connect app do feed it to you in a way that is helpful. You can then decide to add more data or strip it back as needed to suit your workout style and goals.

You also have some great day-to-day functionality with contactless pay, onboard Spotify music, offline maps, find my phone, flashlight screen feature, sleep tracking, step tracking and plenty more to be found in the IQ App Store. This isn't comparable to Apple or Android app stores, so don't expect full smartwatch functionality. But it's enough to keep you focused while also being alerted when needed.

Everything can be organized well, and that means moving icons about on your watch or using folders, but also in data screens when training. Everything can be made bespoke, even the clock face, to suit what data you need to see. Plus you've now got more data options than ever, but more on that in the next section.

  • Features score: 5/5

Garmin Forerunner 965: Performance

Garmin Forerunner 965

(Image credit: Future)
  • Accurate heart rate data
  • Superb running metrics
  • Useful VO2 data

The Garmin Forerunner 965 sounds fantastic when you look at the specs but did that actually translate into real-world performance experience? The short answer is yes. As you can expect from Garmin, the GPS accuracy was fantastic as was acquisition – in fact, this would find satellites and be ready to go in just a few seconds. This was tested all over the country, and in one rural area, it found GPS and was ready to go in just two seconds. 

The only issue noticed was at the start of the Great North Run annual race, where my data was different to others running right next to me, but that could be down to their older watches versus this more accurate one.

Heart rate tracking was as impressive. When tested against a dedicated chest strap (Wahoo Tickr) it was found to keep up accurately, although, of course, there was a little more lag in sudden HR changes, since this is on your wrist not right by your heart. Even while swimming this offered excellent heart rate tracking which could actually be used thanks to that easy-to-glance-at display.

So a very accurate GPS and a reliable HR monitor all make for lots of data that can then be used with Garmin algorithms to work out more useful metrics. As such this watch offers Heart Rate Variability, so you can see how your actual cardiovascular fitness is changing as you train. There's a VO2 Max measurement to assess how well you can perform under strain. 

Plus, you have acute load measured to assess the impact on your muscles as you work. All that means the watch will let you know when to rest, and what training you need (cardio versus weights, for example) so you get to where you need.

Battery life is also worth a mention as this offers a massive 23 days on standby, 31 hours in GPS mode, and 10.5 hours with GPS and music playing. All that translates to a charge very rarely, even if you train a lot. So you won't need to take a charger if going away for a race weekend, for example. Plus it charges ridiculously fast, up to a percentage a minute.

This could go on for thousands of words, such is the depth of this watch. But just to mention this model adds in running dynamics without the need for an extra sensor. So you can now check your vertical oscillation, cadence, stride length, ground contact time, and more to improve running in a really effective way. Sleep tracking worked relatively well although its accuracy wasn't always spot on, but enough so as to help track if you're recovered and ready to workout again.

You also get smartphone notifications for WhatsApp, calls, messages, emails, calendar, Ring doorbell, and plenty more to make it a smartwatch of sorts, only kept to a minimum so you're not too distracted from its primary use as a training tool.

  • Performance score: 5/5

Garmin Forerunner 965: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Garmin Forerunner 965: How we tested

We wore the Garmin Forerunner 965 on one wrist, connected to an Android device, for months. This came on half marathons, long bike rides, swims, surfs, walks, yoga classes, weights sessions, paddle boarding and more.

The contactless payment features and wireless offline Spotify were both used plenty as was sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring in cold water baths, notifications from the phone and more.

In short this was lived with 24/7 for months to truly test how you would use the watch, and all its features.

Garmin Forerunner 965: Also consider

First reviewed: October 2023

Huawei Watch GT 4 review: Huawei’s best smartwatch yet could use third-party support
7:22 pm | October 20, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Smartwatches | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Huawei Watch GT 4: One minute review

I really like the Huawei Watch GT 4. It’s an impressive-looking device with a wide variety of materials and colorways available, and every one of these iterations looks fantastic. The big AMOLED screen’s refresh rate is nice and smooth, colors pop, and the speaker is loud – embarrassingly loud, if you leave workout notifications on during a class. 

It’s functional too, with highly accurate metrics. TruSleep tracking was accurate and the metrics in the Huawei Health app were pleasantly detailed, although I was missing some actionable advice on that front. Huawei’s TruSeen 5.5+ algorithm offers great heart rate tracking that extends to workout tracking, too, and the GPS was comparable to the best smartwatches (we tested it against an Apple Watch Ultra 2), so you’ll get great results on runs and rides. 

Having said all that, I won’t be using it again. Under normal circumstances, I’d be giving such a watch a glowing review, perhaps even full marks, but it’s languishing on 80% here. The watch itself is fantastic, but it’s impossible to ignore the frustrations that come with it being saddled with Huawei’s baggage. 

The limits imposed by the US and every smartphone manufacturer, and Huawei’s refusal to abandon its AppGallery store, which most phones will only support in-browser, means you have a watch that can’t interface with lots of popular apps. Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Spotify, and more are on the no-go list, although others like Strava were fine. 

However, if you can get over these flaws, you’ll find a gorgeous watch waiting to be loved. If you already have a Huawei phone and are used to a few workarounds, it’s probably the best smartwatch for you. 

Huawei Watch GT 4: Specifications

Huawei Watch GT 4: Price and availability

Huawei Watch GT 4

(Image credit: Future)
  • From £229.99 in the UK
  • From €249.90 euros in the EU 
  • Unavailable in the US and AU

For starters, let’s address the elephant in the room: Huawei technology is unavailable in the US or Australia, due to ongoing disputes with the Chinese telecoms manufacturer (and the Chinese government) over security concerns. 

The UK has removed Huawei devices from its 5G network but hasn’t banned the sale of these devices entirely. The EU still allows Huawei devices to be sold. While UK and European fans can access Huawei tech, some functionality, such as NFC contactless payments, is limited. 

It’s a shame because the Watch is terrific value. Both the 46mm with silicone black strap and the 41mm with silicone white strap cost just £229.99 in the UK and €249.90 in the EU, which is a great price for a chunky fitness watch with a stainless steel case. Prices rise with a variety of different options, including a rose gold version with Milanese straps or leather straps on the 46mm. 

The most expensive is the 41mm steel-and-gold edition watch, which costs £349.99 / €399.90 euros, followed by the stainless steel 46mm with stainless steel strap, which costs £299.99 / €369.90 euros. It’s a very well-priced watch that looks gorgeous and could be an absolute powerhouse with the right support; it’s just a shame about the lack of availability. Unless you’re an existing Huawei user, there’s almost always a better option.

  • Value score: 3/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Design

Huawei Watch GT 4

(Image credit: Future)
  • Seven different looks
  • Beautiful, premium designs belying price
  • OS is simple enough to use

From an external style standpoint, Huawei watches as a whole have virtually no consistency. When comparing the Watch GT 4 models to the thick, boxy, plastic cases on the gimmicky Huawei Watch Buds and Huawei Watch D, it’s like night and day. Whereas the Watch D and Watch Buds were quirky at best and unsightly at worst, Huawei Watch GT 4 models look fantastic, with in-built microphones and speakers allowing you to take and receive calls on-wrist. 

These watches evoke different styles of traditional watches, from delicate circular fashion and dress watches to field and diving units. The unit I tested, the 46mm with stainless steel strap, looked very much like an analog dive watch when I picked the right face. Like all the GT 4 models, it has a circular digital crown on the top right and a secondary button on the bottom right, which combined with the very responsive touch-screen, made it easy to navigate around the watch. It was a pleasure to use. 

The screen gets a lot of real estate, and it’s a fantastic screen on both sizes of the watch. The full-color AMOLED screen offers a fantastic refresh rate, ensuring a smooth swiping action, and pops with color. The AMOLED screen was better than many Garmins (although not quite up to Apple’s Retina Display) and output around 600 nits of brightness. This is enough for most people, though it’s a far cry from the Apple Watch Series 9, which can output an impressive 2,000 nits. 

Some watch faces (the free ones, at least) are pretty dross, but I found one I liked that echoed an analog watch face and carried several on-face complications, including step count, the moon’s current phase, and a calendar. It echoed a classic chronograph and complemented the stainless steel aesthetic. 

Speaking of the stainless steel, I have to share a grievance about changing the band. It might be because of my short nails, but after removing the silicone band, applying the stainless steel band to the watch took 15 minutes of effort, accompanied by lots of grunting and profanity. It was not a painless experience, but the watch looks ace with it on. 

  • Design score: 5/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Features

Huawei Watch GT 4

(Image credit: Future)
  • Lots of workout profiles
  • Lacking payments in many regions
  • Forced to sideload apps

The Huawei Watch GT 4 is entirely dependent on the Huawei Health app, which isn’t available on the iOS or Google Play store, but can be easily downloaded via your browser and the QR code provided. From there, you can customize your watch faces, toggle various notifications streams on and off, and view all your health data in greater detail. The Huawei Health app is excellent at what it does, showing you comprehensive information and offering actionable advice on your workout and sleep.

For example, I am a light sleeper, so Huawei Health recommended I cut out caffeine in the evening before bedtime – not groundbreaking advice, but nice to have. The Watch GT 4 has a load of workout profiles, from outdoor and indoor cycles to pool and open-water swims that count your strokes and lengths as you go. 

The workout profiles interact with Huawei Health nicely and offer bonus features like AI-generated plans to help you train for specific goals in common exercises such as running, which you can follow along on your watch. TruSleep and TruSeen 5.5+ sensors offer advanced heart rate monitoring and ECG functionalities. A temperature sensor, blood oxygen measurement, and a stress metric round up the useful suite of health features on offer here.

All the Huawei-native stuff is great: it’s the lack of compatibility with other phones and operating systems that’s the problem. You can get WhatsApp and email notifications, but not respond to them, and good luck trying to use apps like Gmail without considerable sideloading jiggery pokery. Want Google or Apple Maps on your watch? Tough, you’re stuck with Huawei’s own Petal Maps. Unless you live in a country that supports Huawei NFC payments, you won’t be able to use contactless cards on your watch either. As I used the watch, I noticed more and more features either missing or not gelling, and while getting a Huawei phone would go some way towards solving this (if you don’t live in the US or Australia), in the UK you can’t use Huawei telecoms devices on a 5G network, so the phone won’t live up to its potential. 

  • Features score: 3/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Performance

Huawei Watch GT 4 vs Apple Watch Ultra 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Great battery life
  • Excellent sleep/workout metrics
  • GPS matched an Apple Watch Ultra 2 for accuracy

During my time testing the Huawei Watch GT 4, the battery life performed as expected. I tested it over five days, and each day the watch depleted between five and 10 percent, depending on GPS usage. I’m very satisfied the watch lives up to its bold claims of up to 14 days, and I can see the average user getting 10 days out of the watch with a few GPS workouts thrown in. 

Sleep and workout metrics held up very well, and I was happy with the results I got. Running Ability index, Training Load and Training index metrics take a lot of your stats (if you’re a runner, of course) and boil them down into simple numbers. Running Ability will tell you if you’re running, for example, 44% better than users of a similar age, gender, height, and weight. Huawei is good at condensing complex statistics into easily accessible nuggets of information – it’s reminiscent of the best Fitbit watches in this way.

When I tested the GPS tracking against an Apple Watch Ultra 2, the main noticeable difference was that the Huawei Watch GT 4 took far, far longer to connect to a network. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 was almost instantaneous, while the GT 4 took at least two and a half minutes, during which it encouraged me to be in an open area, probably at the place the workout is starting. It doesn’t sound like much to ask, but you either stand stationary for around 150 seconds in front of your house before you start running, or you just run and the watch starts tracking you halfway through your first kilometer. 

Other than that, the Watch GT 4 matched the Ultra 2 closely in terms of both heart rate and distance covered when I wore them simultaneously, so I’m satisfied with the watch’s accuracy.   

  • Performance score: 4/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Garmin Venu 3 review: A perfect balance of smartwatch and health tracker
7:10 pm | October 16, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Garmin Venu 3: One minute review

The Garmin Venu 3 is the third in a trilogy of watches which – unlike most movie trilogies – as the third is actually the best of the bunch. In fact, this is one of the best Garmin watches outright. 

Like the rest of the Venu series, this is a pretty balanced blend of smartwatch and health tracker. Primarily, that means the Garmin Venu 3 looks great with a rich and colorful AMOLED screen, that gives some of the best Apple watches a run for their money. Unlike Apple Watches, which can only go a scant 18 or 36 hours without a recharge, this watch can last for up to two weeks.

What you don't get here is some of the more premium running features like the Training Readiness score, or Race Predictor, like you would get on the Garmin Forerunner 265 for example. But you do get advanced sleep tracking and suggestions, an evening report, unique wheelchair user-specific training metrics, and more health insights.

This watch also features a speaker and microphone meaning you can take calls from a connected phone, right there on your wrist. It also means the meditation training is more immersive with audio guidance, music, and more.

So while this is on the expensive side for a Garmin watch without premium training features, this does manage to offer lots of smartwatch-style capabilities – like GPS tracking, offline Spotify, and contactless pay – while also focusing on lifestyle tracking, all day and all night.

Garmin Venu 3: Specifications

Garmin Venu 3: Price and Availability

Garmin Venu 3

(Image credit: Future)
  • £450 in the UK 
  • $450 in the US
  • AU$749 in Australia

The Garmin Venu 3 is a relatively high price compared to other Garmin watches and contemporaries like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, but it costs only slightly more than an Apple Watch and does a bit of everything (and it does it very well) while looking premium to boot. So you're looking at a price of US$450 / £450 / AU$749, slightly higher than most smartwatches, but still quite representative of what you're getting at this stage. 

Of course, these are the launch prices, so you can expect these to drop over time. You can often find great deals on Garmins, and we're betting the Garmin Venu 3 is no exception. Check out our Black Friday Garmin deals page for more information.

  •  Value score: 4/5 

Garmin Venu 3: Design and screen

Garmin Venu 3

(Image credit: Future)
  • 1.4-inch AMOLED display
  • Stainless steel bezel
  • Comfy silicone strap, 22mm QuickFit compatible

The Garmin Venu 3 is undeniably an attractive smartwatch that can be used as a fitness tracker and as a fashionable day-to-day wearable. The silicone strap is comfy, waterproof, and minimal in its design. That stainless steel bezel also gives it a premium finish, which other curved-screen wearables like Apple Watches and the Google Pixel Watch 2 are missing. 

But it's only when that screen lights up you really see the quality. This watch boasts a gorgeous 1.4-inch AMOLED display with a high 454 x 454 pixel resolution. This super-bright and colorful screen makes all your metrics show up clearly and attractively, no matter the lighting conditions. 

The Venu 3 works well with a touchscreen that not only makes menu scrolling easy but features lovely graphical transitions that create an intuitive way to explore the menus. It's all encased in Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to make sure it stays scratch-free – which was the case throughout our frankly harsh testing. 50-meter waterproofing does set your mind at ease: you can use it anywhere, including underwater, and it's dustproof to boot.

You also have three buttons to help menu interactions which are utilized well. For example, if you want to discard a workout you hit the red cross on the screen but then have to confirm using one of the buttons.

The Venu 3 comes in two sizes: 41mm (known as the Venu 3S) and the larger 45mm, just known as the Venu 3. Colorways for the Venu 3 include white, black, or black with a leather strap. Go for the Venu 3S and there are even more choices including soft gold, rose pink, sage gray, and others.

  • Design score: 5/5

Garmin Venu 3: Features

Garmin Venu 3

(Image credit: Future)
  • Pre-loaded guided meditation content
  • Wheelchair user specific tracking
  • Smarter sleep tracking

The Garmin Venu 3 is packed full of health, lifestyle, and fitness tracking features while offering some genuinely useful smartwatch apps from the Connect IQ store. One standout feature was the fact this AMOLED screen is taken advantage of when linked to the Ring doorbell app, showing a screenshot of who's there when you get an alert on your wrist. 

The return of Venu 2's speaker and microphone means you can get audio alerts and even take calls natively on the watch. It's not quite well refined enough to let you talk back using the Ring app, for example, but it's no surprise the mainly third-party apps aren't going to be as good as on other platforms – Garmin has never pushed too hard in that area, largely because it focuses on fitness training, and it's done that well here.

You can expect a plethora of tracking and training options including all-day heart rate tracking, deep sleep tracking with guidance, stress scores, HRV measurements, respiration tracking, and plenty more. All that equates to a clear overall picture of your health. As we've come to expect from a good Garmin watch, you can also track nearly any exercise you can think of too, including swimming and golf. Garmin has a dedicated Garmin Golf app available on your phone, which you can sync to the Venu 3. Garmin consistently makes some of its best golf watches around, and it's nice to see some of those features available here, such as downloadable courses and shot analysis.

The meditation content is worth mentioning as this is specifically tailored to this watch, offering audio and visual guidance without the need to connect headphones. That means guided meditations that track your respiration rate and heart rate so you can see the effects directly.

The wheelchair user-specific tracking is a fantastic option that lets you setup in that mode, right from the outset. This will then be able to track pushes as well as offer a selection of wheelchair-specific sports tracking.

You also have a selection of useful features day-to-day like contactless payments, Bluetooth headphone connectivity, offline Spotify playlists, and a handy flashlight mode that you genuinely do use when pottering about in the dark.

  • Features score: 5/5

Garmin Venu 3: Performance

Garmin Venu 3

(Image credit: Future)
  • Accurate heart rate data
  • Superb sleep support
  • Still Garmin setup issues

The Garmin Venu 3, like most Garmins these days, performed very well in practice. That means it had near faultless GPS acquisition, was fast, and offered accurate measurements. It also meant heart rate data was accurate when compared with a chest strap test.

How all that data is used is what makes the Venu 3 special. Sleep tracking, for example, is far more advanced here than in many of the more sports-specific Garmin watches. This watch not only offers you a Morning Report of how you've slept and recovered, but also an Evening Report, helping you consider ways to make that night's sleep the best it can be. All that equates to checking in more with your habits and adjusting accordingly – part of what makes this watch supportive of change. This even has nap detection for the first time, allowing you to pop this on to get a power nap where your recommended sleep duration that night is taken into account.

It was a surprise to find the speaker and mic weren't just a fad but proved genuinely useful. There was enough clarity to follow guided meditations, take phone calls, and even appreciate music. The microphone worked well too; if you think this feature might be appealing, perhaps as a busy parent in the kitchen who still needs to be connected while hearing what's going on in the room, this is a top solution.

So why bother going for a sports-specific watch over this? Well, you'll find the Venu 3 can track a lot of sports – over 30 – but it might not do so in quite as much depth as some sports-specific wearables. Running, for example, tracks speed, pace, HR and even has maps, but you won't get more complex metrics from running dynamics like ground contact time or race predictors, which are available for the best running watches.

This would be a five-star section, but phone connection and setup was a nightmare. Having reviewed Garmins for over a decade, using various Android phones, this has always been an issue. A recent Forerunner 965 review was so faultless in the setup that it seemed Garmin had fixed it, then this Venu 3 connection was plagued with issues involving restarting the phone, the watch, the app, factory resets, and more. It might not be an issue on your phone but it's an unfixed Garmin trend, and cannot go unmarked.

  • Performance score: 4/5

Garmin Venu 3: Scorecard

Garmin Venu 3: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Garmin Venu 3: How we tested

We wore the Garmin Venu 3 on one wrist, connected to an Android device, for months. This came on runs, bike rides, swims, walks, yoga classes, weights sessions, paddle boarding and more.

The contactless payment features and wireless offline Spotify were both used as was sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring in cold water baths, notifications from the phone and more.

In short this was lived with 24/7 to truly test how you would use the watch, and all its features.

Garmin Venu 3: Also consider

First reviewed: October 2023

Google Pixel Watch 2 review: lighter, faster, and maybe better
6:20 pm | October 4, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Google Pixel Watch 2: One-minute preview

Google Pixel Watch 2 essentially steers the same course as its well-received first version, and that's mostly a good thing.

At a glance, the new smartwatch's design is unchanged. Google did redesign the digital crown a bit to enhance ease of use. Otherwise, the screen and dimensions are the same as they were on the original Google Pixel Watch. However, looks can be a bit deceiving. The cover glass is thinner (Google insists it's just as strong) and the body is now made of lightweight, recycled aluminum. Together, they decrease the weight by what Google insists is a noticeable amount.

More importantly (and maybe more noticeably) this watch has new components and a major platform update. It has a new quad-core processor and Wear OS 4.0, making it probably the best Wear OS watch around right now, if not one of the best smartwatches period.

There are critical new features like the new Personal Safety Check, and, finally, auto-recognition of when you start and stop working out. Google Pixel Watch 2 might also do a better job of recognizing your workout performance thanks to the watch's new multi-path heart rate sensor on the back.

This is just our first impressions of the Google Pixel Watch 2. If you want more from this year's October Made by Google Event, you can check out our early Google Pixel 8 review and our early Google Pixel 8 Pro review.

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The display still has that too-large black bezel around its bright 320ppi face, but the screen is now running in Always On mode by default, while still maintaining 24-hour battery life (according to Google).

If you're up for sleeping with the watch (remember it's lighter for more bedtime comfort), you may appreciate that it can charge a lot faster now thanks to four physical charging pins on the back, which is a switch from the induction charging found on the last model.

Google claims you can get a 50% charge in less than 30 minutes, which means if you want a quick charge before bedtime and maybe don't want to charge up again when you wake up and head out to work, it's possible with the Pixel Watch 2.

Also, if you're looking for more sleep data, the Pixel Watch 2 has you covered with a new skin temperature sensor. And for when you're awake, the new continuous electrodermal activity (CEDA) sensor could help detect signs of stress

Overall this looks like a smart, albeit safe update. Google didn't attempt a wholesale redesign but they've basically changed almost everything else, from the CPU to most of the key sensors and even the charging methodology. With Wear OS 4.0, safety enhancements, and some new Fitbit capabilities, this may be the smartwatch update to watch.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Specifications

Google Pixel Watch 2: Price and availability

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Starts from $349 (WiFi) $399 (LTE)
  • Prices £349 and £399 in the UK, AU$549 and AU$649 in AU
  • One size: 41mm

Google unveiled the new Google Pixel Watch 2, along with the new Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, on October 4. 

The Google Pixel Watch 2 starts at $349 in the US, £349 in the UK and AU$549 in Australia for the WiFi-only model. With LTE connectivity, it costs $399 / £399 / AU$649. 

Preorders started on October 4 and the watch ships on Oct. 12.  It's available in four color combinations: Polished Silver/Bay, Polished Silver/Porcelain, Matte Black/Obsidian, and Champagne Gold/Hazel.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Design

Google Pixel Watch 2 HANDS ON

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Maintains elegance of original design
  • Lighter aluminum body
  • Redesigned digital crown 

Google's original Pixel Watch was one of the best-looking smartwatches on the market and its successor, the Google Pixel Watch 2, measures up to that standard.

The newly thinner glass cover and recycled aluminum body still look like they were poured out together. Its gumdrop shape looks and generally feels good. While lowering the overall weight by about 10%, Google didn't touch the dimensions of the one-size-fits-all 41mm watch.

There is one change that does incrementally improve the aesthetic appeal: Google redesigned the digital crown, mostly by changing the stem that leads to it, to give it a more watch-like look and more importantly make it easier to use it.

Google didn't make any changes to the sometimes challenging band attachment system, but there are some new bands, including six fitness bands. I didn't get to wear them but I can report that the material felt nice.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Features

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • New Safety features
  • Skin temperature sensing
  • New watch faces and complications
  • Better heart rate sensor

While I didn't get to spend much time with the new Pixel Watch 2, it's safe to assume that the new quad-core processor should result in smoother operation. However, some of the biggest changes will surely come from the new Wear OS 4.0.

The system change will bring new core apps like Calendar, Gmai, and an updated Google Assistant.

On the Health and Fitness front, the Pixel Watch 2 will match the Apple Watch Series 9 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 to automatically recognize when you start and stop working out. it's one of my favorite Apple Watch features and I'm happy to see it here.

There's a new heart rate zone for runners that can help with pace coaching and alert you when you drop in and out of your personal zone.

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Speaking of heart, the new multi-path heart rate sensor is actually multiple sensors that, according to Google, can much more accurately track your heart rate during more vigorous workouts (Google claims it's up to 40% more accurate than the original Pixel Watch's optical heart rate sensor, just like the Fitbit Charge 6's 60% improvement on the Charge 5). It does this by taking the single-point sensor contact of the original Google Pixel Watch and multiplying it into four points of wrist contact.

There's also a new sweat detector (the CEDA) that the watch can use to measure your stress level.

In addition to all these health and activity adjustments, the Google Pixel Watch 2 now includes Personal Safety features. With Safety Check, you set a timer and if you have not responded by the end of it, the watch can automatically send a message to your emergency contact with your real-time location.

Normally, this feature would require not only an LTE version of the Pixel Watch 2 but a monthly carrier contract, as well. Google will be offering it, though, as a free feature for Fitbit Premium customers. Naturally, Fitbit Premium is not free – it normally costs $9.99 / £7.99 / AU$15.49 a month. However, all new Pixel Watch 2 customers get six months of Fitbit Premium for free.

I got a walkthrough of the new Safety Features and thought they looked clear, concise, and useful.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Early verdict

Having only spent a couple of hours with the new Google Pixel Watch 2, it's way too soon to offer a verdict. 

Still, I'm generally pleased with the look, feel, and function of Google's new smartwatch.

While I wish Google had enlarged the display, the new watch faces are packed full of information and much of the interface appeared clean and responsive.

I'm a little surprised that Google chose to swap out inductive charging capability for four physical pins, but the reasoning is sound. Who wouldn't want faster charging so they can get back to bed with their smartwatch for accurate sleep and temperature tracking?

The new quad-core processor and updated Wear OS 4.0 should make it a more responsive and easier-to-use wearable.

Google held the line on pricing though I can't help but think that the Pixel Watch 2 could be a best-seller if it drops the WiFi model price to $299.

More to come in our full review.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review: the smartwatch world’s best screen ever
2:47 pm | September 22, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Comments: Off

Apple Watch Ultra 2: One minute review

The original Apple Watch Ultra was the most radical redesign to the watch that Apple has ever attempted. It was something entirely new, a great innovation, one that was celebrated, and the best Apple Watch we'd ever seen. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is also very good, because it’s mostly the same watch. 

It has a brighter screen (Apple’s brightest screen ever, in fact) but Apple’s new S9 SiP chip and the watchOS 10 operating system are what’s bringing most of the changes. The S9 chip, just like it does on the Apple Watch Series 9, allows for a selection of new features such as the impressive hands-free Double Tap control. This innovative new gesture allows you to start workouts, dismiss timers, answer calls and more, all hands-free. 

A smattering of other features, including Siri, no longer needed to connect to the cloud, while a couple of alterations to the Depth app round out the changes. It’s also stepped up its eco credentials, with recycled materials both inside and outside the watch. New bands also share this ethos, with an increased emphasis on sustainability fostering new design.

However, when it comes to the Apple Watch Ultra 2’s core mission - an Apple Watch to take with you into the wilderness and under the sea - very little has changed. There has been no battery life extension, new workout functionalities, or navigation innovations you can’t also get on the original Ultra thanks to watchOS 10. It’s still an amazing Apple Watch - probably the best, in fact, from a specifications perspective, and a definite contender for our best smartwatch guide - but it’s falling into the same cycle of small annual updates as the standard Apple Watch models.

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Specifications

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Price and availability

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • $799 / £799 / AU$1,399
  • Only one model
  • Available now

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is available now. Your purchasing journey is pretty straightforward, this time: while the Apple Watch Series 9 comes with a whole host of choice attached to it (which color? Which size? Which band? GPS or cellular?) there’s just a single Apple Watch Ultra 2 to choose from. 

You get one size, 49mm, and one color, its standard Titanium, despite the rumors we’d be seeing a Black or Midnight version this year. It packs LTE cellular connectivity as standard. The only meaningful choice you need to make while buying it is which band it comes with, but we’ll get to those in more detail in the Design section below. 

If the $799 / £799 / AU$1,399 price for the Watch Ultra 2 is too high, or you don't need the extra adventure-focused features, you can of course look at the Apple Watch 9 range instead. Read more about that in our hands-on Apple Watch 9 review.

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Design

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • Recycled Titanium casing
  • 3,000 nit Retina Display screen
  • Otherwise identical

At first glance, just like the Series 9, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is more or less identical to its predecessor. Both share the same solid titanium body, the protruding casing housing the digital crown and the side button, and the now-iconic orange Action button. Microphone and speaker placement also match the original exactly. 

The key differences to look out for concern the screen and the bands. First off, the screen is even more beautiful than on the first version, capable of putting out an impressive 3,000 nits of brightness at full blast. It’s Apple’s brightest screen ever, the refresh rate is like water falling off a duck’s back, and it’s definitely Apple at its peak. It’s probably the best smartwatch screen I’ve ever seen in person from a purely technical standpoint. 

This world-beating screen is brought to life with a new customizable Ultra-exclusive watch face, showing the seconds ticking away around the screen in a very clever fashion. Meanwhile, your favorite complications - for instance movement rings, a weather widget, temperature, and a compass setting - can be mixed-and-matched to display on the watch face itself. It’s a smart alternative to the Wayfinder watch face from last year, and looks particularly great in Night Mode - although, if I had to make a choice right now, the Wayfinder still looks better. 

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)

However, that’s pretty much everything we can say from a software design perspective, as most of the innovations present here are part of watchOS 10, which is also available on other Apple Watches. It’s a shame there’s nothing new or unique about what you can do with watchOS 10 and the Ultra 2’s Action button: it’s still programmable, able to map to different functions, but there’s no exciting new feature using the button this time.

The bands are driven by the same environmentally friendly message that dominated this year’s Apple releases. Like the original, three straps are available for the Ultra 2: Alpine, with a g-hook fastening, a nylon Trail strap, and a flouroelastomer Ocean band for dives.

I got to handle the Trail strap, and the design has been slightly tweaked, with a more rounded, clean end to it. Like the Series 9’s sport loops, the nylon band is made with some recycled wool now. The Alpine and Trail bands are emblazoned with a circle of green leaves on the packaging, signifying they’re part of Apple’s carbon neutral scheme, and this will also be made clear online. The watch’s titanium casing is also made from 95% recycled titanium, an impressive number if nothing else.

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Features

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • Last year's excellent adventuring suite
  • New Double Tap gesture
  • Night Mode switches on automatically

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 still has the same stand-out adventuring features its predecessor did, such as next-level GPS tracking, using the Action button to emit a warning siren for assistance, durability in high and low temperatures, and the Oceanic+ app, which turns the watch into a working dive computer. If you want to check that one out, we had a real diving instructor test the Apple Watch Ultra to see how it did. 

The Depth app, which is different from the Oceanic+ as it’s Apple’s in-house dive function, allows you to access logs of previous dives more easily on the watch now. It also supports free diving, although I’m unlikely to give that a serious go before I fully review the watch. The original Ultra’s slick, infrared-looking Night Mode had to be switched on manually with the digital crown, but it now turns on automatically thanks to ambient light sensors under the screen.

That’s it for adventuring gear, but in terms of other new features, the Double Tap gesture is the big winner here. Although it’s not available until October and I wasn’t able to try it on the Apple Watch Ultra 2, I was able to have a go with the feature on the Apple Watch Series 9, which uses the same chipset and sensor array. 

For those not in the know, by raising the watch as if you’re going to check the time and pinching your fingers twice, you can activate whatever widget or app you have open at any given time. If you’ve got a workout loaded up, you can start or finish it, for example. I tried answering a phone call, dismissing a timer, and scrolling through the new watchOS 10 widget stack using the feature, and it’s very impressive and easy to get to grips with. This could easily have been a useless gimmick, but Apple has made this a feature you’ll probably use daily. 

Other new stuff involves the S9’s use of its Ultra Wideband technology to improve the Find Devices functionality. If you use an iPhone 15, which is also equipped with Ultra Wideband, you can see not only the direction of your phone, but also how far away it is from you in feet. My live demonstration was great, but of course at the moment it’s predicated on you having access to both new devices. Ultra Wideband can also be used to control music on your Apple HomePod if you’re nearby, which is useful, I guess - but this isn’t a watch for staying at home. This is a watch for the great outdoors, and I would have liked to see more innovation here. 

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Early verdict

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)

I've not tested the Apple Watch Ultra 2 in full yet, but from what I've seen of it it's still the best Apple Watch. In fact, it’s still up there with the best smartwatches ever. But while the S9 chip’s new functionalities have made the watch even better, this is ultimately a very iterative update, and it can’t be judged in the same way as its predecessor because it’s no longer a category-breaking shock to the system. 

Apple has already got an excellent suite of fitness features, and watchOS 10’s improved cycling metrics means this could be a must-have device for triathletes. It won’t do for all adventurous types, though: I’d have loved to see a bigger battery to solidify it as a top choice for wilderness weekends, but 36 hours of stamina won't be enough for me to pick it over a Garmin if I'm going to be without power for long stretches. 

I’ll look forward to testing it extensively to see if that 3,000-nit screen has a big effect on the battery, but for now, we’ll have to leave it at this: the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is technically the best Apple Watch ever, but it’s a small update. And that means it's only for people who don’t have the original model.

Apple Watch Series 9 review: tapping into a new era of gestures
2:47 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Apple Watch Series 9: One-minute review

After several fairly iterative updates, the Apple Watch Series 9 finally brings a genuinely exciting, use-everyday new feature to the flagship Apple Watch in the form of Double Tap. The gesture is sure to make waves when it’s made available later this year, and I found it a delight to use in my brief time with the watch. 

A brighter screen and on-device Siri, ensuring that health queries are processed securely, are welcome changes, too. The Watch 9 may well prove to be the best Apple Watch for most people in the weeks to come.

The watch’s eco-friendly aspirations are admirable, and the move to Ultra Wideband radio technology is something that will pay dividends as subsequent iPhones make use of the tech. The Watch 9 offers a preview of Apple’s ambitions for the next few years, with a carbon-neutral approach to manufacturing (well, driven by marketing) and a growing list of devices linked by Ultra Wideband.

However, innovation can only go so far: the new Apple Watch shares the exact same 18-hour battery life, sizes, operating system, and design as its predecessors, and so – as we tend to say every year – the update is only iterative in many ways. As ever, it’s the iOS watch to get if you're looking for a new wearable, but if you already have the Apple Watch Series 8 or Series 7 you can probably be excused.

Apple Watch Series 9: Specifications

Apple Watch Series 9: Price and availability

Apple Watch Series 9 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • Starts from $399 / £399 / AU$649 with aluminum case
  • Two sizes: 41mm and 45mm, with LTE options
  • Tougher stainless steel case also available

The Apple Watch Series 9 was announced at Apple's September 12 event and is available now, with prices starting from $399 / £399 / AU$649. That’s the price for the cheapest 41mm model with an aluminum case (with color options of Midnight (black), Starlight (a sort of silver/gold hybrid), Silver, Product Red or the new Pink offering) and GPS connectivity only, without cellular LTE connectivity. 

If you get this version you won't be able to connect to the internet without Wi-Fi or your phone handy, although you can still use GPS functions while you work out. For those who want a larger model, LTE connectivity, or a stainless steel case (which comes in a choice of attractive gold, silver and graphite finishes), you’ll pay an additional premium as usual. 

For example, a 45mm aluminum watch in Pink, with GPS only, costs  $429 / £429 / AU$699, while the GPS and Cellular LTE option costs $529 / £529 / AU$859. If you were to go with the stainless steel option, the price would increase again. This is nothing new in Apple Watch world, but it's worth noting if you’re thinking of picking one up for the first time. 

If you want an even more premium option, there's also the Apple Watch Ultra 2. This brings a raft of outdoor-focused features, a more rugged design and a better screen - but for a higher price still. You can read more about that in our hands-on Apple Watch Ultra 2 review.

Apple Watch Series 9: Design

Apple Watch Series 9 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • Lots of recycled materials
  • Identical architecture to predecessors
  • New bands and pink aluminum case option

As you might expect from a flagship Apple Watch at this point, Apple isn’t reinventing the wheel. It got things right early on, and come hell or high water it's stuck to its guns (with the possible exception of the ‘radical’ Apple Watch Ultra design). Same two sizes, same rotating digital crown, same side button, the mic and speaker introduced several generations back are still present and correct… to look at its chassis, it’s virtually the same watch. Series 8 users hoping for a change are better off looking elsewhere.

Fortunately, the new watch is still incredibly simple to set up and use straight away. Using a combination of the digital crown, side button and touchscreen, our early navigation of the new watchOS 10 operating system was smooth and intuitive. Bringing up Settings with the side button feels like a logical move, and I love the new widget stack, which makes it far easier to jump to the one you want.

More than any other feature, the widgets have transformed the Apple Watch experience for me, but this isn’t unique to the Series 9 – any Apple Watch from the Series 5 or above will receive the watchOS 10 update.

What has changed is the composition of materials used in the Series 9. Apple is keen to emphasize the fact that each new Apple Watch produced is now ‘carbon-neutral’, in part thanks to a combination of recycled materials used both inside and outside the watch, such as the cobalt in its batteries and aluminum used in its casings.

Apple is also attempting to offset electricity used during charging and reduce shipping emissions – even the packaging is 25% smaller, so that more units can fit into shipping crates. 

Apple Watch Series 9 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)

We’ve covered Apple’s big carbon-neutrality claims extensively elsewhere, so we won’t go into much more detail in this review, but this eco-friendly ethos has also led to some cool redesigned bands. The standard sport loop is now made from 82% recycled yarn, while select versions of the swim-proof silicone-fluoroelastomer band are textured as a result of the recycling process, making each band unique. That’s pretty neat. 

A new Pink color, as mentioned, is sure to be snapped up by everyone that saw Barbie this summer, but the Midnight, Silver, Starlight, and Product Red colors all make a welcome return from last year. The premium stainless steel options can also be bought with a metal band matching the watch’s casing. 

Apple Watch Series 9: Features

Apple Watch Series 9 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • Double Tap is an obvious standout
  • New Ultra Wideband use cases are great
  • On-watch Siri secures health data

Let’s get into the details. I tried the Double Tap feature, which garnered much of the attention during the announcement event, although it won't actually land on the Apple Watch 9 until October. Double Tap uses the accelerometer and gyroscope to detect intention: you have to raise your watch as if looking at the time before performing the two-pinch gesture with your watch hand, as this prevents it from being triggered accidentally. It can be used to perform any main action on any complication you happen to have open on your watch face, from starting and stopping a timer to snoozing an alarm, to answering a call

I really liked using it, and I firmly believe this is just the start. My nightmares of having to pinch the air over and over again like a crab while trying to get the thing to work were completely unfounded: I was able to stop a timer, answer a call and access other complications very easily, first time. 

Other notable new features include the use-cases for the new second-generation Ultra Wideband radio technology. The Find Devices app has changed: as long as you’re connecting to another device with a second-gen Ultra Wideband chip in it (so just an iPhone 15 model for now then), you’ll be able to see exactly how many feet away that device is on your Watch, along with a directional icon. You can then play Marco Polo until you get within a foot of it, at which point the Series 9 will issue a green tick to indicate that you’ve found it. 

I was very impressed by the demo, but at the moment it’s limited to just the Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, and iPhone 15 models. As future devices come along with this technology installed, it’s going to become far more widely used (and rightly so, the feature’s great), even if relatively few of us are going to be lucky enough to snap up two new Apple gadgets this year.

On-device Siri is available for the first time, which means it doesn’t have to connect to the cloud in order to process your questions. This is a fairly niche change for most, but a big leap forward for those concerned about privacy is that you can now use Siri to access your health data.

Apple is very keen to emphasize that any data about your health either remains on your device or is encrypted before being shared. Having Siri available to read you your Move ring status or menstrual-cycle tracking data might sound like a minor thing, but it's a long-term win: we’re slowly realizing that, collectively, we’re far too cavalier with our health information these days. 

Apple Watch Series 9: Early verdict

Apple Watch Series 9 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)

It’s tough to nail down any other notable changes: most of the really transformative stuff, other than what’s been discussed above, is available on most other Apple Watches via an upgrade to watchOS 10. The Double Tap and improved Find My features won’t be available to the public until later in the year, while the 2,000-nit always-on Retina Display screen looks bright and lovely and can allegedly be read easier in full sunlight, but it’s a gloomy day in London and we’ve had only a few hours or so to test it to its fullest extent.

Nevertheless, for once when discussing an Apple flagship model, it seems like there’s at least one genuinely useful, game-changing new feature here that will be used every day. There was very little learning curve involved in getting the Double Tap feature to work from our end. 

The shift towards more environmentally friendly materials is a welcome one, and the option of a brighter screen is always nice, but I’m again frustrated by the lack of any improvement in battery life. Further testing will be needed to see if that beautiful bright screen drains the battery beyond an all-day charge, or whether the improved processing power of the S9 can mitigate it.

However, I feel confident in saying the Apple Watch Series 9 will prove to be a strong contender for the ‘best iOS watch for most people’ crown in the months to come. We'll bring you our final verdict in our in-depth full Apple Watch 9 review soon.