We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Should You Buy or Upgrade to the Apple Watch Series 4?

Alongside the new iPhone X series, Apple announced the all new Watch Series 4 yesterday. This is the first major upgrade to the Watch line since its introduction, with a slew of great new features on board.

As such, you may be looking at Series 4, scratching your head and thinking “…should I buy this?” And maybe you should! We’re here to help you decide if it’s worth forking over the coin—especially if you already have an Apple Watch.

First Off: What’s New?

The Series 4 marks the biggest update the Watch line since it was initially introduced back in 2015. It features a bigger design with a larger screen, more biometric sensors than ever, and some serious health benefits.

Like previous models, the Series 4 comes in two sizes: 40mm and 44mm. This is slightly larger than the 38mm and 42mm sizes of the previous gen Watches, which also made room for a larger, nicer display. The edges of the screen are now curved to perfectly match the shape of the face itself, which is such an elegant touch. It looks fantastic.

But aesthetics are just half of the what’s new in the Series 4. It also features an improved heart rate sensor that is capable of generating an electrocardiogram. That’s absolutely insane for a watch—or any consumer device, really. When they dropped that announcement during the presentation our entire staff was floored by the level of innovation and miniaturization that went into it. It’s a very big deal.

The improved heart rate sensor can also detect irregular heart rhythms and abnormally high or low heart rates. It will then notify the users of this so they can see a doctor to make sure everything is okay. Those two features could be literally life saving.

It also features fall detection with emergency notifications, and will even automatically generate a notification should it detect non-movement for a minute following a detected fall. It’s smart.

There are also smaller details sprinkled throughout—like automatic workout detection, new watch faces, and improved complications—but that’s the major stuff. Overall it’s a big upgrade over the past models.

As for pricing, well, it’s also a bit more expensive. The GPS-only model is $399 (up from $329 of past models) with the LTE-connected model coming in at $499 (up from $399)—that’s for the 40mm model. Add $30 for the 44mm version.

If You Have a Watch Series 3

The Series 3 is a fantastic watch. If you already have one, then you indeed have a great smartwatch. The biggest benefits of moving to the Series 4 is undoubtedly the improved heart rate tracking, so if this is a feature you only use passively on the Series 3 there really isn’t a lot of reason to upgrade.

That said, if you have heart issues or want deeper tracking of your heart rate data, there may be a reason to upgrade. For example, let’s say you have a close family member who passed away from heart-related issues so this is something you consciously think about and even work with your doctor to monitor—that sounds like an excellent reason to move to a Series 4 to me. It could catch something before it becomes a real issue.

Otherwise, there really isn’t much of a reason to move from the Series 3 to the Series 4. You’re getting 90 percent of the benefit from your current Watch, which you already paid for. No reason to shell out $400+ for a marginal upgrade if the health features aren’t something you need.

If You Have a Watch Series 2 (or Older)

If your current Watch is a couple of years old or older it’s probably starting to get a little long in the tooth. You’re likely already itching for an upgrade, and if that’s the case the Series 4 is probably the best choice. You sound like the type who likes tech to last a couple of years or more, and the Series 4 should easily get you that.

If you think you can squeeze another year of life out of your current Watch and have no need or use for the improvements brought on by the Series 4, then by all means—skip it! Wait for next year and see what the Series 5 brings! Just keep in mind that if you get that itch in six months or so, it’ll be less ideal it upgrade with a new watch potentially around the corner. It’s always something, right?

But there’s also another option: The Series 3. With the launch of the Series 4, the 3 got a nice little price drop, down to $279 for the GPS-only model and $379 for the LTE model (38mm—add $30 for the 42mm model). If you don’t absolutely need the latest smartwatch tech strapped to your wrist, this is an excellent deal on what was the best smartwatch on the planet just two days ago.

If You Don’t Already Have a Smartwatch

If you don’t already have a smartwatch but want one, well…you’re in a great place! You have some really good options available at this point, which is always an excellent “problem” to have.

You could just go straight to the top of the pile and get yourself a Series 4. You’ll likely love it and wonder how you ever lived without it. But if you’re still curious about the practicality of a smartwatch in your life, you could also go for the now-cheaper Series 3. As I said above, at $279 for the 38mm GPS model, you get an excellent smartwatch for the money. And again, you’ll likely end up loving it and wondering how you lived without it.

Enjoy that.

The Apple Watch Series 4 will be available for pre-order on September 14th (if you’re itching with your finger right over the buy button, the watch is available for purchase as soon as the clock rolls over to the 14th at 12:01 PST). Those pre-orders will arrive on the 21st. The Series 3 is available at its new lower price now.

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is Review Geek's former Editor in Cheif and first started writing for LifeSavvy Media in 2016. Cam's been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times. In 2021, Cam stepped away from Review Geek to join Esper as a managing Editor. Read Full Bio »