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Series 1 vs Series 2: How Do The Apple Watches Stack Up?

Apple released their original watches back in April of 2015. Though experts were uncertain how the market would respond to them, they quickly became a financial success, moving over four million units not long after launch. The new 2016 release splits the Apple Watch up into two different models: Series 1 and Series 2.

The Series 1 is effectively a replacement for the original watches, coming in with similar specs but with an upgraded processor and a few other tweaks. The Series 2 is the premium line, starting at a price point $100 above the baseline price of the Series 1.

The Series 1 and Series 2 are identical in many core components and features. The various Series 2 watches justify their higher price tag primarily by adding features and accessories on top of these core specs, rather than offering a really significant performance difference.

First, let’s look at what all of the watches have in common. Regardless of the model you get, you’ll receive a dual-core processor, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, identical display resolution, and a battery rated at a maximum charge of 18 hours. The available case sizes have not changed, nor has the memory (512 MB DRAM) or the total storage space (8 GB).

Every model also ships with watchOS version 3, which is an upgrade from the OS seen on the original model. This new OS is more capable at juggling multiple apps running in memory, as well as refining the Control Center and the Messaging system. It also comes packed with the new Breathe app, which helps users to control and optimize their breathing through various different types of everyday situations.

Now, here’s where to look for the differences in each model.

In terms of performance, the two models are virtually identical. They both sport the same dual-core processor with the same CPU and GPU capability. The lone big difference here is that the Series 2 processor adds a built-in GPS.

Water Resistance
The Series 1 is rated as “splash resistant,” with a water resistance rating of IPX7. This rating means that it can actually be submerged in about three feet of water for about 30 minutes, but offers no specific level of protection from dust. The Series 2 is rated to survive immersion in water up to 50 meters, making it suitable for leaving on while swimming at the pool or the beach, but not for water sports or diving.

One of the biggest differences between the two models is the display. The Series 1 comes with Ion-X resistant glass and a luminance of 450 nits. The Series 2 is over twice as bright at 1000 nits and adds the option of a sapphire crystal screen on the models that have ceramic or stainless steel cases. The aluminum Series 2 watches have the increased brightness, but have the same Ion-X glass used in Series 1.

Cabling and Accessories
The Series 2 adds a USB charger cable. While the Series 1 is only available in an aluminum case, the Series 2 gives you the option of aluminum or stainless steel. With the stainless steel model, you can opt for a stainless steel, sport or leather band. Aluminum Series 2 watches add the option of choosing a woven nylon band instead of the stock sport band.

Series 2 Special Editions
While the Series 1 only comes in one stock model, the Series 2 has a few special and limited editions to choose from.

The Nike+ Series 2 watch adds a special Nike+ band, and the Hermes adds a special Hermes band (very similar to the promotion run in 2015 with the original watches). The most expensive of the options is the Limited Edition, which comes in a unique ceramic case and adds a magnetic charging dock.

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