Apple Watch Series 5 Introduces Always-On Display

Originally published at:

Unsurprisingly, Apple introduced an Apple Watch Series 5 at its special event, but no one was expecting its marquee feature, the Always-On Retina display. It also includes a built-in compass and international emergency calling. Ceramic cases are back, and Apple added titanium cases as well.

Well, not all watches have been always on. Back in the late 70s I had an LED watch that you had to press a button to display the time. Otherwise it was always off. A truly horrible experience, but I had an LED watch and that’s what really mattered :slight_smile:


Yep, it was called the Quasar, and cost about $700 at its debut as I recall. The price of digital watches plummeted soon after, but for a brief time the Quasar was the sign of a well-heeled technocrat!


Well, that definitely wasn’t mine. Mine was obviously a cheap version. I was a poor college student working weekends and summers at Knott’s Berry Farm as a sweeper. And as guests asked me what time it was, having both hands holding something made for interesting contortions trying to press the button on the watch to see the display.

1 Like

From the brilliant Douglas Adams in the 1981 TV series Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”


When we were in Switzerland, we took a tour of the Patek Philippe Museum. Hundreds and hundreds of gorgeous, gleaming watches made over the past few hundred years. The things those mechanical watches could do were amazing. That was the source of my snarky comment. :slight_smile:

Alas, photography was not allowed.

No photography? I guess that makes you focus more on the displays and not on trying to get the perfect shot.

And thanks for the link.

I’ve updated the article to mention that Apple has dropped the price of the Milanese Loop and Leather Loop by $50.

I never really saw myself in the market for an Apple Watch. I don’t even wear a regular watch. That said, for $199 I’d be tempted to get one just to try it and see what it’s all about. Of course after reading this article I realize I’d like the compass/elevation/inclination display on hikes, and of course that clocks in north of $400. Hehe, Apple. :slight_smile: I guess it will be another while.

The Apple Watch is a superb smart watch but a lousy fitness device. If you’re serious about hiking, you’re much better off with a handheld or a serious fitness watch. I’ve been wearing an Apple Watch since series 0, currently use a 3 LTE, and next week will get my AW5 LTE. For hiking, though, I’d much rather use my Garmin Fenix 5+, for many different reasons. For example, easier to read in sunlight, always on means always on (no slowing or dimming), much easier to get data off and to the various places I keep data, pairs with my existing sensors (ANT+, which the AW will never have). And it will operate off the wrist, so in winter when I’m cross country skiing I can wear it over clothing where I can see it rather than having to wear it under so it’s in contact with my wrist. Having the ability to fully operate the thing using buttons rather than a touch screen also helps greatly in the winter. I’ve never recorded an activity on my AW (mostly cycling in the summer, skiing in the winter), since more specialized devices (Edge 830, Fenix 5+) work so much better. For all of the smart watch functions, though (Apple Pay, customizable faces, many different apps, full coordination with the iPhone including the ability to answer texts) the AW is much, much better than anything Garmin makes. It’s worth getting one for that alone.

1 Like

I had a Sinclair Black Watch, back in the seventies. I was so excited when my sister came home with one, I went straight out and got one for myself.

This Wikipedia article doesn’t share my enthusiasm!

I wonder why Apple is offering three of the four case options only for the GPS+Cellular versions of the watch. If you don’t want a cellular watch, your only option is Aluminum.

I have an Apple Watch 3 with GPS+Cellular and canceled the Cellular service ($10/month) after about 8 months because I found I used it only once or twice.

Maybe they figure people interested in the fancier cases aren’t going to be price-sensitive and so will get the Cellular option anyway. But it’d be nice to have the choice.

I’ll bet they offer it to the cell watches for a few months and then it works its way down to other models so they can pull the most money in from exclusivity as possible.

That was the same situation for Watch 4 when I purchased it. I wanted Stainless Steel and had to order the GPS+Cell version, but never activated Cell service.

It was also the same with the Series 3 when cellular was introduced - stainless steel, ceramic and Hermes models came with the cellular radio. You don’t have to activate the cellular option - a stainless steel, titanium, or ceramic watch will function as a GPS-only watch if you don’t activate cellular - so you can still get an expensive case watch and have it be GPS-only.