Apple Watch Series 5 vs Apple Watch Series 4: which should you buy?

We review both Apple Watches so you can decide which one is for you

Apple Watch Series 5 vs Apple Watch Series 4
(Image credit: Apple)

There's no doubt that Apple makes the best smartwatches money can buy, but the question is, should you buy the older and more affordable Apple Watch Series 4, or newer and more expensive Apple Watch Series 5?

While both have their benefits, we took a look at both the Series 5 and Series 4 watch to help you better understand which one suits your needs. 

Whether you’re looking to buy your first smartwatch or have been thinking about an upgrade, make sure you consider the key differences before committing to buying. From features and price, right down to the nitty gritty of design and size, we’ve got you covered. 

Apple Watch Series 5 vs Apple Watch Series 4: Design

The original Apple Watch design remained unchanged for a long time, but that changed with the Apple Watch Series 4. 

Compared to the Apple Watch Series 3, it featured a slimmed down case to 10.7mm thick while increasing the case sizes to 44mm and 40mm. That made way for much larger screen sizes of 977mm² and 759mm² respectively. 

The Series 4 features an LTPO display with 1,000 nits brightness. 

Ultimately, these updates over the Series 3 made the screen much more usable and pleasing to look at, with more space for texting, tapping, and whatever else you want to do with the your smartwatch. 

The Apple Watch Series 4 offers a wide range of finishes, with aluminium and stainless steel.

(Image credit: Apple)

We weren't expecting Apple to change the design for the Series 5… and they didn't.

There are loads of new personalisation options, however, with a brand-new titanium model, as well as the return of a white ceramic model.

Apple has launched a new online configurator, allowing you to completely personalise your Watch before buying it.

Perhaps the most important new feature is that the Apple Watch Series 5 display never turns off (unless its run out of battery). 

This always-on display will always show you the time (although in a darkened, power-saving state) without you needing to 'flick' your wrist to wake it up.

It's very useful for situations where twisting your wrist would be difficult or rude.

It's worth noting that all Apple Watch bands are interchangeable between every Apple Watch model ever released, from Series 1 to Series 5.

Apple Watch Series 5 vs Apple Watch Series 4: Hardware

The Apple Watch Series 4 and 5 are virtually identical inside. You'll find the same 64-bit dual core processor, wireless chip and built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery with up to 18 hours of battery life in both.

Both models also offer a GPS-only model, as well as a more expensive GPS and Cellular model.

They also both have Bluetooth 5.0 which has lower power consumption and a slightly faster speeds.

The only difference inside the Apple Watch Series 5 is the inclusion of a compass (as opposed to just GPS), which will actually tell you which direction you're facing.

This can be accessed through a new Compass app, watch face complication, as well as in apps (such as Apple Maps, or Night Sky).

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch Series 4 vs Apple Watch Series 3: Features 

Aside from the previously mentioned always-on display and compass, the Apple Watch Series 5 is almost identical to the Series 4.

The only other new feature Apple talked about on stage was the enhanced Emergency SOS feature, which now works internationally, calling the emergency service of the country you're in.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch Series 4 vs Apple Watch Series 3: Price

The Apple Watch Series 5 is priced identically to the Apple Watch Series 4 when it was launched.

That's a £399 starting price for the GPS-only model, rising to £499 for the GPS and Cellular model.

Of course, if you're looking to pick up a bargain, you can now find discounted Series 4 and 3 models.

You can find the cheapest Apple Watch Series 3, Series 4 and Series 5 prices below:

Apple Watch Series 4 vs Apple Watch Series 3: Conclusion

If you’re new to Apple and smartwatches in general, the Series 4 is certainly not redundant yet. It has a range of features that are just right for a beginner smartwatch, and you can save yourself a bit of cash by going for this model. 

However, if you’re someone who likes the latest tech, then opting for the Series 3 will mean missing out on a few new features and design options.

While many of the features do remain the same, there are some pretty good upgrades on the Series 5, especially the always-on display and titanium models.

Those considering upgrading from a Series 2 or Series 3 will find it worth their money to opt for a Series 5, as some significant changes have been made. 

However, if you’ve got the Series 4 already and were wondering if it’s worth upgrading so soon, we’d recommend waiting for the next release to really get your money’s worth. 

Spencer Hart
Style and Travel Editor

As the Style and Travel Editor at T3, Spencer covers everything from clothes to cars and watches to hotels. Everything that's cool, stylish, and interesting, basically. He's been a part of T3 for over seven years, and in that time covered every industry event known to man, from CES and MWC to the Geneva Motorshow and Baselworld. When he's driving up and down the country in search of the greatest driving roads, he can be found messing around on an electric scooter, playing with luxury watches, or testing the latest fragrances.