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As with the iPhone 7, several publications have received the Apple Watch Series 2 hardware in advance of release, with just about everybody claiming that the new version is the watch that should have been released in 2015.
Reviewer Matthew Panzarino is finding that the increased speed of the Series 2 watch is shifting his gaze away from the iPhone more and more for regular tasks.
Panzarino spent most of his review examining the new swimmer-friendly features of the watch, and was very pleased about distance measuring specifically noting the new Apple Watch GPS signal acquisition's rapidity in an open water swim, gathering data on the up-stroke.
"The iPhone is the brain, the AirPods are the mouth and the Apple Watch is the hand," Panzarino writes about Apple's device ecosystem. "And that hand is starting to get more independent and more useful."
Defining the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker first and foremost, reviewer Lauren Goode focused the better part of her review on the overall improvements the Apple Watch Series 2 has in that aspect, rather than a general communications device.
Goode cites the Apple Watch's accuracy on walking, running, and cycling routes without an iPhone and was very pleased with the results, but was less excited about a five-hour battery life with constant GPS access, and wasn't impressed with outdoor visibility of the screen.
"Apple is rich and influential enough that it can miss once and still get a do-over, something not every tech company gets," writes Goode. "Apple can afford to iterate. And it has."
The Wall Street Journal
Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal is pleased all around with the health implications and general use of the Series 2 Apple Watch. Stern finds that the device works well for both exercise, but is less concerned about the GPS drain than other reviewers, finding it to be fine for her exercise regimen, and excellent for a day's use overall.
Apple's software is mildly criticized in the review, for not using collated information to push an exerciser forward, with varying workouts or intensities.
"It's a rule: Apple's version twos are always significantly better," observes Stern. "It's also true of the Apple Watch."
Edward Baig has spent a week with the new Apple Watch Series 2, and his major concerns about the first generation Apple Watch have been alleviated, with his issues about the device mostly about pricing.
Baig believes that the watchOS 3 software is the "real star of the show," giving both original Apple Watch users, and Series 1 and 2 owners, a great experience.
"The new Apple Watch ticks closer to being the techie timepiece it was always clocked up to be," says Baig, but adds that "I'm not suggesting Series 2 is perfect, or for everybody."
Reviewer Scott Stein has reviewed several smart watches in his tenure at cnet, and has found the Apple Watch Series 2 to be his current favorite from any manufacturer.
Stein also heralds the watchOS 3 software as a great upgrade, but thinks that the new upgraded hardware in the Apple Watch Series 2 makes it the "smooth wrist companion it was always meant to be."
"If you've been thinking of getting one and don't have one, go for it," writes Stein. "Or, update the software on your old Apple Watch and buy a new band instead."
Jim Dalrymple doesn't see the Series 2 Apple Watch as revolutionary, but as an incremental, and welcome, upgrade to the first generation of the hardware. Citing Apple's attention to detail on the device, Dalrymple is less concerned about specs, and more about how the device integrates into his life.
GPS is the killer feature in the new hardware, according to Dalrymple, with it allowing him to leave his iPhone at home, and "enjoy the music and a peaceful bit of exercise" rather than multi-tasking.
"Apple Watch is about improving our lives and making us more efficient," writes Dalrymple. "It has done that for me many times over and Apple Watch Series 2 will continue that journey."