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Smartwatches

Apple Watch Series 4 first impressions – improved heart monitoring system can detect irregularities

New smartwatch can perform an EKG to track your heart’s electrical activity, and you can export the results as a PDF. The device can also detect if its user has fallen over, and call the emergency services

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 12:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 12:36pm

The three new iPhones may have been the star of Apple’s new products launch on Wednesday, but it also announced an update to its popular Apple Watch that introduces some useful real-world benefits.

The biggest and most important features are all related to health and safety. The Apple Watch Series 4 has improved its heart monitoring capabilities from previous models. It can detect unusually high or low heartbeats and, more impressively, it can perform an EKG (electrocardiogram) – which tracks the heart’s electrical activity.

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Apple says the Apple Watch is so accurate at checking for heart rate irregularities that the Watch 4 has been approved by the American Heart Association. Users can export their EKG results in a PDF file that can be easily sent to doctors.

In addition, the Watch’s accelerometer and gyroscope can now detect falls (both slipping and falling). If a fall occurs, the Watch will ask the user if they want to contact emergency services. If there is no response within 60 seconds, the Watch will automatically do so.

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I tested the new Watch for only a few minutes in a controlled environment, so I was not able to test whether the heart rate sensors had been improved or if the fall detection really worked, but I can confirm the hardware improvements are legitimate and welcome.

The Watch Series 4 has larger display sizes (40mm or 44mm) than the Series 3 (38mm or 42mm) without increasing the actual Watch size thanks to the trimming of the bezels. The Watch 4 is also thinner than the Watch 3 and doesn't protrude as much from the wrist.

Inside, the Watch 4 also runs on a newer S4 processor which Apple claims is “twice as fast as the previous model”, though this is unlikely to matter in real-world use: few, if any, users push their smartwatch hard enough to notice the speed difference. I certainly couldn’t detect it during my few minutes wearing the Series 4 and 3 watches side by side.

What I can also verify is that the new Watch has a louder speaker, so it’ll be even better for phone calls.

 

The Apple Watch Series 4 will go on sale in Hong Kong on September 21, starting at HK$3,199 for the 40mm and HK$3,399 for the 44mm.