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Apple Watch Series 5 vs Apple Watch Series 4

April 28, 2020 4 min read

 Apple Watch Series 5 vs Apple Watch Series 4 Side by Side Photo

Should you be upgrading from an Apple Watch Series 4 to Apple Watch Series 5? Well this is dependent on how much importance you place on the improvement areas or differences which I will cover shortly.

For those with Apple Watch Series 3 or older models of course the improvements are more significant and a stronger case can be built for an upgrade.

For those first-time buyers of an Apple Watch given the Apple Watch Series 4 is discontinued as a new off the shelf purchase at least, the decision is more likely to be whether to purchase an Apple Watch Series 3 or Apple Watch Series 5. That comes down to budget, however given the upgrades I believe the Apple Watch Series 5 is worth shelling out the extra money.

Currently in Australia the Apple Watch Series 5 40mm retails from $649 for a GPS version, with the GPS + Cellular version from $799 (add on about $50 for the larger Apple Watch Series 5 44mm case size).

Comparatively, in Australia the Apple Watch Series 3 38mm retails from $319 for a GPS version, with the GPS + Cellular version from $469 (again add on about $50 for the larger 42mm case size).

The improvements and differences between the Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5 can be broken down into five major areas: new always-on display, built-in compass, storage, emergency calling and new titanium option (with ceramic returning).


Apple Watch Series 5 Watch Face Front  


Always-on display

By far this is the most popular and useful new feature in the Apple Watch Series 5. Apple watch users have been consistently frustrated with having to tap the screen or raise the wrist to see the time.

With the new series even with the display dimmed you can see the time and other complications on your watch face. When you raise your wrist or tap the display you will be offered full brightness. The always-on display is a big improvement to any previous model including the 4 and it the same features extend to the Workout App on the Series 5 which allows you to see your timings, calories, and so forth without having to raise your wrist or tap the screen mid-workout.

This is a particularly needed time-telling feature in certain situations such as when your on a crowded bus or train and can’t lift your wrist enough.

Apple Watch Series 5 Compass



The Apple Watch Series 5 is the first series to feature an in-built compass, including a new Compass application. The Compass is particularly handy with Apple Maps as it will tell you the direction you’re facing which makes navigation when walking far easier. You may be familiar with this feature in the Apple iPhone. You can also add a Compass complication to specific watch faces.


The Compass application shows more details like your incline, elevation, latitude, and longitude which might be useful with certain activities like hiking or bike-riding.

It is expected more apps will start to upgrade and utilise this feature where it adds value to the user experience.  


The Apple Watch Series 5 has 32GB of storage capacity up from the previous 16GB. This might seem like overkill for a lot of users but for those who like to download a lot of music, podcasts or audiobooks the extra space could come in handy. Further, the increased capacity in the new model may have something to do with watch OS6 having a dedicated App Store. You no longer have to install apps on your iPhone to use them with your Apple Watch.


Apple Watch Titanium with Apple Watch Band Leather Loop

New Titanium (ceramic returns)

Titanium is a completely new material for the Apple Watch Series 5 and provides a darker, more refined contrast to the brushed metal on the aluminum case, whilst not being as shiny as the stainless steel. However, titanium is an Edition Model so availability would be limited and potentially limited to a point in time.

Ceramic returns from Series 3, after not appearing in Series 4 however again finding one could be difficult.

At the time of writing I could not see these available from Apple Australia, Harvey Norman or JB HiFi however that’s not to say you can’t source one through another channel or from overseas.


 Apple Watch Emergency Services Face

Emergency Calling

Can’t say this would have everyday usage but as it could save your life it’s worth calling out. If you have an Apple Watch Series 5 with cellular it can complete international calls to emergency services in over 150 countries, even if you have not got the cellular plan activated. It also works with fall detection, if enabled, to make an automatic call if you’ve had a hard fall and you remain motionless. The Watch 4 only lets you make calls in the country you bought it in.  


Final Thoughts 

So for most people already with a Apple Watch Series 4, they’d probably say no to upgrading to the Apple Watch Series 5 as it’s not a big enough leap. If one or some of the improved features really appeal to you such as if you’re a Personal Trainer or Athlete that continually has issues with not having an Always-On Display, than obviously you may consider an upgrade.

For those with an Apple Watch Series 3 or older or in the market as a first-time Apple Watch buyer than I’d certainly recommend looking at the 5. The Series 4 and 5 are significantly improved on the Series 3, including the larger display and smaller bezels aside from some of the feature improvements such as battery life.

What has your experience been like with the Apple Watch Series 3, 4 or 5? Are you considering an upgrade? Feel free to leave any comments.

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