Apple Watch Series 5 gets always-on display, finally

The tech titan follows the leads of Samsung, LG and Fitbit in giving an always-on display to its latest smart watch.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Apple's Stan Ng unveils the new "Always-On" display for Apple Watch.

Screengrab by CNET

Update, Sept. 18: Read our full rated Apple Watch Series 5 review here.

Apple lit up an "always-on" display for its new Series 5 Apple Watch on Tuesday. The tech giant announced its latest smartwatch will now be able to have a display that's constantly turned on. That means no more taps or wrist raises to see pings, notifications or... the time.

"All of the watch faces have been carefully tuned for the display," Stan Ng, vice president of product marketing for Apple Watch, said during an event on Tuesday at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California. "The new always-on display is going to be useful for so many different situations throughout the day."

Always-on display isn't new. Samsung and LG integrated the feature into their smartwatches years ago. And the Fitbit Versa 2 has an always-on display too, but only in a black-and-white watch face.

Watch this: Apple Watch Series 5 is always on

Ng said Apple's always-on display aims to be as power-efficient as possible. It can refresh dynamically from as high as 60Hz to as low as 1Hz. A wrist raise or tap will bring the watch to full brightness.

"The new always-on Retina display never sleeps," Ng said. "By combining this incredible hardware with innovative software, we're able to deliver this always-on display while delivering the same all-day, 18-hour battery life."   

Apple unveiled the latest iteration of its fitness wearable on Tuesday as a successor to its Watch Series 4. Apple Watch and its suite of apps focuses on user fitness, biometrics and health research. Along with the always-on display for the Series 5, Ng said other features include a native compass, decibel reader and a variety of new looks, including a brushed titanium finish. 

Read: 13 Apple Watch bands to get on Amazon  

The Series 5 will start at $399 for the GPS-only model, and $499 for both GPS and cellular. Users can order the smartwatch now and it'll be available in stores on Sept. 20.

Apple unveiled several other new fall devices on Tuesday during its annual event. New iPhone and iPad models were released, and other products as well. The company also confirmed details on its upcoming Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade services, which were announced earlier this year.