I recently spent almost three weeks in Hawaii. This was my first opportunity to take my new cellular Apple Watch Series 3 on a trip and see how it performed. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed. I upgraded from the original Apple Watch and wondered if I would notice any meaningful difference. Well, I did!

First, a quick note on how I use my watch. First and foremost, it’s a watch so I check the time and date. I probably do this more than I need to, but I have a terrible time remembering the date and day of week. I get notifications, which I really like. It’s so nice not to have to pull out my phone when some app or person is vying for my attention. I check the weather and stock market information. I use the timer when I’m cooking. I use Apple Pay when I can. I try to fill my rings every day. I track workouts. And when I’m driving, I really like the taps on my wrist to alert me of upcoming turns.

The first thing I noticed about my new watch is that the battery life is vastly superior to the original. There were several days where I was out and about exploring and really didn’t use my watch that much and would have 75% battery remaining before going to bed. My old watch, while not bad, would usually be around 30% with similar usage. Even on the days where I used the watch more, I was amazed at just how much more battery life I would get.

I was quite curious about the usefulness of the cellular connection. I’ve always hated taking my phone to the beach because no matter how hard I tried, I’d end up getting sand all over it. And sand is not good for the screen. I would always come away with a scratch or two. But, I didn’t want to be out of touch, so I would grudgingly take the phone knowing I’d have that issue.

On this trip, at the beach and pool, I left my phone behind. It was really amazing to be lying on the beach and receive a message from my son. It was also pretty cool to look across the water, wonder how far away the next island was, and ask Siri on my watch to tell me. Not only did she give me the information, but the watch displayed a nice map with my current location and the location of the island.

Since the original Apple Watch was not made for swimming, I’ve never had the luxury of just not worrying about my watch near water. With the new watch, it was wonderful to be able to jump in the water, swim for a while, all while being able to receive calls and texts, as well as other notifications. I can see that the cellular connection is a major addition to an already very useful watch.

The biggest thing I noticed by leaving my phone behind was how much more I relaxed. Why? Because I didn’t have the internet with me (not really). In the past I’ve always had my phone with me and I would use it to read Twitter and Facebook, scan emails, etc. while relaxing at the beach. This time, with no phone along, I simply sat quietly with my thoughts. I haven’t really done this in a very long time. Sitting on the beach, listening to the waves roll up, hearing the birds, and letting the sun warm me, with no other distractions, was wonderful. I was able to focus my mind on something without distraction. I was also able to let my mind wander as I enjoyed the environment. This was the best part of this whole experience. It reminded me of a time long ago, before we had cell phones, pocket computers, and the like. I used to sit and think for long stretches back then. As technology has invaded more of my life, I find that I rarely do that now. I grab my phone or iPad and check the news or social media as a way to break boredom. But here’s the thing, I’m remembering that boredom can actually be a great way to solve problems, come up with new ideas, or simply relax. I am so glad that this trip, and the Apple Watch, helped remind me of that.