So last weekend I wondered upon my friendly neighborhood Apple Store ( the one on 5th ave here in NYC) and dropped cash on the Apple Watch, the "Space Grey 42mm aluminum to be exact. I'm not new to the whole wearable tech game as I'm a long time user of the Pebble Smartwatch. I decided to get the Apple Watch not because there was a need, I purchased the smartwatch strictly out of technical curiosity, and to see is it worth spending an excessive amount of cash on something that should be more reasonable in price.
I've spent a good week with the Apple Watch, dabbled in all of its features. I even put it through a battery of tests just to see how the watch would hold up. In some instances I came away very impressed, then were times the Apple Watch left me questioning why I even purchased the watch in the first place.
I've spent enough time with the Apple Watch to pen this review. The Apple Watch, my thoughts, my opinion,the review.
About That Design
As I mentioned before I decided go with the "space grey" 42mm aluminum sports model. Despite what all the naysayers who said the stain less steel model was the ideal choice.I myself respectfully disagree as I was taken by surprise as how solid this particular smartwatch is. My decision to get the stainless steel model was pretty much thwarted when I saw pictures online showing what appeared to be scratches, many many scratches after being worn for a couple for just a couple of weeks. On many occasions I accidentally bumped my watch against walls and metal objects, even dropped it twice, yet came away with no damage. The whole aluminum unibody on the watch seems very structured and sturdy,very solid which again was surprising because from my visual standpoint the Apple Watch Sport appear to be very light in weight, which it isn't.
The overall design of the watch is so typical Apple, it has a nice smooth design with the famous rounded edges which is its distinguished trademark. Probably the best part about the Apple Watch is its interchangeable watch bands that you can simply slide right off in exchange for another band, watch makers should take notice. My Apple Watch by default is rocking a bendable rubberize band, which for me is perfect for a sports style smartwatch because I know this band will have some long lasting use.
Flip the smartwatch over you'll find circular crystal that houses the heart rate LEDs and sensors,this piece of contraption also acts as a attachment point for the MagaSafe wireless charger which I will address later on. I actually thought that added attachment would make my wrist feel somewhat uncomfortable,but surprisingly it doesn't.
The design on the smartwatch overall is very beautiful. Apple as always wins big when it comes down to industrial design.
That Digital Crown
If I had to describe the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch, I would say it's in comparison to the scroll wheel on a mouse in terms of functionality. Like the mouse for the computer, the digital crown allows you to easily interact with the applications on the Apple Watch with a series of scrolls and clicks. The digital crown has several basic uses,you can navigate through your listed contacts(your phone contacts). You can also use the digital crown to activate Siri by simply pressing down,Siri will then immediately wait for your voice command, you can also scroll through your listed notifications. The digital crown on the Apple Watch for me has limited function,but at the same time it serves a purpose when put to use. Its basically added option to navigate through your smartwatches interface.
The Apple Watch has a capacitive (finger) touchscreen display that measures 1.32-inches. I got to say the Apple Watch like all the other devices in the Apple ecosystem has a gorgeous display,thanks in part to its 272 x 340 screen resolution and 290 PPI pixel density, with the display being laminated in single crystal sapphire for the stainless steel model and Ion-X-glass for the sport model. The text and the entire user interface is very sharp and crispy. Even viewing photographic images on the Apple Watches miniature display and all are still very sharp and clear to the visuals. My only problem with the display is I just wish it was a little bit bigger. But I understand, a bigger display would more than likely lead to being very uncomfortable to wear and require more power.
The touch screen on the Apple very sensitive. I can keep this short in regards to this subject,but there's more to this touchscreen on the Apple Watch that makes it rather unique and impressive and that's Force Touch technology. It uses tiny electrodes within the flex portion of the display. It distinguishes between light tapping and deep pressing. When using Fore Touch,you get a vibrating pulse that feels rather weird to the wrist. Force Touch, allows users to have access to full range of controls. By pressing it you can control and clear off left over messages and notifications. Force Touch also lets users select watch faces.
Look for Force Touch technology to come to a next generation iPhone near you which by the way is the rumor.
Notification and Glances
Notifications is one of the best features on the Apple Watch,its the smartwatches biggest selling point in my opinion.
Viewing notifications updates and text messaging without pulling your smartphone out of your pockets makes this device sort of a necessity. At first it was rather tough to get notifications going,mainly because of my lack knowledge of the overall functionality of the Apple Watch. I guess I was so overly excited to get the smartwatch on my arm without first reading any of the prepackaged instructions. I'm coming from the Pebble smartwatch which I had on my wrist for almost a year and a half, so I'm used to seeing notifications appear every second on the dial. With the Apple Watch its different,the screen on your smartphone has to be locked and inactive in order for you to get any notification to appear.
The solution for me was to set lock display after 1 minute of inactivity. Once I did that, notifications appeared bright and colorful, big difference from the Pebble smartwatch where the entire user interface is just black and gray. Not only do you see notification,but you also feel a vibrating pulse on your wrist that almost mimics the feeling of electric current being shot on the wrist except theres no electrocution of course. Yes there is technology behind it all it's call the Taptic Engine. This is a linear actuator that's inside the Apple Watch. Its responsible for the tapping you on the wrist whenever your smartwatch receives notifications. The vibrating pulses is also combined with audio chimes. You also get the vibrating pulses when the watch monitors your activity and heart rate.
This is a very genius way to alert users without it being so intrusive and loud.
Glances on the Apple Watch on the other hand basically allows users to quickly gain access to your apps by simply swiping up on the display,you can also gain access to apps by swiping left or right, but you have to make sure that your apps are set to default for Glances. When using this features the experience was a bit rough, when I swiped to certain apps, there were periods of stall when apps were loading on the screen.Still and all, it leaves users another option to access apps.
The WatchOS and Those Apps
Now we come to the critical part of the Apple Watch, the engine that drives it all and that's the WatchOS and apps. First lets dive into the overall OS on the Apple Watch. Which is basically mirrored to iOS 8 on the iPhone. Nothing in the form of anything spectacular. I can say this though, the interface overall is very clean and not lace with to much bugs, my biggest issue with WatchOS is its snails pace speed. When you power the watch on it takes an eternity for it to load up. All is expected because this is by way the first generation device. Remember what the very first iPhone was like? Very slow to crawl, lousy hardware compared what's standard today. Hopefully WatchOS2 will correct certain bugs which will lead to boosted speed on the Apple Watch.
Onto the apps, the third party apps for the Apple Watch is rather bland mainly because developers are probably confused as to how optimize apps for the Apple Watch.The apps that's currently in the app store are rather meh . To be fair, we are still in early days of the first generation smartwatch. Anyone who's owned the Pebble smartwatch knows it had the same issue and that was lack of apps.
The defaulted apps is what really defines the Apple Watch. You have apps such as your messaging,email,maps and your phone. All of which looks similar to what's on your iPhone. App arrangement is a bit dare I say weird in appearance. They are group together in bubble like fashion which Apple calls the " draw" I'm assuming like your dresser draw. You access the Draw by simply pressing down on your Digital Crown.
For me I much prefer apps to be aligned similar to what's on the iPhone.
Battery Power and Charge Time
Before I purchased my Apple Watch I've read many reports that you can get only 8 hours of total battery power,which is totally untrue. In fact I was able to squeeze out a day and half of power off one charge,even with constant notifications going off,granted I don't have a lot of apps on my smartwatch being used in notification alerts,I still had enough power on the Apple Watch to at least get me through the day. To be fair,this is all depends on how you use your smartwatch. If you're playing back audio, in using your Activity monitor feature there will be a depletion of battery power for sure.
Apple Watch does require a daily recharge,mainly because the taptic feedback,fitness tracking, and background syncing activities are what uses a lot of the batteries power,they are always in constant operation.
Apple devices that has come upon the market in the past two years or so have pretty much upgraded to better batteries that not only hold charge for an extended amount of time,but the charge time is very rapid. The same can be said about the Apple Watch.I ran it down to 2% battery power. It took less than a hour (50 mins I clocked) to bring it back to 100% charge.
The Apple Watch uses what its call MagSafe technology for inductive charge. The charging mechanism connector is magnetize,so you simply just place the connector onto the back of the Apple Watch and the charge process will begin immediately. This is of course wireless charging which Apple is a bit late in the game with this technology. I'm hoping we'll see wireless charging with the next generation iPhone or iPad.
Answer and Making Phone Calls
Making and receiving phone calls via your Apple Watch can be a definite chic magnet, or it can draw stares of inquisitive admiration. I literally had people looking at me as if I was some alien from a technically advance planet when answering phone calls with my watch.
Making and receiving phones calls on the Apple for me works to perfection. The only drawback is unless you're in a quiet setting, you will not hear whoever is in conversation with you on the other end of the line if you're in a noisy environment.
Like the Pebble, the Apple Watch basically makes it easy for me to monitor incoming calls. Even though making calls on your Apple Watch in front of the masses will acquire you baller status, I don't expect me to do it as for me it looks rather, awkward.
Who is the Apple Watch for? That's an easy question that is best answered by saying its for the die hard tech enthusiast willing go out their way to have the latest thing in tech. Like I said about the Pebble watch, the Apple watch along with other smartwatches on the market is years away from being a mainstream necessity. That won't happen until the smartwatch becomes a standalone device. A device that has less reliance on the smartphone for full operation.
Like all smartwatches on the market the Apple Watch still has the " what else can it do " factor going on. And for the most part that's true, what can the Apple Watch do besides displaying notifications, give the time and monitor your physical activity.
Speaking of which, the Apple Watch will be adored by fitness buffs as it does an accurate job at monitoring you overall health,in a sense I would have to say smartwatch indeed caters to those who like to workout.
With that said, it rather tough for me to recommend the Apple Watch for everyone because of its price, this particular model I'm reviewing ran me $440, and to think the high-end models run you in a range of $500-$10,000 ouch. If you do get the Apple Watch, you won't be disappointed that you spend the money as its a good gadget to dawn on your wrist, a definite conversation starter for sure.
Thinking about copping the Apple Watch,? Let's just say this, the only time I take the smartwatch off is to charge it. That should tell you something.