I know that the Apple Watch came out on April 24th, and there are more Apple Watch reviews out there than you can possibly read in your lifetime. That being said, I want to add my review to the fray. Being that it’s Thursday and it’s time for another Tech Ramblings post, I thought this was the perfect time to do a review of my own Apple Watch which I just recently picked up from the Apple Store. I’m also adding my review because there were a lot of reviews that I read that lacked the info I wanted from the users of the watch. I have yet to read an Apple Watch review from the point of view of a watch junkie, like myself, so if you are a fellow watch junky… read on.
Unboxing the watch
Anyone who has ever purchased an Apple product knows that the experience of unboxing an iPod or iPhone or iPad is an amazing experience. I’m not a woman so I can’t speak to the experience of opening a little blue box from Tiffany, but judging from the reaction of my wife (it was just a pair of earrings, I’m not that good at blogging) and multiple women in movies, it’s probably right on par with opening an Apple box. What I thought was different is that the watch box is long and rectangular, not like the Invicta watch boxes which are square and contain the watch wrapped around a small pillow which makes it easy to display or store. The Apple Watch box is long, and thin, the watch is laid out in a classic white Apple (plastic) shell case, reminiscent of the case your Apple earpods come in, just supersized. The watch rests in the clam shell case that is lined with suede (classy) and is covered with that plastic like wrap to protect from scratches. In the bottom of the Watch box is your typical Apple instruction booklet and your Apple Watch charging cord, along with a USB wall plug.
Syncing the watch w/ your iPhone
Next order of business was to sync my Apple Watch with my iPhone, I chose to do this in the store (first time I’ve ever had Apple set up my stuff) simply because I didn’t want to foul it up and it’s more than just entering your Apple ID and downloading apps. There is a cool QR type code that looks similar to a hazy cloud that you have to take a picture of with your iPhone, this is all done via the intuitive Apple Watch app that you received on your phone with the iOS 8.2 update. You then are walked through setting up a passcode (you can choose to have the watch unlock when your iPhone unlocks) much like the 4 digit code on your iPhone or you can create a longer one. At one point you’re asked if you would like to sync all of your iPhone apps with apps that have Apple Watch equivalents, or you can select them later one by one from the Watch app on your phone. Once you’re done with the rest of the wizard, you’re Watch and iPhone will sync, it will tick around a circle until it makes it all the way around and then you are good to go.
The user experience
The best part about the Apple Watch, in my opinion, is the haptics or small almost tap like alerts on your wrist when you get an email or have been sitting too long or when you receive a text message. The haptic buzzes are not intrusive and not at all loud like the iPhone 6 plus buzzes (man that’s loud), it’s a gentle tap on your wrist to let you know to check it. The watch faces are nice, this is the only area that can’t be matched by a nice Tissot or Movado watch. The design and beauty of a real watch face by a swiss manufacturer is still untouchable. I didn’t buy this watch to replace those watches, I just wanted my watches to do more for me than simply looking nice and telling time. The customizable faces leave a little to be desired, unless you are a die hard Mickey Mouse fan… then you will love your watch face option. The watch has to stay in close proximity to your iPhone, that’s one major drawback that I hope can be remedied in future software updates and watch releases. You must have Bluetooth turned on your phone and having it connected to wifi makes the watch experience better. With wifi turned on, you can extend the acceptable distance from your iPhone to 30 feet, otherwise you need your phone on the desk you’re sitting, in your car while driving or in your pocket. Here are a few of my favorite features of the Apple Watch:
The Glances feature gives you a landing spot for your most used or favorite Watch functions such as Heartbeat, Battery life, Music, Calendar, Weather, Stocks and any other app that you would like to add to Glances. You simply swipe down on your Watch screen and then you can scroll to the left and right to see all the different glances. My favorite “Glance”, by far the Hear rate function… not the most productive feature but I love it!
The exercise feature gives you a good overall view of what you are doing throughout the day to exercise, walk, burn calories and to ensure that you don’t sit idle for more than 1 hour at a time. I love this feature and it’s a great upgrade to the Health app on the iPhone. After plugging in your sex, height, weigh and age, the app gives you an overall view of how many calories your burning by moving (it gives you a default goal), how many calories you’re burning at rest and the total calories burned in real time. How accurate is this information? I’m not sure and I don’t really care, if it’s 90% accurate, I’m good with that as it gives me a baseline of what I’m doing and what I should be doing.
Apple Maps has seen its fair share of criticism over the years, but the app on the Watch is incredible. I tried it out for the first time the other day navigating home from the train station in DC and I didn’t have to look at my phone once. I prefer the haptic alerts to turn left or right to the actual voice on the phone navigation. You get different taps on your wrist depending on whether you have a left or right turn coming up. My hands are already up on the steering wheel and I don’t have to watch my phone or hold it, and that’s a huge plus for me.
The only accessories that I see being a need for the watch are a few different watch bands. I opted for the Apple Watch Sport in Space Grey because I didn’t want to spend $700 on a watch, and I knew there were third party watch bands that were much more affordable, and look just as good. I plan on getting a brown leather band, a black leather band that should go with just about any outfit I have, suits and ties included. The Sport band is stellar in it’s own right, comfortable and can be sweat on, which I do profusely when working out. Check out some of the best 3rd party bands you can find with a much more affordable price tag. If you have the Space Grey watch, you’ll want to change out the lugs on the watch to Space Grey lugs, which you can find on Amazon for a decent price… unless you like the two tone look of stainless steel against the black aluminum of the Space Grey (I don’t). Some people are super paranoid about their devices and have to coat them with screen protectors and huge bulky cases, this is not a device you want to do that with. You can find cases for the Apple Watch and tons of screen protectors, but I’m not going to do that to my watch, it takes away from the beauty of it.
I’ll keep this short, as this review has grown pretty long… I love the Apple Watch. If you are an Apple fan and an “early adopter” then this is a purchase you won’t regret. Take my advice and allow them to help you set it up in store, and please don’t forget to get Apple Care for the Watch… gives you 2 years extra warranty and $80 deductible to replace your watch if damaged.