Review: Apple Watch

Pros: Very nice overall design that’s easy and enjoyable to wear. Customizable look and software. Ambitious. Bright, vibrant screen. Often makes notifications (and subsequent responses) quicker and easier. Message dictation is very accurate. Minimal hardware is cleverly incorporated into software, especially Digital Crown button and Force Touch. Taptic Engine is effective and neat. Health and fitness abilities are strong enough that many users will see value when compared to a fitness tracker. Offers quick and easy access to key bits of information. Relieves the urge to constantly check iPhone. Strong first-party apps including Camera Remote. Apple Pay works as well on iPhone, and the process is even quicker. Does some things without being connected to an iPhone. Water-resistant. Loads of potential.

Cons: Limited nature compared to iOS devices will make device feel like unnecessary toy to some. Users might find price too high when compared to other wearables. Requires Bluetooth connection to iPhone for most features. Overall speed is lacking — it takes about a minute to boot up, and many apps are slow. Battery life disappointing; there’s also some iPhone battery drain due to constant Bluetooth connection. Charging time is too slow. Not as initially intuitive as other Apple devices — users likely won’t be sure when Force Touch can be used, when to use Digital Crown, etc. Lack of a Voice Memos app is a bit puzzling; users still can’t remove unwanted Apple apps. Digital Touch still needs to work out kinks, and ideally, become more entertaining. Many third-party apps are disappointing thus far.

Apple Watch is Apple’s first smartwatch and represents the company’s much-anticipated foray into the wearables market. Credible reports on the existence of an Apple-designed smartwatch started to surface in early 2013, with most people generally referring to the proposed device as “iWatch.” Apple CEO Tim Cook continually referred to “new categories” in a number of interviews before Apple Watch was officially revealed on Sept. 9, 2014, alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. No release date was given at the time — Apple later unveiled the April 24 launch date at a March event.

Apple Watch comes in more pricing options than any other Apple device, based on its many configurations. There are three separate models: Apple Watch Sport ($349-$399), the stainless steel Apple Watch ($549-$1,099), and the high-end Apple Watch Edition ($10,000-$17,000). Each model comes in a 38mm or 42mm size, and the stainless steel Watch and Apple Watch Edition differ in price based on which interchangeable watch band is selected. (Apple Watch Sport only comes with a sport band.) The 42mm Apple Watch is $50 more than the 38mm watch when paired with the same band (this doesn’t apply to the Edition). Apple started taking pre-orders for Apple Watch at 12:01 a.m. Pacfic Time on April 10 and limited stock sold out quickly — mere minutes after being made available to order, many model/band options weren’t available to ship until months later. Within six hours or so, all model/band options showed shipping times delayed at least four to six weeks.

Review: Apple Watch

So, what should we expect from Apple Watch? Expectations are key to framing the success of nearly any new product, but it’s especially true with a product as personal as this. While smartwatches have existed in recent years with varying degrees of success, many people were waiting for Apple Watch to come along and revolutionize the wearables market. Has it done so? And even if it hasn’t, is that such a bad thing? Should we look at Apple Watch simply as another Apple device? Or as a watch — a watch which happens to do more than any other watch? We might not find all the answers during our review, but we hope that at the very least, by the end of these 10 pages, you’ll have a better idea of whether Apple Watch is right for you.

Getting to Know Apple Watch

Before you get to know Apple Watch, the question you have to ask is: which Apple Watch? Other than the watch’s body and some AppleCare coverage variation with the Edition, there’s very little difference between any of the three Apple Watch models (or collections, as Apple says). They all do the same things. They all come with a 2-meter magnetic charging cable, though Sport’s is plastic, not metal. They all come with a 5W USB adapter. The most expensive Edition has the exact same functional capabilities as the cheapest Sport — though the Edition also ships with a magnetic charging case and Lightning cable. Your fashion sense — and budget — will most determine which model of Apple Watch would be right for you. For purposes of this review, we tested both a 38mm and 42mm version of Apple Watch Sport.

Review: Apple Watch

Apple Watch Sport is the least expensive version of Apple Watch. It comes with an aluminum body bolstered by an anodized process that protects against scratches. The composite back also differs from the ceramic back found in the stainless steel Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition. Apple Watch Sport comes with Ion-X glass to cover the device’s screen. It’s a step down from the sapphire glass found in both the stainless steel Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition, but it’s still quite durable — Apple claims it’s five times stronger than regular glass. Sport only ships with a Sport band — three pieces come with the Watch, with one standard “top” part of the band, and two separate “bottom” band pieces of different sizes. The stainless steel Apple Watch ships with either a Sport band, or one of the pricier band options, which include various leather or stainless steel options. Apple Watch Sport also comes in a space gray option, and there’s a “space black” stainless steel Apple Watch, too. Apple Watch Edition only comes in 18-karat gold, be it rose or yellow. Bands can be purchased separately. Even though Apple doesn’t necessarily recommend doing so, you can wear any interchangeable band — as long as you can get your hands on it — with any version of Apple Watch.

Review: Apple Watch

We won’t get too far into the band options at this point, as we do think there will be a large number of third-party options available in the very near future. It’s up to you based on your style, comfort level with various materials, and budget. But we will say the fluoroelastomer Sport band, which sells for $49, is quite comfortable. For most users, we’d recommend Apple Watch Sport, which has a handsome aluminum body. Considering it does everything the other models do for the lowest price — and also considering the ability to swap bands with Apple Watch — there’s not much reason to upgrade to the more expensive stainless steel Apple Watch. Unless, of course, you’re a big fan of the sapphire glass or stainless steel itself, which has a finish that is more likely to show scratches. As for the gold Edition — if you’ve got that kind of money to spend on an Apple Watch, you’re probably not too concerned with the breakdown of these design differences.

Review: Apple Watch

Apple Watch has a square face with two side buttons, including Apple’s Digital Crown. There’s also a small speaker and microphone on the other side of the watch. The back of the watch is where the inductive charging system is placed for recharging, and its also where Apple’s heart rate sensor takes your pulse. Watch bands are swapped out by holding in one of two small buttons — it’s an easy process. As previously mentioned, Apple Watch comes in two sizes — 38mm and 42mm. It seems like most men will gravitate toward the larger size, while most women would go with the 38mm, but some men prefer a smaller watch face and vice versa. Apple says the 42mm watch “typically” has longer battery life, but don’t let that be the ultimate deciding factor. You’ll be wearing the Watch, so do what works for you. Some have said the watch is chunky, but we don’t think it really feels that way when being worn. Also, the watch can be setup and worn with the Digital Crown on either side: lefties, rejoice.

Review: Apple Watch

Inside, Apple Watch has a “taptic engine” — a haptic engine that vibrates on your wrist for notifications. There’s also an accelerometer and the aforementioned heart rate sensor. The computer architecture inside all runs on a single chip. Apple Watch contains 8GB of internal storage, with 6.2GB available from the get-go. Apple Watch runs on Apple’s new Watch OS. And of course, none of this gets started without owning an iPhone. Yes, it’s a new device, but it’s also an iPhone accessory.

Getting Connected

Because Apple Watch is a new device — and because many of its users will have little, if any, smartwatch experience — we’d recommend having the Apple Watch User Guide nearby when starting out. Barring that recommendation, here’s another tip: when you can’t quite sort out what’s going on with the watch itself, return to the iPhone’s Apple Watch app. Yes, the Apple Watch app which debuted in iOS 8.2, which everyone will now have on their iPhones, regardless of whether or not they actually own an Apple Watch. Pairing is a painless process done from within the app.

Review: Apple Watch

Before pairing, though, Apple Watch needs to be booted up. And it takes longer than you’d probably think. We rebooted our Apple Watches a number of times and found it always took at least a minute to get things going — closer to one minute and nine seconds for us, to be exact. Users can assign a passcode to Apple Watch — once your device is taken off or put back on, you can require a four-digit passcode to access the watch, a fine preventative measure. After all of that was out of the way, we soon really started to notice the screen. It’s a clear, bright, vibrant display which looks especially nice in dim light, or no light. The screen shuts off on its own, and can then be activated again simply by flicking up your wrist to look at the time. This is where Apple made a decision to let the user keep Apple Watch out of mind, and it’s one we appreciate. While many other smartwatches constantly show their display, Apple Watch will be dark most of the time you’re wearing it — though the watch ultimately aims to be useful, it’s not out to be a distraction.

Review: Apple Watch

Once it’s on, well, it’s not as immediately intuitive as Apple’s iOS devices. For one, there’s no big Home Button down at the bottom. Instead, we’re faced with a neat Digital Crown, which can be pressed or turned — sometimes turning the crown switches through options, sometimes it zooms. And then you’ve got the button that leads to your Favorites. Swiping down shows notifications, swiping up shows glances — we’ll get to those in a bit — and yeah, it’s a touchscreen, but if you press the screen harder, you activate the quite-clever Force Touch, which often leads to a number of different options. But what does what, and when and where?

Review: Apple Watch

Without turning an Apple Watch review into a full-fledged Apple Watch guide, we’ll just say that getting all of this down is going to require lots of time spent with the watch, and lots of experimentation, too. We’ve had the watches for about three full days, and we’re still clicking the wrong thing. What it lacks in intuitiveness this way, though, it makes up for in personalization. We wouldn’t go as far as to say Apple Watches will be like snowflakes, but most every user will have a different setup and a different way of navigating through and using the device.

The Basics

Before we get into all the other stuff it can do, Apple Watch is indeed a watch, which means it should keep accurate time. That’s one thing you don’t have to worry about here, as Apple Watch sets its time automatically, said to be accurate to within 50 milliseconds of the global standard. Of course, you can also set an alarm, or use a timer or stopwatch. (Chronically late Apple Watch users can also set the time further ahead, in case that helps.) Then comes one of the most important and personalized steps in setting up your Apple Watch — choosing a watch face. Using Force Touch, a user has a number of options to pick from, with different bits of information readily displayed. After some consideration, this reviewer opted for a watch face that displays as much relevant information as possible. His wife wanted something more minimal, with animation. It’s fun and thoughtful, though it makes one a bit greedy — we wanted more Watch Face options, with more customization options. After all, it’s what you’ll be looking at most often when wearing the watch.

Review: Apple Watch

Apple Watch excels when it comes to the basics, and by that, we mean variations of the tried-and-true Apple features you’ve gotten used to on iOS devices. The watch syncs to your iCloud calendar, making it simple to see upcoming events. Notifications are still there, done by swiping down from the top — we found it to be an easy way to check our latest emails. And then there are the customizable Glances, which enable users to swipe up to see a number of bits of information of certain importance to them. Battery life, heart rate monitor, weather, maps, and music controls are all solid base options for starters. Not to mention the simple but useful ability to ping one’s iPhone from the watch — an easy way to find a lost iPhone nearby without checking Find My iPhone. Any Apple Watch app can go into Glances.

Review: Apple Watch

Every smartwatch worth its salt needs a way to deal with messages and calls, and since Apple Watch is linked to the iPhone, it should handle these with aplomb. Users can reply to messages with simple, readymade answers — OK, thanks, etc. — with a strange animated emoji, or via dictation. That dictation can be returned to friends as audio or text — we quickly turned off the audio option. We were impressed with Apple Watch’s dictation. It was more accurate than we expected, giving us confidence to use it in replies. (It also made us wonder why there’s no Voice Memos app on the watch, as the device seems perfect for it.) There are obvious limitations, though, as you’re probably not going to want to respond vocally when you’re among a crowd of strangers. That’s when you’ll be getting out your phone.

Review: Apple Watch

Apple Watch not just offers call notifications, but the ability to take and make calls. We saw these about the same way as we did messages: inherently limited but surprisingly effective in the right situations. While phone calls didn’t sound top-notch on our end, they were certainly good enough, and the person on the end heard us loud and clear each time. You wouldn’t want to have a long conversation on Apple Watch — it gets tiresome — or talk on your watch in a public place. But for quick conversations? It works great.

Review: Apple Watch

None of the stuff in this section is groundbreaking, but it’s all pretty well done, and that’s important. Because Apple Watch has to give you a reason to leave your iPhone in a pocket, or on a table. Though iPhone already does most of this stuff, Apple Watch does make short — arguably more mundane — communications easier and quicker. Respond in a flash, and get back to your life without digging into your pocket for the iPhone. (Like many things on Apple Watch, notifications can be customized. This reviewer mostly limits his notifications to calls and messages, and he turned sounds off almost immediately — Apple Watch’s taptic engine is effective enough to make one aware of a notification, and it doesn’t annoy anyone else nearby.)

Going Deeper

Of course, there’s much more to Apple Watch than simple notifications. Before we even get into the third-party apps (we’ll get to that later), we’ll take a look at some of the more “advanced” features. First, there’s Siri. Like many things with Apple Watch, it’s limited when compared to iOS, but it can still do a bit on its own. It can be activated at any time using the “Hey Siri” vocal command, which is nice, and being able to pass off a question to iPhone via Handoff isn’t the most useful solution when you’ve already got your wrist up to your face, it’s good to know there’s some solution. Again, dictation is strong.

Review: Apple Watch

Maps uses the iPhone’s GPS. The app identifies turns to users with tap alerts, which are great for walking directions. But when driving, you’ll probably just be better off sticking with a car-mounted iPhone. Dictation search on the watch isn’t as good as we saw when dictating messages — as you could imagine, with place names being what they are. And of course, it’s still Apple Maps. Which is to say, though it’s improved, we generally don’t use it when Google Maps is available. We didn’t find Maps extremely useful in our time with Apple Watch thus far, but you can envision it coming in handy while walking in a new city. And it’s certainly not a detriment; it’s good to know it’s there.

Apple Pay works as well on Apple Watch as it does on an iPhone. Though it’s a bit of a pain to have to re-enter your card information specifically for using Apple Pay on the Apple Watch, once it’s there, you’ll find it far more convenient. It can be brought up quickly with a double tap on the side button, cards can quickly be swiped through, and the transactions we made went off without a hitch. Instead of holding a big iPhone 6 Plus up to a reader, just move your wrist. Since the cards are stored on the watch, the iPhone isn’t needed to use Apple Pay.

Review: Apple Watch

You’ve probably seen a pattern with all of these features so far, as some users may be saying, “I can do all of this on my iPhone already.” Convenience factor aside, Apple Watch introduces Digital Touch, which lets users send sketches, taps, or even share their heartbeats with other Apple Watch users. When it works, it’s a cute feature. It certainly won’t make you buy an Apple Watch, but it’s a neat touch to connect with a loved one who also has an Apple Watch, unless you’re immune to the charms of an impromptu midday sketch from your significant other. That being said, thus far, it hasn’t always worked swimmingly for us. We’ve seen sketches or heartbeats fail to send, or send much later than expected. Other times, it worked with no issues. We expect this to improve, but it’s kind of been hit-or-miss for us, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Fitness + Health

Apple has really pushed the fitness and health features of Apple Watch, and for good reason. There are tons of fitness trackers out now, but few stand out, and none do too much more than track your activities. Apple Watch does this in its own way. Without even getting into actual workouts, Apple Watch places an emphasis on health through its own Activity app. Using a series of circles, the watch shows how much exercise you’ve done, how many calories you’ve burned, and how many hours you’ve stood up in, in a given day. It’s an easy way to keep basic tabs on your activity level without having to do much past the input of some initial information.

Review: Apple Watch

A separate Workout app lets users get a bit more in-depth. Users can set a goal — or not — before starting the workout, based on calories burned, time, or miles. Apple Watch also adjusts for whatever exercise is chosen. For instance, you can pick from indoor/outdoor cycling, running, walking, or even doing something else like using a stair stepper or an elliptical. Reaching goals will give you strange “awards,” like a strange star or spiral on the screen. This is as far as the app goes regarding social interaction, which we found odd, but actually a bit refreshing. (We know some people love to share workout information with their friends, but it’s not really our thing.)

Review: Apple Watch

Another included fitness feature doesn’t sound like much, but it’s necessary to position Apple Watch as a fitness tracker — the ability to track activities and workouts when away from an iPhone. There are just a few things Apple Watch can do while disconnected from an iPhone, but that’s one of them, and it’s important. The last thing you want is to take your Apple Watch on long runs with an iPhone 6 Plus bouncing away in your pocket.

Review: Apple Watch

Then there’s the heart rate monitor. Apple Watch’s monitor does periodic readings as you wear it — open up a heart rate glance and you’ll probably see a reading has been done fairly recently. But you can also do a reading at any time from that screen, as well. Early indications seem to reveal the readings are accurate, as well. A quick search reveals many affordable heart rate monitors ranging from $25-$80, but it’s nice to have that functionality built right in. A teardown of Apple Watch noted the monitor could be used as a pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen levels, but Apple’s said nothing about this.

Review: Apple Watch

That last point ties into Apple Watch’s brief history with health. Numerous early reports indicated the device would give many more in-depth, varied health readings than it actually can at launch. FDA regulations have almost certainly played a role in Apple toning down that rhetoric, and one report claims other health features were nixed for a variety of reasons. But keep in mind that the company has committed to moving in a healthy direction — take the HealthKit framework, just for starters. Also, when your Apple Watch is searching for Bluetooth devices, it notes that it’s looking for both “devices” and “health devices.” There’s future potential for Apple Watch to get deeper into health — not to mention what third-party apps might bring to the table regarding fitness — but for now, the device is a solid, simple-to-use tracker with a heart rate monitor.

Music + Photos

Apple Watch works swimmingly as a Bluetooth remote to play music from an iTunes library. While the watch is set up to play music directly from an iPhone, it’s best to take the extra step and connect your iPhone with a Bluetooth speaker or set of headphones. The iPhone stores the music, while the Apple Watch controls the music, and the speaker or headphones play the music. It can all be done as quickly as it takes to pair your iPhone with a Bluetooth speaker, considering Apple Watch is already connected to the iPhone.

Review: Apple Watch

The other way of listening is directly through Apple Watch itself. A “synced playlist” can be stored on the Watch, allowing a limited number of songs to be played directly from the device. A playlist can only be synced from an iPhone while Apple Watch is charging, and it takes too long. It took us about five minutes to sync a mere 16 songs to an Apple Watch. But once that’s done, a Force Touch can change the source, so Apple Watch can play its own songs directly on a connected Bluetooth speaker or headphones. This ties into the last section — it gives runners another reason to leave the iPhone at home. While the song selection will be limited, there’s definitely enough space for a workout mix.

Review: Apple Watch

Users can store a photo album of their choice to view photos on Apple Watch, using the — what else — Photos app. Again, the selection is limited, as Apple Watch only has so much memory. The Digital Crown allows users to zoom in and zoom out, and swiping on the screen moves across the photos. The pictures are positioned in a large grid, and users can tap on photos to get a full view. There’s not much to it, really, but we like to think of it as a return to something closer to carrying photos in your wallet: a few of your favorites, there for quick perusal. If you want more detail, or more photos, it’s back to the phone.

Review: Apple Watch

However, Apple Watch does have one killer app regarding photography, and that’s Camera Remote. The app acts as a remote trigger for the iPhone camera — even simply opening the app on the watch will open the camera on the iPhone. From there, the app acts as a viewfinder for what the iPhone camera sees at the moment. It’s the perfect app for setting up a tricky iPhone shot, and heaven for the selfie-inclined. If you don’t want to have a bunch of selfies grabbing an Apple Watch, there’s also a three-second self-timer — the iPhone’s flash will light for each second. A preview of the shot can be seen on the watch, and it’s stored on the iPhone itself. It’s even possible to adjust the exposure from the Camera Remote app.

Apps

While Apple’s Camera Remote app is a big winner, and most of the Apple apps are all useful in some way — also including the Remote app which can be used to navigate an Apple TV — we can’t say the same for third-party apps right now. This is where Apple Watch has the most work to do. It’s not really a surprise, considering how third-party developers had less time to make the apps, on top of working with a whole new device, but it’s still disappointing. To start, most of these apps are slow. You’ll get the loading screen in most cases, sometimes for as long as 10 seconds. Completely unresponsive apps can sometimes be fixed with a watch reboot, but as we’ve already detailed, that’s not exactly a fast process.

Review: Apple Watch

Some popular apps are terribly limited, too — almost to a degree where you start to wonder if it’s even worth it. ESPN’s slow app only shows the scores of teams you’ve selected as your favorites, and you have to remain signed in to the iPhone app to see those scores. Amazon’s app only has a voice search using Apple Watch dictation, and it struggles with proper names. The Seamless app can let you reorder a past order or track food. Yahoo News Digest is having issues. Unlike Facebook, Twitter is on Apple Watch from the start … and that’s about the best we can say for it. The hope is that developers will improve in this regard, and they will as they use the watch and see what works and what doesn’t, but it won’t happen overnight.

Not everything is quite so bad, though. Instagram fits well on Apple Watch — square photos. Citymapper is a natural fit, as well, but so far it’s slow to update train times. The New York Times app is slow, but understands its limitations and offers news headlines in a quick and clever way. There are some diamonds in the rough, and there undoubtedly must be plenty more effective third-party apps out there we haven’t tried, considering how many apps already exist for Apple Watch. But at this moment in time, if you’re going to access a third-party app, it’s probably better just to reach for the iPhone.

Review: Apple Watch

Navigating apps using the Digital Crown is easy, but it could be easier, and most of this is due to Apple’s icon choices. The flat icons introduced in iOS 7 and used since then just don’t work very well on Apple Watch. Compared to many third-party icons, which are at least instantly recognizable, the Apple icons often blend together — the company surely wants users to mentally tie the Apple Watch icons to their iOS counterparts, but it’s not a great look, especially when they’re all centered from the start. Alarms, World Clock, Stopwatch, and Timer all use the same orange shade — good luck picking the correct app of the latter two without stopping to think about it. This color motif was undoubtedly done on purpose to group the apps together, but it doesn’t work well on screen. If the app layout is going to be barely-controlled chaos, it would be nice if all of the icons popped in their own ways. Otherwise, it’s going to take too long to get to the intended app, and Apple Watch should be about quickness.

Battery Life and Charging

Apple’s official Apple Watch battery estimates claim the watch can last “up to 18 hours” with mixed use. Normally, iLounge puts Apple devices through long battery tests, but the nature of Apple Watch doesn’t really make that possible — after all, the screen turns off on its own. We can say that during days of fairly heavy use with a fully charged watch, we didn’t have issues getting to that point. Unless you’re almost constantly involved with watch interaction, Apple Watch should get you through most days without an issue. When the power gets low enough, the watch can be placed into Power Reserve mode, which will let you check the time, and nothing else. (Power Reserve mode can last for up to 72 hours, Apple says.) Apple claims the watch will automatically enter Power Reserve mode when the battery gets too low, but it’s unclear exactly when that occurs. Some will be completely satisfied with this battery life, but others will expect more. Many smartwatches can go days — or longer — without needing a charge. On the other hand, Apple Watch can do more than those other smartwatches. Again, it’s about expectations.

Review: Apple Watch

Another thing that’s hard to quantify is the watch’s drain on a connected iPhone — after all, Apple Watch constantly remains connected to a nearby paired iPhone through Bluetooth. From our experience, we’d say there is some drain on an iPhone battery, but it’s difficult to tell exactly how much. It did seem like our iPhone 6 Plus units were losing battery quicker than usual, especially considering we weren’t using the phones as heavily due to the watch’s presence. A heavy day of use with the iPhone, while connected to the watch, will probably see more of a drain. If you plan on being a heavy user of both the watch and the phone, we would probably recommend looking into a battery pack for the iPhone.

Charging times are disappointing, and we saw some strange results. Using the included 5W adapter, recharging a 42mm Apple Watch battery from less than 4 percent battery in Power Reserve mode got us back above 50 percent in less than an hour, and totally recharged the watch in a bit more than two hours. Oddly, recharging a smaller 38mm Apple Watch took slightly more than three hours — much higher than Apple’s estimates. It’s obvious there are numerous factors at play, and future OS updates will hopefully reduce charging times, but for now it’s a bit disconcerting. Apple Watch’s battery life could be offset by quicker charging, but it seems as if it will take at least two hours to fully recharge a depleted Apple Watch.

Review: Apple Watch

It’s nice that Apple included a long 2-meter charging cable, and connecting the cable to the back of the watch is a cinch. It’s an easy, clever solution, but we wouldn’t exactly call it elegant, once you see the watch band and cable taking up space, messily splayed across a nightstand or table. Especially if you’re already charging your iPhone in the same place, which is likely the case. We’re really looking forward to the third-party stands that have already been announced, which will ideally allow Apple Watch to charge properly in one set place, without taking up too much table space.

Conclusion

We’re expecting there to be a decent accessory market for Apple Watch. As previously mentioned, we think most Apple Watch users will want to look into getting a stand at the very least. Various types of screen and body protectors have already been announced, as well. We also think the third-party watch band market will resemble the third-party case market for iPhone and iPad — once there’s more out there than Apple’s offerings, Apple Watch will take on a much wider variety of looks in the wild. Though there look to be a few magnetic charging watch bands, Apple’s watch manual states, “Don’t wear Apple Watch while it’s charging.” So we’ll see how that goes.

Review: Apple Watch

Apple Watch has its flaws, but it’s also probably the best, most useful smartwatch available. It’s priced higher than most smartwatches too, but when compared to decent, regular old watches, the price doesn’t seem so unreasonable. However, Apple Watch will introduce so many users to a smartwatch that a direct comparison to those other devices doesn’t really work. More is expected of Apple Watch, and for good reason, but we see it as a first step. It’s easy to see the potential here, when third-party apps are faster and more useful. We can envision a thinner, faster Apple Watch down the road that can do more when away from an iPhone. It doesn’t take much to get there.

Review: Apple Watch

But for now? Some won’t be able to get past the fact that the iPhone can already do most of this stuff, and better, which makes Apple Watch feel like a nice toy — not a novelty or a trifle, but unnecessary nonetheless. It’s a fair point. But if you don’t mind wearing a watch, and you’re already an iPhone user, we think it’s hard not to have some interest, when considering the extra functionality offered here. We find Apple Watch makes some things much easier, and introduces a number of features that will improve a user’s lifestyle. Wearing Apple Watch made us far less likely to check our iPhone during the day, in that bored, meandering way all of us often do. In a short time, wearing the device has kept us more focused on the world around us. Admittedly, there is something vaguely dystopian about buying a new product in order to keep us less distracted from another device … and both products happen to be made by the same exact giant corporation. But here we are.

Review: Apple Watch

While initial expectations can’t be ignored, we think most iPhone users will find value in Apple Watch. It’s an exciting wearable with plenty of room to grow. As it stands, it’s flawed but fascinating, and it will help some users more than others. We also have faith that third-party developers will show improvement. While we can’t blame anyone for waiting on Apple Watch — or waiting until Apple Watch 2.0 — those who do take the leap now will likely be pleased. Apple Watch earns our general recommendation.

Our Rating

B
Recommended

Company and Price

Company: Apple

Models: Apple Watch

Price: $349-$17,000

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