At the beginning of the year, Apple attempted to fully open the gates and put the smartwatch into the must-have zone, therefore actually generating significant interest towards this new device.
While Pebble is all about functionality and simplicity, the Apple Watch feels a lot more friendlier and it attempts to engage people, not just be a passive gadget that you remember about it only when checking time or emails.
But did it actually manage this, is the Apple Watch worth buying? Yes and no. Smartwatches can be the future of smartphones and Apple Watch does have a lot of interesting features that do give us a glimpse into the things that may come.
Besides this, it works like a wonder right now, especially thanks to its updated software. So if you like a gadget that monitors you heart rate, tracks your steps, you can play music wireless, send people animated emoji, dictate messages, view notifications, send your heartbeat to your loved-ones and more, then you will appreciate owning an Apple Watch.
It helps you to look at your phone less, while keeping you connected, but don’t forget, it’s not a standalone device. In order to enjoy all of its functions you need to have it connected to an iPhone (you need to be at a range of around 30 feet of your phone or you can connect through the WiFi to further extend the range).
Now let’s get a more in depth view of what the Apple Watch has to offer!
The Apple Watch is without a doubt an attractive watch, featuring a discreet and elegant look, with clean lines and a curved glass that unites with the curved metal. Yes, you won’t find a single sharp edge.
The case is made from stainless steel (also rose gold or aluminium) and it’s rather thick, but because it curves inwards, it looks thinner than it actually is. Most smartwatches are plagued by this issue and unfortunately, right now, we have to accept that the smartwatch technology hasn’t evolved as much as we would like yet.
Still, the Apple Watch feels reasonably balanced (weighing 1.5 pounds and measuring 0.4×1.4×1.6 or 0.4×1.3×1.5 inches) and if you wore a watch before, you most likely won’t feel that the thickness is much of a compromise. The watch comes into two variants, a one inch and a half and a 1.3 inches case. This differentiation has been made in order to please both males and females, but the bigger one does have better battery life.
On the right side of the Watch you’ll find the Digital Crown and a button which you can use to show or hide friends, access Apple Pay with a double click and turn the watch ON or Off.
At the base of the watch you can find the heart rate sensor and the magnetic inductive charging system (Qi compliant). There’s also a tiny speaker and microphone on the left of the Watch for calling, but you will barely notice them.
Yes, the Apple Watch may be better looking than most smartwatches on the market, but it does cost a lot more.
Our Apple Watch came with three straps, a Black Sport Band, the Milanese Loop and the Leather Loop. The sport band is very comfortable, but similar to other plastic bands on other smartwatches and it has a unique clasp mechanism that you’ll get used to in not time.
The Milanese Loop has a mesh-like texture and it nicely complements the metallic case, but it does feel a lot more feminine than any other strap option. It’s quite flexible, feels comfortable, is easily adjustable and it is suitable for either casual or more classy clothing. The clasp is magnetic and stays shut (because the bracelet is really lightweight it may be better to leave the band looser so it balances with the weight of the watch itself).
The Leather Loop bracelet also closes magnetically, it uses magnetic segments that attach to each other. But there are a few shortcomings, as we noticed some scratches on the clasp after a few days of use and you may find yourself in the position to adjust the strap throughout the day as it tends to slip a link or two once in a while.
The Apple Watch features a 1.5in (or 1.3in for the 38mm) OLED display with a resolution of 312×390 pixels (or 272x340p) and a pixel density of 326ppi (just like the iPhone 6). The Retina display is a bit different than the one found on iPhones because Apple has chose a flexible OLED from LG rather than the usual LCD technology.
The display is covered by a toughened Ion-X glass (for Apple Watch Sport) or a sapphire glass, both meant to protect it from scratches or minor bumps into furniture.
The OLED screen is bright and colourful, with high colour accuracy and overall it is one of the most vibrant displays we’ve seen from any smartwatch, but still it isn’t as sharp as the one from Samsung Gear S (which also has a much larger colour palette).
But let’s focus a bit on the Force Touch technology (something new in the smartwatch world) which senses the level of force, distinguishing between light or hard presses, thanks to its tiny electrodes around the display.
It is an interesting addition that adds some more options and functionality to some apps without adding more buttons or overcomplicating things.
Hardware and Battery Life
The Apple Watch packs a 500MHz Apple S1 processor, a PowerVR SGX543 GPU, 512MB RAM and 8GB of storage (when connected to an iPhone, you can fully access its storage memory).
The watch is also equipped with a heart rate sensor, that uses both infrared and visible light LEDs along with photodiodes to determine you heart rate; there’s also a gyrometer, an accelerometer and unfortunately no built-in GPS.
Also inside the case you can find a 205mAh (or 246mAH) Lithium Ion battery. It promises 18 hours battery life on normal use, 6 hours of music playback or working out with the heart monitor, 3 hours of talk time and up to 48 hours of juts checking time.
The software that runs on the Apple Watch is called the WatchOS 2.0 (an updated version to the more laggier first generation) and in order to be fully operational, the Apple Watch requires an iPhone 5 or a later version.
The watch is not designed for prolonged use, it provides a better experience if used in shorter periods of time, especially because some apps are a bit slow and not many complex apps are developed (using Facebook or any other Google app on the small screen of the Apple Watch may prove undesirable in the long run).
Now, let’s talk about the interface. If you swipe away, you get the watch face with notifications and Glances and if you press the Digital Crown you get access to the apps. There is without a doubt a learning curve, but after a few days of using the watch you get accustomed to the way things operate.
The watch faces have a series of new options (since the new update) that let’s you change the colour, add new elements or remove them.
Besides the usual notifications and watch faces, you get to choose one of the single screens with quick summaries of information from apps you view frequently. To access the Glances you can either swipe up on the watch face or ask Siri to open it for you, even if it’s not in your active glances list.
Watch faces and glances look pretty cool on the Apple Watch, but there’s a lot more to it. You get the Taptic Engine, an innovative feature that actually taps you on the wrist when a notification arrives so you won’t miss anything important, it can also be used when navigating, it can tap you on the wrist several times for left or right turns or you can use it along with the Digital Touch.
Digital Touch is a unique way of messaging which works exclusively between Apple Watches and allows you to send taps, finger sketches or your heart rate.
There’s also the Apple Pay (similar to what you can find on your iPhone) which is a really great feature, if you find places that accepts this type of payment. What is does it to offer the ability to purchase goods or services with a single touch of the watch on the pay terminal (two taps of the button is all it takes to summon your card). It also works without an iPhone present.
Besides all this abundance of apps and features you get the versatile Camera remote that allows you to see a preview of your iPhone’s viewfinder and even focus, set a timer or trigger the shutter.
So how has our experience with the Apple Watch been so far? Well, it hasn’t been too different then with any other smartwatch. You get notifications, it allows you to keep your watch in your pocket, unless it’s something important, it’s more discreet, you get a gentle tap on the wrist, unlike a ringtone and overall, meeting up with friends and family is more engaging since we look less on our phone and focus more on the discussion.
The obvious conclusion is that the Apple Watch is not a must-have device, you don’t really need it, but if you can afford it it will make you life a little easier in some small aspects.
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