I’m a self-confessed gadget lover. When a gadget is combined with a watch, then my mind explodes. So when the Apple Watch was released, I was pretty excited.
Not being able to find £350 to drop, I’ve yet to buy one. But, this month my boss went away on holiday and said I could use it whilst he was sunning himself in the Mediterranean. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to try out the Apple Watch without buying one. It means I can review it pretty honestly without needing to justify spending hundreds of my hard worked cash on.
The version I’m looking at is the larger sized 42mm Slate Grey Sport. Let’s see how it fares after a week non-stop on the wrist.
Just like all Apple products, the design and build quality of the Apple Watch is spot on. Every little facet is perfectly engineered. It’s fairly weighty too, and thanks to the full aluminium case it’s obvious that a lot has gone into it. It looks and feels a million times better than the cheaper, often plasticky Android Wear watches.
The smart crown is smooth to rotate, has good grip on the outside edge, and provides a satisfying click upon pressing it. The side button is very much the same, easy and pleasant to use, and perfectly machined with the case.
The caseback is largely taken over by the black composite ring in which the heart rate monitor resides. Although it’s a bit of a bulge, it’s not uncomfortable in any way, nor does it cause any annoyance whilst wearing the watch. The strap release buttons are at the top and bottom ends and work well, just by pushing it in with a nail allows you to slide the strap off. Hopefully in the future we’ll see some after-market leather straps that allow you to fit them onto the watch.
The silicon strap is very comfortable, although only really suitable for casual and active wear. The way it fits is quite intuitive as well, as you secure the nipple through the hole you want and then push the remaining of the strap through the gap and under your wrist. It results in a very streamlined strap, that is surprisingly secure and ultimately, very comfortable.
The screen has an impressive PPI of 302, with the resolution being 390px x 312px. This looks delightful to the eye and has vivid, bold colours, allowing the Watch OS to really stand out.
Everything comes together seamlessly, with the kind of precision we’ve come to expect of Apple. The buttons, the strap, the screen, the caseback – are all made to such exacting standards it fits together perfectly.
The 42mm is the larger of the two sizes, and I personally think it fits my 7 1/4 inch wrist really well. The whole thing weighs in at 78g, so it’s pretty lightweight, plus the strap is very soft and malleable. This all results in an incredibly comfortable wear.
The style of the Apple Watch Sport, however, is slightly more limited. It just doesn’t go with a suit or any type of smart dress. If you could change the strap for a nice leather one, in sure it’ll look completely different. But as it comes, it’s definitely more suited to casual and active wear.
I’m pleased to say that the battery has lasted well over 24 hours, and that’s me using it as much as I’d ever have to in a day. That includes using the fitness tracker 3 times a day – for my bike ride to and from work, plus an hour long dog walk; as well the usual notifications that come throughout a standard day. So I’m pretty happy with that.
It only really takes a couple of hours to charge too, so rather than leaving it on charge every night (probably not the best idea), I’ve just been charging it as and when I’ve had to, and when I’ve not really needed it. This has worked perfectly fine for me so far.
One thing I have noticed though, is that the usual epic battery life on my iPhone 6 Plus is draining much quicker than usual. This is definitely thanks to the watch running off the Bluetooth constantly, and using extra resources, such as data.
Most Used / Handy Features
There’s a few features that I’ve only really used. Obviously there’s a lot of apps specifically for the Apple Watch, and more will come out, but the following are the only ones I’ve found myself using:
Siri – ask her anything, just as would on your phone
Reading notifications (WhatsApp, Messages, Email, Twitter, Facebook etc) – this is particularly useful, as the Apple Watch basically displays whatever shows up on your notifications centre on your phone.
Responding to messages – I’ve found it very handy to just tap respond, and then speak out what I want to say. Particularly handy whilst travelling and exercise.
Fitness tracker – I’ve used this every day, for cycling and dog walking. Very interesting to see various metrics on my daily exercise – some info there I would never really know without it.
Maps – the little map on the screen is great. Perfect for directions, and in particular in busy streets where you don’t want to get your iPhone put.
So how do I feel about the Apple Watch after wearing it for a week?
I love it. It’s proved to be extremely practical and handy. Even my wife prefers me wearing it as it means I check my phone less.
And I felt this way pretty much after 2 days.
But fret not, fellow watch enthusiasts. Do I think it replaces the traditional timepiece? Not at all.
It’s more of a companion; a notification device, than a watch to me. Therefore, if I was to get one (which I would do in the future, this week hasn’t put me off), I’d be one of those guys who wears it as well as a watch – so both wrists are occupied (I think the correct term is “plonker”).
I don’t think smart watches will ever replace what a mechanical watch means to us as humans – as, if someone like me or you, has a penchant for a real timepiece I don’t think an Apple Watch (or other smart watch) will ever change that. The idea of having to charge it everyday, and then becoming obsolete every year mean they’ll end up being quite high maintenance. Compare that to a fine automatic timepiece: never needs recharging (just make sure you wear it!), never becomes obsolete, and in many cases, gets better with age.
There’s certainly and undoubtedly a future for smart watches. They’ll just become better companions and gadgets. Which, for me, is just what I want.