The Apple Watch is finally upon us, and, like any new Apple product, it’s arrived with a wide variety of reactions and questions. Is it good, we’re going to see, is it over-rated, probably, but it’s Apple’s latest and greatest product everyone’s talking about and that’s what we’re looking at now, in particular the Silver Apple Watch Sport, in 38mm as our arms are tiny.
Design wise, we were never that impressed with the Apple Watch, it’s rather muted design was far from the high appeal usually associated with Apple, we were left, like most, going “it’s no Moto 360”, however what we will say is it looks much better in person, with a really classy look which suits it perfectly. One key feature of the Apple Watch is actually on the Watch itself, being the Digital Crown. The Digital Crown on the Apple Watch allows you to simply and easily scroll through lists and menus, as well as use it as the Home button. One thing we would say is the secondary button for your Favourites does look confusingly similar to the iPhone lock button, but once you get over that confusion that it’s not, it’s all good. The Watch is also not too big either (including the 42mm not for this review), which is actually a much more big deal than you might think, it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a Smart Watch, or some new geek-tech, it just looks like you’re wearing a genuinely nice looking square Watch.
Whilst it may not be Qi, the Apple Watch does charge Wirelessly, being the first Apple product to adopt Wireless Charging, however Apple have done it in what we think is a much better way, aside from not being Qi. Apple have combined their Magsafe technology with Wireless Charging, meaning the Cable always aligns resulting in a more reliable connection for charging which is important as like all Smart Watches this will likely be charged daily (or 2 days of light use). Plus, another important key point, the cable is long, 2m long.
Where the charger connects also houses a suite of sensors for the device, from an accelerometer to a heart rate monitor, the Apple Watch is always monitoring your activity, and probably doesn’t like our lifestyle of sitting down typing posts like this one, but we’ve a decent heart beat doing it which is the main thing right?
The Home Screen is of course where you always go to whenever you wish to launch, or access your favourite apps, unless you wish to use Siri of course. The Home Screen is both a good and a bad design at the same time, whilst it’s very easy to become an over-whelming un-organised mess, at the same time it’s a benefit, as it’s a quick to get to App launcher (something Android Wear has for whatever reason always struggled with) and pits the device straight away as a productivity Smart Watch.
Re-arranging the Home Screen is more than difficult to do, maybe it’s due to us using the 38mm variant of the Apple Watch, but it’s almost impossible, thankfully you can arrange your Home Screen icons through the Apple Watch application on your iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6 or 6 Plus, which is a much more easier experience.
Apple Watch App
Once you unbox your new Apple Watch, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to grab the Wireless Magnetic Charger cable and plug the USB side to your PC and Mac, launching iTunes. The Apple Watch App is the hub to everything you need to do on your Apple Watch, and pre-installed on iOS 8.3, so you’ve likely noticed it already.
You can configure your Apple Watch Home Screen, as we mentioned before, as well as literally everything else. The Watch does have it’s own Settings of course, but when you’re phone is with you during Setup you might as well use the app.
Pairing the Apple Watch with the App on your iPhone couldn’t be easier, just take a picture of the Apple Watch display and boom you’re paired … if only it worked for us. Seriously, we’ve heard no reports of anyone else having pairing problems, but would be us. Luckily you can do an old-school manual pair over Bluetooth.
The Apple Watch App is also the only way you can install apps to the Apple Watch, thankfully you can at least uninstall using the typical tap and hold the ‘X’, however in a way that’s a good thing as it prevents the clutter Home Screen possible without organisation.
Using an Apple Watch for a straight week, whilst writing this, has been ..an experience. No, the experience has been mostly positive, but it definitely shows it’s colours as a first gen product, as well as a product you don’t truly need, although the same could be said for a regular Watch. Plus, it doesn’t take much searching to realise this is our first Watch review, so we’re not actually regular Watch wearers so the usual getting used to process has been happening throughout the week as well.
One thing I will say though, which is probably the most positive thing to say about the Apple Watch, or any Smart Watch really, is we’ve found actual probable uses for the Apple Watch, which may not make sense at first but it’s really rather simple. When you purchase anything new, you have a honeymoon period, if you like, where everything about whatever you purchased, whether amazing or not, feels it as it’s the latest new thing, but once that period ends you tend to find you rarely use that thing again, but luckily with the Apple Watch we’ve practical uses which is a great thing for the Watch itself.
Using the Apple Watch after the week we’ve had it, has certainly been an experience as we’ve mentioned, and there’s a much greater learning curve than a typical Apple product, but what we will say is, we still turn to the thing and use it. Whilst it has a learning curve, it’s still a relatively short one, sure there’s some inconsistencies (mainly in third party apps) in the end you’re left with a very decent experience.
VS ANDROID WEAR?
Whilst most people will expect, like many other reviews, direct comparisons between this and Android Wear, the fact is they both work completely differently. Whilst, yes, both offer the same round-about experience of easy to get to Notifications with app functionality, the Apple Watch has a more native feel than Android Wear, and offers more out of the box options versus Android Wear, meaning it’s not a fair or comparable (yet) thing to compare.
Battery life and side affect to an iPhone
The Apple Watch of course connects to any iPhone (iPhone 5 or later) through a Bluetooth 4.0LE connection. Having Bluetooth on all the time however can be a major battery discrepancy, despite being a much more battery optimised version of Bluetooth technology. One thing we’re happy to report is the Apple Watch battery life is actually surprisingly good, be it still likely requiring an every night charge, it ends the day with a very good percentage remaining. As for the iPhone 6, battery life has seen a drop since using the Apple Watch by around 5-10% through a day, which is rather average when keeping a solid connection to the Watch, and actually rather decent when you consider how much the iPhone is giving to the Watch. From a typical long day of around 17 hours, the Apple Watch is left with just under 40% for us, which is in a week where we’re using it much more often than normal, so realistically could get so much better.
Summary, so far
So far, the Apple Watch has actually been a very positive device, it’s not entirely been the purchase we expected, we’ll be honest we expected it to be one we’d of regretted, but it’s surprised us and won us over, and it’s fair to say it’s definitely been something that’s turned heads for those who’ve noticed what it is. Convenience is the key with the Apple Watch, like all Smart Watches, whether it’s getting to all your Notifications, or to actually using variants of your iPhone apps at which there’s already plenty of, it’s just been a pleasure to use.
Is it perfect and do you really need one, no. To be honest, it’s the only one of Apple’s first generation products where we can really say that for, there’s realistic uses for iPads, iPhones, iPod (when they first came out) and Macs, however with the Watch it really is an optional and additional device. But, for those who do wish to get one and see what it’s like, there’s many reasons to do so and thankfully a positive experience awaits if you do.
We’ll of course be talking much more about the Apple Watch moving forward, but for now, our first impressions are actually pretty good, and we’ll be giving updates upon our experience as the days and months go by.