Yes, I wound up getting an Apple Watch. My kids pitched in with my wife and got me the Watch for Father’s day of this year (2015). And I have it well before Father’s Day because I pre-ordered it and couldn’t wait until Father’s day to unwrap it after the UPS guy delivered it.
I’ve had it now for a little over a week. I got the 42mm Stainless steel body with the Black Fluoroelastomer band, couldn’t they have just called it a rubbery watch band? You try to say Fluoroelastomer 5 times really fast. I didn’t do that well, it doesn’t flow off the tongue. But as you see below it looks pretty nice.
(I could have taken a picture of it on my wrist, but everyone is doing that these days, thank you to Apple for the above image.)
I have read many reviews about this Watch and since I’ve recently become an Apple guy, I was very excited about getting what Apple has called their “most personal device ever”. To be honest, I might have been more excited about it had the price point been lower.
Which leads us to the first hurdle. The Cost.
The entry level Apple Watch is their Sport Watch, 42mm or 38mm size, checking in at $349.00 (for the 38mm model) and $399.00 (for the 42mm model). I opted for the stainless steel version, $549.00 (for the 38mm model) and $599.00 (for the 42mm model) which I opted for. Prices vary in both of these models, based on size; either 38mm, or 42mm. As you can see there is only a $50.00 difference between the sizes. There is also a price difference based on the kind of band you choose, the basic Fluoroelastomer band which is standard, add $100.00 for the classic buckle band, the same for the metal Milanese Loop, kick it up $200.00 for the Modern buckle. There are so many colors and combinations you definitely can get the personalization you want. I am not going to even bring up the ultra high end gold version, the Watch Edition, which can cost as much as a new car.
And now the second hurdle. How long it works on a single charge.
I have read reviews on some other “smart” watches that claim to have up to 4 days usage on a single charge. Honestly having any portable device that can be used for 4 days would be pretty cool, but I’m already used to having to charge my phone every night, so charging another device every day isn’t inconvenient. So far I’ve been able to get about 1.5 days usage on a single charge, which isn’t bad. I haven’t used the power reserve option which basically turns off all features except for the current time. I haven’t tried that option until just now while I’m writing this review, and I found it to be kind of confusing, there was no easy way to turn the power reserve feature off that I found, without looking up how to do it on Apple’s web site. Power reserve kicks on automatically if your charge drops below a certain level. Now apple doesn’t give you an idea of if it’s 10%, or 5% or 2%, but if your watch only displays the time it’s most likely in power reserve and that’s the most you will get out of it. Unless you charge it and press the side button until the Apple logo appears on the screen, here are the instructions from Apple if you want to read those too.
Hurdle number three: How the Watch fits into my life.
This has been the most interesting hurdle because I normally don’t purchase tech that I don’t have plans on using consistently. I try and figure out the Cost Per Use. Most of the time I figure the tech will last me at least 2 years. I take the 2 years (730 days) and divide it into the cost of the tech. For the Watch I chose, my cost per use would be: 82 cents per day. I’m totally ok with that, and helps it fit into my life.
So, the cost works, what else? As far as being just a watch it hits the mark, I can change the watch face to fit my mood, and what I need for that particular day. The watch comes stock with 9 watch faces. And each face you can customize with different functions, which I won’t discuss in this post.
It comes with some standard and useful tools or apps. One minor downside is that you need to have a iPhone 5 or greater to get the most out of the Apple Watch. (And to be honest, having the Apple Watch without the iPhone 5 or greater would not be functional).
Apple provides a free set up session (unlike the iPhone or iPad the Apple Watch is not the kind of product that you just pick up and you KNOW how to use it) to help you get started with your watch, or as in my case answer any questions about the Apple Watch you may have, such as how to set up Apple Pay or introduce you to some third party apps that may make your Apple Watch experience that much better. And they will help you to understand how the Apple Watch could fit nicely into your day to day existence.
The session lasted for about an hour, Tim the Apple representative was professional, courteous and a delight to talk to. It is an online chat session, that has a multimedia backbone. Apple gives you two views in the chat session, they also will call you and speak to you while the session is going on. Tim had an Apple watch on one screen, and his iPhone ‘desktop’ on the other screen. This allowed him to point out where I needed to go on the watch, and any thing I may have needed to perform on the iPhone. You see the Apple Watch for all of it’s greatness is a companion to your phone. It doesn’t have GPS, it relies on your iPhone to provide that. Which honestly isn’t that big of a deal. (However it does have Bluetooth, and Wifi networking). The result of it being a companion to your phone is that you can look at your watch for text messages, or mail, or any other notifications you set it up to get for you. You don’t have to pull your phone out of your pocket, bag or however you carry your iPhone. I find this to be most excellent.
Apple calls this functionality a glance. And in this short glance you can determine if you need to respond or take out your phone to tap out an email or iMessage response. Yep, the Apple Watch doesn’t really have a keyboard. Could you imagine? I couldn’t function if I had to bring up a microscopic keyboard to enter my information in.
That’s where Siri actually really shines. To be painfully honest Siri on the iPhone, or iPad is generally a crap shoot. My wife has this thing with Siri, she is always trying to get Siri to be the helpful agent it was touted to be. Unfortunately for my wife, and others I’m sure, that is not the case. Frustration mounts trying to get Siri to find something and it comes back with something so left field, so non-sequitor the whole family begs my wife to stop, and then we all break out laughing at the ensuing digital train wreck, or we all come up with various names to call Siri that aren’t fit for this family oriented blog post.
Siri on the Apple Watch is quick, no nonsense and not oral in it’s responses. It gives you the response in a textual way rather than speaking to you. That makes getting responses much faster and I don’t have to worry about hearing Siri on the small speaker that is on the Apple Watch. And Siri is very accurate on the Apple Watch. I dictate iMessages to Siri all the time with nearly 100% accuracy on it’s part (I keep wanting to call Siri a her, but that’s not right; it would be anthropomorphizing Siri, and I’m not down with that).
Speaking of the speaker, I have taken calls on the Apple Watch, and those who I have talked to through the Apple Watch have said that the sound is actually much better than my bluetooth headphones… go figure. I like the idea of playing Dick Tracey (for those of you old enough to remember that cartoon detective).
There are so many cool and wonderful things that the Apple Watch can do right out of the box without much tweaking. However I have found that customizations are indeed possible if you don’t want the Apple Watch to just mirror your phone.
Stepping back, the one thing I haven’t written about is how easy it is to pair with your phone. You turn the Apple Watch on for the first time and during the set up it asks if you want to pair the watch with your phone. Select yes, and the phone has this interesting diffused pattern on it’s screen, you are supposed to open the iPhone Watch app, and get the iPhone’s camera focused on the Apple Watch face. In a matter of moments, the diffused pattern on the Apple Watch becomes what looked like to me as a spirograph pattern and 1… 2… 3… you’re paired. It’s that easy.
A few last thoughts. After almost two weeks I am now very happy with my Apple Watch. It performs well as a watch with lots of cool watch features (as I mentioned above, the ability to change the watch face and add complications to each face based on your choices).
I nearly returned it prior to my set up session, but after my chat with Tim the Apple rep, I feel confident in my choice.
Yes it’s expensive and could be considered a toy, but I am getting some real great and useful functionality out of it. I do enjoy showing it off to others, and getting the response “Wow, it does more than I thought it would.”
If you can afford it, I highly recommend going to the Apple store located near you and set up an Apple Watch try-on session. And if it fits and you can see the usefulness of it, get it by all means. And for those of you that want to read another rather funny and pointed review of the Apple Watch, click on this link to read The Oatmeal’s review. (Warning the Oatmeal’s review is filled with non-G rated stuff. If you are easily offended those 7 words that George Carlin conveyed that you can’t say on T.V., don’t click the link)