After many weeks of waiting, my 42mm space grey Apple Watch is finally here! This model has been in particularly short supply and having ordered on the 10th of April, I was given an ambiguous delivery date of “June” which later changed to “4-6 weeks; May 27th – June 9th”. This was quite a disappointment considering that I had preordered on the very first day that preorders went live! I knew that the Apple Watch would be in short supply, but this has been one of the most frustrating waits ever. Fast forward to now, and I have finally received it. Has it truly been worth the wait?
UNBOXING AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Having already seen numerous unboxing of the device on YouTube, I knew my way around the box and what to expect. First things first, the Apple Watch is packaged in an exceptionally elegant fashion, as you would expect from Apple. You know that the sleek exterior package contains a truly exceptional and high quality device. Unboxing my Apple Watch felt great, and after holding it in my hand for the first time, I immediately knew that this was a high quality gadget. It almost made me feel less annoyed with Apple for the delay. I should also add that after preordering the space grey Apple Watch, I got a little tired of playing the waiting game and also ordered a silver version, hoping that would ship sooner (as online forums had suggested). I later cancelled that silver version order, and stuck it out for the space grey model. I am so glad that I waited a few extra weeks for this one, as the colour and finish is amazing, and definitely more to my liking. It also nicely compliments my space grey MacBook!
The thing that struck me when I first put the Apple Watch on my wrist was the weight. The aluminium sports version weights 30 grams (without the strap). This is quite light and over the past few weeks I have become used to the fenix 3, which is a larger and heavier watch. The reduced weight of the Apple Watch is something I may have to get used to. Additionally, I should also mention that the size is also perfect at 42mm. I do not have very large wrists (quite the opposite, in fact), and cannot imagine how small the 38mm would look, even on me. I am also glad that I did not opt for the stainless steel version; the finger prints would drive me mad!
WHY BUY AN APPLE WATCH?
Many people have asked me about my motives of buying an Apple Watch. Is this device really a game changer, or simply an impulse buy? Well, for me it is a little bit of both. In the past decade, every device that Apple has launched has really taken off. Sure there will always be naysayers, as there are before the arrival of any new product category, but somehow, Apple is one of those rare companies that actually deliver, change and shape the direction of the tech market. iPod, iPhone, iPad; these have all revolutionised their respective markets, despite receiving a fair amount of scepticism and even criticism before their release.
The smart watch is not a new concept. It has been around for a few years now, but none have generated the hype and ignited consumer desire like the Apple Watch. I am currently using the Garmin fenix 3 as my smart watch (alongside specific training) and it has served me very well over the past few weeks that I have had it. Seeing notifications, messages emails, etc, all show up on my wrist has been really convenient. I never knew just how convenient until I purchased the fenix 3 (which I actually did not buy for the smart watch features in the first instance, so that was a bonus). So if I already own a smart watch, why would I need the Apple Watch?
The main answer to that question is not simple, and justifying the Apple Watch purchase will vary between each consumer. Admittedly, one of the reasons I wanted the watch was due to curiosity, and being a part of the first-gen buzz of owning a new product. However, it will also serve as a highly convenient communications device. As I mentioned above, my Garmin fenix 3 allows me to view notifications, and although that has been convenient, I cannot reply to messages. Other things I cannot do with the fenix 3 include making phone calls, composing new messages, updating my iCal, utilising Siri and check maps. There may be many more functions, and as 3rd party support is virtually non-existent (in comparison) with Garmin watches, the Apple Watch is a real smart watch. In short, the Apple Watch will take interactions to a whole new level.
Here is a summary of the main features of the Apple Watch that I am most looking forward to.
After spending a mere few weeks with the Garmin fenix 3, I am now a smart watch convert. As Steve Jobs once said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. This is true, and a prime example is using the smart notifications of the fenix 3. I cannot (don’t want to?) get by without notifications on my wrist now, and the Apple Watche’s harmonious compatibility with the iPhone will further enhance this feature. I have already received a few notifications on my Apple Watch already, and the ease of viewing and interacting with these is phenomenal. Seeing incoming calls,
How many times do you pull your iPhone out to track your location, locate your nearest Starbucks or direct you to a point of interest? Often, right? Yup, me too! To this end, I will be using the maps app on the Apple Watch extensively. Will be much better than whipping out my iPhone whenever I need to navigate.
It is easy to miss out on the most obvious aspect, but the Apple Watch will also (obviously) be a very slick time telling device! The Sports version comes with a fluoroelastomer band, which I found very fiddly to put on. Thankfully I ordered a black leather loop to go with my watch, which compliments it perfectly.
Being a fitness nut, ironically, I am not that interested in the fitness aspects of the Apple Watch. Sure I will try out the Strava app and go for a few training runs, but will it be my primary fitness device? Probably not (well, certainly not at this stage!). Although Apple have placed a huge emphasis on fitness, they are really not up there in the league of Garmin, and cannot compete in the current fitness market. I strongly suspect that this is not their aim anyway, and the fitness features of the Apple Watch are purely there to motivate the average person to be more active, and not aimed at hardcore athletes.
The main fitness aspects I am personally going to be using, albeit in a limited capacity, are as follows:
1) STRAVA APP/RUNNING: I am curious to see how the Strava app works on the Apple Watch. I use Strava to track my runs and cycling activities, and being somewhat of a running fanatic, am curious to see how the Strava app for the Apple Watch will perform. I will be uploading a separate blog post here and YouTube video on my channel on how the Strava app performs.
2) ACTIVITY TRACKER: I have tried out a few activity trackers over the past couple of years, namely the Nike+ Fuelband, iPhone Health app and Garmin fenix 3. I have also done a little bit of research into the Fitbit and UP trackers, but did not take the plunge with these. Although they have each performed well in their own respective ways, there were some restrictions associated with each. After Nike+ discontinued and dropped hardware updates for the Fuelband and Nike running, I moved over to Strava (which is much more intuitive, anyhow). The iPhone activity tracker necessitates you to carry your iPhone with you to track steps, distance, etc, so is not practical as I don’t have my phone with me 24/7, especially when running. The fenix 3 activity tracker is great, and probably the one I have found to be the most useful. Unfortunately, I may not be wearing my fenix 3 as my daily watch now that the Apple Watch is here, which means I will have to use the Apple Watches activity tracker. So the split will generally be: fenix 3 for workout tracking, and Apple Watch for daily tracking. I should add that I plan to still wear my fenix 3 on some days for normal use, so using the two trackers has to be done. Hopefully Garmin will soon allow their data to be added to the Health app, which can show merged data.
3) HEART RATE MONITOR: Okay, I am not a huge fan of wrist based heart rate monitors. I just feel that the accuracy is sub-par and no way near as accurate as chest straps. This is from personal experience, as I used to own the Tom Tom multi sport GPS watch (for around 4 months) and found the built-in wrist based heart rate monitor to be unreliable. On rare occasions it would record believable heart rate data, but the vast majority of times it would be grossly inaccurate. As the Apple Watch use the same wrist based technology, I am curious to see how it will perform. As I will not be using the Apple Watch for intense activity, I am looking forward to see how it records me resting/walking heart rate. I know my resting heart rate is ~48 beats-per-minute, and so far, so good, as the watch is reporting this range when I am sitting down. Having a heart rate monitor is definitely going to be a welcome feature to use on a daily basis, even if I do need to be skeptical of the accuracy.
Ultimately, buying any first generation product will be an expensive commitment. Everyone forking out for the Apple Watch probably knows this and are aware that the second gen version will more than likely have enhanced and added features. That is just the way the tech industry works and to that end, the Apple Watch is an expensive curiosity. After using both the Garmin fenix 3 in the capacity of a smart watch, and now the Apple Watch, the definition of what a watch can and should do has changed for me. It is no longer a simple object to tell the time, but an integral part of my technological world where (multi)functionality is a necessity. A lot of people I know are still unsure about the whole smart watch era, but I feel that the days of keeping a watch for time-keeping only is now over, and I am truly excited to see where the wearable tech market will go next.