First of all, I must confess that I am not a huge fan of tech #wearables. Sure, the technology for these tiny gadgets – some so small you wear them on your finger – have advanced rapidly over the last 24 months, but I still don’t see a point of carrying around an ‘extra’ something around that do the things my phone is absolutely capable of doing, and better. Same goes for smartwatches. But when #Apple announced their plans to launch their version of the #smartwatch (a.k.a #Apple Watch), I can’t help but feel the urge to try it out, see if I was wrong about it all and that tech wearables and smartwatches have indeed ‘arrived’.
If you are looking for a techie review of the watch, this is not it. But if you would like to find out whether I would buy the Apple Watch after living with it for 2 weeks, then read on.
The build quality and finish of the Apple Watch is simply gorgeous. Whether it’s the S$600 SPORT, the S$900 WATCH or the ridiculously priced S$18,000 EDITION range, the Apple Watch is in a class on its own. When I first got the watch, the first thing I noticed was how the screen and the case of the watch blended so seamlessly together and the gaps between parts of the watch were almost non-existent. The curvature of the screen, rounded edges and the digital crown all seems to ‘click’ like the union between design and fashion.
At around 50g for the 42 mm stainless steel version, the watch certainly makes its presence felt with its weight. It’s not considered to be too heavy — it’s around the same weight as you’d expect from an analog watch. Unlike other tech wearables that use ultra-lightweight materials and are much more subtle, I like the Apple Watch’s weight and size.
You may think little of accessories, but Apple makes an average of US$1 billion selling accessories of their products every quarter. And if these watches fly off the shelves, their huge range of watch straps will be one of the big items that contributes to their bottomline. From elastomer Sport Band to Link Bracelet and Leather Loop, Apple’s range of watch strap options is a smart move to provide some form of personalisation for users. My personal favourite is the Milanese Loop — I love it for its simplicity, comfort and ease of use in adjusting the strap to fit snuggly around my wrist.
You can’t just have an Apple Watch, wear it everyday for 2 weeks, and not feel a thing after switching back to one of the good old tick-tock watches. Here’s what happened to me immediately after I had remove it to share it with my fellow eager Apple-fanboy editor:
1. Over-twisting your wrist
Apple calls this the ‘Activate On Wrist Raise’. It is a smart feature to activate your Apple Watch without touching the screen when you flick up your wrist. It also helps conserve battery life when you are not using the watch. The bad thing about this is when you give in an imperfect ‘flick’, it will result in having to compensate by twisting your wrist a little more, which gets tiresome after a while. However when I strapped back on my analog watch, that over-twisting action stayed for a couple of days.
2. Wildly swinging arms
You know how your arms swing when you are taking a leisurely stroll? As an amateur smartwatch owner, you tend to want the watch to know you are ‘moving’. Don’t do that. Trust the technology. If not, like me, you will look like a you are training to march for the National Day Parade contingent long after you stop wearing the watch.
3. Walking around more than necessary
Apple’s user interface for the Activity is simply wicked! It tracks your calories burnt, quality of exercise, and time spent standing daily using 3 coloured rings. If you are mildly OCD like me, you will want to ‘complete’ the ring every day, even if you have to walk in circles around your house. Until now, I unknowingly choose a longer route to walk to my destination. Not good.
4. Remembering your cables every morning
The watch can last you a day with normal usage. After that, the Apple Watch will need to be charged through inductive charging with the supplied Magnetic Charging Cable. Making sure you pack the cable for work became a routine. No charge, no use. Simple as that. Now, I do a bag check every day to make sure the cables I need for the day are there.
5. Phantom vibrations on my wrist
Ever feel like your phone is vibrating when it is not? That’s phantom vibration, a syndrome you develop for being too attached to your device. Now, get ready for phantom vibrations on the wrist. The good thing is, checking activities or ‘phantom activities’ like new SMSes, push notifications and calls are easier. Just ‘over-twist’ your wrist to check.
All that said, the Apple Watch is a product that appeals more to techies and maybe a handful of fashionistas. It is certainly beautifully crafted and packs enough tech to impress you and be part of your life, but it is ultimately still a smartwatch. I feel it still lacks the soul and allure of luxury timepieces that people aspire to own. To me, the watch also needs to be more ‘detached’ to the iPhone. I don’t want to have to wear the watch and feel mandated to bring the phone when out cycling or to get lunch.
Perhaps, all that is too much to ask for even for one of the world’s most valuable company, after all, it is only their first take on the Apple Watch. But one can certainly hope that the second generation of the Apple Watch will far exceed expectations. So for now, the Apple Watch is an entry on my tech wish list, but not a must-have, yet.