My Apple Watch Review: 3 Months of Joy

From Fitbit to Apple Watch

As an avid Apple enthusiast, I’m always excited about their new products. I’ve been following the Apple Watch or ‘iWatch’ news since it was first reported on MacRumors years ago. Previously I’ve never worn a smartwatch, but I have been collecting traditional watches for some time. Just about every day I could have been spotted wearing a watch on my left hand, so you could say I was ready for the next generation of watches. I later grew tired of waiting for an Apple iWatch to emerge so I ventured in the wearables market by purchasing a Fitbit Flex. This was great, it could track my steps and only needed charged about once a week. As this point I’m wearing a traditional watch on my left wrist, and a Fibit fitness tracker on my right wrist. This is where Apple captured my interest, by combining both a watch and fitness tracker into one device, both my wrists no longer needed to be decorated with straps.

Expense over Excitement

When the Apple Watch was announced in the fall of 2014, I was immediately immersed in the hype, and by spring of 2015 I was over eager to meet my new wrist companion. The publicity since fall kind of dissipated so I didn’t know that many people taking the plunge on this first generation device. On pre-order day I settled on ordering two Apple Watches, one for me of course, and one for my wife to share the experience with me… and send my heartbeat to. For me it was the Apple Watch (Stainless Steel Case) with black sport band and the Apple Watch Sport with white sport band for my wife. After adding AppleCare+ this was a large purchase and immediately I started having buyer’s remorse. Would I actually use this thing? Will it be another great Apple product? Apple Watch

My wife’s Apple Watch Sport band arrived first, and to my surprise, my Apple Watch had yet to be shipped. This was a tiny dilemma because it was a surprise gift for her and I wanted to have both at the same time. I ruined the surprise and asked if I can wear it until mine was delivered, of course agreed as it was already adorning my wrist. Ten days later my Apple Watch arrived in glorious fashion, while I was out of town. This put my time with the Apple Watch Sport at about two weeks. I enjoyed the sport, but fell in love with the look and design of the stainless steel Apple Watch. I’m pretty rough on watches so I knew I would not only need AppleCare+, but a scratch-proof sapphire screen sold me.

Since then I’ve been wearing my Apple Watch everyday, and I have the activity history to prove it.

Three months later I’m as happy as ever, especially when people ask me if I still like it as much as the day I got it. My only answer can be, “why yes, it is essential to me everyday.”

Time and Time Again

For most of us, telling time is a vital everyday function. Whether you are going to a meeting, picking your kids up from school, or making sure you are in front of the TV in time for Game of Thrones – we all need time. I look at my watch about 12-15 times per day just to get the time. Now, when I get the time, I also get the outside temperature, my activity level, and the date. This of course depends on which face I’m using.

I’m not going to dive into too many specifics on the Apple Watch as by now, you should already know what it can do. My goal is to help you decide if you want one or just read my experience with this new device.

Apps on Apps

Apple Watch Apps Face

The Apple Watch has the ability to run apps from your phone on the watch. Later this fall, the apps will run completely independent on the watch. At first, I used the 3rd-party apps all the time. Constantly checking my Instagram, seeing if it is going to rain with ‘Dark Sky’, and ordering burritos from Chipotle, I was doing everything I could from my watch. After three months, this no longer happens. I find myself using my phone for these tasks among others. The watch hasn’t fallen off the functional deep-end, but the watch apps are just not as engaging and inviting as on my iPhone. Hopefully that will change this fall with WatchOS 2.0, but as of now, I rarely use any apps on the watch outside of the default ones Apple gives you.

The Fitness Test

Fitness tracking is the latest craze, from wearables to apps, to ‘smart-scales’ everything wants to know if you’re being healthy and losing weight. I’ve been struggling with my weight my entire life, so I’m always looking for a better way to track myself. A few years ago I made a lifestyle change and lost about 30 pounds, ever since I’ve been trying to lose even more without falling off the wagon. My Fitbit Flex helped me be more active and compete against my friends in weekly challenges. The Apple Watch takes a different approach to fitness tracking. The best addition over the Fitbit is the heart rate monitor, which allows more accurate calorie burn numbers and movement tracking. After wearing the Apple Watch everyday for 3+ months, I’m not one of those success stories that claim to have lost 100 pounds just from wearing the watch, but it has helped me on my get healthy journey. Since I’m a Fitbit convert, I was already aware of my activity and the Apple Watch didn’t change that very much.

Activity Rings

I have to say it’s a great fitness tracker, but one of the features I enjoyed about the Fitbit was being able to see what my friends were doing. Over my two years with a Fitbit, I would check up on my friends to see how many steps they had, and that would make me go out and try to beat them. Now the push is to complete your activity rings, which is motivating, but not as social. I have yet to string together a couple of days of completing all 3 rings as I feel my exercise levels are not where they should be, but the other 2 rings (movement and standing) I seem to complete every day.

Battery Buzz

Apple Watch Full Power

The big buzz upon release of the Apple Watch was battery life. Stories all around the web would exclaim “You have to charge it everyday!” this was never an issue for me. After three months, I have only twice drained the watch battery completely and this was in the early days on WatchOS 1.0. With waking up at 6am and going to bed around 11pm – my watch ends with 20-30% battery remaining. I bought a spare Apple Watch charger since I thought my battery would be dead half way through the day, but I have yet to need it. If you are worried about battery life, take this into consideration: when using my Fitbit, I would only need to charge it about every 5-6 days. Since this is a weird amount of time, there is no habit you can get into and often times I would find myself wearing a dead Fitbit no longer tracking my activity. As with my iPhone, my Apple Watch gets the juice every night at bedtime. This creates a routine which allows me to arise with two fully charged devices, ready for my day.

Bands Make Me Dance

My favorite feature of the Apple Watch are the interchangeable bands, by far. I consider myself to be somewhat stylish, so I like to change the bands based on what I’m wearing as well as a different watch face to match. Since I ordered both my wife and I a 42mm Apple Watch, the bands are interchangeable, so she can wear my black sport band, and if I want, I can strap on her white sport band. The Apple made sport bands are something out of a science fiction story. They are extremely comfortable to wear and hold up to all the elements. Recently I’ve increased my watch band options by purchasing the green sport band to go along with my large wardrobe of green shirts. Due to cost, I looked into some 3rd-party bands and haven’t been disappointed. I now have a black leather band from Amazon and a watch adapter kit from Luvitt. The watch adapter kit allows me to wear a traditional watch band on my Apple Watch. I went with a waterproof brown leather band from ‘StrappedForTime’.

Apple Watch Green Sport Band

Tap, Tap, Tap

There’s so much to talk about with the Apple Watch because it truly is a great device and piece of revolutionary technology. The latest revolutionary feature is this haptic feedback device dubbed the Taptic Engine. Instead of sending shocking vibrations to your wrist when you get a notification, the Taptic Engine literally just taps you. It’s the strangest thing you have never felt. After three months, I can’t live without it. I can get notifications on my wrist in a pattern I’ve come to memorize that tells me if it’s an email, iMessage, or generic notifications. This way I don’t even have to look at my wrist to see what it is if I know I don’t want to read emails right now. On the contrary, if I’m expecting an iMessage, I now immediately when it comes in. If you haven’t yet felt the Taptic Engine, do yourself a favor and find someone with an Apple Watch or go to the Apple Store and try it out. You might want to bring your credit card.

To Notify or Not to Notify

The last feature I want to talk about are the notifications. This isn’t a new idea and yes I’m aware Android and Pebble have been doing this for a little while now, but Apple gets it right. When an iMessage, Twitter notification, or email comes to my phone, it goes directly to my watch and I can act on it immediately. Usually I read the beginning of the email and delete it, see who favorited my tweet, and respond to the iMessage without having to dig out my large iPhone 6+. Not only is this a time saver, but I enjoy being aware of everything that is going on without having to unlock my phone, launch an app and scroll to find what I want. If you find yourself looking at your iPhone often to check notifications, you need an Apple Watch.

Time for a Conclusion

We all need time… We all should be healthy… Most of us like to be connected, but do we all really need an Apple Watch? The short answer is yes, but it also could be no. As many others have already reported the Apple Watch is not for everyone. It’s not an iPhone on your wrist, nor is it just a timepiece. Where the Apple Watch fills my need is the fitness tracking, timepiece, style, and notification functions. It could be possible you only want something that tracks your fitness, that’s where Fitbit’s market is. If you just want to know the time and/or date, that’s where a traditional timepiece fits in. To get those two features and more, the Apple Watch hits that market perfectly. While not a huge market, it will continue to grow over time and I’m sure the technology advances will bring more people in. The Apple Watch is a great stylish timepiece that every iPhone user needs. BB