It’s time: Apple’s Watch reviewed

Smartwatches have been out for around a year, but Apple’s take on the topic is brand new. Can Apple take the crown from Google before the area really heats up?

Features

Rumoured for such a long time, Apple’s take on the wristwatch is finally here, delivering a first-generation product with a heap of hype and a hope that it promises to be the gadget to take the smartwatch crown.

Three variants of the Apple Watch have been created in two distinct sizes, though all are technically the same with the exception of display size and casing material.

Display sizes differ due to customers preferring a smaller watch (38mm) or a larger one (42mm), with the sizes measured along the height. Each display supports a slightly different resolution, with 272×340 on the 38mm model (displaying 290 pixels per inch) and 312×390 on the 42mm Apple Watch (showing 302 pixels per inch).

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Casing material varies based on model choice, too, with the Watch Sport made from aluminium with a plastic back and Ion-X hardened glass front, while the Watch and Watch Edition are made from stainless steel and gold respectively, with both featuring a ceramic back and sapphire crystal front glass.

But beyond these bits, the watches are all technically the same, with the Apple S1 processor inside, 8GB storage, support for 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, a speaker, microphone, ambient light sensor, heart rate sensor, motion sensors, and a Force Touch mechanism under the display with a vibrating mechanism Apple calls “Taptic”.

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Two buttons are included on the watch, with the bottom button for showing friends, while the main button sits inside the digital crown, with this mechanism also supporting rotations, which will let you go up and down on screen, or zoom in and out.

Water-resistance is included in the watch, rated for IPX7 certification.

A charging cable is included with every Apple Watch, relying on a wireless inductive charging accessory that plugs into USB and magnetically snaps to the back of the Apple Watch.

Several bands are made for the Apple Watch, with these catering to silicone, leather, and metal.

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Performance

If there’s one product that has perhaps been more hyped than any other this year, it’s the Apple Watch.

Rumoured for so long and now finally delivered, the Apple Watch is seen by many to be the first smartwatch, because it’s the first one made by Apple.

That’s a little like what happened with the digital music player and the smartphone, because while there were MP3 players that predated the iPod and smartphones that came before the iPhone, it wasn’t until Apple came along and truly cemented its products as idea leaders that people stood up and took notice.

The same might be true of the smartwatch category, an area Samsung, LG, Motorola, Sony, and Pebble have been in for a while, among others we’re sure we’ve missed, because now Apple is here to show the smartwatch is alive, well, and ready for use on people’s wrists.

Is this the smartwatch for all to admire?

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Take it out of the box and depending on the version you’ve decided on, you’ll find a piece of black glass staring back at you, on a bed of metal of some sort.

Our review model was the stainless steel variant — the mid range $1000 option — and it arrives with a sleek polished silver look reminiscent of a silver Skagen stainless steel watch we normally wear.

That look is something we’ve yet to see out of an Android Wear watch, and while we quite liked the LG G Watch R and Motorola’s 360, Apple has some how managed to capture the look and feel of a proper fashionable watch, and it feels good, too.

The band is particularly interesting, the Milanese loop reminding us again of the metal band the regular watch relies on, though with an Apple twist on the clasp, relying on magnets to tighten it to your wrist. It’s easy to setup and quite comfortable, and while the watch isn’t the lightest we’ve felt, it’s very easy for your wrist to get used to the size.

Switch the watch on and you’ll be asked to connect it to a phone, and being an Apple product, you shouldn’t be surprised that there is one main requirement for the Apple Watch, and that’s owning an Apple phone, and a recent one at that.

If you’re an Android owner, you are unfortunately out of luck, as the Apple Watch will only work with a recent iPhone, compatible with the iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6, or 6 Plus, and needing iOS 8.2 or later.

If you have an iPhone 4 or 4S and want the Watch, it’s time to update. Conversely, if you own an iPhone 5C and haven’t updated to the latest operating system, it’s time to do that, too.

It’s not even something an iPad can fill, and if you think you’re fooling the Watch, you’re not. It’s an iPhone or nothing if you want to get the Watch to work in your life.

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