Hands on? Wrist on? Something on. I didn’t really know how to headline this one, but we’ve been playing with the Apple Watch today, and it’s an interesting experience.
Editor’s Note: Yes, the reviews are out internationally, but today is the first time Aussie consumers have had the chance to try on and pre-order their Apple Watch before tonight’s pre-order period, so we’re writing it anyway.
I’ll come back to why it’s interesting in a sec. First, the gadget itself.
First things first: it’s lighter and better designed than I thought it would be. I’ve said for a while that smartwatches have a style problem, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Apple Watch.
Both the 42mm and 38mm cases are small enough that they sit pleasantly on your wrist as opposed to bulging off it, and all of the bands have been engineered to sit flat underneath your wrist, meaning when you go to type the watch doesn’t get in the way.
We tried a series of different bands. There’s a leather band with magnets built into every ripple, meaning it closes comfortably around your wrist at every point rather than having holes punched through it; there’s a band with an invisible metal clasp that sits entirely flat on the underside of your wrist, and there’s also a Milanese loop where every single link has been intricately designed to form an elegant metal band. That last one also shuts itself with a magnet secreted in the band so it doesn’t go anywhere.
One thing I would recommend is going in store and checking the Watch out, simply because the different sizes look insanely different in real life as opposed to how they appear on Apple’s website.
You get a choice between 38mm and 42mm cases with both the Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition. On Apple’s site, the smaller 38mm model looks as big as the original Samsung Gear Live or LG G Watch, but in real life it’s petite! The 42mm watch looks like an iPhone 6 Plus by comparison online, but in real life it feels infinitely more manageable. It’s baffling.
Whichever case size you choose, you still get exactly the same specs and the same screen quality. The screen is insanely clear and displays apps like maps, messages and Siri beautifully. The Digital Crown allows you to scroll around on your Watch, and provides surprisingly little resistance when compared to a mechanical watch that requires a little more effort to turn.
The only thing I still don’t see the point of is the heartbeat functionality which allows you to share your beats with another Watch-toting friend, as well as cute little drawings you make on the face of the gadget. It’s a novelty that seems overhyped, but we’ll know more about it when we get one to review for a longer period of time.
For what it’s worth, we played with the Apple Watch Sport as well. The only real difference in the models is the weight as well as the bands available to purchase.
The Watch Sport comes with exclusively rubber bands in colours ranging from monochromatic black and white through to vibrant pink and blue. Despite the material being basically rubber (Apple calls it “fluoroelastomer”), it doesn’t feel cheap. Between the fancy anodised aluminium case, strong glass and “fluoroelastomer”, it feels like a quality smartwatch.
The most interesting thing about the Apple Watch isn’t the gadget itself, however. It’s how Apple wants you to purchase it. Here’s where a slight intensity comes in.
You can’t just saunter into an Apple Store and walk out with your fancy wrist computer. Instead, Apple would prefer you make an appointment to check it out in-store and then order the thing online.
It’s a little bit of a fuss, but Apple Store staff are doing everything they can to make customers feel like one percenters when they have their appointment. A leather lid is lifted from a rectangular case containing all the sexy Apple Watches you could want to try on, and then the customer is walked through the different models, their various features and the all-important bands.
The whole point of the process is to let you try the watch on, but the subtle side-affect is that you’ll be sucked into Apple’s beautifully numbing reality distortion field. It’s the siren call of pretty gadgets and flowery language that makes everyone leave an Apple Store appointment feeling “magical”.
A smartwatch isn’t for everyone, so to make sure the customer experience is preserved, Apple is giving customers the opportunity to see if it’s for them or not, and ultimately that’s a good idea. Keep the reality distortion field in mind when you sit down for your appointment though.
I went into the Apple Store this morning ready to be impressed by the Apple Watch. I’m not a watch wearer in any sense, but I am an iOS user for my daily driver (iPhone 6 Plus). I wasn’t lusting after it, but I had an open mind. Now that I’ve used it, realised how comfortable it is and how useful it could be in my daily life, I’m looking forward to using it more.
Stay tuned for our full review soon.