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Apple Watch Impressions!

Apple Watch at Shatter Buggy

We here at Shatter Buggy are on the bleeding edge of technology. We were also on the edges of our seats waiting for UPS to show up with our shiny new Apple Watch. While we were waiting, we occupied our time with Matt’s news appearance discussing the Apple Watch, as well as iFixit’s teardown video. After all the waiting we finally got our eager mitts on our Apple Watch. After a few days of non-stop use, here are our first impressions.

The Hardware

Apple Watch Space grey gray sportWe received the Space Grey Sport model of the collection. Aesthetically, our experiences have matched that of most reviewers. If you don’t mind square-ish watch faces, the Apple Watch is smooth, contoured and sleek in appearance. However if you’re a fan of circular watches, it may appear bulbous. The watch is different, but not ugly. It’s reminiscent of the original iPhone in shape. The sport band that we received is quite comfortable, and the ‘tuck-in’ design is ingenious.

Diving into the hardware, the digitizer is responsive and the OLED Retina display is gorgeous. The color and brightness are great, even in harsh lighting. However the watches’ “Retina” claim is sketchy in my opinion. From a distance of about 6”-8” I am able to discern pixels, after about 10” I lose that ability. Compared with the iPhone 6, I go cross-eyed at around 3” and I am still unable to discern the pixels. Moving onto the digital crown, the scrolling is one to one and very smooth. I expected the crown to tick as if you were adjusting the time in a mechanical watch, but the rotation is so smooth I would have guessed there was a well-oiled bearing in the mechanism.

Using the digital crown is a pleasure. Getting used to it is difficult. The idea behind the digital crown is that when scrolling on the digitizer with your finger, you’re covering up relevant information, however while scrolling or zooming with the digital crown, the entire screen is within your view. The habit to break is scrolling with your finger. After you retrain your mind, using the crown is a pleasant experience. The crown also acts as a home button to get to either the app screen or your watch face. If you hold the digital crown it manually activates Siri.

The Software

Apple Watch stainless steel sportYour main interface with the watch, besides touch and the digital crown is Siri. You can use Siri hands free by waking the watch and then saying ‘Hey, Siri…’ followed by your query. The microphone in the watch performs quite well, even in loud restaurants. The only time I had issue was while running in the wind. The wind in addition to my labored breathing created some interesting and inaccurate Siri results. This brings us to the fitness tracking metrics.

Working out with the Apple Watch is an absolute pleasure. Several other articles have done comparisons on the Apple Watches’ accuracy when it comes to heart rate detection, distance tracking and caloric burn. The Apple Watch was either comparable or out-performing in most of these tests, and when the device is solo, i.e. without it’s iPhone companion, the results were still quite impressive. Setting up and using the fitness and activity apps is a breeze, and while working out, a quick glance at your watch brings up relevant information for your workout, including total calories burned, average heart rate and total distance/time. Honestly, the fitness tracking is my favorite part of the watch. It is accurate, enjoyable and motivating.

Lastly, we have the watches achilles heel. Apps. First-party Apple apps work great. They are a bit slow in the uptake of information from the phone, meaning you get a lot of loading screens. This is especially true of anything location based. The big issue is third-party apps tend to drag. I love Yelp, but when using it on the Apple Watch, the process can be so laborious, I would almost rather use my phone. This is of no fault to Yelp either. As of now, the only native apps, meaning apps running on the watch itself, are first party Apple apps. Third party apps all run over the air on the phone. Supposedly there is an update down the pipe that will allow third party apps on the watch, which should help load time significantly.

Apple Watch Siri

Impressions

For a first generation launch, this product did very well and continues to impress. The big question is, is it a necessary purchase? Not really. If you’ve used smartwatches before, or think you have a specific case where a smart watch would benefit you, do some research, and try on the product at the Apple store, then make a decision. Otherwise, this product is not necessary for most people. Additionally, I would only recommend getting the sport model at $400. The stainless steel models are far to expensive to justify the utility of the watch, and the edition models are just outrageous. This technology will by usurped in 2-3 years. Spending more than $400 on such a product is foolish in my opinion. Based on iFixit’s teardown of the Apple Watch, the internals would be very difficult to swap out as well. The idea floating around of keeping your gold edition body and simply swapping the internals is probably false.

Now for the most important question left unanswered, can Shatter Buggy repair the Apple Watch if you shatter it?!?! Currently, no… but the watch itself is fairly repairable, and if the digitizer becomes available to us in the future, there is no reason why we couldn’t repair the Apple Watch. Hopefully no one breaks theirs between now and then. Fingers crossed.

-Daniel

-Shatter Buggy, Denver

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