The last smartwatch that I owned was the Sony Smartwatch 3. It was a decent watch despite it being a bit oversized and totally useless on iOS. Having been an iPhone user since the original iPhone, it is surprising that I haven’t jumped on the Apple Watch bandwagon yet. True, the original Apple Watch was prohibitively expensive but using an iPhone in conjunction with an Apple Watch would be a match made in heaven with all its features complementing each other. And then the elephant in the room. No GPS. For a RM1,749 smartwatch (during launch), not having built-in GPS is totally unacceptable. How do you suppose I track my runs outdoors? Bring along my iPhone? That kinda defeats the purpose for having a smartwatch. I’d be better off getting a Garmin or FitBit.
Then came along Apple Watch Series 2. Officially certified waterproof, better battery life and most of all GPS-enabled. Those by themselves are already quite tempting and then they collaborated with Nike to bring to you the Apple Watch Nike+. Needless to say, I’m sold. During launch day morning, I was amongst the first to queue at a local Apple authorised reseller. I had my eye on the black & ‘volt’ green 42mm version of the Apple Watch Nike+ but unfortunately they don’t have any in stock at that particular store near Low Yat Plaza. So I went to another one in KLCC and the Pavillion and then Mid Valley, no luck. By then it became apparent to me that they’re not selling the black/volt green Apple Watch Nike+ at any of the local stores. In the end I had to order one from their online store. Sure I had to wait another 5 days for that one to arrive but since I’m spending a fortune on a watch, I better get the colour that I want.
5 days later I’m the proud owner of a black/volt green Apple Watch Nike+ smartwatch. Like the previous versions, it came in a long rectangular box. Unlike the previous versions and other Apple Watches versions however, the box is black instead of white. First impression, I’m loving the soft, smooth silicon straps. It feels a bit like my old Pebble but better. And unlike the Sony Smartwatch 3, it really feels comfortable on my wrist, even when I’m sweating it out on the road or in the gym. The 42mm body with space grey aluminum casing also feels just about right, not too big or too small although I wished it could be thinner. If you’re a guy, you definitely don’t want to get the 38mm version which would look tiny on your wrist. One of the main differences of the Apple Watch Nike+ watch is the exclusive Nike+ volt green watchfaces and complications (items on your watchface such as date, weather, battery life, etc). You don’t get those on the regular Series 2 Apple Watches. I like how you can fire up the Nike+ Run Club app straight from the watch face. Other than that, the Nike+ Apple Watch has all the same features as the regular Series 2 Apple Watches.
Setting up and syncing the Apple Watch for the first time is straightforward enough, you just follow the on screen instruction in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and after a few (okay maybe 10) minutes it’s done. There’s tons of watchfaces to choose from from the specialized Apple Watch App Store although I usually use the preloaded Nike+ watchfaces. And compared to Android Wear, there’s definitely a lot more quality and useful apps on the Apple Watch App Store compared to the former. Android users, sorry to say so far there’s no way to use the Apple Watch with Android phones and I don’t think there’ll ever be.
So how does it fares in every day use? Like I said before if you’re an iPhone user, the Apple Watch is the perfect smartwatch to complement your phone. Every notification is instant and seamless. You can make and answer calls, scribble messages and use tons of Apple Watch ready apps on it. Of course there’s a little bit of learning curve for first time users. Swiping down on the screen shows you the latest notifications and you can tap on a specific to reply or dismiss it. Swiping up brings you the control center where you can access some of the most used settings such as airplane mode, silent mode and also eject water from the watch. Swiping left and right however changes the screen to a different watchface design which feels a bit weird at first especially if you’re coming from Android Wear. To actually access the apps with the trademark circular icons, you need to press the digital crown once or by pressing the side button to access the dock where you keep a list of app shortcuts similar to the Mac and iOS. You can use the digital crown to scroll within an app aside from scrolling by swiping up and down on the screen. Then there’s Force Touch which is available in only certain apps which supports it. For example and can force (long) press on the Twitter app to compose a new Tweet, on the Message app to send a new message and so on. It’s a bit confusing at first but you’ll get used to it soon enough with regular use.
In a way Apple made the right move by not including any virtual qwerty keyboard or even worse, the awful numeric keypad like Android Wear for typing on the screen. Scribbling individual letters could be a chore but if you really need to reply something pronto it proved to be quite useful. You can always insert canned response to the list of replies by the way from the Apple Watch app on your phone. I’ve made a list of frequently used response myself and they have become quite handy. Despite a proliferation of apps for the Apple Watch, there’s only a handful that I regularly use. Messages and Whatsapp for obvious reason. Then there’s the phone app. I love how I can receive or make calls from the watch. I use Nike+ Run Club often to track my runs and see how far and long I’ve gone. I can control the currently playing music or video on my iPhone from the watch. Using social media apps on the other hand is not as pleasant as it is on the bigger phone’s screen. The screen is evidently smaller and you don’t want to scroll through your timeline on that tiny screen. In this scenario it’s miles better to quickly fish out your phone instead. Obviously, there are certain things you’d be better off doing with your phones instead of the watch especially if it involves reading a lot of texts.
The Apple Watch is already known to be splash-resistant from Series 1 but they only made it officially water-resistant up to 50 meters for Series 2. The watch works great outdoors, the GPS starts pretty much instantly and the tracking is quite accurate too. The workout out is truly useful for you health junkies out there (or if you’re just starting out). You can choose to track nearly a dozen workouts from running, cycling (both indoor and outdoor), elliptical, rower and stair-stepper machines to pool swimming and open water swimming. If you’ve been skimping and procrastinating on your exercise, this watch is a good excuse/motivation to start doing it seriously. The heart-rate monitor app works great too although you need to have a basic understanding of what a normal resting heart rate is whether that heart-rate during or after an strenuous is normal or otherwise. Cause you know an app like the heart-rate monitor is only as useful if you know how to decipher the readings.
|The annoying breathe and stand up reminders|
Final verdict, if you’re an iPhone user and looking for your first smartwatch, the Apple Watch is a no-brainer. You can get the Apple Watch for as low as RM899 now for the Series 1 (first gen) version although I wouldn’t really recommend that because the battery doesn’t last half as long as the newer Series 2 version. My wife is using the first gen Apple Watch and they barely last her 9 to 5 office hours. And if you’re getting Series 2, there’s the option between the regular Series 2 Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Nike+ version. It’s a matter of preference really because apart from the Nike+ branding and watchface, everything else is exactly the same. The Series 2 starts from RM1,649 for the 38mm size and more depending on the band type. The leather, stainless steel and Hermes bands would set you back from a few hundred to a thousand ringgits more. You can easily swap the bands though. You can always get a different one from the official source or buy one from the many third party and cottage industries of band makers in the market. If you ask me, I would get the Nike+ Apple Watch because of the special Nike+ bands and branding. If you’re bored of them you can always get a different one later.
Personally, I find the Apple Watch to be the perfect fit for me. In a way all my previous smartwatches from the archaic Samsung Galaxy Gear to the Pebble and finally Android Wear is a journey of discovery until I finally found the ultimate smartwatch to compliment my iPhone which is the Apple Watch. The Moto 360 came pretty close to be my favourite smartwatch with its classic round design and I wish Apple had made a similar round Apple Watch too but until they do, the current Apple Watch would be good enough. Apart from being a particularly useful gadget on your wrist, the Apple Watch is also a statement where the owner got good taste in design and life. Price wise, it’s not much different from the latest Android Wear smartwatches out there so you might as well get the best there is.