Product Reviews

The Ultimate Apple Watch Review – Smartwatch 2015

Durability – Having to charge the Apple Watch every night is annoying

In terms of durability, one of the worst part about the Apple Watch is the battery life. On average, we’d would get 1 waking days worth which means that you lose the opportunity to track your sleep unless you spend a couple hours during the day (which is probably when you need it the most) to charge the device.

Sleep tracking is one of the most important things to us and we were really hoping that the Apple Watch would replace the Fitbit and sleep app that we’ve been using so far. Not a deal breaker but still something worth noting.

But then again, who actually wears a watch to sleep?

With all the griping about the battery, if the battery gets too low, there is a “power reserve” feature which means that the Apple Watch will just become a watch and nothing more until you are able to charge it.

Charging it is simple as you use the wireless charging puck which is pretty fun. However, leave it to Apple make the wireless charging puck some other charging frequency other than the Qi wireless charging standard as the wireless puck doesn’t charge Qi enabled devices and the Apple watch isn’t compatible with other Qi chargers. With that being said, the chargers between the Moto360 and Apple Watch are interchangeable so maybe there’s a different standard for smartwatches. This was something that was brought to our attention by one of our viewers on our YouTube version or our Apple Watch review.

In terms of scratch resistance, our Apple Watch Sport comes with Ion X glass which held up ok to keys, coins and knives. The scratch on our Apple Watch came from rubbing it against a wall which was a little disappointing. In terms of water protection, the Apple Watch isn’t waterproof but from some of the other videos that we’ve seen, it seems pretty good in water.Apple Watch Review - Scratch Resistance

In our review video, we ran the Apple Watch several times under the tap with no adverse effect so the occasional accident with the Apple Watch isn’t going to be a problem.


Functionality – It does make your life a little better

In terms of functionality, this is where the Apple Watch shines. It does a lot more than other smartwatches which is probably one of the reasons why its so much more expensive than others.

The only way to manage the Apple Watch is through the iOS app on your iPhone. iPads don’t work and neither will desktops. We initially thought this was going to be silly but the Apple Watch relies heavily on the sensors found on the iPhone in order to fully function. Because of this reliance, the Apple Watch is definitely just an extension of your iPhone and by itself, isn’t terribly useful but still has more functionality than a standalone Android Wear device.

Apple Watch Review - AppsOne of the biggest strengths of the Apple Watch are all the potential the 3rd Party Apps that you can install. The Apple Watch (at the time of writing) has only been out for a month and we’ll be honest with you the majority of the apps aren’t great. Most app publishers are treating the Apple Watch as a 2nd screen and haven’t really imagined how the device can improve their apps.

For example, apps that require time to scroll through, like Instagram and Flipboard are uncomfortable to use on the Apple Watch as holding your arm in a position where you can read/scroll through the app is uncomfortable. The Apple Watch is built for quick glances, not long reads in our opinion.

In terms of handling, the Apple Watch feels the best out of our selection of Smart Watches. The response is quick and smooth and doesn’t feel forced. Other watches like the Moto360 seem a tad slow and the touchscreen is integrated fairly well unlike the Fitbit Surge where it seems more like a gimmick.

One of the things we discovered while our testing period for our Apple Watch review was that we had to touch the screen a little differently than an iPhone or iPad. We found that our normal iPhone/iPad tapping was too hard for the Apple watch as it would would activate the harder press on Force Touch. The screen responds well to very light, quick taps rather then heavy taps. Heavier taps will be sensed by Force Touch, which despite being touted as an incredibly technology by Apple, is barely noticeable because you’re only using it in a couple of places on the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Review - ButtonsIn terms of viewability, the Apple Watch works well in all light conditions but there’s something annoying that we had to get over, especially when compared to a normal watch. First, the Apple Watch generally knows when you’re looking at it so if you’re sitting at a computer with the watch facing away from you, the screen is off. Turning and bringing your hand up slightly will turn the screen on but there’s a split second delay. If you’re going from a traditional watch to the Apple Watch (or the Pebble Classic and Fitbit Surge) you’re going to notice this delay. As you can see in our review video, the delay on the Moto360 is much more noticeable than the Apple Watch.

The digital crown works well and is actually useful, especially when compared to other smartwatches like the Moto360 where the one button is quite useless. The button that we used the least was the power button/friend wheel. While writing this review, the only useful thing that we felt the friend wheel could be use for would be to play “Drunken Wheel of Texting” where you get liquored, think of something inappropriate, spin the well for a couple of seconds and whoever it lands on, you have to text them that inappropriate thing.

So with all those nice buttons, how is the UI? It’s awesome. Unlike other smartwatches by Pebble, Fitbit and Android Wear, the Apple Watch has depth. All the other devices have a really 2-dimensional UI whereas the Apple Watch has layers. The easiest way to explain this is to compare the Apple Watch to a toolbox where you have to dive in to get what you need. With the other devices, you are constantly scrolling and swiping to get what you want which isn’t the case for the Apple Watch.Apple Watch Review - Digital Crown

Notifications are easier to deal with on the Apple Watch than the Moto360 as we found that the Android Wear notifications on the Moto360 are a little too intrusive as the notification fills up a lot of space on the watch face. On the Apple Watch, after the initial notification, the information gets tucked up into the notification area rather then being in your face, all the time.

The one thing we did like about the notifications on the Moto360 was the ability to open the corresponding app on our Android phone. This feature, in our opinion, is a must have as you’re not going to be doing anything of substance on the watch so being able to say “Yes, this notification needs to be looked at right now” just works well in my opinion. Handoff on the Apple Watch is suppose to be the equivalent but we haven’t found any 3rd Party Apps that use that feature.Apple Watch Review - Glances

What do you do when you look at your watch? You glance at it! Glances is another one of those things that adds a bit of depth to your Apple Watch as it allows you to add whatever Glance-enabled app to your Apple Watch. Glances are essentially little snippets of app that you feel are worth being able to access quicker.

Now the last thing we’ll mention about notifications is the taptic feedback of the watch. One of the things that we like the most about the Apple Watch is the physical notification. Unlike other devices where it just shakes on your wrist, the Apple Watch makes the feedback a little more bearable to deal with. Its hard to describe but its more like a light gentle tap whereas most other devices make it feel like somebody is jabbing you in the side with their thumb.

The amount of customizing is still a bit limited on the Apple Watch and we only say this because there is almost no way for us to brand the Apple Watch as a Mobile Reviews Eh! watch. We’ve got my fancy logo wallpaper on all of our devices but there’s no way to use a custom image on the watchface. However, there are several watch faces that you can choose from and we found the Modular watch face being the most useful for us.

In terms of physical sensors, this is where we’re slightly disappointed with the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch is basically a companion device for your iPhone so you do get the benefit of all the sensors on your iPhone but without it, your Apple watch gets hamstrung a bit. There isn’t a GPS with the watch so if you’re into running with a iPhone 6 Plus in your pocket, you’re not going to be able to see where you’ve gone. There is an accelerometer that captures your body movement and according to Apple, calculates the calories based on the body movement.

Apple Watch Review - Heart SensorThe Heartrate monitor on the Apple Watch isn’t as in your face as the ones on the Fitbit Surge. Both use infrared lights to track the amount of blood under your skin but in a non-workout situation, the Apple Watch takes a reading every 10 minutes whereas the Fitbit Surge will be on all the time. The Heartrate monitor doesn’t leave a sticky red mark on your skin which is something we can’t say about any of the Fitbit devices. However, if you tell the Apple Watch that you’re doing a bit of sweating, the Heart Rate goes continuously until you tell it to stop which puts a big drain on the battery.

In terms of accuracy, we found the Apple Watch heart rate monitor being more accurate than the ones found on the Fitbit.

In terms of practicality, we found that despite being just an extension of my iPhone, the Apple Watch did make my life easier and better. There’s a lot of potential with these devices but we’re going to touch on 5 things that have made an impact on our life in terms of practicality.

  1. The first one is being able to take calls from our iPhones. This is more of a novel idea but being able to decide how to take a call means that you don’t have to take out your phone if all you have to do is to have a quick conversation. Also, speaking to your wrist makes us feel like James Bond because, seriously, watch phone? Awesome.Apple Watch Review - Wrist calls
  2. Navigating with Maps on the Apple Watch is awesome but that means you have to use Apple Maps. Your directions come up at the most opportune times and then disappears so it still lets you focus on driving. There are different types of taps for left and right which is something navigation on the Moto360 doesn’t have. When it re-routes, the Apple Watch ends up giving your a disappointing notifications. Navigating with the Apple Watch is one of the most pleasant surprises for us.
  3. The out of the box activity monitoring is nice as the display is a good snapshot of how you’re doing in terms of activity levels. A lot of the other fitness apps have a heavy number-based UI which doesn’t really mean much to most people. The graphical interface is just easier to understand so for people who couldn’t care less the exact number of calories and steps that you’re taking get the Apple Watch over something a little more technical like the Fitbit Surge.
  4. Taking photos is a better now with the Apple watch as you can use it as a remote. This isn’t a huge deal to me but I think its worth noting because it means you get to use the better iPhone camera for selfies rather than the crappy front camera. We’d be over the hill of this feature if it allowed you to start video recording but it doesn’t.Apple Watch Review - Remote Photo
  5. The last thing that we’ve begun to use more deals with Siri. Using Siri on the watch is much more bearable than using Siri on the iPhone because you don’t have to hear Siri talk back. Its funny because it’s the same Siri as the one on the iPhone but having it be muted is so much better. And its a little less awkward in public spaces where you don’t really need to have Siri tell you what she’s found.

Now between the Apple Watch and Fitbit Surge, the biggest question you have to ask yourself is: How active are you? We’d go with the Fitbit Surge if we were massive Fitness buffs as the it really focuses on physical activities. You won’t be distracted by other things other than simple phone and text notification. Despite being a little less accurate the Apple Watch in terms of peak heart rates during intervals, the continuous heart rate monitoring will definitely give you the best outlook on your heart health.

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  1. Ian

    July 1, 2015 at 4:54 am

    Any recommendations on a screen protector for the Apple watch? The Zagg is the only one I have seen in a store, and was curious if you have tried either it or any others. I don’t want to scratch mine too 😉

  2. Cameron

    February 2, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    How much pressure can the apple watch take? I wear mine to school and I’m afraid that is going to get broken. I slightly hit it against things sometimes and my friends hit my wrist sometimes. My apple watch seems to be fine and there are no scratches or dents that I can see. I just get worried sometimes. Right now I have a griffin bumper case on it. Please respond.

    • Aaron Ho

      February 3, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Its pretty tough. I bang mine against walls all the time.

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