Apple Watch Review

Interface and Functionality

Embodying the foundational qualities of iOS, the interface very much mimics the operation of its smartphone counterpart – simplicity is delivered with great pride.

Running a variation of Apple’s iOS, the Apple Watch dives right in with a comprehensive user interface that’s powerful right from the onset . Okay, to a certain degree, even veteran iPhone users will still need some adjustment getting used to the software, but it’s something that can be achieved in about a day. For those unfamiliar with iOS, obviously, the experience might seem a little bit overwhelming – more so when interacting with the UI can sometimes be done in multiple ways (digital crown, touch, and voice).

Simplicity, that’s the core foundation of Apple’s experiences – whether it’s the Apple TV or the iPhone, having a simplified experience is what they’re always after. Pressing either of the physical buttons on the Apple Watch, or rotating our wrist so that we see the display, the first thing we’re greeted to is the watch face homescreen, which of course, can be changed and customized to fit your liking. From conventional ones that merely show the time, to utility centric ones that provide weather and calendar information, and even the animation style of Mickey’s tapping foot, there’s a decent amount of options to choose from.

Pressing on the digital crown from within the clock face homescreen transports us into the apps tray, which resembles an almost honeycomb-like layout. Of course, moving around can be done by swiping on the screen – while rotating the digital crown allows us to zoom in/out for a more precise look at the collection of apps. As we’ve said previously, pressing on the digital crown also acts as the back function, but a long press gets us access to Siri.

Siri


Yes, we can long press at any time to get Siri’s attention, but she can also be summoned by speaking “hey Siri” at any time when the screen is on – it won’t work if it’s locked or the screen is off. Just like what we get from Siri on the iPhone, we’re able to accomplish a handful of tasks. From asking what’s the weather condition, getting directions to a destination, and even answering trivia questions, Siri works rather well in being a useful personal digital assistant on our wrist – though, she doesn’t speak, so it’s more about the visuals here.

Glances


Swiping up from the clock face homescreen reveals a feature called Glances. As its name implies, they’re best described as a collection of mini apps/widgets that are arranged in a carousel. The important ones like the connectivity options, battery capacity, and fitness overview are there from the start, but in addition to them, we can set it up to show third party apps. Specifically, we can set the Twitter app to show recent tweets from friends – or go between radio stations with Pandora. Now, as much as we appreciate these Glances, it would’ve been more beneficial if they were accessible at any time – not just from the watch style homescreen.

Notifications


Not surprisingly, the notifications system follows the same procedure as other mobile devices – where they pop in as they arrive. However, if we want to access them afterwards, they can only be seen by swiping down from the homescreen. Indeed, this implementation is discrete, but it’s also deep as well, because for most of them, we can make actionable choices – like replying to text messages. When multiple notifications arrive, however, it becomes a bit overwhelming because there’s no way to clear all of them simultaneously.

Organizer


Almost every smartwatch is capable of handling all organizer functions, so it’s no surprise that the Apple Watch can do the same. Whether it’s the calendar, stock, or timer apps, they all function in the manner we expect – though, it’s just a matter of getting adjusted to interacting with them through such a tiny-sized screen.

Using the Phone app, we can use the Apple Watch to get in touch with our contacts through other unconventional means. With the aid of the Apple Watch’s Digital Touch feature, we can send finger paintings, taps, and an animated emoji to other people in our phonebook that are using an Apple Watch too. Even better, for that personal touch, we can send our heartbeat to them – where the Taptic Engine inside of the watch, a linear actuator, delivers a human touch of providing haptic feedback. It’s cool, though with relatively limited use.

Messaging


No folks, you’re not going to text by typing using the tips of your fingers on some sort of on-screen keyboard – that’s just not practical, of course. Instead, when it comes to replying or composing messages, the Apple Watch provides some common phrases and emojis to choose from, but the best result is relying on Siri to compose the message for us. In our experience, the dictation is pretty spot on!

Alternatively, there’s the mail app that displays all our emails in one universal inbox. Unfortunately, it can’t be broken down or separated into their individual accounts – nor is there a way to respond or reply, so you’ll need to do all of that through your iPhone.

Apple Pay


Slowly and steadily, we’re seeing many more retailers offering Apple Pay as a form of payment. And of course, the Apple Watch aims to streamline the process of paying for goods and services even easier. Looking through the apps tray, there’s an icon for Passbook, which not only allows us to access the existing set of cards in our catalog, like the Starbucks one that displays our scannable membership number, but also the credit card we’d like to use for payment. Well, it needs to be set up again, even if it’s activated and working on our iPhone.

Health and Fitness


In addition to being a versatile companion that offers us some of the basic functions of our iPhone, the Apple Watch is also a motivator with its health and fitness services. First, let’s talk about the Activity App, which is also a separate app that’s installed on our iPhone apart from the standard Apple Watch app. Talk about simplicity again! The Activity app is a simple and effective tool that visualizes our activity through the day by representing data through the ‘move’ ring. Gathering the data from the Apple Watch’s sensors, it’s able to tell us how frequently we’re moving, the amount of time spent on exercising, and the total time we’ve spent standing up.

It’s really ingenious, as the Move Ring visualizes our progress, but the data s further dissected by swiping down to see the information represented in a graph bar. Better yet, there’s a motivational aspect where various achievements can be unlocked based on our progress. And finally, too, if we’re not moving as much as the Apple Watch would like us to be, it’ll nudge us with a notification to stand up and move.

Aside from the Activity app, there’s a dedicated Workout app too that’s recommended for the more physically active user. With it, we can select what particular type of workout we’re going to be doing, whether it’s an indoor or outdoor run, so it can be set in the proper mode to achieve the best and most accurate measurements – like our distance covered, pace, amount of calories burned, and heart rate levels. Honestly, though, we find it to be a bit basic in its current iteration, but we imagine that it’ll be expanded more down the road. It’s no Fitbit app yet, but it’s a starting point nonetheless.

Processor and Memory

From swipes, taps, presses, opening apps, and much more, it’s nice to see that fluid performance that we all experience with Apple’s products.

Dealing with a finite amount of precious real-estate, the Apple S1 chip is touted by the company as an engineering marvel due to the fact that they’re able to put an entire computer system into a such a small chip – that consists of the memory, storage, application processor, wireless radios, and sensors.

Superficially, the Apple Watch performs much like the gamut of Apple’s device portfolio – buttery smooth with simple operations. There’s no arguing about its smoothness navigating and running apps, but we’ve experienced, on a handful of occasions, just a little bit of delay. It’s not bad to the point of stopping us dead in our tracks, but still noticeable enough to the eye. In comparing it with some Android Wear watches, we’ll certainly say it exhibits a similar performance to some of the more notable, high-end models.

Billed as having 8GB of internal storage, that tally translates to 6.2GB out of the box – where up to 2GB of it can be allocated to music, while another 75MB can be put aside for photos.

Internet and Connectivity


Sorry folks, as much as some users may like to surf the web on the Apple Watch, it’s not something that it offers. Well, that makes perfect sense to us, mainly because it’d be a nightmare trying to navigate web pages on such a tiny screen.

Since this is an extension for the iPhone, rather than being a dedicated thing like the Samsung Gear S or upcoming LG Urbane LTE, the Apple Watch needs to be tethered to an iPhone to gain its full usability. While it does have Wi-Fi support, the Apple Watch relies on its Bluetooth 4.0 LE connection as its primary means of connectivity to our iPhone. Therefore, not only are we able to receive text messages through the Apple Watch, but we can also handle phone calls too. From what we’ve experienced, the connection is maintained up to as much as 30 feet before being severed.

FEATURED VIDEO

64 Comments

1. osbert

Posts: 125; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

so... meh

12. dirtydirty00

Posts: 428; Member since: Jan 21, 2011

please stop using the word 'retina'... i tune out the rest of the words once i see this word. by retina 'standards' my 1955 panasonic tv is almost up to snuff. its a useless coined apple phrase that sounds as dumb as it is.

14. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

It is all about the branding with Apple and it works too since no one in the AppleFandom knows what any of the terms actually stand for. For example, they keep calling the bands fluoroelastomer bands instead of colorful rubber. They called the iPhone 5c casing polycarbonate instead of plastic. For Samsung et al. they will call it by its generic name to discredit it. Oh well, what can you do, the Apple ban hammer is feared by all media outlets.

17. IT-Engineer

Posts: 584; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

As soon as i read John V is the reviewer, didn't want to continue reading, this guy doesn't write neutral reviews as a reviewer should, if it is apple product then it is good enough for him.

18. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Right? Like when he rated the Galaxy S 6 higher than the iPhone 6, and when he rated the G4 higher than the iPhone 6 before all the Samsung fans complained that it was too high...

28. IT-Engineer

Posts: 584; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

Im not a Samsung fan or any brand fan, i buy what fulfills my needs.

50. epdm2be

Posts: 830; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

... and that is nowadays becoming a problem. Because NONE of the current smartphones, no matter how powerful they are or how big their screen resolution or screen-sizes are, fulfills my need. The odd thing is that my needs aren't that extravagant at all. They just include some things that I have become accustomed to with the great feature-phones of years past. And that I EXPECT that a new device should do ALL the things the older one does but BETTER and perhaps even more! But all I see around me are compromises :-(

55. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Haaaaaave you tried Windows Phone?

24. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Apple makes some of the best products. Don't buy them if you don't like them.

29. IT-Engineer

Posts: 584; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

I already told you before, stop being biased, in every article you always say apple's product is better, just like this one. I don't like the cheap antennas in apple products, but i like their Sandboxing for the apps even though IOS lacks behind android, but that is the price one has to say for over simplicity.I hated samsung plastic, and so on, be OPEN minded.

37. ohplease

Posts: 40; Member since: May 12, 2015

While Apple makes really good products, I can't say they are the best, nothing is the best for everyone. And never forget about personal preference please.

40. osbert

Posts: 125; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

I didn't.

63. Simona unregistered

u see and ppl eating it to them bcos they ar stupid they know how to shepherd

64. Simona unregistered

2. gaming64 unregistered

Fair review. 8 is what the Watch deserves. The recipe lacks some ingredients. Hope the 2nd gen Apple Watch would be better.

3. bucky

Posts: 3797; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

exactly what im thinking.

4. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Even the verge gave it a 7. The applelove is strong in phonearena. So dissapointing. It's slow it doesn't stay on it has no standalone apps...

5. gaming64 unregistered

Lel the Verge is also Apple biased.

7. SamDH1

Posts: 419; Member since: Apr 21, 2015

Exactly. He's saying even the Verge scored it lower than standard.

6. SamDH1

Posts: 419; Member since: Apr 21, 2015

I was hoping someone said about the Verge, haha. Plus devs can't even make their own watch faces, the battery life doesn't come close to Android Wear anymore, the design of the watch itself is still questionable... Off topic a little. Has anyone noticed two day battery life with the recent updates? I'm getting two and a half - three days now on my LG G Watch, which is weird but wonderful.

11. SamDH1

Posts: 419; Member since: Apr 21, 2015

http://imgur.com/Wpf4YFJ Just some proof, it's delightul!

34. SamDH1

Posts: 419; Member since: Apr 21, 2015

ALSO. To beat this dead horse a little bit more. The Apple Watch messaging features only works with the buggy iMessage, it doesn't work with Whatsapp and FB. Plus the Maps feature has been iffy when walking, it takes you on the same route as cars, when you can only use the Watch while walking, I witnessed this one and we walked in the one route direction of the road instead of just turning around. I just don't understand how this is on par with the Android Wear watches, when all of this works, plus more. I can't think of anything that isn't good about Wear, besides not talking calls which is pretty awesome when you're working. Fair enough this is Apple users only choice, but it is a terrible choice if everyone could buy anyone. Anyway, enough ranting :P (I'm forwarding these problems from my mate who had the Watch, he's returned it already before it was too late)

26. Feanor

Posts: 1429; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

But at least Phonearena gave (correctly) a slightly higher note to the G Watch R. This is rather fair. Other reviewers, after complaining about pretty much everything on a Watch, they named it somehow magically the top smartwatch (looking at you Techradar).

8. maherk

Posts: 7054; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

As much i hate to admit it, and contrary to my initial thoughts on the Apple watch, i do believe it is the best smartwatch on the market atm. I still think it should've been cheaper, with better battery life and simpler UI like what iOS is on iPhones.

19. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

There is no need to hate anything :) Respect for having balls to admit that your opinion change after testing, most people here even if they liked this Watch they wouldn't admit, ininstead they would just bash Apple for some stupid reasons.

22. xperian

Posts: 421; Member since: Apr 10, 2014

It may be the best smartwatch, but still not worth 8

9. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

I guess 8 is fair seems the apple watch offers one or two things most smartwatchs don't have.

27. Feanor

Posts: 1429; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

It also doesn't offer many things that other smartwatches do, though... Like Google Now predictive notifications, flick to scroll, always on display, downloadable watchfaces etc...

35. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

yeah but its ios so what did you expect lol.

10. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

That flexing on the arm tho lol

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless