Apple Watch Review

Camera

The Apple Watch acts as your iPhone’s viewfinder, so that shots can be framed perfectly.

Looking into the apps tray, there’s obviously an icon with a camera on it – yet, there’s no physical camera on the Apple Watch itself. Well folks, the Apple Watch merely acts as a remote shutter for your iPhone’s camera. Not only do we see the viewfinder through the Apple Watch, but we can take a snapshot at a moment’s notice by pressing on the corresponding button on-screen. It’s not something new, as many Android Wear watches offer this too, but it’s nice that touch focus and burst mode controls are offered.

Naturally, we can achieve some slick compositions with the help of the Apple Watch – like better selfies, just because that enables us to use the rear camera for the occasion. Once a snapshot is taken, it’s transferred and then accessible through the iPhone’s photo gallery app.

Multimedia


After choosing what folder in your iPhone you want to associate with the Photos App on the Apple Watch, content will start to appear in your standard grid-like layout. At first, it might be tough trying to discern them, but using the digital crown to smoothly zoom allows us to better visualize them. Viewing and zooming are basically the extent of the app’s function, so don’t expect to be doing any sharing.

If you happen to own an Apple TV, you can make good use out of the Apple Watch’s remote app. Either that, or go to your computer that’s running iTunes and associate it with that too – so you can control what’s playing in your library or iTunes Radio.

With the Music app, however, it not only acts as a remote too, but it’s a full functioning app that permits us to select a song that’s stored in our iPhone’s catalog. In staying true to the platform’s foundations, the Music app boasts a simple interface that breaks the categories down to artists, albums, songs, and playlist. Not only can we select something, but once it’s playing, we’re given music controls and volume adjustment.

Even though it’s probably capable of doing it, video playback isn’t something we’d think as being practical for the Apple Watch. Well, it seems like Apple certainly agrees – leaving that experience with the iPhone instead.

Call Quality

Love that we can handle phone calls, dislike that it’s a trying experience at times.

It’s been done before, a long time ago in fact by other smartwatches like the original Samsung Galaxy Gear, but the Apple Watch, too, is enabled for handling phone calls. Just as you’d imagine, we can initiate phone calls using the Phone app.

As much as we admire having this feature, it’s something you’ll only be using effectively in quiet conditions. Due to the weak output of its internal speaker, voices are easily subdued by background noise and disturbances. On the other end of the line, our callers struggle to make out our voices, which could be due to how close or far away the microphone is from our mouth. Sure, there’s a cool factor lifting our wrist near our mouth to handle phone calls, but at times it can be a meddling experience.

Battery

It’s average, just enough to get us through a day – and that’s all.

From what we’ve seen with most smartwatches, a typical result is a single-day of usage from a full charge – with few models exceeding that. The Apple Watch, much like the many notable Android Wear smartwatches floating around, produces a typical one-day of battery in our experience with its 205 mAh battery. By the end of the day, it’s typically running under the 15% mark, which is still commendable, but nothing spectacular.

Although inductive charging isn’t new, Apple packs in an inductive magnetic charger with the Apple Watch, which latches onto the charging disc with the help of magnets. No doubt it’s secure and whatnot, but it’s just another charger we’ll need to remember bringing if we go away. Nevertheless, we find it better than the handful of detached, proprietary chargers.

Conclusion


Almost hard to believe, the modern day smartwatch category has been around for quite some time – fostered by companies such as Pebble and Samsung with the Galaxy Gear a few years back, only to be expanded even further by the handful of Android Wear smartwatches the last year. In all of that time, we have yet to still see one clear smartwatch worthy enough to earn the prestigious honor of being a necessity, rather than being merely a want product. Some have come close to perfecting the current formula, like the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R, but there has yet to be a clear winner in the space.

So, where does the Apple Watch fit into all of this? First, we can’t neglect to talk about its pricing, which starts at $349 for the base 38mm model of the Apple Watch Sport. Already, even without any upgrades to the band or anything else, that’s one expensive price point that makes the $250 and below priced Android Wear smartwatches considerably more affordable. There’s a deliberate reason why it’s priced so much. It’s mainly because they’ve developed and employed some new technologies that make for one clever interaction, and it also helps that the software experience is already at a good depth from the onset.

Aesthetically, we’re not totally won over by its design, despite the fact that there are models with more premium finishes and bands – it’s still a bit too conventional for our taste. Quite frankly, it doesn’t have the futuristic appeal of the Moto 360, or the elegance of comparable smartwatches like the Asus ZenWatch and LG Watch Urbane. For what it’s worth, though, it's still a stylish piece of accessory, plus we can't deny the fact that it has been designed with an efficient, unisex style in mind.

Functionally, like we said earlier, the Apple Watch is in a good position out of the gate. For starters, there’s a decent support for third-party apps, Siri’s voice activation is spot on, and the ability to handle phone conversations gives it great depth. And it helps too that iOS users can adjust to the platform’s operation in just a matter of a day, so there’s no complications regarding its use.

Ultimately, though, this is still a want more than a need. Yes, it’s a useful thing to use when it’s just not appropriate or comfortable to be using your phone, but it’s still just an extension – where its usability hinges on support not only from Apple, but from app developers as well. It’s a good first try, better than most others, but we can visualize something extraordinarily better with version 2.0.

Software version of the review unit: 1.0


Pros

  • Highly personalizable design
  • Phenomenal vibrancy with the screen
  • Smooth operation with the Digital crown
  • Good depth with the software experience from the start

Cons

  • A lot more expensive than most other smartwatches
  • Tough to use for phone calls

PhoneArena Rating:

8.0

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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.

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