On April 24th, 2015, Apple released their highly anticipated Watch. It was a unique launch, requiring customers to order the Watch online, but customers wanted to know what the buzz was about. Many people didn’t even know why they wanted an Apple Watch but their faith in the brand was enough for them to make the purchase. Three years later, I still wear my Watch almost every day, but I’m not quite sure why.
When I pre-ordered the Watch, there were three options: the Sport model, the regular “Watch” made of stainless steel, and the gold “Edition.” I opted for the regular watch, which many people would consider a mistake. It was significantly more expensive than the Sport model, yet had the same internals. I liked the look of the regular Watch and its bands, but it shouldn’t have been enough to justify the increased price. To add to this, I would later find out that my Watch shipped later than other models. I didn’t get it until Memorial Day 2015.
Eventually, I had it. It looked nice, the bands were cool and there were a decent number of options for additional bands if you were willing to spend some extra money. Though noticeably slower than the iPhone 6 (the most recent iPhone at the time), connecting to your phone was very straight forward. Once I was connected, everything seemed to integrate fairly seamlessly.
Upon its launch, the Watch required an iPhone to run third party apps and for almost all services. watchOS2 would allow for apps to run independently of the iPhone and the Apple Watch Series 3 released in 2017 would allow for cellular connectivity without an iPhone, but when the Watch was launched the iPhone was a necessity. This was, and probably continues to be, the biggest complaint. People didn’t understand why they needed an Apple Watch when they had to keep their iPhone on them at all times.
I will admit, I quickly adapted to the convenience of the Apple Watch. I was never a watch wearer prior to this, relying on taking out my phone to check the time. Within a week of owning the Watch I would check my wrist for the time, even when I didn’t have the watch on. I also appreciated being able to discretely check my messages. When I got a text, my Watch would tap my wrist. I could see the contents of the message, send a quick reply, ignore it, or take out my phone and type out a full response. The same level of monitoring could be used for phone calls, which is nice when you’re at work and don’t want to blatantly take out your phone to see who’s calling.
While this is nice, it still doesn’t justify the cost of a $300+ smartwatch. Apple placed a strong emphasis on the communication features of the Apple Watch, but it also placed a strong emphasis on its fitness and activity tracking. Many third party apps were buying into the Apple Watch and releasing apps for the device. As someone who is fairly active, I was only moderately impressed by the Apple Watch’s fitness tracking. Tracking my steps was fairly accurate, but there is no GPS built into the Apple Watch Series 1 (Series 2 would later see this added), so I really needed my phone to track where I’ve been. This defeated the purpose, because the point of having your watch on while running is to leave your phone behind. The Apple Watch also included a heart rate monitor, which is great for cardio work outs, but it won’t give you an accurate read on strength work outs. Despite a few shortcomings with a fitness aspect of the Watch, it did provide me with motivation to move and challenges to encourage more activity.
So we have communication, and we have fitness, what else does the Apple Watch do? Well, I’ve yet to find a compelling answer. It tells the time and date, which is nice. You can look at pictures, but why would you want to on your wrist? Most games and apps are too slow on the Apple Watch to seriously use. You can download music from Apple Music, which is nice, but only if you’re running with just your Watch (which may be an issue if you have the Series 1).
After three years, Apple hasn’t convinced me this is a device I need. It’s a luxury, merely a convenience in my life. When I have the Watch on, I use it. When it’s not on, I use my phone and that doesn’t add too much of an additional hassle. It’s not something I’m excited to put on.
Would I recommend getting one? If you live an active lifestyle and would like the convenience of seeing messages on your wrist, then yes. Fitness it the biggest asset on the device, and if you don’t get the Series 1 (which is still sold), you’ll probably get a lot of use out of the Watch for activity. There is nothing essential about owning an Apple Watch, even for the iPhone experience, but it is a nice toy to have.
When my Watch dies, if that day comes, I’ll really have to debate whether or not I’ll replace it. It’s not a priority, but I do enjoy having it. It’s easy to integrate into my life, but it’s also easy to live without. While I do think it does it’s job well, it doesn’t wow me like I hope it would and I don’t think it was the break out item Apple hoped it would be.