Six months on from its global launch, the Apple Watch, now officially available in the UAE, remains one of the best and most attractive smartwatches on the market. But that doesn’t make it an essential purchase.
Despite an attractive design and a few nifty uses, the Apple Watch is still a luxury item for early adopters, rather than a game-changing gadget in the mould of the iPhone and iPad before it.
The Watch’s main selling point is, as ever with Apple products, its gorgeous design. Its look and feel belies its luxury status, with lovely smooth edges (offset by a digital crown and side button) that feels much more natural on the wrist than other smartwatches I’ve tried.
The entry level aluminium Sport edition I tested came with a functional rubber wristband, with a wider range of leather and metallic bands available for the higher-end stainless steel and gold models.
While there are now plenty of apps that work on the Watch, few are good enough to prevent you reaching for your iPhone instead. You can now talk to Siri on your wrist, Shazam the song in the background and get alerts from various news websites, but most of the time these are cute tricks rather than must-have features.
Would-be killer apps such as Apple Pay, a great success on the London Underground, aren’t available on the Dubai Metro at time of writing.
The ability to receive notifications on your wrist, one of the earliest and simplest smartwatch features, was still for me the highlight of the Apple Watch experience.
Strange as it may sound, viewing emails, WhatsApp and text messages on your wrist, as well as to see who’s calling you, is surprisingly useful. It reduces the need to get your phone out of your pocket or bag when it vibrates.
You can even send a reply via emoji, or even dictate out a reply via the in-built microphone, if you don’t mind looking a little silly in the process.
q&a mostly for the diehard brigade
John Everington reveals what the Apple Watch has to offer:
Tell me about the Apple Watch’s fitness capabilities.
It has a friendly interface when you’re running, with easy swiping between pace, distance, calories and music controls. Unlike serious running watches, there’s no in-built GPS, meaning you’ll still be running with your phone. But the distance it measured for each of the runs (outdoors and on the treadmill) differed from both my Runkeeper app (with GPS) and the treadmill display, making it an option for casual runners but not for those doing serious training.
And what about the battery life?
Not as good as some on the market, such as the Pebble range, but it lasted comfortably more than a day. Once you get into the habit of charging it overnight, it’s never an issue.
And how much do these babies cost then?
An entry level aluminium Apple Watch Sport with a 38mm screen and a rubberised wrist band will set you back Dh1,399. At the other end of the scale, a 38mm Apple Watch Edition 18-Karat Rose Gold (ie pink) Case with Rose Gray Modern Buckle will set you back Dh64,000.
So should I buy one?
You should if you must have every Apple device going, or if you’re an early adopter type that likes a nicely designed device, and don’t mind if its functionality is a tad limited. For everyone else though, it’s worth waiting for some real killer apps to emerge.
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