Apple Watch In-Depth Review

| In-Depth Review

The dust is starting to settle and we've been able to spend some serious time putting Apple Watch through its paces following its release, so we're ready to let you know what we think of Apple's entrance into the smartwatch world. Is it worth the cost, and will you really get any benefits out of slapping one on your wrist? Read on to find out.

Apple Watch: Apple's entry into the smartwatch worldApple Watch: Apple's entry into the smartwatch world

Apple Watch, by the Numbers

Apple Watch is available in three models: Apple Watch Sport (aluminum), Apple Watch (stainless steel), and Apple Watch Edition (gold). All come in two color choices: silver or space gray for the Sport, silver or space black for the steel model, and gold or rose gold for the Edition. You can also choose between 38mm and 42mm screen sizes for each.

The 38mm Apple Watch Sport weighs 25g, and the 42mm version weighs 30g. The stainless steel model weighs noticeably more at 40g and 50g. The rose gold Edition weighs 54g and 67g, while the yellow gold model is 55g and 69g.

Pricing starts at US$349 for the Apple Watch Sport, $549 for the Apple Watch (stainless steel), and $10,000 for the Apple Watch Edition.

Apple Watch Sport (left), Apple Watch (center), Apple Watch Edition (right)Apple Watch Sport (left), Apple Watch (center), Apple Watch Edition (right)

Considering Apple Watch is intended to be strapped to your wrist all day, weight is a real consideration. For some the extra heft of the steel or gold models may be more weight than they want, but for others it's exactly right. TMO's Bryan Chaffin told me he prefers a heavier watch because it feels better on his arm. For me, less weight is key because I don't want to feel the watch on my arm.

Apple Watch Sport uses Ion-X glass for its display, and the stainless steel and Edition models use synthetic sapphire. Ion-X glass isn't as scratch resistant, but it also isn't as brittle as synthetic sapphire. So far, the Ion-X glass is holding up just fine on my Apple Watch Sport, and I'm expecting that to hold true unless my watch slams into something especially hard like a rock face or the sidewalk—both of which are possibilities considering how much time I spend playing outdoors.

Using your Apple Watch in the rain, or wearing it while washing your hands won't be an issue. Apple Watch is IPX7-level waterproof, which means your Apple Watch can withstand being submerged for half an hour at a depth of one meter.

I stood out in the pouring rain to see how my Apple Watch would fair just so you wouldn't have to, and I didn't have any issues. That's exactly what I expected, and since Apple clearly states Apple Watch's waterproof rating, it isn't any surprise at all.

There are reports of people swimming with Apple Watch, but I'm a little leery of trying that myself. The water pressure your watch will be exposed to if you're swimming hard could potentially be enough to blow past Apple Watch's seals, leaving you with an expensive and non-working glass and metal bracelet.

Apple Watch Screen

Apple Watch uses an OLED display with a 340 x 272 resolution for the 38mm model, and 390 x 312 resolution for the 42mm model. It's bright and easy to read, and most of the time I was able to see the screen in direct sunlight without any problems. That was a pleasant surprise because I've always wanted an easy way to get a quick look at my progress when I'm running or hiking. With Apple Watch, that's totally possible. Just a quick look at my wrist, and I haven't even had to slow down.

The colors are rich and bright, and Apple calibrated the display to match the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus so images will look pretty much the same on both devices. The images I tested looked about the same on my iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, although I wasn't able to test how close they really are with a colorimeter.

Since Apple Watch probably won't be a serious part of anyone's color-corrected workflow, meaning jobs where exactly matching colors really matters, I'm fine saying the colors look the same across devices. The short version: colors look good on Apple Watch, and the resolution is really nice, too. If you're a professional photographer, however, don't expect to see true-to-life colors.

Apple Watch Battery Life

The battery in Apple Watch is supposed to get you through the day on a single charge, and that's what I experienced—with plenty of breathing room to spare. I typically ended the day with over 40 percent charge left, and never dropped below 30 percent except for the day I intentionally ran the battery into the ground so I could run through a complete charge cycle.

My typical day included several Glances for OmniFocus and Activity, notifications from (and sometimes responding to) text messages, Dark Sky, Hooks, Slack, and Withings Home, tracking workouts, using the Remote app to control Apple TV, using Maps for directions, buying drinks at Starbucks via Passbook, using Apple Pay, and checking the time.

I'm not worried about battery life because Apple Watch seems to be able to get through the day easily, and I don't want to wear my watch to bed. It charges overnight and is ready to go when I sit down at my desk in the morning.

Apple Watch Bands

Apple made customizing the look of Apple Watch easy by offering a line of bands in various styles. They range from a rubber-like sport band to leather to metal, and all look great.

The release mechanism for swapping out the bands is easy to use, but there isn't any chance of your watch accidentally coming loose. Apple's lugs hold the band firmly to your watch and it takes a little bit of force—but not too much— to slide a band free.

I'm using the the plastic-like band that ships with the Apple Watch Sport, or in Apple's parlance, the high-performance fluoroelastomer band. Star Trek technobabble aside, this is the most comfortable plastic, rubber, or vinyl band I've ever tried. Compared to the bands on many of the wrist top fitness trackers I've tried, Apple's feels like luxury.

Apple's other bands are equally impressive, too. The Milanese Loop band feels like some kind of magical fabric the Elves would give to Frodo on his quest to Mount Doom in Mordor, and the Leather Loop band might as well be of magical origin, too. My only disappointment is that the Leather Loop band is available only for the 42mm Apple Watch models, so I can't get one for myself.

The prices for Apple's bands will give some consumers pause, although they seem fairly reasonable compared to quality bands for high end watches. The fluoroelastomer costs $49, or for $149 you can get the Milanese Loop, Classic Buckle, or Leather Loop. The Modern Buckle band costs $249, and the Link Braclet costs $449.

If those prices are all too steep for you, just be patient. Apple is letting other companies make Apple Watch-compatible bands, so there will probably be something you like at a more affordable price soon.

Next up: Getting your Apple Watch up and running

Product: Apple Watch

Company: Apple

List Price: Starting at $349


We Like It. You Should Get It.


Excellent design and build quality, makes checking iPhone alerts more convenient, amazingly accurate heart rate monitor


May not replace your current fitness tracker, third-party app and Glance performance is slow, managing settings on iPhone can get tedious

Popular TMO Stories



Do you think the fitness sensors will work adequately if I keep the watch facing from the ventral (palm) side of my wrist? Are there any other functions you can think of which might be impaired if I wore the watch that way?

Laura Browning

You can call anyone from your contacts list on the Watch; just use the app. Not that I ever do use it to make calls…but it is handy to be able to answer calls from the watch while looking for my iPhone.


First of all…..  Hurry the heck up and ramp up production so I can get my damn watch and evaluate it myself!

Secondly, when I bought my watch (I wanted a black watch case with the black leather wrap band) and I didn’t want to shell out $1,100.00 for the black Stainless model) so I chose to get the black sport watch and add the Leather loop band as an option.  All seemed OK… we even tried it in that combo is the store….  Then the final guy they handed me off to to place the order told me (I’m still not sure if it was a bunch of BS, but I think it may have been) that I shouldn’t mix the higher end bands with the Aluminum watch bodies because the slides were stainless on those bands and would scratch the Aluminum, which is a softer metal than the stainless and if I took the band off and on enough it might even become loose.  Then he said it might also void the warranty….and he did a good job of pushing the benefits of the Ceramic back and Sapphire crystal for the extra $150.00 I ended up shelling out.  At which point I gave up on my original idea and went with the stainless case and Leather wrap band….  Not really what I liked or wanted, but I didn’t have time to check out what he was saying….  I’m sure I’ll get used to it….  grin

Jeff Gamet

Hey BurmaYank,

Apple Watch’s heart rate sensors will work just fine, so that won’t be an issue. The motion sensors may, however, have trouble telling when you’ve lifted your wrist to look at the watch.


Thanks, Jeff.
That would be an absolute deal-breaker for me, if I could not wear it on the inside of my wrist.

Jeff Gamet

Do you have access to one to try? Maybe a nearby Apple Store or a friend who has one? You could try it out to see if it works for you.


Yeah, that’s my plan. (Thanks for the advice.)

Any word yet on the availability of the Leatherman Tread?

Marck Bailey

Hate to say this, diverreb, but most of what you were told was untrue. While Apple won’t allow customers to order a watch whose band is not part of that line (i.e., you can’t order an Apple Watch Sport with a leather classic buckle band), nothing is stopping you from ordering ANY extra band you’d like and pairing it with any watch. The aluminum bodies are very scratchy-resistant, and the stainless steel parts of a leather band that attach to an aluminum Watch Sport will not hurt the casing. In fact, I ordered the space gray Watch Sport myself and have ordered an additional leather band to “dress it up” for nicer affairs. It looks quite smart.

What I don’t understand is why you “didn’t have time to check out what he was saying.” What was the rush? You already knew you were going to be waiting a long while to get your space gray Sport, based on what the Apple site was telling you about shipping dates during the order process. Why not postpone the order until you felt completely comfortable with the purchase?


Jeff: “You can answer incoming calls and even make calls, too, although only to the people on your favorites list.”

Are you sure about that? While I haven’t made a call to someone else, if you go to the phone app, you see a list of all your contacts and all your recents, whether they are favorites or not, and the phone icon is available to press.

You may not be able to dial a number, but those lists are on the watch.

52 Giveaways

We are giving away an Apple Watch on May 25. Enter at


Phone calls:
It was much easier to make a call in the car on my AppleWatch (using “Hey Siri”) than fishing my phone out of my pocket. The audio quality was low enough that I had to hold my arm half to my ear to understand what was being said, so I couldn’t just keep my hands on the steering wheel. When I arrived at my destination I seamlessly transferred the call to my iPhone which worked great.

I tried answering a call on my watch once but it took so long to connect that the caller hung up first.

I tried using Nike+‘s AppleWatch app, since I usually use the Nike+ app to track my runs. You mention that you can glance at your wrist while jogging to get an update on your progress, but with the Nike+ app you can’t. Every time the watch locks (or whatever you call it when the screen goes black) I have to tap the digital crown button which turns it on, tap again and it goes to the home screen, then scroll around with my finger—now I’ve stopped running since my finger is sweaty and jogging jostles my arm—to move over to the right app then tap it to get it. Now I can finally see my progress.  Every time the home screen resets to center on the watch app in the middle, so every time I have to fish around for the right app. It doesn’t keep the most recent app running.

I find it useful for reading texts and doing short replies while walking around. The dictation works great too but I feel silly talking to my watch with anyone watching. Maybe that will change. The thing I like the best, though, is that it replaces the text received sound with a tap on the wrist so no one has to know I’m getting text messages during a meeting.

During the work day it is handy to have my next meeting just a wrist-raise away. I can tap the calendar widget to get a scrollable calendar too. I don’t use it for more than just checking today’s meetings.

When the weekend comes its a little annoying to see my next Monday morning meeting. So I switch to a watch face that puts the weather widget in the center instead.

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