Regular readers know I am a sucker for new technology and am blessed to be able to afford being an early adopter. I was all set to stay up to midnight and pre-order an Apple Watch Sport Edition last night, but after testing and purchasing the Galaxy S6 Edge, reading Apple Watch reviews, and looking around at my current smartwatch collection I decided even I could not justify the $400+ entry price of an Apple Watch.
While I do own an Apple iPhone 6 Plus, it's not my standard daily driver as I have a personal preference for Android phones. If you are an iPhone user and an early adopter, then the Apple Watch is probably easy to justify. Here are the reasons I backed out at the last second and will let ZDNet's Kevin Tofel write the review and share his experiences with the Apple Watch.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
You may be wondering why I'm writing about a smartphone as one reason I'm skipping the Apple Watch. I've spent the last two weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and think my iPhone 6 Plus will be sitting dormant in my bag more than it was before. Before the Galaxy S6 Edge, the iPhone 6 Plus was my go-to smartphone when I wanted to just carry one device for everything.
The Apple Watch only connects with the Apple iPhone so if I am not using the iPhone as my daily driver it makes little sense to pay so much money for an unnecessary accessory.
Apple Watch reviews
A few days ago Apple posted the first few guided tour videos that answered several questions I had about the usability and functionality of the Apple Watch. I then read the few select reviews from those sites Apple elected to send review units to. The majority concluded the hardware was gorgeous, but a lot of work remains to be done by Apple.
Here are several Apple Watch reviews to check out, including a very entertaining video from Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern:
- CNET Apple Watch review, 3.5 out of 5 star rating
- Wall Street Journal Apple Watch: What living with it is really like (video)
- Re/code Apple Watch review
- Bloomberg Apple Watch review: You'll want one, but you don't need one
- The New York Times Apple Watch review: Bliss, but only after a steep learning curve
- The Verge Apple Watch review: A day in the life. Score 7/10
It sounds like the hardware is indicative of the high price, but the multiple ways to interact with the watch, limited functionality, and short battery life are not quite ready for prime time.
Current smartwatch alternatives
While I started using smartwatch many years ago with MSN Direct SPOT watches, I also have a current collection of watches to choose from. Smartwatches are not yet a necessary accessory and those of us who wear them usually have a primary reason or two for why we do so. I prefer watches that provide me with some key basic notifications while also meeting my activity tracking and fitness needs.
Fitbit Surge: My current favorite is the Fitbit Surge, which is more of a GPS sportwatch than a smartwatch. However, I grew rather tired of constant notifications distracting me on my wrist so find the caller ID and text messaging notifications of the Fitbit Surge just about perfect.
The Fitbit Surge tracks my steps, flight of stairs traveled, heart rate, and sleep while providing me with an always-on display for time and date. I then use it to track my runs and bike rides using the GPS receiver and heart rate monitor. After several weeks of use, I now don't even feel it secured to my wrist and love the five to seven days of battery life for daily use.
Sony SmartWatch 3: My high end smartwatch is the Sony SmartWatch 3, another smartwatch with a focus on the fitness aspects. This Android Wear watch only works with Android phones, although Kevin just wrote yesterday that Google may be bringing Android Wear support to the iPhone. If that happens, then the value of my SmartWatch 3 jumps a few notches.
The Sony SmartWatch 3 may not be the most elegant Android Wear device, those come from Motorola and LG, but it's the only one with integrated GPS. It also has integrated WiFi, Bluetooth, two day battery life, and a standard microUSB charging port.
Android Wear hasn't completely convinced me that it's a must-have operating system, but continued improvements will help. I imagine we may see much more on Android Wear at the upcoming Google I/O event.
Pebble Time: I was an original Kickstarter backer of the Pebble and use that first generation model occasionally. The cross platform functionality is important for me since I use every mobile operating system in my role here as the Mobile Gadgeteer.
I just made my color selection of the upcoming Pebble Time last night, I chose black, and look forward to the long lasting color epaper display and new Pebble user interface. Again, the Pebble will work with iOS and Android so I will be able to use it with more phones.
Given all of this information, I decided to skip buying an Apple Watch for now. Sure, I may be envious of Kevin and others who have one on their wrist at the end of April, but for once I am going to be a bit patient and wait on the sidelines for this new Apple product.
Did you pre-order an Apple Watch? If so, which model did you order and what do you find most compelling?