Earlier this month, I made the leap to the dark side. I took off the Casio G-Shock that has been my constant companion for years (occasionally swapped out for my Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean for the odd special occasion) and strapped on an Apple Watch for the first time.
And, I have to admit, I'm very impressed.
My smartphone is an iPhone, so it makes sense that if I'm to bother with a smartwatch that it's going to be an Apple Watch. For the past few months, I've been wearing a Fitbit fitness tracker daily and have been finding the information that I get from it to be useful but somewhat limited, so the logical step was to switch over to a smartwatch (although I'm still wearing the Fitbit).
Right off the bat, let me tell you that I didn't go for the LTE variant of the Apple Watch 3. I didn't care about the "always connected" aspect of it, and my cellphone provider in the UK doesn't support it, so switching to it would have meant switching providers, which is too much hassle for me.
There are three things I wanted from the Apple Watch 3:
- A fitness tracker that allowed me to collect more data on workouts and sleep (I also have side projects going on studying the heart rate variability, and I was curious as to what the Apple Watch might offer).
- A quick way to respond to text messages and emails without having to be distracted by my iPhone or computer.
- A tool to interact with Siri more to control my lights and other IoT devices.
Ten days in, and I have to admit that the Apple Watch 3 gets a double thumbs up from me (which is top marks as far as this quick review is concern). Not only has the Apple Watch integrated well into my day-to-day life (I'm loving the deep dive that it allows me to dig into data such as my sleep, workouts, and such), but it's also worked flawlessly in that time. In fact, it feels much more solid and reliable than my iPhone 8 does.
Some random thoughts and observations:
- I don't know if I'm not using it as much as most people, but I can easily go through a day on a single charge. In fact, I'm certain I could do two days. Battery life is a lot better than I expected it to be. My charging regimen is to pop the watch on charge when I get into the office in the morning for an hour or so, wear in through the day and night, and next day it's about 50 percent charged, and another hour or so on the charger brings it to 100 percent.
- I've culled notifications and other distractions down to a minimum. If I had every email, text message, iMessage, app, and notification going off, the thing would drive me bananas and it would be at the bottom of the sea by now.
- I've used Siri more than ever. This feels like a legitimate reason to use voice, as opposed to on the iPhone or Mac when it feels like a second-rate method compared to the regular input mechanisms.
- I'm using my iPhone a lot less, especially for checking emails and responding to those messages that I allow through. And because the Apple Watch has a smaller screen, and there's less I can do with it, there's less to get distracted by.
- I've bought and downloaded more new apps in the past 10 days than I've have in years.
- I'm surprised that there aren't more Apple Watch apps out there (or maybe they're just not easy to find). It feels to me like a lot of developers just don't bother doing anything for the watchOS platform.
- That said, of the apps I've tried, I've been impressed by the quality, and how easy to use they are given the screen size.
- I binned the strap that Apple supplied and replaced it with a cheap band that looks and feels identical to the Nike bands that Apple sells.
- Since my last watch was a G-Shock, and I'm more bull than ballerina in the way I handle things and take care of my stuff, I've placed the watch inside a protective rubber bumper (I'm using the Caseology Vault). I still don't rate its chances if I forget to take it off for a kettlebell workout one day and it gets a 32-kilogram ball of steel to the face, but this should protect it from lesser impacts (and I have Apple Care, so I'm not going to lose sleep over it).
- I've yet to find a third-party wireless charger that will charge the Apple Watch 3. There are some out there (the Belkin charger that Apple sells will work, I'm told).
So, yes, I'm impressed. And to be perfectly honest, I didn't expect to be. I'd half expected that I'd be shipping it back to Apple within the 30-day return period. Not only is battery life much better than I'd expected it to be, but I'm finding that it's useful far beyond being simply a second screen for the iPhone.
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