I’m not active.

I spend most of my day in front of a computer.

I tell myself that I’m too busy to run (but really I just hate it).

I woke up this morning to my friend asking me detailed questions about the Apple Watch. I assumed that the answers already exist somewhere.

Oddly enough, they didn’t.

Every review of the Apple Watch I’ve read talk about its potential or aesthetics. But none of them talk about how the watch fits in the life of someone who doesn’t care about the fitness features.

I’ve owned my 38mm Apple Watch with a Milanese Loop for three weeks now. Enough time to see how the Apple Watch has fit in my health unconscious lifestyle.

I’m going to talk about the Apple Watch as a normal user.

This is important to note. Some people are fanatic iPhone users and have to charge their phone twice a day. I’m not that person.

The Apple Watch is marketed as a fitness and app accessory. Because of this, people are left in the dark on what are some the real use cases of the device. The purpose of this post is to review the Apple Watch as a real user.

 

Let’s talk about how it feels.

The Apple Watch looks great. You know that. I know that. Everyone has written that.

More important than how the Watch looks is how it feels.

The Apple Watch is comfortable, but not without its flaws.

I have the Milanese band. If I had to pick any word to describe it, it would be “fun.”

I have accumulated hours just playing with the magnet. I’ll sit there and emulate the slow demonstration of Apple’s promotional video.

Apple Watch Animation Milanese band

I love putting my Apple Watch on because when I feel the magnetic lock, it puts a small smile on my face.

Surprisingly, the band doesn’t get loose throughout the day.

After all, magnets usually suck. It’s sturdy but also not difficult to take off. This is important to note. If I had to readjust my watch two times a day, I would stop wearing it.

On the other side of the spectrum, if it required a lot of effort to take off, I would stop wearing it.

Apple took considerable thought and effort into its design.

The digital crown is the side piece that functions as the main interaction point. It’s also my favorite part of the watch.

I wish I could adequately explain how smooth the digital crown feels. The speed and sensitivity is perfect. When you scroll you feel just enough resistance to be know it is securely built to the watch.

Digital crown animation - Apple Watch Review

Last week though, my digital crown felt different. It started feeling like there was a grain or two in there that was creating friction. In fact, there was a point where it straight up got stuck.

I flipped out.

I looked online and found out many Apple Watch owners have been experiencing this. This problem became so prevalent Apple issued a solution to fix it.

The solution was simple enough. But for an issue this big to happen a week into owning the watch is unacceptable.

 

38 or 42?

38mm vs 42mm Apple Watch size

When I ordered my watch, I was afraid it was going to be too small.

My wrists are tiny. So tiny I have to make new holes on every watch band I get. Bands don’t come in sizes small enough for me.

I knew the size would be fine from an aesthetic point, but I worried the screen would be too small to interact with.

I read a post from Kevin Rose that noted someone with the 38mm will have a hard time using the Apple Watch. That may have been the experience for him, but not for me.

Even with my thumb, I’m able to enter passcode to my watch almost every time.

Apple Watch Passcode

If you wear watches and you wear anything less than a 36mm then I would recommend the 38mm Apple Watch. Anything higher then I would go for the 42mm.

 

Durability.

apple watch scratch test

The screen doesn’t scratch, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the watch has the same luxury.

You spend hundreds on a watch, you don’t want to see it in a couple months lost of its shine and appeal.

Those of you who owned the original iPod know what that’s like. That damn thing. If you looked at it wrong it would scratch.

The stainless steel casing has kept its shine so far. I haven’t noticed any scratches yet. It still looks brand new. Yes, I’ve only had the Apple Watch for three weeks. I also haven’t been that careful with it either.

I wish I could say the same thing about the band though. The magnetic piece of my Milanese band has become covered in scratches. If you’re on the computer often, then you’ll experience the same thing. It’s not appealing in the least.

Milanese band scratch

 

“All-day battery.”

When Apple announced the Apple Watch would have “all-day battery life” I got scared. Scared it would be another battery I would have to track and worry about.

That wasn’t the case. For me, the battery is more than fine. I start my day at 10am and end it at 2am. Not once throughout my day do I think about the battery. By the end my watch is usually at 30%.

In fact, my watch improved the battery life on my iPhone. Your lock screen is the most battery intensive function of your phone. You use it to check the time and look at notifications.

I used to end my day with my phone struggling to stay on. Now it has at least 20% battery.

A popular complaint about the Apple Watch is it being “another thing I have to charge.” Seriously? Whenever I hear people say this I think they’re looking for flaws.

The concept of a day long use watch isn’t new. Anyone who owns an automatic mechanical watch knows this. Automatic watches “charge” off of movement. By wearing your watch, your movement will wind the watch. But if you take the watch off, it will eventually stop.

What people did to circumvent this was create a stand that vibrates. This would keep the watch wound for the next time you wear it.

Nomad watch stand

“Charging” your watch isn’t a new concept. If you think this might worry you, buy an Apple Watch stand. It’s beautiful and charges your watch.

Here a few that I like a lot:

I could only see battery being a problem if you spend all day on your watch using every app you have.

 

The App Ecosystem.

The hard truth:

There aren’t any great apps that go well with the Apple Watch at the moment. The app ecosystem isn’t there yet.

There are only three apps I have found which have provided significant value: Uber, Foursquare, and Maps.

The Uber Watch app is by far the best I’ve seen. You open the app up on your watch, press a button and an Uber comes to you. Simple.

Foursquare gives you recommendations and ideas based on your location. I never used the Foursquare app on my phone. I usually only saw the notifications they sent me only after I left the place. With an Apple Watch the notifications actually add value to my dining experience.

Maps makes sense on your wrist. It sucks to pull out your phone to confirm that you’re going in the right direction. The subtle vibrations when you need to make a turn are useful as well.

Every other app I’ve experienced doesn’t capture the experience or purpose yet. Companies are trying to shrink their iPhone apps into the watch. That’s wrong. Flipboard tries to show you articles on the Apple Watch. No one wants to read a thousand words on a 38mm screen.

Right now, it’s almost always easier to open up your phone than to use the app on your Apple Watch.

Okay so how do you use the Watch?

The selling point of the Apple Watch was to keep you connected to your phone without disconnecting from your life.

The watch does a spectacular job of doing this. Mainly by use of the glances.

Glances are quick views that keep you updated with an app. The views can vary from whatever app you have installed.

A quick swipe up and Twitter will show you trends. Mint shows you how much money you can spend today. Wunderlist will tell you what task you should work on.

Glances are useful and they embody what the Apple Watch should be used for.

The truth is, I’m never on the home screen. This is the view that shows you all your apps. This is because glances keep me up to date with everything that I need to know.

Apple Watch Homescreen

It isn’t easy to use the Apple Watch for an extended period of time. It’s an arm workout to use your Apple Watch apps. The limited usability and arm fatigue isn’t worth the effort. It’s better to take your phone out.

A common misconception of the Apple Watch is that it’s an iPhone killer. I get asked all the time, “do you even use your iPhone anymore?” People seem to think the Apple Watch will turn their phone into a brick.

I want to make it very clear that this is not the case. There is nothing the Apple Watch does better than your phone.

Gimmicks.

In Apple’s presentations, a lot of attention was given to the ability to draw to one another and send each other heartbeats.

These features are really cool, but I would imagine they would get old really quick. The reason I can’t say for certain is because I don’t know enough people who actually own an Apple Watch to use these features with.

If the sending/receiving heartbeats is a big selling point for you, then I would definitely hold out on making that purchase. Otherwise you’ll be pretty lonely.

Avoiding social stigma.

The Apple Watch keeps me off of my phone. But it’s still distracting in public settings.

If an e-mail or text message appears on your watch, you still look rude reading it.

The best use case I have for my Apple Watch is to reply to text messages and schedule reminders.

I am shocked at how accurate Siri is for me. Because of this, Apple’s dictation replies for text messages is convenient. It’s nice being able to quickly reply back to a text message from your wrist.

The mic and speaker is surprisingly good on the Apple Watch. If someone calls me while I’m on my computer, I accept it on my watch and talk through there. I don’t lean in or get all awkward. If I’m typing then I keep typing while talking. It takes no effort or thought. It’s a lot more convenient than I thought it was going to be.

The best use case of the Apple Watch is the calendar. It’s really nice being able to see your next meeting/event in a quick glance.

Oh and while we’re on that note, yes there is a delay when you raise your hand to activate the screen. No, it’s not a problem at all.

Overall.

If you own an Apple Watch you understand that you are a guinea pig for a much bigger idea. Apple’s first version of any product always has obvious features that need to be desired. After all, copy/paste on the iPhone didn’t exist until the 3G.

It’s safe to say that the Apple Watch will see a similar pattern. Future generations of the device will have incremental iterations. This will repeat and build mass appeal. But remember, it’s not there yet.

Right now, the Apple Watch is for a certain kind of person. If you’re the kind of person who uses their calendar and are busy, then I would buy one.

For everyone else, it isn’t at that point yet. I would recommend waiting it out until there are better apps available. There just aren’t many apps that have awesome appeal.

Keep in mind that the Apple Watch has only been out for three weeks and the app store is showing some initial promise. In less than six months we will see some awesome new use-cases specific to the Apple Watch.

If you expect the Apple Watch to replace your phone, you will be sorely disappointed.

If you expect the Apple Watch to help you stay updated with your day, then you will be blown away at how the level of utility it provides.

Do you have an Apple Watch yet? I want to know what your thoughts are on it so far. Also, if you think I missed any points, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to go back and cover them. Reply in the comments below or tweet to me @willietran_.