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Like the iPhone before it iPhone 6 Plus Review and Giveaway iPhone 6 Plus Review and Giveaway The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus is Apple's latest and perhaps strangest addition to its range of tablets and smartphones. Read More , everyone was talking about the Apple Watch long before it was announced by the company themselves. Shortly after going on sale, shipping dates for new orders slipped to June or later, as early adopters rushed to part with their cash — but is it worth it?

I’ve spent a week playing with an Apple Watch Sport to find out, and we have one 42mm and another 38mm unit to give away to two lucky MakeUseOf readers at the end of the post.

The New Apple Thing is Out

Few companies can generate the hype that Apple seems capable of, even if that is met by a fair amount of criticism. Every time Apple announces (or is thought to be working on) a new product, news outlets and blogs alike go into overdrive, speculating about features and design decisions — you’d be forgiven for getting sick of it.

This review focuses on the 42mm Apple Watch Sport, but it’s also available as a metal-banded Watch, and needlessly-expensive Apple Watch Edition. The Sport is strictly limited to using a silicon band (available in a range of colours), while the standard Watch can use a milanese loop, stainless steel links and other using a different connector.

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All of the Watch models include the same core hardware inside the watch, with different materials and finishes to differentiate the models. The Sport is made of lightweight aluminium, the Watch of tougher stainless steel and the Watch Edition of gold.

Each is available in a 38mm or 42mm, with the Sport versions costing $349 and $399 respectively.

The watch itself is presented inside a weighty, and somewhat unnecessary heavy plastic case. Included is a magnetic charger with plenty of spare cable and the watch strap you requested when you ordered. There are no spare straps included, but you can buy and change them yourself.

Uniquely Wearable

The Apple Watch is unique in that there’s really no competition. You might think that other smartwatches Which Android Wear Smartwatch Is Best For You? Which Android Wear Smartwatch Is Best For You? In the market for an Android Wear smartwatch? Let's compare all the options available now and make the decision easy. Read More provide some sort of competition, but in reality they don’t Should You Buy A Smartwatch Now, Or Wait? Should You Buy A Smartwatch Now, Or Wait? Everyone is talking about smartwatches and other wearables as "the next big thing." So, should you buy a smartwatch today, or wait for the smartwatches to come? Read More . This is a device designed for iPhone users, and it depends entirely on also owning an iPhone. At present no other smartwatch is able to do what the Apple Watch can do with an iPhone – and that’s not going to change any time soon.

It’s also unique in that the Apple Watch has been announced for quite some time, and WatchKit — the software development kit (SDK) used by app developers to prepare software for the device — has enabled third-parties to hit the ground running. From the get go there is a surprising amount of support for Apple’s new wearable, something that has been seriously lacking with other smart watches.

But a lack of competition and ample third party development tools does not guarantee success. In order to make this special, Apple has created a truly smart watch. It’s so different to what most regard as a “watch” that it shouldn’t necessarily be compared with traditional “dumb” watches (is that a term yet?) – it fulfils a completely different purpose.

And that’s where I found myself surprised by how effective the device is at fulfilling its objective. I wasn’t interested in a smartwatch before this, and even when it had been announced I was lukewarm to the idea. As a moderate to heavy iPhone user, you probably won’t find a better way to get rid of a spare $400 burning a hole in your pocket.

All For Show

Regardless of the version you choose, the Apple Watch is a sleek and sophisticated bit of kit. From the matte finish on the Sport to the “first gen iPhone” polish of the shiny Watch, these are beautiful wearables that mimic the weight and thickness of a rugged wristwatch.

Rounded corners fit perfectly with Apple’s current iPhone 6 aesthetic, and as this is a device that goes wrist-in-band with the iPhone, this is surely a trend that’s set to continue. Holding it in your hand it feels typically well-made, despite the relatively soft aluminium finish being prone to scratches.

Like many other Apple products the Watch is really just a big screen, and nothing gets in the way of the main show. There are no buttons or on-screen controls, but you can drag, pinch and tap to make selections. The screen is bright, clear and surprisingly easy to read in bright sunlight — the most you’ll have to contend with is glare from the Ion-X glass.

There are a total of two physical inputs: the digital crown, a replacement for the traditional watch winder used to set the time and wind and a dedicated speed dial button for quickly accessing your contacts. I’m not too sure about Apple’s hype regarding the digital crown (it is after all just a rotating bit of metal), but it’s well-implemented and has excellent knobfeel.

There’s a small degree of water resistance, courtesy of the IPX7 water resistance which guarantees devices to a depth of 1 metre for 30 minutes. After some accidental testing I can confirm it’s shower proof, and it also survived some pretty enthusiastic dishwashing. The screen seems to handle touch input pretty well, even with water droplets on the screen.

Introducing WatchOS

The Apple Watch runs a separate operating system to any device Apple has released in the past, known as WatchOS. It shares many similarities with iOS, and for good reason: it’s based on the same code. You’ll find many of the same applications here that you have on your iPhone — Messages, Mail, Maps and Calendar to name but a few.

The Watch is entirely dependent on an iPhone 5 or better, though you are able to track workout data, play music and pay for things with Apple Pay (more on this later) without your phone being present, should you need to.

When you put the watch on, it will ask you to unlock it either by inputting a passcode or choosing to have it unlock with your iPhone. The Watch knows when you’re wearing it so you don’t have to unlock it more than once after putting it on. When you take the watch off, it automatically locks again.

Notifications arguably steal the show, appearing over the top of everything you do and providing a tactile ping on the wrist thanks to the power of haptic feedback Touch Something That Isn't There - Haptic Technology [MakeUseOf Explains] Touch Something That Isn't There - Haptic Technology [MakeUseOf Explains] Haptics is the technology of touch. In the context of a virtual environment, it would mean being able to touch and feel something that literally isn't there, but that's certainly not its only use. From... Read More . This is where the Apple Watch comes into its own, providing you with instant access to everything that’s happening in your pocket without having to stop what you’re doing and reach for your iPhone.

To activate the watch, simply raise your wrist and the screen will light up. If you just got a notification, the notification will be displayed. If you didn’t raise your wrist correctly, which sometimes happens if you don’t give it enough force, a tap of the digital crown activates the device.

In general I found the gestures work well, and I even got used to the slight delay between raising my wrist and the screen activating — just don’t try it with a cup of hot coffee in your hand.

WatchOS is just like iOS in that it displays all of your “apps” on a springboard. You can use the digital crown to zoom in and out, and use your finger to choose an app. Just like iOS, everything is a separate “app” — though that might be a stretch, as many of these are simply slimmed-down versions of iOS mainstays.

As an example, the BBC News app only shows short versions of stories. Messages, though well-integrated, relies on canned responses or voice input (which works excellently, despite background noise) and you can start a workout via the RunKeeper app, but you can’t do very much else. The Watch at no point tries to replace the iPhone, and that means it never feels that fiddly to get where you want to go.

Siri support is very well implemented, with full “Hey Siri” support providing hands-free access to most functions 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Realize Siri Could Do 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Realize Siri Could Do Siri has become one of the iPhone’s defining features, but for many people, it’s not always the most useful. While some of this is due to the limitations of voice recognition, the oddity of using... Read More in less taps.

Telling The Time

The “everything is an app” approach also means that the time is an app, albeit the “default” app. Double-click in the digital crown while in another application and you’ll be returned to the time, and whatever watch face it is you’ve chosen.

There are a total of 10 watch faces to choose from, including Mickey Mouse, traditional analogue-style faces, and completely new ones that visualise time using graphs and animations. Many of the faces can be customized to add information like moon phase, weather, upcoming appointments and fast-access to the timer app.

Despite always being a fan of the traditional rounded watch face, I found myself sticking to the information-rich “Modular” face which seems to make full use of the screen by cramming-in the time and five additional bits of information. Tapping any of these customizable areas takes you to the corresponding app, while count-down timers and calendar appointments update in realtime.

At present there are no third-party faces, with little more than speculation over whether or not these will be added. Not opening up watch face design to developers surprised many, but it’s typical of the level of control Apple likes to maintain over new products — just look how long it took them to add third-party keyboards to iOS.

The default watch app is where you’ll spend most of your time, accessing what Apple dubs “Moments” — short bursts of information from system and third-party services, accessed by swiping upwards from the watch face. These can be entirely customised from the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and include heart rate monitoring, the current weather, power status and more.

You can also access Do Not Disturb, Airplane Mode and mute controls, in addition to the oh-so-handy “ping my iPhone” button which is perfect for when your iPhone goes walkies (even if it’s in silent mode). Everything is within reach, though it can be a bit of a slog swiping through eight screens to get to what you want.

Third party apps can use Moments, though so far I haven’t noticed anything really worth shouting about. I was excited about the prospect of fast-access to the Shazam on my wrist, but the Moment doesn’t let you ID music — suggesting that Apple is maintaining tight control over the feature.

Life With The Apple Watch

The Apple Watch isn’t the sort of device you realise you want until you’re handed one and told to play with it, perhaps even over the course of a few days. You have to adjust to life with the Watch before you start to see just how well it fits into the iOS ecosystem, but even then it’s not a necessity — and, fancy heart rate sensors aside, it doesn’t do anything your iPhone won’t.

For that reason it’s not surprising to see hordes of angry commenters condemning the device to a fate worse than the Newton. It’s easy to write-off, particularly at this typically Apple price point, which is why it’s important that the Apple Watch is compared with other wearable gadgets, rather than cherished hand-made timepieces.

Battery life is a major concern for many, and understandably so. Before encountering the Watch, I was highly skeptical of a device that apparently couldn’t even manage a day — but I found that this unit lasted two whole days with moderate use. Intensive use and lots of fiddling saw me through a full 24 hours.

So really, it’s just another device you’ll have to get used to charging. When the battery gets low you’re warned, and a power saving mode is available that enables you to tell the time (but deactivates all other features, including wrist raise detection).

In many ways, many of the features found on the Apple Watch were found on our wrists as digital watches became more advanced in the 80s and 90s. With the rise in popularity of do-everything mobile phones, these features migrated from the wrist to the pocket. Such a device redresses this.

Alarms and timers are far more useful within reach, and you can set up a timer simply by saying “hey Siri, set a timer for one minute,” for completely hands-free operation. Taking phone calls on your wrist when you can’t find your phone has you feeling like Inspector Gadget How James Bond Made Me Buy an Apple Watch How James Bond Made Me Buy an Apple Watch Bond has always had a thing for watches. Indeed, some of the best gadgets Bond has ever used have been timepieces. Which means he would buy an Apple Watch. As will I. Read More , and it works tremendously well.  Similarly, when exercising I found it liberating being able to set off RunKeeper or one of the included Workout apps without having to get my phone out.

There was a point while testing the watch where I could see that Apple had succeeded in achieving what they had set out to do, even if this wasn’t particularly important to my own personal agenda.

The first example of this was carrying bags of shopping up a hill and receiving a text message. The second was using Evernote on my wrist while cooking to check a recipe. Controlling other apps, accepting phone calls, sending a quick speech-to-text message while in a rush — these are all things the Apple Watch succeeds at doing.

The question is whether you find these useful, or simply nice but altogether unnecessary. You don’t need to use your Apple Watch to access an iOS feature, but it’s generally a nicer way of doing so.

Encouraging Healthy Living?

The Apple Watch is expensive, sure, but it might be a small price to pay for a longer lifespan. While testing the watch I was impressed by its ability to track physical activity and movement, to the point where the device encourages you to stand up after long periods of inactivity. Sedentary lifestyles are contributing massively to diabetes and obesity epidemics worldwide, which means earlier graves for those of us who spend a long time at our desks.

The Apple Watch actually buzzes your wrist when it thinks you need to stand up, and tells you to move for a few minutes. This is in-line with advice from healthcare professionals, except it’s tailored to your activity and pretty hard to ignore.

Some people might not like their watch telling them to move more, but for me it was a standout feature with potentially long-term benefits. And, while the Apple Watch is expensive, so are heart medications.

Apple Pay: A Disclaimer

Unfortunately, due to Apple still not having launched Apple Pay in Australia, we were unable to test Apple Pay with the Watch. According to Apple, the technology works without an iPhone being present and requires two taps of the button below the crown before touching your watch near the NFC terminal and paying away.

It’s possible to use Apple Pay outside the US provided you have a card that is registered to certain US banks, but users have reported hit and miss results. Fingers crossed Apple Pay goes international soon.

In Conclusion

A watch is a timepiece, something you buy occasionally — maybe only once every 10 or so years, so you want it to be good. For my money, the Apple Watch is not a timepiece, it’s a wearable gadget — another device, like an iPad or a pair of bluetooth speakers. It will get old, it will stop working, and it won’t last anywhere near as long as most mechanical timepieces sold in this price range.

But for what it does — provide oft-used features, connectivity and at-a-glance information — it works wonderfully, and you’ll quickly become reliant on it. If you’re taken by this, the real question is whether or not you want to buy a first-generation model or wait.

At present the Apple Watch is very good, but you know the next version will be even better — it will be thinner, it will have a better battery life and Apple may even introduce a more capable waterproof rating. Unless you want to be buying another Apple Watch in a year or so, it might be worth holding on for the inevitable improvements.

But for a first go, this is an incredibly promising start. Apple has done what no smart watch manufacturer has so far, and that’s make a device that’s not technically impressive but pleasant to use and genuinely useful — it just won’t be a “must-have” for everyone.

Our verdict of the Apple Watch:
If you want a smartwatch for use with your iPhone, the Apple Watch won’t disappoint. If you’re uninspired, don’t write it off until you’ve had the chance to spend some time with it.
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Apple 42mm Smart Watch - Space Grey Aluminum Case/Black Band Apple 42mm Smart Watch - Space Grey Aluminum Case/Black Band System on a chip: Apple S1 Buy Now At Amazon $269.99

Apple Watch Sport Giveaway

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact James Bruce for further details.

  1. Carmen Hsu
    July 6, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    i would love to win this for my father :)

  2. Louise Athanassiadis
    July 5, 2015 at 9:16 am

    II would soo love the opportunity to experience The Apple Watch, I have never owned anything Apple and for me, I would soo welcome the opportunity to study this fascinating piece of Apple innovation. Please could you send me a watch, even if I have to give it back, I would love to have a day to study it and see what it can actually do.

    Many Thanks,
    (l.e.athanassiadis@gmail.com)

    Louise Athanassiadis

  3. Luke Sky
    June 17, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    I'm realy glad to heare, that someone is going to give a Apple Watch to someone and because of this I World be very happy to be that one. I've the means to do sth. with it, but not the Money!

  4. Cata Toledo
    June 14, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    I would love to win the Apple watch, I don't have enough money to buy one and it looks amazing!

  5. Andrea Sydnor Blaylock
    June 9, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Would love to win this for my husband for Father's Day. Thanks for the chance to win.

  6. Troy Gill
    June 5, 2015 at 1:50 am

    I would really love to win this watch!

  7. standa kaluža
    May 28, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    So, who are the two lucky winners? :)

    • John Leet
      May 28, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Seems like there are no winners....

  8. Peter Griffiths
    May 27, 2015 at 5:27 am

    looks awesome. gimme gimme :P

  9. Rosa
    May 25, 2015 at 12:28 am

    Would love to win one of these watches!

  10. Catherine Lee Guzik
    May 24, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks for the chance.....would be A.....mazing!!!

  11. beth needel
    May 24, 2015 at 3:00 am

    Apple you think of everything! I would love to wear your watch.

  12. Yasmine Ansari
    May 23, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    This product is amazing!!!
    I would really love to win one!!??
    It would be a huge honor to win this.

  13. Indrani Biswas
    May 21, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Crazy about this watch...Hope I win !

  14. johnnygurnett
    May 19, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    hope I win :) I could never afford one myself so fingers crossed!

  15. Blake
    May 17, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Hello i hope i win ive been dying to have this watch over 5 months now

  16. Beverly
    May 17, 2015 at 5:44 am

    Trying again as does not seem to have loaded an entry.

    • Blake
      May 17, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      When is he going to say the winner

  17. Fikri Azami
    May 16, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    I would like to have it

  18. Beverly
    May 16, 2015 at 6:07 am

    What a fantastic gadget.
    Would love one of these as certainly could not afford to buy one! As Apple aficionados a laptop is all we have at the moment. It would get us up and moving for a start, badly needed on my better half's part - might get him off the computer and exercising!!
    Even if I don't win, thankyou soooh much for the opportunity. Don't know how you do it - amazing internet site.

  19. jeanette
    May 15, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    wow would I like to win one of these,looks great

  20. Edmond
    May 15, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Wow, prize apple watch is fab. & splendid. 2 fingers snap. It is tight, fly & off the chain. Pick me, pick me! Your next winner!!! Show me the money!!! It would be a dream come true and means more to me than anyone else to win. Starving artist here desperately needs the watch to tell time, work and eat. Winner, winnner. Chicken dinner. A life changing experience. Top of my bucket list. Thank you for the awesomeness, the contest, and generosity. Dear Santa: I’ve been nice. My X-Mas wish this year is to win this contest.

  21. Evi
    May 14, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Look's nice like anything Apple !

  22. Marco Distefano
    May 14, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    I would love to win one!

  23. Ivaylo Kolegov
    May 13, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    When we can see the winer

  24. Lorena Grande
    May 13, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    I am usually at the tail end of technology....this time I would love to be the trendsetter at the front. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway. :)

  25. Kenny P
    May 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Pick me...Why not...would love to make use of that gadget.

  26. Catherine
    May 13, 2015 at 2:40 am

    If I win it I'll wear it but I wouldn't buy one.

  27. Tammy Clarke
    May 13, 2015 at 1:11 am

    I would love to win this for my teenage son he lives and breathes new technology.
    He would love to try out this new watch,

  28. vicki
    May 13, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Would love to give this a try & review

  29. Miali Cavanagh
    May 12, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Would love this...thanks for the chance.

  30. PT
    May 12, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Still an nice accessory! Would to win one! Not sure I would pay that much for a gadget like this...

  31. Gloria
    May 12, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    I would love an arm gadget!

  32. magykman
    May 12, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    There's no competition in the smart watch world? That just simply isn't true. There isn't much that the Apple watch can do that most Android wear devices can't. Unless you meant watches which work with Apple phones. In which case, you're right, but that's only because of Apple's closed ecosystem.

    • Michael Myers
      May 14, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Considering how poorly the Android wear devices are doing, that could be the reason he states there is no competition. The other side, that there is no competition in watches that are Apple compatible, that is also not true. In general, there just isn't anything good.

  33. George Brown
    May 12, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    I loved the dumb watch nic.
    in the past year it seems i am now on my third dumb watch. Each one caused by a battery change requirement,
    The first was a popular distance runners watch and because it was pricey enough i had the battery changed for me. Went swimming with my waterproof watch and the seal had been compromised. dumb now dumber watch.
    Second I decided to change the battery myself. Watch is "running" again but I can't adjust time etc. if I timed it right and put the battery in at the correct moment I would have a dumb watch again. it got the rip as well. Loved the article. I think i'm convinced.

  34. Tanvi
    May 12, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    As a developer - I love the possibilities these things create.

  35. LadyDi1002
    May 12, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Thank you Make Use Of and apple for the contest!! Good luck to all who entered.

  36. olumide
    May 12, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Count me in.

  37. baldo
    May 12, 2015 at 10:42 am

    liked and shared

  38. Prabhath Kaushalya
    May 12, 2015 at 10:31 am

    count me in p/s........

  39. Siobhan Davis
    May 12, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Great watch :) Great giveaway. Best of luck everyone x

  40. ratha
    May 12, 2015 at 6:00 am

    its more nice like ipads

  41. no name
    May 12, 2015 at 5:50 am

    how do i share this to my friends in facebook??

  42. CHRISTOS TSIKRIKOYDIS-TSIKRIKAS
    May 12, 2015 at 4:41 am

    Nice review.

  43. Phil N
    May 12, 2015 at 4:16 am

    This would be great to sell on eBay and get a good smartwatch.

  44. Frank
    May 12, 2015 at 3:46 am

    Thanks for the Info, hope I win one, will have to get a iPhone then too...
    Dang won't work with iPAD or Mac Book Pro.... :o(

  45. cheridene boucher
    May 12, 2015 at 2:10 am

    Great watch and review.

  46. Frank Hanshaw
    May 12, 2015 at 2:02 am

    WOW - Never in my 76 years did ever expect to something like this watch. As a kid I was a big fan of Dick Tracy in the comics—way before television—and I though Tracy's watch that was his two way police radio was something that was only in Chester Gould's mind. Now Apple has created a watch that makes Chester Gould's imagination seem like child's play.

    Again all I can say is WOW.

  47. ROCKHi
    May 12, 2015 at 1:49 am

    OK, your review convinced me...count me in!

  48. Simutsira
    May 11, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    Great review!!

  49. Gansi
    May 11, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Useful review

  50. Matt
    May 11, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    A die hard Android lover made a post that, "They're going to laugh at anyone wearing an Apple Watch." Personally, I think the low end Watches, because of their pricing, are buy-worthy when compared to high-end tracking bands, like UP3 or Fitbit's top model. Yes, the Watch costs more, but they seem worth it for the build quality, functionality, aesthetics and tight integration with Apple's ecosystem. The resale value of a Watch is yet to be seen, but if it's anything like other Apple products, that's another plus.

    Tech problem for the Apple Watch contest:
    ================================
    Entries are broken. I made three entries for this contest, zero showed up. I tried Twitter, email, Facebook, tried two different email addresses to get it to work. Nada.

    Does anyone know the proper support link for this kind of issue? TIA.
    Apologies for putting a support issue in the comments section.

    • Matt
      May 11, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      I found the tech support link. It's just a pagedown key away.

    • Matt
      May 11, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      the problem was stopping the 15 web trackers detected by Safari extension called Ghostery

  51. Bernard
    May 11, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    As a watch maniac, I wish I could have an Apple Watch

  52. Mike Morgan
    May 11, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    I would love to win one. I don't know what I like more, watches or shoes. Mthaks for a chance.

  53. prashantm
    May 11, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Great review

  54. Dona
    May 11, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Very interesting.

  55. jan13
    May 11, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Great watch and review.

  56. Anonymous
    May 11, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Just waiting for Gen 2 (or 3). Not confident enough at this point.

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