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Deep-dive review: The Apple Watch after a month of use

Michael deAgonia | June 9, 2015
Every once in a while, there comes a bit of tech that lets you do what you're already doing, but in simpler and more effective ways. After using the Apple Watch for a month, I've decided that the watch is that kind of product. If you're already in the Apple ecosystem, chances are that you'll want one.

Every once in a while, there comes a bit of tech that lets you do what you're already doing, but in simpler and more effective ways. After using the Apple Watch for a month, I've decided that the watch is that kind of product. If you're already in the Apple ecosystem, chances are that you'll want one.

The design of the watch is typical Apple minimalism: A simple square of stainless steel, aluminum, or gold measuring 1.65 x 1.41 x 0.41 in. for the 42mm versions and 1.52 x 1.31 x 0.41 in. for the 38mm version. Weight varies by model and materials, ranging from 2.43 oz. for the 42mm Edition to .88 oz for the 38mm Sport. All models feature a capacitive multitouch Retina display with Force Touch technology.

The 42mm models have a 1.5-in. display with a resolution of 312 x 390, a pixel density of 302 pixels per inch (ppi). The 38mm versions have a 1.32-in. display with a resolution of 272 x 340 and a pixel density of 290ppi. All models feature 8GB of internal storage, a reported 18 hours of battery life, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. There's also a built-in microphone and a mono speaker.

The entry-level model, called Sport, is made of aluminum and an Ion-X glass display and costs $349 / $399, respectively, for the 38mm and 42mm iterations. The mid-range model, called Watch, has a stainless steel body and a sapphire laminated display; it costs $549 / $599 for the 38mm and 42mm versions. (I purchased the 42mm stainless steel model with a black sports band.)

Finally, if you've got money to burn, the Edition model features a solid yellow or rose 18 karat gold body and a sapphire-laminated display; it costs about $10,000 or $12,000 for the 38mm / 42mm models.

All models have a crown and single button on the right side and a couple of machined holes for the microphone and speaker on the left. On the surface, black borders surrounding the display almost give the impression that the screen and the housing are seamlessly connected, but the slightly different shades of black break the illusion.

The Watch has a sensor that uses infrared, visible-light LEDs and photodiodes to monitor heart rate. Depending on the model, this sensor is covered by either zirconia (in the Watch and Edition model) or a composite back with hard-coated optical polymer lenses (in the Sport model). The heart rate monitor checks every 10 minutes, and when a workout is initiated via the Watch's Workout app, heart rate is checked every 10 seconds.

There are other hardware-based personalization options. Bands can be removed and swapped out very easily by pressing tiny buttons on the underside of the Watch; they can be purchased separately, ranging in price from $49 for differently colored rubber Sport bands to $450 for the stainless steel Link bracelet. In between, Apple offers classic buckles, as well as leather and metal bands with magnetic clasps. My favorites are the comfortable black Sports band and the good-looking stainless steel Link bracelet — the latter features a clever button mechanism that lets you resize the bracelet to fit your wrist. There will likely be third-party straps available in future.

 

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