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What you need to know about Apple Watch, Apple's attempt to remake wearables

TechHive Staff | Sept. 11, 2014
Tim Cook finally got a chance to roll out a brand-new product--heck, a brand-new product category--for Apple on Tuesday, unveiling the company's new Apple Watch lineup at a highly anticipated press event in Cupertino. Apple demonstrated many juicy features of the watch, but left a lot to the imagination, including exactly when we can buy one. Here's a breakdown of what we know and what we still can't wait to find out.

Owners of the Apple Watch and Watch Edition get three leather straps and two metal straps to choose from. The Leather Loop is designed to be soft and comfortable, with a highly adjustable hidden magnetic closure — you just wrap it around your wrist and the strap sticks to itself to stay closed. That one comes in stone, light brown, and bright blue. Available in pink, brown, and midnight blue, the Leather Modern strap has a two-piece magnetic closure and a subtle texture. And the old-school Classic Buckle strap is a black leather strap that closes with a stainless steel buckle just like the traditional watches you've seen your whole life.

Crafted of stainless steel, the Link Bracelet band closes with a butterfly clasp. Apple included a link-release button on several of the links, so you can remove links yourself to customize the fit — instead of having to take it to a jeweler or watch repair shop. That one comes in a regular stainless steel tone or in space black. With myriad tiny, interlocking loops, the Milanese Loop band kind of resembles chain mail, only much more modern. The stainless steel mesh is also magnetic, so you can adjust it to more sizes than you could the Link Bracelet.

When does it ship? Is Apple taking preorders?It won't ship until early 2015. That means it'll miss the holiday shopping season, which is usually an important quarter for Apple's finances. Still, Apple's used this release strategy before. In 2007, it announced the original iPhone at that year's Macworld Expo; the phone itself didn't arrive on retail shelves until six months later. And that turned out pretty OK for Apple.

And no, Apple's not taking preorders right now.

How much does it cost?Apple said the watch would start at $349, but that's all it's saying at this point. It's unclear if the small or large sizes will have different price tags, or how much extra we can expect to pay for the premium Apple Watch Edition. We know the watch has some built-in storage for apps, photos and music, but Apple also didn't say if it would come in different storage capacities, as we see with iPhones, iPads, and iPods. Our guess is that Apple probably won't differentiate the Apple Watch via storage.

Which phones does it work with?Good news: you do need an iPhone to pair with your Apple Watch, but it doesn't have to be the brand-new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. An iPhone 5, 5s, or 5c will work just fine. That's a big deal since the watch's $349 starting price might be harder to justify if it also required the purchase of a shiny new phone.

 

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