The Apple Watch hit the market more than two years ago and even at the time of its release, it was not the first wearable gadget on the block. So what does it offer that its rivals can’t match and are there any problems to consider before you buy?
Brand recognition & compatibility
One of the biggest selling points of the Apple Watch is that it is an official Apple product and thus bears the weight of this firm’s considerable reputation. When it comes to prestige, fashion and brand recognition, there is no other wearable on the market that can match it.
The Apple Watch is also arguably the best option for people who have already bought into Apple’s brand, as it is built to work with the iPhone range and other iOS devices. The crucial point here is that it will not natively support a connection with any other mobile operating system, so if you are an Android fan, then this is definitely not the wearable gadget to buy and there are plenty of alternatives around, including the Samsung Galaxy Gear.
Design & hardware
Apple has been a lot more flexible in terms of aesthetic customisation for its own-brand smart watch than it has for any of its other devices. As well as coming in two distinct sizes, there are a multitude of different editions available, fitting into different price points and offering distinct design touches.
Everything from the material used to construct the main body of the watch to the type of strap it features can be chosen depending on tastes and budget. The high end Apple Watch Edition range is even available with precious metals in place of the standard alloy or steel, costing as much as a traditional premium timepiece as a result.
Competing smartwatches and wearables are similarly diverse in terms of their designs, with companies like Motorola even experimenting with circular displays that replicate an old fashioned watch face. For Apple, however, a screen with a square aspect ratio has always been the only choice for its smartwatch range, so if this does not appeal, then you might need to look elsewhere.
Until the third-generation Apple Watch was unveiled this month, the best way to use it was in conjunction with an accompanying iPhone. However, Series 3 brings with it the option of choosing a model with its own cellular connectivity onboard, along with GPS and a faster processor to boot. This makes it possible to take the watch out and about and use it a lot more autonomously than in the past, rather than having to piggyback on the data connection of your mobile. The upshot is that things like music streaming direct from the Apple Watch will become a reality.
Almost no other wearable has made the leap to full internal cellular networking support at the moment, which could finally give the Apple Watch the edge it needs to secure a significant sales boost.
Features & apps
Aside from day to day timekeeping, one of the main reasons that the Apple Watch in particular, and wearables in general, have become popular is due to the demand for fitness monitoring. With integrated sensors for motion and pulse rate, along with a host of first and third party apps tailored to keeping tabs on users’ fitness, there is a lot to like.
The fourth iteration of watchOS brings with it plenty of software tweaks to existing apps and services, as well as improved integration with Siri for more comprehensive voice controls. All of this brings us to the question of cost, which has always been a sticking point for wearables. The Apple Watch can more easily justify its premium price tag now that a cellular model is offered, but it is still far from being the cheapest option on the market.