Digit Geek
Apple Watch
Digit Geek > Recent Articles > Technology > The Apple Watch story so far

The Apple Watch story so far

Strong rumours suggest the upcoming version of the Apple Watch will feature LTE network support and will be able to make and receive phone calls independently of the iPhone. Against this backdrop let’s have a quick look at the iconic device’s journey so far.

Currently, the Apple Watch is perhaps the best smartwatch out there. As we gear up for the next version to launch tomorrow (possibly with LTE support), we take some time to take stock of the device so far – meet its variants, explore its features and find out what the device is all about.

The Apple Watch is a smartwatch which enables you to keep track of fitness and health parameters on the go. The device was announced by Apple CEO Tim Cook on September 9, 2014 and was made available for preorder on April 10, 2015. In India, the Apple Watch was launched November last year followed by Chile, Philippines, South Africa and Indonesia. The subsequent iterations of both the Apple Watch and the corresponding watchOS were launched in tandem with the unveiling of the latest iPhone versions.

This makes sense because the Apple Watch works quite well with iPhone. You can establish connectivity with the iPhone from the Apple Watch to perform wide range of functions such as calling and messaging including Apple Pay and Siri. Moreover, the watch is compatible with iPhone 5 and above running iOS 8.2 and higher. The Apple Watch mainly works by establishing connectivity via Bluetooth to the iPhone and makes extensive use of Siri. You can request the watch to perform a wide range of activities by simply speaking directly from your wrist. The OLED display on the watch lets you view the content clearly and the rechargeable battery delivers an excellent backup time.

Apple watch
Apple Watch Series 2 with bright OLED display

The devices

Apple Watch Series 2 and Series 1

Apple Watch Series 2 features an integrated GPS coupled with water-resistant capabilities up to 50 meters. Powered by a dual-core processor, the display is two times brighter than its previous version. The Series 2 also includes a heart rate sensor and a comprehensive workout app. Apple Watch Series 2 helps you to keep track of activities you do throughout the day. For instance how much you stand, move, and exercise. The information is consolidated and displayed on the watch via concentric “rings” that denote each activity. The watch provides regular progress updates including the ability to share and compare activity rings. You can also still purchase Apple Watch Series 1 but it’s obviously has fewer features. For instance it doesn’t have GPS, GLONASS and water-resistant protection.

Apple Watch
Track your activity via GPS with Apple Watch Series 2

There are four variants of Apple Watch, which are available in both Series 1 and Series 2 models with 38mm and 42mm cases. The difference is with the colour of the case and band. The silver Aluminum case offers white sport band. If you buy the watch with Space Gray Aluminum Case, you will get Black sport band. While the Rose Gold Aluminum Case is equipped with Pink Sand Sport band, the Gold Aluminum Case comprises of midnight blue sport band.

While the Apple Watch Series 2 ships with S2 processor, the Apple Watch Series 1 comes with S1P dual-core processor. The highlight of Series 2 is the addition of GPS and GLONASS. The latest model includes 2x brighter OLED display with Force Touch technology and 1000 nits. However, the Series 1 consists of an OLED retina display with 450nits, which is lower than Series 2 display. The 38mm case is available at $269, while the 42mm case is available from $299.

You can buy Apple Watch Series 2 in stainless steel case with black and white color bands in both 38mm and 42mm at $549 and $599 respectively. The watch with Milanese loop is also available at $649 for the 38mm and $699 for the 42mm cases respectively in Series 2 format. Of course, Indian prices vary. Apple Watch available in India on Flipkart and Amazon starting at ₹22,900 for the 38mm Series 1. The Series 2 is available from ₹33,900

Apple Watch Nike+

Apple Watch Nike+ is part of Series 2 and ships with GPS and water-resistant capabilities. The watch includes an exclusive Nike+ Run Club app, which is not available with standard Series 2 watches. The Nike+ watch is available only in Aluminum Case. However, you have an option to buy either silver and space gray case options. The silver case bears pure platinum and white band starting at $369 for 38mm. You can buy 42mm case for $399. The pricing is same for Space Gray option paired with Anthracite/Black Nike sport band.

Apple Watch
Greenify your environment with the all-new Apple Watch Nike+

Apple Watch Hermes

Apple Watch Hermes Series 2 is a result of a collaboration between Apple and Hermes. The handcrafted leather bands coupled with Apple watch faces provide a unique premium look and feel. The Hermes variant is available in both double and single tour variants. The Double tour model is available in Fauve Barenia, Etoupe Swift, Rose Jaipur Epsom, and Bleu Zephyr Epsom leather variants with a 38mm case manufactured out of stainless steel at $489.

If you would like to buy the classic Hermes design, you need to buy single tour option available in Fauve Barenia, Etoupe Swift, Feu Epsom, Lime Epsom, and Colvert Swift leather models with 38mm and 42mm stainless steel cases. Interestingly, both cases are available for $339. However, you can buy 38mm case only for Fauve and Etoupe models. You can also buy bands in separate colors as an optional accessory. The main difference between Nike + and Hermes models is with the look and feel of the case and band. The Double Buckle Cuff model is available in 39mm in Fauve Barenia and Etoupe Swift leather options at $689.

Apple Watch
Explore all the variants of Apple Watch Hermes Series 2

Apple Watch Hermes is also available in stainless steel case coupled with Fauve Barenia, Feu Epsom, and Etoupe Swift Leather variants in both single and double tour models. While the Fauve Barenia leather single tour is available for $1149 for 38mm, the 42mm is available for $1199. The double tour model is also available for $1299. You can buy the 42mm single tour deployment buckle variant for $1399 and 38mm double buckle cuff model at $1499. Meanwhile, the 42mm Feu Epsom Leather Single Tour variant of Hermes watch is listed at $1199. You can also buy 38mm Etoupe Swift Leather Double Tour Series 2 watch for $1299.

Apple Watch Edition

Apple Watch Edition Series 2 features a brilliant white ceramic design. Manufactured with durability in mind, the ceramic is four times harder than stainless steel. The Apple Watch Edition is available in White ceramic case with cloud sport band starting at $1249 for 38mm and $1299 for 42mm case variants. The cost is higher due to the premium material used for the production of the watch and it inherits all the specs and functions of the Series 2.

Apple Watch
Apple Watch Edition looks premium and shiny

Hardware Specifications

Apple Watch Series 2 and Series 1

Apple Watch Series 2 is equipped with S2 dual-core processor, GPS, GLONASS and water-resistant features up to 50m. The Series 1 offers S1P dual-core processor alongside splash resistant functionality. The 38mm model measures 25g for Series 1 and 28.2g for the Series 2. Meanwhile, the series 1 and 2 with 42mm case weighs 30g and 34.2g respectively. You can display relevant information from the apps directly on your watch face. You just need to tap on the launch the app. It is also possible to swap faces by swiping.

Apple Watch Nike+

Apple Watch Nike+ ships with the same internal specifications as other Series 2 watches. However, the watch establishes connectivity with Nike+ Run Club app for tracking and management of running activities. The Nike+ is designed using fluoroelastomer, which reduces the weight. Moreover, the material improves the ventilation with compression-molded perforations along each row. The specially designed faces portray Nike’s iconic Volt colour with the display in both digital and analog styles.

Features

All variants of the Apple Watch Series 2 share the same features for all models – whether it’s a Hermes edition or Nike+. The core difference is with the design, case and bands used. The Series 2 watches are designed using Sapphire crystal and the OLED retina Ion-X glass display with 1000 nits of brightness and Force Touch screens.

Apple Watch
Check out what you can do with Apple Watch Series 2

The Apple Watch Series 2 comes with heart rate sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer including Ambient light sensor. Loaded with watchOS 3, the series 2 variant of Apple Watch is capable of delivering up to 18 hours of battery life. In addition to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and microphone, the Apple Watch Series 2 is embedded with direct fire speaker system.

When it comes to the Apple Watch Series 1, you get an OLED retina Ion-X glass 450 nits display with Force Touch. The OS is the same – watchOS 3. The Series 1 has sensors for heart rate and ambient light including gyroscope and accelerometer. Like Series 2, the Series 1 watches also delivers 18 hours of battery life.

watchOS 3

Apple Watch ships with watchOS 3, which enables you to launch apps easily from a wide range of watch faces. Siri which is integrated works with the third-party applications as well. The watchOS has a ton of nifty features and we’ll get into more details in the next chapter which is entirely dedicated to the OS and the developer framework used to create apps for the OS. The upcoming watchOS 4 is expected to launch in September 2017 and it will feature several improvements we figure.

Apple Watch
Ask Siri directly from your wrists and get the work done

Accessories

Apple has manufactured a wide range of bands, which you can use for your watch. There’s the standard Sport Band for $49 in a bunch of colour variants. Then there’s the Nike sport band ($49) which has compression-molded perforations for breathability. Then there’s the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock ($79) which enables you to charge your Apple Watch by placing it in a flat position. Compatible with both 38mm and 42mm models, the dock connects via the lightning port.

There are also third-party accessories such as rugged covers by Spigen. If you want extra protection for your valuable Apple Watch, you can buy Spigen rugged armor case with shock absorption for $12. Amazon India also sells accessories for Apple Watch but the range is less.

Apple Watch
Charge your Apple Watch easily with the dock

Quirks

Perhaps the biggest problem with the Apple Watch is that it feels like a toy. Not in the build quality or construction – those are top notch – but more in the usefulness department. It falls in the non-essential category of devices. And then to have such a hefty price tag makes it even more of a luxury. Another small niggle with the Apple Watch is related to the size of the strap or band. If the band doesn’t fits your wrist, you won’t be able to take full advantage of the watch. Outlier cases of course but yes it’s happened. The second issue is with the battery life. You are required to charge it every day, which is not always possible if you are travelling. This is not so much a critique of the Apple Watch specifically but a critique of battery tech altogether. When will we have devices that will last of weeks without visiting a charging socket? Coming back to the watch, it is currently only compatible with iPhones. What’s up with that? Oh and Siri still struggles with our accents. Not as badly as before of course, but still. Lastly some more thought needs to be put into developing better ways to interact with the device. Touch and voice is great and all for now but with such a small screen maybe it’s time for Apple to think out of the box and come up with an entirely new input method? To get the latest on what to expect from tomorrow’s Apple event here to this link.


This article was first published in the August 2017 issue of Fast Track which is part of the Digit package. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.

Anand Narayanswamy