38mm Apple Watch Sport review

Day 1 - purchased watch from Apple online store with in store pickup. This is a new service in the U.K which once paid for online sends you a notification with an hour to let you know your purchase is ready for collection. Apparently the store treats these collections as a priority above other purchases in store, but my pickup got a little delayed and after some apologising from the staff I had my new watch.

At home I unboxed the watch which with typical Apple care was beautifully wrapped, if perhaps a little excessively. It felt at times to be unwrapping a mummy it had so many protective layers (aren't these things supposed to be tough?).

With the watch out of the box I switched it on by holding down a button, I forget which one, and proceeded to pair it with my iPhone watch app. This took about 20mins after which I installed ios2 upgrading the watches operating system to the latest version, this took about another 20mins maybe a touch longer. 40mins or so later I could put on my watch. Having also topped up the charge before it allowed me to install the updates, I was left hoping for more.

For the rest of the day I spent trying to get to know the operating system. Basically it decided in two. Most of the setup is on your iPhone via the watch app. Then the phone has the time or clock faces which can be configured, it has glances which are essentially apps you've switched on (via the iPhone watch app) and want to access frequently via a flick up on the watch face. Then notification which come with a flick down from the watch face. Then apps, which require pressing the bevel. Then contacts which you quick access via the button. Confused? So was I.. I felt there was too many ways of accomplished the same tasks, one button too many. So I set about getting through my learning curve.

Beyond the navigation, I enjoyed taking calls, surprisingly good when i tested it in the house. The heartbeat tracker, the music controls, but I went to bed eager to test it on a full charge and at they gym then next day. I set the watch down to charge and watched the nightstand mode engage.

Day 2 - Today I gave the watch a workout, a shower, and busy day of fiddling and by 9:30pm it was still at 39% battery life. I wish the watch could know which exercise i was doing rather than me having to enter it, also as i tend to do Virgin Actives Grid workouts it not great at tracking that type of circuit based training (i found the calorie count to be low).

Day 3-6 - So i've been using the watch for six days now, and have run indoors, outdoors, done a 30k bike ride and my circuit classes and i am enjoying the watch and the accompanying activity and health app on the phone, however there is a lot of room for improvement here. Lets get to the review summary..

Review Summary

Physically - I've been careful with the watch but i've still managed to introduce a scratch on the aluminium. Thankfully isn't on the side where the strap slots in and isn't visible, but i can see this watch isn't SPORT TOUGH enough, i'm very careful when doing weights or bringing anything remotely hard like metal close to it.

Watch Software - The screen is small so we have limitations. It took me a day or two to get used to navigating the watch and knowing all you can do with it. I think i know most if not everything on the watch software.
1) double press the bezel and you get to the apps
2) single press the bezel and you wake the watch face up or if in anywhere else - e.g.. in an app or on the contact page then it take you back to the watch face
3) single tap on the watch face and you wake up the watch face up
4) swipe down and you see notifications (if there are notification you'll see a red dot at the top of the watch)
5) single press of the button and you wake the watch face up or if your in the contacts it will take you back to the watch face
6) double press of the button and you bring up contacts (from where you can text and call them)
7) press and hold the bevel to initiate siri
8) press and hold the button to power down, enter power reserve or lock the device
9) press the button and the bezel down at the same time to take a screen capture of your watch

those 9 clicks will get you around all the software the watch has to offer.

lets look at some of the functionality that i've used and if it really works on a screen so small..

Email - No - the watch is small and it won't display much more (if anything that i've witnessed) than text. I'd settle for a notification that emails have arrived or a count of unread emails.

Messaging - Yes - i  think for sending messages using the dictation option its fine, reading messages less so as the screen is so small (and yes my text size is small)

Workout - Yes - You can log your workout as a run, cycle, rower, walk, elliptical or stair stepper either indoor or outdoor. You can also choose other but its a bit rubbish at logging calories, especially for circuit training. Once you've selected your workout it asks if you want to set a goal, which can be calories, time, kilometres or open (just do what you do and it will log you). Frustratingly the open goal (the most useful) is the furthest away, requiring four flicks of the screen.  I found annoying accessing the workout app, as its by default over to the left of the app layouts, but you can change that from the iPhone watch companion app, although cloying can't centre it.

So starting the workout is generally a pain, because of the points mentioned above but also since there is no physical button it won't work in the rain as the capacitive touch technology becomes unresponsive. This is a major miss, a major miss.

One last point is once you've setup the watch for a workout you don't always want to start that workout straight away. Provided you don't leave it longer that a minute you can just raise you wrist and tap start. If you wait longer you'll have to navigate back to the apps page. This happens to me a lot as I tend to do multiple types of workout in a single session, rowing, running, cycling. As I rest in between sessions I'll setup the next workout, but it's annoying again to use the screen when my hands are sweaty from the previous workout. A physical button dedicated to starting the workout would work better.

Shazam - Yes very useful to have this close at hand.

Notifications - Yes, i'm going a bit deaf and i frequently don't hear my phone beep so have the red dot tell me i've got something waiting for me is very useful, then being able to swipe down and quickly see what is waiting is also very useful. The software forces you to acknowledge or dismiss the notification, which is i think a step too far, once i've seen it on screen, i think it could disappear without me having to do anything.

I've really not used the other functionality that much, although you can add apps via the iPhone companion app. As a general gripe i would say that the application screen of the watch where you select the application you want to use isn't optimal. the icons are too small and a grid layout would be more efficient than the hexagonal matrix they have at the moment.

So thats my take on the Apple Watch so far. I hope this helps you make an informed decision.


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