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Review : Apple 1.49-Inch Sport Smart Watch – Rose Gold Aluminum Case with Lavender Band

appleposts.com – Apple Watch Sport 38mm Rose Gold Aluminum Case with Lavender Sport Band.

I finally had to upgrade my old iPhone 5 that was draining battery by day (as I had to with iPhone 4), and my husband convinced me to get the bigger iPhone 6 plus since I read a lot through my phone. What I quickly found was that iPhone 6 Plus was difficult to operate for this 5’5″ lady with one hand. Yes the big phone is easier to read for my aging eyes, but the clunky size quickly became a major hindrance. I stopped carrying my phone in my pocket as I had with older smaller phones, and without a phone on me all the time, I was suddenly in need of a watch although I haven’t worn one for many years. My husband also started complaining about not being able to reach me, so my search for a smart watch began.

Initially, I thought I could just get one of those cheaper 3rd party smart watches and get by, but my research revealed that Apple had closed off the iOS so the Apple Watch is pretty much the only game in town if you need more features than just phone answering or message notifications (even this is getting limited). Pebble watch seemed like the best contender with its week-plus battery life, but the latest iOS updates are leaving many of those 3rd party watch owners in the dark with frequent connectivity loss and loss of features. OK, Apple, smart tactics for cash flow but major disservice to customers with your anti-trust practices!

I felt somewhat forced to choose the apple watch after my research, so I got the cheapest 38mm sports version in space gray on a Black Friday deal after resisting to buy one for a while. When I received the watch, I was pleasantly surprised at how sleek it looked for a smart watch, and I was very glad that I chose the smaller 38mm despite many reviews since 42mm would’ve looked ridiculous on my wrist. I’ve increased the text size to help compensate for the small display size difference. The 42mm has longer battery life with bigger battery (250mAh vs 205AH of 38mm), but the watch functions are the same across all Apple watch models.

I was disappointed that Siri doesn’t make any sound on the watch with only displayed responses (you could turn on the clunky Voice Over accessibility feature though), but I quickly ended up loving some of the watch proprietary features. The “Hey Siri” combined with the Wrist Raise wake allows me to be completely hands-free for making calls, initiate/respond to messages, set timer, schedule, etc. by just slightly turning my wrist. Siri is obviously not new, and it’s dumbed down on the watch, but being able to do many tasks without free/clean hands is very useful, especially while I’m cooking. The watch face is very easy to change and allows me to set a specific photo or shuffle my photo album, but I personally found the Modular face to be most useful with many customizable features including weather forecast. You can quickly mute with a palm cover over the watch face, and with the ability to silently choose one of your own messages off a responses list, a person would have a tough time falling off the grid even if in a meeting with the Haptic tap on the wrist with all alerts/sounds muted. The watch somewhat predictably offers you message response choices based on certain message context as well. The Bluetooth 4.0 could allow for up to 330 feet distance from your phone, but the shortwave UHF signal is easily disrupted by other environmental signals in reality. However, the watch communicates over your phone’s Wi-Fi along with Bluetooth connection, so I can be in my basement while my phone is upstairs within the range of my Wi-Fi network (more battery intensive) if the Bluetooth signal gets lost. The Settings Glance (swipe up, then left) shows the communicating signal, either a green cloud icon (Wi-Fi) or a green phone icon (Bluetooth). After the initial trial and getting used to the watch features, I was convinced that my husband also needs one, although he swears doesn’t want one. He won’t have any excuses for not responding to my calls/messages once he’s cuffed to the watch! In all seriousness, my husband wouldn’t intentionally not respond, but his occupation sometimes makes it difficult for me to reach him during emergencies.

The watch’s microphone is surprisingly powerful, and I’m able to speak in a normal voice with my wrist down in relaxed positions. However, the watch’s speaker is very underpowered which makes it difficult to hear if not in a completely quiet room with good phone reception. When my friend called me the first time, she was able to hear me clearly, but I eventually had to Handoff the call to my iPhone to hear her well. You’d literally have to place the watch right near your ear with slight ambient noise. There aren’t too many apps that are compatible with the watch yet and most existing apps are very primitive, but I was able to download a new shopping list app so that I won’t have to carry my huge phone around while checking off my grocery list. The major con with the watch is its battery life. I turn off location services on all my i* products unless absolutely needed but even with that, the watch needs to be charged Every Single Day. If you increase the usage of the heart rate monitor for workouts, the depletion is even quicker. The lithium ion battery will inevitably degrade quickly with the required daily charge cycles right off the bat (good for 1000 charge cycles), and I see that out-of-warranty battery service will cost at least $79 at the time of this writing. I’m sure that I’ll be needing the service sooner than claimed for my already costly watch, and I wish Apple concentrates on long-term customer satisfaction than fatter revenues. The limited battery life span feels like just one of many unscrupulous planned obsolescence by manufacturers these days… I find myself endeavoring to save the battery by putting the watch in Power Reserve mode (up to 72 hrs), or Airplane mode when not actively seeking notifications. Recovering from the Power Reserve mode (with only clock function) is equally as slow as from Power Off/On at over 1 ½ minutes, so powering off is another way to improve the battery longevity, especially overnight or whenever you’re not wearing the watch.

All in all, even with a bit of disenchantment, I’m glad that I got the Apple watch because of the convenient hands-off abilities and seamless integration with the iOS not currently possible with 3rd party watches. Most of all, I can leave my cumbrous iPhone Plus in my pulse while I’m out and about or working in my garden. I do hope that Apple changes mind and offer the battery replacement for free for at least a few years (one could only hope!) or reduce the service cost since it’s touted that the battery should be good for up to 3 years. I’m hoping the future versions could be designed with user serviceable battery replacement. I ultimately decided that I will wait to see how the battery fares in the long-run and wait for improved speaker volume before I finally tether my sweet husband with a gadget.

(review by bluema in amazon.com)

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