Apple Watch: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
The Apple Watch is the most personal device ever and it’s unlike any product available from Apple. It’s an incredibly exciting product that will change how we interact with technology, but deciding which Apple Watch to buy is no easy task. For one, this is a device was designed to be worn, so you’ll come in contact with the watch case and band materials on a daily basis. There are 38 different models. If you don’t typically wear a watch, there is the added factor of size and weight. With the cheapest model starting at $349, this isn’t a purchase decision to take lightly. And if you’re planning on the Edition model, which starts at $10,000, you want to be sure you’re making the right decision. That’s where we can help. Presented below is our Apple Watch Buyer’s Guide. It’s no ordinary buyers guide. We’ve outlined everything you need to know and then some. And if you have questions, our Apple Watch forums are a great place to solicit advice from our community of knowledgeable enthusiasts and experts.
- Information You Need To Know
- Key Dates
- What you’ll need to decide
- Should you buy an Apple Watch?
- 8 Apple Watch Video Reviews
- Key Decision Points
- Why you should buy the Apple Watch Sport
- Sport Bands and Colors
- Why you should upgrade and buy the Apple Watch
- Stainless Watch and Bands
- Which Apple Watch size should I get? 42mm or 38mm
- Where can you buy the Apple Watch?
- Apple Watch Buyer’s Guide FAQ
- Which Apple Watch is the cheapest?
- Is the Apple Watch waterproof?
- Are the bands interchangeable?
- What are the lengths of the bands?
- How do I measure wrist circumference?
- Are bands sold separately?
- Is there an easy way to see how a specific band looks with a specific watch case?
- When can I pre-order the Apple Watch?
- When and where can I try on an Apple Watch?
- Can I use an Apple Watch if I am left-handed?
- Can I buy AppleCare+ for Apple Watch?
Information You Need To Know
The Apple Watch comes in three models. Apple Watch Sport (10 models) , Apple Watch (20 models) and Apple Watch Edition (8 models). Those different models within each category represent the type of band and/or finish you select. All of which require an iPhone 5 or later. They all run the same software and support the same apps. From a functionality standpoint, there is no discernible difference between them. What differentiates the three models are the watch case, the display cover and the availability of certain bands as part of your initial purchase. Each of the three models are available in one of two sizes, either a 38mm or 42mm watch face. The accompanying watch band also comes in a variety of sizes, depending on the size of your wrist. Apple will start accepting pre-orders at midnight on April 10th. Starting on that day, you’ll also be able to schedule an appointment to try out an Apple Watch at an Apple retail store, where you’ll have 15 minutes with a specialist, helping you with your purchase decisions. Orders will ship on April 24th. There won’t be any in-store sales, so the only way to purchase, is to pre-order before the 24th. You can either have it shipped to your home or for pickup at an Apple Store. The latter is a good option if you require help getting your new watch setup. Of course, you can get help in our Apple Watch forums and save on gas!
April 10th: Pre-orders begin on Apple.com. Retail stores begin offering 15-minute try outs.
April 24th: Shipments begin. You will not be able to purchase in-store on that date. Availability is limited to pre-orders.
If you plan on pre-ordering on April 10th, you’ll want to decide on a model and add it as a favorite. Visit the store, login and select the heart above your favorite.
Should you buy an Apple Watch?
Think of the Apple Watch as an entirely new way to interact with your iPhone. It’ll extend the functionality of your apps, bringing the most important content to your wrist, accessible with nothing more than a slight rotation and lift of your arm. This goes well beyond telling time. When Apple mentions this being their most personal device, that goes beyond the fact that it’s technology that you wear. The functionality and overall value of Apple Watch is highly dependent on the apps you use, the way in which you communicate and how much you use your iPhone.
There are 19 built-in apps, plus a Settings app. Much of the functionality you already enjoy on your iPhone has been designed so that the experience works on a smaller screen. You won’t be reading any novels on it, but it’s ideal for short interactions. Think of what apps you use on a consistent basis and how the capability to bubble up notifications and information to a place where you’ll enjoy near-instant access. Using the Messages app as an example. If your the type that gets plenty of text messages throughout a typical day, there is great value in seeing those messages without having to pickup your phone. This a perfect example of information being pushed to the watch from your iPhone.
As an entirely new device, you should expect it to take time for developers to become familiar with the hardware and also their ability to deliver a software experience that’s both fast and useful. Here’s the current list of available apps. Apple expects up to 1,000 apps will be available at launch. Early reports have suggested that apps are slow to respond, in part due to the need to connect to your iPhone.
This is a first generation product. If you want to be on the cutting edge, that will be mixed with amazement and frustration. It’s easy to get caught up in the late-night pre-order frenzy, but you might want to skip this one and schedule a try-out. Now that reviews are available, you’ll be able to read first hand accounts of real-world usage.
8 Apple Watch Video Reviews
Wall Street Journal
What you’ll need to decide
You’ve read the reviews, watched countless videos and now you’re ready to purchase an Apple Watch. Here are the most important decisions you’ll need to make and we’ll walk you through the options as you progress through the guide.
- Which model
- Which watch face color
- What size watch face
- Which band and where applicable, the color
- What size band
Do you want the Sport, Apple Watch or Edition. If you have money to burn or you are Kim Kardashian, you’ll want to go straight to Edition. It’s the only version that ships in gold and you’ll pay a hefty admission price of $10,000 to start. For the rest of us, the decision lies between the Sport model and the second tier known simply as Apple Watch.
Why you should buy the Apple Watch Sport
Sport is the base model. It’s the cheapest way to be an early adopter, with prices starting at $349. There are 10 models in all, all of which come with the Sport band. These are light, soft and perfect for fitness fanatics. They come in 5 colors: White, Blue, Green, Pink and Black. The watch case is silver aluminum on all models, but the black band, which is space gray. You cannot get a black band with an aluminum watch case, at least without purchasing a band separately.
Sport 38mm and 42mm with bands
The watch case is constructed using anodized aluminum. For the display, Apple uses aluminosilicate glass, which they market as Ion-X. These are the lowest cost models and will not be as durable, scratch resistant as higher end watches.
- Cheapest way to enjoy Apple Watch, less early adopter burn.
- Cost can easily be justified for those considering a fitness band.
- Same internals as more expensive models
- Apple doesn’t do cheap. You can save money and feel confident that you’re still getting a quality product.
Why you should upgrade and buy the Apple Watch
When it comes to bands, the mid-tier model offers the most options. You can opt for a sport band and you’ll pay $200 for the upgraded stainless steel watch case. You’ll have a watch that is less susceptible to nicks or scratches. The same goes for the display which uses sapphire crystal. It’s one of the hardest materials. Apple uses it for the home button on the iPhone 6. The materials also make a big difference in the overall weight. This will feel heavier and that’s more in line with what you’d expect from an expensive watch.
Stainless 38mm with bands
Stainless 42mm with bands
- Both case and display will be more resistant to scratches.
- Heavier feel, which might actually be a negative for some folks.
- Will look better with a wider range of Apple and third-party watch bands.
Which Apple Watch size should I get? 42mm or 38mm
The Apple Watch comes in two sizes. The case size is either 38mm or 42mm. The Edition model varies in price, with the larger model costing an additional $2,000. You can expect to pay just $50 additional for either of the other two models. Beyond scheduling a try-out, there are a few ways to gauge the size differences. Both sizes have the same depth of 10.5mm or roughly the size of six quarter stacked. The 38mm version is 33.3mm wide and has a height of 38.6mm. The larger model is 42.0mm and 35.9mm wide.
The Apple Store app (available for download here) allows you to visual the size difference. Alternatively, you can download this PDF. This won’t win any design awards, but should provide you with a good idea of the actual size on your wrist.
Where can you buy the Apple Watch?
You have to order the Apple Watch online from Apple.com. You cannot purchase at brick and mortar retail stores and third party retailers will not sell the product.
Which Apple Watch is the cheapest?
By far, the Apple Watch Sport is the cheapest model, starting at $349 for the 38mm and $399 for the 42mm.
Is the Apple Watch waterproof?
It is water resistant, but not waterproof. You won’t go swimming with it, but you can shower with it on.
Are the bands interchangeable?
Yes. The band needs to match your size. A 38mm band will work with a 38mm watch case and so on.
What are the lengths of the bands?
Some bands are one-size fits all, while others come in either small/medium or medium/large. These band sizes differ, depending on the style of band.
38mm : small/medium (130-180mm), medium/large (150-200mm)
42mm : small/medium (140-185mm), medium/large (160-210mm)
38mm : one-size fits all (125-200mm)
42mm : small/medium (145-215mm)
38mm : one-size fits all (135-195mm)
42mm : small/medium (140-205mm)
38mm : one-size fits all (130-180mm)
42mm : small/medium (150-200mm)
42mm : small/medium (150-185mm)
42mm : medium/large (180-210mm)
38mm : small (135-150mm)
38mm : medium (145-165mm)
38mm : large (160-180mm)
Apple provides this handy PDF for information sizes.
How to measure wrist circumference?
Are bands sold separately?
Yes, you can purchase bands separately, both from Apple and third parties.
Is there an easy way to see how a specific band looks with a specific watch case?
You bet. Check out MixMyWatch. They’ve got an interactive website that let’s you mix and match. It’s a great way to find the perfect watch for your style.
When can I pre-order the Apple Watch?
Starting on April 10th through April 24th. Quantities are expected to be limited. Order early if you have a specific model in mind.
When and where can I try on an Apple Watch?
Starting on April 10th, you can schedule a try-on at your local Apple Store.
Can I use an Apple Watch if I am left-handed?
Yes. The display will rotate automatically. When wearing on your right wrist, lefties will be able to easily access the digital crown.
Can I buy AppleCare+ for Apple Watch?
Yes. The price will differ between the three models. Apple has yet to release AppleCare+ pricing. Purchasing AppleCare+ extends your warranty 1 year to 3 years. Typically, it will provide for (2) accidental damage incidents, where you can replace a damaged watch for a set fee. You have up to 60 days following your purchase to add AppleCare+.
The Apple Watch isn’t an easy purchase decision. With 38 different models and sizes, it’s easy to get lost in the maze of Apple’s online store. Hopefully, you’ve found value in our ultimate buying guide. Our aim was to outline the differences and provide you with everything you need to make an informed purchase decision.
So, which Apple Watch are you buying? Let us know in the comments or jump in the forums!