Choosing an Apple Watch

Updated on June 30, 2019
Pcunix profile image

I was born in 1948 and spent most of my career as a self-employed computer trouble shooter for Unix systems.

My Experience With an Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has become very popular. It tracks important health data, provides convenient access to messages, and can even make and receive phone calls. My own watch has become an essential part of my life. If you’ve been thinking about this purchase yourself, this guide may help you.

If you are not aware of all the things an Apple Watch can do for you, hold on tight because there is a lot to cover!

What Can an Apple Watch Do?

Actually, it would be silly to list all the things this amazing little device can do. Instead, let me just tell you what’s important to me. To list everything would take far too many words!

Messages

I didn’t notice this until a few days after I first had my watch, but getting texts on my wrist has changed my life. It used to be that I’d feel the buzz or hear the tone that meant someone had sent a message. I’d then dig my phone out of my pocket, wake it up, and well, darn it; I really didn’t need to read that right now.

Most of the texts, notifications, and emails I get don‘t need my immediate attention. That’s probably true for you, too. Most of these little interruptions are things we can deal with later—something someone needs to remind us about, or someone just saying hi, nothing critical.

Messages
Messages

But of course, sometimes it is something urgent. It could be something we need to act on right now, and that’s why we yank our phone out of our pocket or fumble for it in our purse. We have to check even though we know most of the time it will be unimportant.

The watch changes all that. You get a gentle tap on your wrist, you look down at your watch and, yeah, that one doesn’t matter right now, so right back to whatever I was doing.

Setting goals for a walk
Setting goals for a walk

Health

Calories, heart rate, steps, exercise, how much I’ve slept, and more are all tracked by my watch. It can warn me of heart problems, irregular heartbeats, high rates, low rates, and atrial fibrillation. If I fall and do not respond, it can call emergency services all by itself and even notify my emergency contacts.

Little conveniences

The Apple Watch can store music that I can listen to on my AirPods (or any Bluetooth headphones) while I’m out for a walk. I can control the volume and skip forward and back right on my wrist. I can check news, stock prices, send a text, make a note for myself, set a timer or an alarm, check my calendar locate my friends and family, turn on and off lights back home, get directions, make and receive calls, use a stopwatch, and pay for things with ApplePay—all from my watch!

So Let’s Buy a Watch!

Visiting an Apple store or shopping on line for the Watch can be confusing for new owners. There are so many options and choices to make, so I will break all that down first.

Keep in Mind

Dark tattoos on your wrist will interfere with sensors. Heart rate functionality may not work for you. Worse, the watch may not be able to know that it is on your wrist at all. You can shut off wrist detection on watch Settings, General, Activate on "Wrist Raise” pane or turn “Wrist Detection” off within the Apple Watch iPhone app under General. That prevents Apple Pay and exercise sensing.

GPS and Cellular or GPS only

The GPS watch models can receive and make calls if your phone is with you. Of course, they can also get text messages, mail, and notifications. If your phone is not nearby, but you do have a WiFi connection to your watch, you can do just about anything. You will have that WiFi connection if your phone ever connected to that WiFi and you can connect to unknown networks, although it is a bit clumsy to do so. With a WiFi connection and no phone, you will get mail, messages, reminders, you can use Siri and can even make and receive phone calls if you have WiFi Calling turned on on both your phone and watch and have Allow Calls on Other Devices turned on on your phone.

A GPS and Cellular model will let you do all that without your phone as long as you have a cellular connection to your carrier. However, battery life diminishes when talking or streaming and even more when using cellular, so the watch is definitely not a complete replacement for your phone.

My wife and I bought GPS only. The cellular models are at least $100 more expensive and also carry a monthly charge (around $10) from your cell provider. By the way, the stainless steel models (see below) only come in cellular. You don’t have to activate that with a carrier, which means that you can avoid the monthly fee, but you are paying extra for a feature you are not using.

Applepay on my watch
Applepay on my watch

Aluminum or Stainless

Certainly, the stainless models are dressier, and the case is a little harder to damage. However, according to some research I found, Apple apparently uses a very hard 7000 series anodized aluminum which approaches “figures typically seen in mild steel.”

The stainless models use Sapphire glass for the face while the aluminum uses ION-X glass. The Sapphire is definitely more scratch resistant, but not by very much, and the Sapphire is less flexible so it may break more easily. I have read that ION-X glass can withstand 2.5 times more weight in a bend than the Sapphire.

Color

Available colors are silver, gold, and black. The stainless models are the same, but of course, look different because of their material. My wife chose a silver aluminum model, and I chose black aluminum.

Size

Current watches are 40 or 44 millimeter. Previous models were 38 and 42. However, the bands fit all models. That is, a band described as being for a 40 millimeter Apple Watch will fit a 38-millimeter model, and vice versa and the 42 and 44 bands are also interchangeable. We both chose 40-millimeter models.

Bands

At one time, some stores would let you pick out the specific band you wanted for your watch, but most will not let you do that now. You’ll have your choice of a few bands that come with the color you chose, and if you want something else, you will have to buy it separately.

The stainless steel models offer more expensive leather and steel bands as well as the Sport and Sport Loop bands found on the aluminum versions. We bought the Sport Loop because the Velcro-like material lets you precisely adjust the fit.

By the way, both the Sport and Sport Loop bands are easy to clean.

Nike

The Nike models are exactly like the aluminum models. They cost the same and have the same features. The only real difference is that they offer some Nike branded watch faces. The Nike bands can be bought separately, and the Nike Run software that is preinstalled can be installed on any Apple watch.

Setting it up

If you can get help in the store or online, I do recommend it. It’s not that it’s hard to get things working; it’s actually very easy to follow the on-device directions.

The problem with that is that there is much more you will want to know and more customization you will want to do.

Available User Guide manual
Available User Guide manual

You can access a free manual from the Watch App. It’s in General->About as shown above. I’d encourage you to at least skim through that if nothing else.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Tony Lawrence

    Comments

    Submit a Comment
    • Emal fiza profile image

      Emal fiza 

      5 weeks ago

      thanks for the info, very handy

    • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Lawrence 

      5 weeks ago from SE MA

      Remember that anything you buy from Apple carries a 14 day return privilege even when you have used it. That’s full money back, not a store credit.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing the information. The abilities of the watch sound interesting. At this point in time, I'm not sure that I'll get one. I enjoy learning about its capabilities in case I do buy an Apple Watch, though.

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