Apple Watch review: Uncharted territory

GSMArena team, 27 May 2015.

Unboxing the Apple Watch Sport

Apple Watch Sport comes packed within a retail box twice as long and somewhat heavier than a regular iPhone 6 package. Opening the box reveals another plastic box, which contains the Apple Watch Sport itself, either the 38mm model or the 42mm one.

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Unboxing the Apple Watch Sport

Below the plastic box you'll find an additional larger bottom piece of the band (size M/L), a tiny 5V/1A wall plug and 2m-long wirelesses magnetic charger.

Design and build quality

The Apple Watch was introduced alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones and it's no surprise that its design takes after the smartphone duo - aluminum (or stainless steel) unibody with rounded edges and the 2.5D Ion-X (or sapphire on the more premium models) glass.

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Apple Watch Sport 38mm next to an iPhone 6 Plus

A lot of people (us included), were hoping that Apple will choose a circular display for the Watch, but it seems the company wanted its first wearable to be recognizable and for that the signature iPhone shape was the logical choice. The more conventional (for electronics, not so much for watches) form certainly helped pack more chips inside, although the Watch still ended up being thicker than we'd have liked.

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Apple Watch 38mm with Aluminum Silver case, Ion-X glass and Blue Sport Band

Whether you are opting for the Aluminum (Sport) or the Stainless Steel (Watch) models, you can choose between silver and space grey shells. The dark paintjob is available only with black sport bands for the Sport flavor and black stainless steel link bracelets for the Steel watch. The silver casing seems to go better with a more sportier looks, while the Gray one looks more stylish and official.

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Apple Watch 42mm with Gray case and Black Sport Band next to the 38mm Watch with Blue Band

The difference between the 38mm and 42mm is easily noticeable - in fact it feels greater than the numbers suggests. The 38mm size seems only appropriate for very small wrists, a ladies edition if you will, while the 42mm won't be out of place on a larger man wrist. Still, if you are a fan of larger watches, you should keep in mind that a 42mm Apple Watch is smaller than a 42mm regular watch - the reason being that most watch makers measure diameter, whereas Apple lists the height of its rectangural smartwatch and the body width is actually shorter.

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The 38mm (Blue band) and 42mm (Black band) Watch models on different sized wrists

Naturally, if you are after durability, the more expensive Watch should be your choice, as it is protected by the far tougher sapphire, while its case is made out of stainless steel. The aluminum Sport Watch and its Ion-X glass result in lighter body, but one that's far easier to scratch and dent with time.

We won't lie we are not keen of the sport silicon band, as it makes your wrist sweaty and while it may be comfy for sport, it sure isn't the best choice for every day wear. Also, the pink/blue/green bands make the Apple Watch look more like a toy rather than a serious and expensive gadget, and we'd definitely wouldn't wear the Watch with a sport band at any official gatherings.

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The sport bands of the 38mm and 42mm models

Apple Watch is designed carefully in Apple's traditions and you can tell it right away. It isn't following any trends or care much about public feedback, but is instantly recognizable and packs in some good ideas that few have thought of before.

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Apple Watch

Wearing the Watch is a pleasure - it is very light and small, and it won't get much in your way. The hefty feeling associated with most premium watches in the same price range is certainly not there, but opting for the heavier metal bands will certainly solve that. In its base Sport version, the Apple Watch is mostly suited to exactly that - sporting activities.

The bands aside, the build quality of the body is nothing short of excellent as is its logic of operations. You can wear it on either left or right wrists - just flip it upside down and the keys will be in the right place.

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The Apple Watch the 38mm Watch sized up to the 42mm model

Controls

The Apple Watch relies heavily on its touchscreen and its Force Touch functionality, but there are other ways to help you navigate through its menus and settings.

First - there is the Favorites key, which always opens the menu with your favorite contacts for quick and easy interactions with them. A long press on that key opens the Power menu. We find it rather strange that the functionality of this key isn't customizable - given that you only have one, why not allow everyone choose what to do with it. Worse still, favorite contacts is one of its least useful applications unless you plan on doing a lot of talking over your Apple Watch James Bond style.

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The Favorite/Power key and the Digital Crown

Right next to the Favorites button is the Digital Crown, which is a very precise scrolling tool and doubles as an OK or Exit key. The Crown is very easy to move and we found ourselves using it a lot more than as we anticipated at first, just because its positive feedback and precise movement.

On the other side of the Watch are the tiny loudspeaker grille and the microphone - you'll need those for interacting with Siri, or if you must, for making calls through your Watch.

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The mic and the loudspeaker grille

The bottom of the Watch is where the massive hear-rate sensor is. This is also where the magnetic wireless charger attaches too.

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The back of the Apple Watch

There are two small knobs at the back of the Watch, which release the two parts of the band, so you can replace it with another one. Currently you can get five different bands from Apple in a variety of colors, but those are priced rather outrageously. Hopefully by the time you get bored with your default strap a number of cheaper third-party ones will be available to fix that.

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Removing the bands completely is very easy