Apple Watch faces CNET 002

Apple opened up pre-orders for Apple Watch earlier this morning, and although these won’t ship until April 24, the company has outfitted its store with hands on areas where you can try on Apple Watch, and get to have a feel for what it’s like to hold the future on your wrist.

After making an appointment at my local Apple Store, I was able to try two different models, and play with one of the Apple Watches that were available for everybody to play with. These are my first impressions of Apple Watch after going hands on with a Stainless Steel with Leather Loop band, and a Space Gray aluminum with white sport band, as well as the various working units they had on display.

Before an Apple employee came and shut me off, I was able to record this video that I streamed to Periscope. I apologize in advance for the poor quality, but this is as hands-on as it gets. In this 16-minute video, I show you various aspects of the UI, most applications and features, and even answer questions from other Periscopers.

Design & feel

The design is exactly what you would expect from an Apple product. It’s beautiful and has this great build quality feel to it. Surprisingly, Apple Watch didn’t feel as bulky as I thought it would be. It is significantly thicker than the Pebble I’ve been using for a while, but the 42mm models I tried on didn’t look awkward. I don’t have large wrists and I feared the 42mm model would be slightly oversized for me, but it’s not. If anything, I realized that the 38mm model is definitely more feminine due to its noticeable size difference.

Looking at the specs for each model on Apple’s website, I had realized that all models were significantly heavier than my Pebble, especially the stainless steel version, which I believe came in at about three times the weight of my current watch. It’s something that I feared would be noticeable once on the wrist, but it is not. Quite honestly, even at 132g, it feels like it’s not there. I think there is just not enough weight on it for you to even notice it’s there, especially if you’ve been wearing a watch before.

Bands

As mentioned above, I only got to experience the Leather Loop band and the white fluoroelastomer sport band.

I had read somewhere that the leather loop felt a little cheap on the touch, and I can definitely confirm that. Actually, let me rephrase that. The leather loop band doesn’t feel as the amazing leather handcrafted in Italy that Apple advertises. If you had told me it was glorified plastic, I would have certainly believed you. This being said, it does feel good on you. It just doesn’t feel like a luxurious item on the touch. Because it’s leather though, I have the feeling it might need a little wear and tear before gaining its full richness.

The sport band felt great at first touch, and is extremely comfortable. If you have a bad opinion of rubbery bands (hello Pebble), then fluoroelastomer will definitely change your mind. When some rubber band might sometimes feel sticky and pulling your hair, the fluoroelastomer band were the complete opposite. Putting it on was a little more challenging than I would have wanted, but like every new thing, it’s something you’ll probably get used to after a few days.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try on other bands, but I do intend to return to the Apple Store later on for more hands-on experiences with the various models.

Screen

As small as it is, the screen is just plain gorgeous. It is crisp and has these deep colors that really pop. Coming from a Pebble, it is obviously a big change, and a good one.

Taptic Engine

On the first watch I tried, I simply didn’t feel the haptic feedback from the Taptic Engine at all. It was playing a demo loop and the Apple employee kept telling me “here you’re going to feel it now,” and while I could hear a sound, I just couldn’t feel the haptic feedback.

It was a little more noticeable on the other watch I tried on but still not really noticeable. My guess is, unless you’re doing nothing, you probably won’t feel the tap. If you’re running or doing any kind of activity that will require some sort of focus on your part, I doubt you will feel it.

It’s worth noting that the force of the Taptic Engine can be adjusted in the settings, so that shouldn’t be too much of a concern at this time.

Digital Crown

I came in with enormous expectations about the Digital Crown. Reviews and first hands-on had sold this mechanical feature as the best thing since the invention of the wheel, and while I must admit it feels great, it’s not something that I would necessarily sell my friends on. It works as advertised, it feels good, and that’s all I made of it. I certainly won’t have dreams at night about it.

UI

Reviews complaining about the unintuitiveness of the UI were wrong. Of course, I’m not quite the average guy when it comes to tech, and maybe I watched way too many demo videos of Apple Watch, but I immediately felt right at home on Apple Watch. Once you figure out how things work, you’ll just be navigating this thing just like you would with your iPhone.

The UI is actually pretty simple. Digital Crown is your Home button as well as your up/down, zoom in/out button. In most cases, you can also navigate just by swiping with your finger, just like you do on your iPhone. Once you understand that, then you’re good to go.

I did experience a few lags here and there while playing around with the watches they had on deck, but nothing that I would consider too serious at this time. I am confident that software will be updated to take care of these little things, maybe even before the watch starts shipping at the end of the month.

I wish I had more feedback to share about the overall UI, but again, it’s so simple and intuitive that I don’t feel there is much more to be said here. It just works.

Force Touch

Speaking of UI, Force Touch is probably the one feature I had a hard time with. Not because it’s complicated, but rather because it’s so new and I have no real understanding of how hard you have to press. I expected the press to be harder than it actually needs to be, so I found myself Force Touching on many occasions when I just wanted to tap the screen.

I don’t want to sound too defensive about it, but I really believe this is one more of these instances where a few hours with the device will allow you to have a clear understanding of how it works and how hard you need to press.

Final verdict

I am of course very bullish when it comes to Apple Watch. This is the device I’ve been waiting for for years now and these few minutes spent at the Apple Store confirmed all the expectations I had about it. It’s a beautiful device that works just as well as Tim Cook and co. advertised, albeit with a little lag here and there, but nothing that software can’t fix.

While my words certainly won’t change the mind of people that aren’t sold on Apple Watch, I’m hoping that this will at least give you a better idea of how it looks and more importantly how it functions.

If you have questions you’d like to ask, feel free to hit me up in the comments section.

  • iPhoneWINS

    eh….

  • Excellent post. This allayed my fears about the UI and intuitiveness. Looking forward to going hands on with it. I wanted to hear your thoughts on Digital Touch as well.

    • Lucus Bendzsa

      No recording allowed? This is a change from all previous products.

    • Gilbert Gonzalez

      Hey Jeff. Do you have a picture of the space gray sport watch with white band? That’s what I preordered with the white band separately but I can’t find how it looks anywhere online.

  • o_O

    Is iDownloadblog not official? How come you don’t previews and invites like The Verge and CNet and other groups. You have to go to the apple store like a normal person?

    • Yeah unfortunately we’re not good enough for Apple. Oh well, at least we know what it’s like to be the 99% 🙂

      • Ethan Humphrey

        Well you guys are the best and probably the only blog I read, but mainly because you guys pull in what every one else says and have lots of different things you do and report on. No matter what you get invited to, I think you are “good enough for Apple”.

      • Anthony

        I agree 100%. I would assume iDB will never be invited for the same reason their podcast was kicked off iTunes. The jailbreak content

      • Ethan Humphrey

        Didn’t think about the jailbreak content. Hopefully they don’t get kicked back off for saying “myjailbreakmovies” in their latest episode.

      • Jon20

        Sebastien, you’re such a rebel. That was pretty gangster of you to do that at the Apple store. Damn 16 min!!! Honestly I’m surprised you even got that far in the Periscope streaming. I figured you would even get two minutes and before they would interrupt you. They must’ve really been busy. Lol. Good stuff though. I really appreciate you doing that.

      • Thanks!

      • Anmol Malhotra

        The only one thing Apple is doing wrong.

    • Senz

      it’s because they talk about jailbreak

      • James

        No it isn’t, that makes no sense because TheVerge also posts about jailbreak.

      • Elias

        They occasionally do posts regarding jailbreak news while iDB posts about tweaks and how to preform various “hacks” that Apple wouldn’t allow.

      • Manuel Molina

        The Verge doesn’t have a Jeff, a download button directly to a jailbreak tool, and a video on how to do it with each phone or computer. Plus, The Verge is own by some big company. Their reviews and news are bias at times.

      • Benjamin J Schwartz

        Have you ever read any of the Verge’s posts about jailbreaking? All they do is demonize it, perpetuating the myth that it destroys your device. They make it sound like it’s the worst thing since taking a dump on sliced bread.

  • Pokeh321

    Tried it on at my local store.

    I feel the same way sort of with the taptic feedback but I think it was different. It’s like I heard it but the store was much too loud for me to hear it. Something I’ll have to have more experience.

    The UI was really smooth for me. Only had a.bit of lag going into the activity app.

    And the bands. I want more than one which is bad for my wallet.

  • disqus_MgRQT3ajD1

    Had the same experience a couple of hours ago. Couldn’t even feel the tap on the demo. I just thought the rep at the store saying it should go off now mistimed it but oh well. The sport felt better than I imagined. Can’t wait for it to get here. Got another appointment tomorrow and doubt I’ll go cuz I’m sold on it already. Got lucky and placed 3 orders last night. Was gonna cancel one but the way it’s looking I might be able to make a couple of bucks

    • Dhoklastellar Fafda®™

      You scalpers should have some shame. Cant blame you for Apples extremely poor delivery times.

  • FreeRunner9616

    Tell about the watch sizes. That was the hardest part about picking what I want. I went with 42 mm.

    • See first paragraph of “design and feel” section where I briefly touch on it. If you’re a guy, I say go with 42mm. 38mm definitely looks more feminine.

      • Elias

        Does it look very feminine? I’m 15 and have really small wrists so I’m almost obligated to go with 38mm :/

      • Cameron

        if you really have small wrists, and i mean really small, thats when you should go with the 38mm, compare your wrists with other girls first. Theres really a feminine feel about the 38mm, no denying it.

      • Elias

        Well I do have larger wrists than my girlfriend however I still think that the 38mm one would fit better.. We’ll see.

    • Alberto Espinal

      You got the right size because the 38mm is to small, I saw it myself at the Apple Store, 38mm is for women

  • czarczarczar

    Sebastian, i think u couldn’t invoke siri because it was not connected to any iPhone right? thats what I’m guessing . so that feature means we can just say “Hey Siri” without pressing any button just like the iPhone right?! thats awesome! but imagine the battery drainage for that feature to always be on

    • I do not believe it needs to be connected to an iPhone, but rather to any kind of internet connection.

      • czarczarczar

        you’re probably right

  • Mike

    Could you possibily show us what the apple watch looks like on the right wrist? I can’t seem to find any reviews that show people wearing the watch on the opposite wrist.

    • I don’t have a photo but I wore it on the right wrist and was able to handle it just fine with my left hand, even with the crown to the right. I think that’s the way I’ll use it. I think the crown at the bottom left would just look funny

      • Thoughts

        Wouldn’t it be harder to use with your left thumb instead of flipping it and using your left index finger? I mean, your hand partially covering screen etc.

    • Andres

      I wonder if there’s an option in settings to wear it on the right wrist. All it has to do is turn the UI around and then you can wear the watch upside down on your right wrist. That could be a possibility. Only thing would be that the digital crown would be on the lower left.

      • Yes, it can be worn on either wrist, and the orientation is flipping via the companion app for iPhone.

      • Andres

        Thank you. At least that’s an option for people

  • Jamessmooth

    Thanks for this, Sebastian. I ordered mine yesterday and am trying on tomorrow morning. I haven’t had a chance to watch all of your video yet, but it did seem that glare could be an issue. Do you anticipate any visibility issues in sunlight? Indoors?

    • Well honestly it is not something that I noticed or could have properly tested in store, so I wouldn’t be able to give you a proper answer.

  • Techsticles

    Why does a stainless steel with a nice link band cost $700 more that the sport edition?

    • Stefano

      Yeah that bothers me so much. The only one I was looking forward to purchasing is 1100 dollars. GTFOOH

      • Techsticles

        Exactly! It’s completely f’d up.

        It’s actually the one in the photo in this article. It almost kind of somewhat looks like the Pebble Steel.

        If you argue that the hardware and software are better, agreed. So the iWatch sells for $400. Why is it $700 for the upgraded materials?

      • Rowan09

        I guess stainless steel, sapphire glass and ceramic back. I bought the Sport since I couldn’t justify the price of the stainless steel.

      • Phil Randle

        The stainless steel isn’t it the same market as what they would use on the Pebble Steel, Apple aren’t competing against that.

        I opted for the Stainless Steel link, and I thought for the quality and how you can adjust the bands (brilliant design idea, how has no other company done this!?) It was reasonable. My stainless steel Burberry watch was more then that, and it does nothing except tell time.

      • Stefano

        I agree with you on that. I really want it but I am herong bout its lag in apps; I’m almost certain it will drastically improve over time. With that being said, time is in our favor because the next model will be better and if they can move the sapphire closer to the screen in lamination, I’ll be a customer.

      • Techsticles

        Out of college I bought myself an expensive watch but that that thing is timeless.

        What do you do with a $1,100 Apple Watch after three years?

      • Cameron

        exactly. you could only sell them at a half the price or maybe even less.

      • Phil Randle

        Yeah if your looking at it in watches buying format then sure you can make that assumption.

        But these are also technologically advanced devices, the expensive ones aren’t for the people who don’t have the money for it and would have to save for a large amount of time to purchase one.

        Myself, without coming off as bragging, I can afford the watch, and it’s a small price to pay for the convenience it’s going to bring.

        The same argument can be applied to anything Smeg fridges verses normal fridges, furniture vs designer furniture etc.

        The different styles, (like the Milenese Loop I purchased) Your paying the amount you can afford for the luxury you want.

      • Techsticles

        It not about being able to afford. $1,100 isn’t going to break the bank. I feel like I’m getting ripped off.

        Is this thing that much better and luxurious than everything else out there?

    • Cameron

      Pro tip: If you really want a nicer looking band but cant afford the ones Apple are offering, get 3rd party version which will eventually start appearing, dont buy the watches based on the bands.

  • sopaipas

    Actually your first impression is something that many of us were waiting, because you guys are far more pro and neutral that other sites like imore.

  • I just realized that when my watch comes in. I have to update my OS hence loosening my jail break.

  • deepdvd

    Eek. Maybe if an 8.2/8.3 jailbreak comes out, Sebastien can get the tweak VerticalVideoSyndrome to remind him not to do that.

    • Dhoklastellar Fafda®™

      thats right, because all watches are shaped like horizontal boxes.

      • deepdvd

        All YouTube boxes are.

      • deepdvd

        All YouTube boxes are shaped exactly like horizontal boxes.

  • Rupinder

    I went with the 38mm because I have pretty small wrists and it looks weird when I put on a large watch (G-Shock, fo rexample). I’m hoping I don’t regret this.

  • Tomi De Lucca

    Hi! Great post. I wanted to know how you feel about the two different models. Does the sport one feel much cheaper than the SS one? Can you elaborate please on the differences between the two? Thanks!

    • The Sport collection does look like it’s more affordable than stainless steel. It doesn’t look cheap by any means though.

      The shine and polish of the stainless steel make the watch a little fancier.

  • codylem

    Thanks for the shaky vertical video.. bro

    • Merman123

      You got a better one for us ?

  • zeekfizz

    I’m glad you started this site. And m VERY glad you found real writers.

  • Can you Facetime in video with the Watch? If not; surely its coming…?

    • You can’t at this time. And of course there is no camera on the watch, so at the very best you’d be able to see your friend’s video but he wouldn’t be able to see you.

      • Betcha there will be a third party mini cam accessory that can be plugged into the hidden port. (if there is indeed a hidden port)

      • Dhoklastellar Fafda®™

        Betcha I can charge my car through that hidden port!!

      • The Second edition Apple Watch; waterproof; now with Facetime + Camera, …thinner with 7 day battery life…..

      • Cameron

        betcha theres no hidden port and i have no idea which idiot would mount a camera on his elegantly designed Apple watch just for video.

  • Damian

    I am just not sold on it. Will wait few years and will take it from there….

  • Fardeen Beharry

    that was really cool watching the video. free hands on like that

  • John Smith

    Will the is be called AOS? (Apple watch operating system) cuz iOS(iPhone/iPad/iPod operating system) won’t work. Also would there be a jailbreak? And how do you charge it? Is it lightning port?

  • JulianZH

    smartwatch still overrated

  • ttwiitch yu

    Apple watch; the watch that gives you less for more….but it has an Apple logo!

  • Can anyone tell how good one can read the watchface in bright sunlight?

  • Benjamin J Schwartz

    This post doesn’t tell me much. I’m sure the UI is fantastic, and it all works really well, but the battery life is garbage. That’s the only reason I have no intention of getting one. No watch should ever have to be charged every single day.

  • Andrew Roth

    Moto 360 > Apple Watch.

  • Andrew Roth

    Recording in the stores are on a permanager basis. I went into mine in the morning and they said no, tried again before closing and they were fine with it.

  • Christos Markakis

    I agree with your point about the apple sales people didn’t know too much more than the average person. I asked a question about the grade of the stainless steel and it took 10 apple employees surrounding me (best feeling ever) to find out before someone found the answer online (not an Apple Website ironically enough).

    My question for you relates to bluetooth (which I found the apple employees also didn’t know the answer to). Would my apple watch connection to my iPhone restrict me using my iPhone with any other bluetooth device? For example, if I want my phone connected to the bluetooth in my car (for hands free) or a bluetooth speaker, do I have to disconnect the connection to my watch? If so, I feel this is a big limitation on the “seamless” experience that the apple watch should be bringing to our apple experience.