A look at 5 Apple Watch knockoff bands

One of the best features of Apple Watch is how customizable it is. There are millions of watch faces variations to play with, and of course, you can use a multitude of watch bands to make your device stand out or blend in, depending on your mood.

If customizing your watch faces doesn't cost anything, buying bands from Apple can turn out to be expensive, with each band selling for hefty prices, especially if you don't want to settle for the fluoroelastomer bands.

An alternative Apple Watch users might want to look into is the knockoff bands available online. They appear to be exact replicas of Apple's official bands, and sell for a fraction of the price. I was curious about the price/quality ratio of these bands so I decided to purchase seven of them (two of which are still on back order) and see for myself if they are worth the money.

In this post, I will give a brief overview of each band that I received, as well as personal thoughts regarding the quality and whether or not it's a smart buy.

New Product Red Apple Watch Sport band retail packaging leaked in photo

It's been long suspected that Apple would lend some stage time to the Apple Watch at today's big iPhone event, and this photo, first tweeted by Larry Greenburg, makes it more evident that that will be the case.

A new Product Red Apple Watch Sport band retail package was the focus of a somewhat blurry photo, but it definitely looks like the real deal. Of course, we've seen this band before, so it's not a huge surprise that we're seeing retail box photos so close to Apple's event. What could this mean for the rest of the rumored Apple Watch-centric releases at the event?

Sketchy rumor claims Apple is working on smart Watch bands

Apple is working on new bands for its Apple Watch that will add considerable functionality to the device, reports Czech site Letem Svetem Applem. Citing a source familiar with the project, the outlet says, among other things, the bands will feature new health sensors.

These "smart" bands will plug into the Apple Watch's hidden diagnostic port, which means they could be compatible with current-gen models. And its sensors will be able to read and share data on blood oxygen level, blood pressure, body temperature and much more.

Apple Watch bands are insanely profitable: $49 Sport band costs Apple just $2.05 to make

IHS, a technology research firm, has found that Apple is making huge markups on the bands, with an entry-level 38mm fluroelastomer Sport band which retails for $49 costing an estimated $2.05 to make.

It should be noted the figure excludes other related costs such as packaging, shipping, marketing, cost of sale and so forth and “may not capture the full cost of the material Apple uses to make the band,” IHS analyst Kevin Keller told Reuters.

Standalone Apple Watch bands begin hitting select Apple retail stores

Standalone bands for the Apple Watch are now available across select brick-and-mortar Apple Stores in the United States, the United Kingdom and possibly elsewhere, according to latest reports.

As reported by Twitter user AppleRadar, an Apple Store in Miami is now carrying the Classic Buckle and the Sport Band in multiple colors, with additional bands likely arriving soon.

Apple launches ‘Made for Apple Watch’ program for third-party bands

Apple on Monday launched an official program for companies to develop third-party bands for the Apple Watch. As noted by 9to5Mac, a website just popped up on Apple's developer portal called 'Creating Bands for Apple Watch,' and it offers up details on a new 'Made for Apple Watch' program.

On the site, Apple explains that Watch bands are "easily changed with simple release buttons and lugs that secure the band to the Apple Watch case." A set of guidelines and a lug profile are provided for those that want to create custom bands, and Apple says official Watch lugs will be available soon.

Apple awarded patents for Apple Watch Sport Band, Classic Buckle and Link Bracelet designs

Innovation that went into conceiving, designing and engineering the Apple Watch extends to the bands, too. And as we count down the remaining days until Watches start shipping, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has just granted Apple a trio of patents covering designs for the most popular Watch straps, branded the Sport Band, Classic Buckle and Link Bracelet.

Interestingly enough, all three patents are titled just “Band” and described as covering “the ornamental design for a band”. The newly issued patent grants arrived just one month following another USPTO patent award for the Watch's Modern Buckle strap.

Jony Ive shows off exclusive Apple Watch Sport band colors in Milan

Apple continued its PR push for Apple Watch in Italy this evening, Jony Ive hosting a Design Week event in Milan allowing folks to try on the new wearable. The design chief also used the occasion to unveil what appear to be exclusive new colorways for the Apple Watch Sport band.

The photos you see both above and below, first spotted by 9to5Mac, were posted to Instagram by Umberta Gnutti Beretta, wife of heir to the Beretta firearms empire Franco. In them you can see Ive posing for photos, and a platter with dark blue, red, yellow, and light pink Sport bands.

Athlete shows off Apple Watch with custom red Sport Band and folding charging plug

With such a high-profile launch of a new-category (fashionable) gadget on its hands, little wonder Apple is admittedly enlisting help of the world's top fashion editors, celebrities and athletes in an unprecedented attempt to position the gizmo in the public's consciousness.

The latest in celebrity Watch signings came via British professional rugby player and captain turned cyclist, Will Carling.

Earlier today, Carling on Twitter showed off his stainless steel Apple Watch sporting what appears to be a bespoke red Sport band.

Apple Watch Sport band is indeed adjustable via unique three-piece solution

Following a recent TechCrunch report which claimed the Apple Watch Sport would ship with a three-piece band, the updated “What's In The Box” section on the Online Apple Store has now confirmed that the fluoroelastomer band indeed includes three pieces to make either a Small/Medium (S/M) or Medium/Large (M/L) strap. The discovery was first made by MacRumors on Thursday.

Microsoft launches $199 fitness band with 10 sensors

Microsoft this morning unveiled its long-rumored wearable: the Microsoft Band. With a design resembling Samsung's Gear Fit, the fitness-tracking wristband features 10 sensors, supports all major mobile platforms, and integrates with Microsoft's new cloud-based Health service.

Interestingly enough, Microsoft decided to skip any kind of media event or press release, opting instead to reveal the device to Recode following the discovery of new Health apps on iOS and Android last night. So was this meant to downplay an insignificant launch? Let's find out.