The Apple Watch adds a valuable layer of accessibility and communication to everyday technology. For example, with an Apple Watch, you can silently get meeting reminders or personal messages without disrupting your workday. Indeed, the long list of features is impressive, but you'll have some decisions to make before you make a purchase. The size, band design, and color are appearance selections you'll need to make, and your choices regarding wireless technology and processing speed will affect performance.
Considerations when choosing Apple Watches
The perks of an Apple Watch
The Apple Watch can link with your iPhone, iPad, and any other Apple devices, providing many of the same features you already enjoy from the convenience of your wrist.
Calls and texts
You can take and make calls and texts using an Apple Watch. For most models, your iPhone will need to be nearby. However, there are some watches from Apple that have the ability to connect to the internet and take calls directly.
Apple Watches support many of the same apps as your iPhone. You can peruse photos, listen to music, use the GPS, and check your Google calendar. Any push notifications you receive on your iPhone will also come through to the watch.
When it comes to music, Apple Watches offer several benefits. Some models can stream music directly through the watch, and the audio is pretty good considering it's a watch. And with some watches, you can remotely control the music playing on your iPhone.
With Apple Pay on your wrist, you can leave your wallet at home and pay for purchases securely while out and about. You just need to make sure the retailer or business you're patronizing supports Apple Pay.
We already mentioned the remote control that an Apple Watch provides for your music. It can also provide remote control for Apple TVs and some smart devices. And just think: you'll never have to worry about losing your remote because it's strapped to your wrist!
Features you don't want to miss
Built-in speaker and microphone
Some would argue that the built-in speaker and microphone alone make the Apple Watch worth the money. These features give you the ability to talk on the phone, to create voice-to-text messages, and to remotely control your smart devices.
Apple Watch faces are measured from the top of the screen to the bottom. They come in several sizes, with the most common being 38mm and 42mm -- both of which have a10.5mm depth. The 38mm models are intended for those with small wrists. If you have large wrists, a 42mm model would likely fit better and also provide more viewing area. Apple's latest series, Series 4, adds 30% more screen with both 40mm and 44mm options.
Size isn't just about comfort; it's also about display quality. Apple's 38mm watches have a 272 x 340-pixel resolution; Apple's 42mm watches have a 312 x 390-pixel resolution. The newer 40mm screens have a 294 x 324-pixel resolution, and 44mm screens offer 448 x 368-pixel resolution.
Screen clarity and display quality
Apple Watches have one of two types of screens. Most have a lightweight, durable Ion-X screen, but pricier models have a Sapphire screen. Though the Sapphire offers better durability and scratch resistance, it is heavier. Both screen types provide excellent text and graphics with energy-efficient retina displays.
The watch case material affects the overall look and weight of the watch. The three available choices are aluminum, stainless steel, and ceramic.
Aluminum is the lightest option. It's a favorite amongst athletes and those who lead an active lifestyle.
Stainless steel adds a small amount of weight, but it makes the watch look and feel like a traditional timepiece.
Ceramic is the heaviest option; it's also the most luxurious. Ceramic is harder than stainless steel, and Apple has worked to develop a formula that's not brittle, so these cases have excellent durability.
Apple provides a number of different band options from which to choose. Sports bands, made of lightweight rubber, are the most common. They also make nylon sports bands that are durable and lightweight with a more sophisticated look. However, not everyone wants a sporty watch. Stainless steel and leather bands provide formal choices that are more appropriate for professional and business settings.
You're not stuck with the band that came with the watch. Apple sells bands separately so you can choose from a long list of materials and colors.
Connectivity (WiFi, Bluetooth, LTE)
Apple Watches are designed to be used with an iPhone, so all of them come with WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. Reliance on this technology requires you to have your iPhone nearby. However, Apple Watches with LTE cellular technology can connect directly to the internet using data from your data plan. You can make and take phone calls even when your phone isn't around. On the downside, LTE technology dwindles battery life fairly quickly.
Apple Watch prices
Apple Watch prices vary depending on features. Basic Apple Watches that run from $240 to $279 are WiFi- and Bluetooth-capable but not waterproof, nor do they have built-in GPS capabilities. Apple Watches that add a built-in GPS usually fall in the $320 to $360 range. Models with LTE connectivity and are waterproof with built-in GPS usually cost between $400 and $800. Add a leather band, and you're looking at a watch that costs over $1,000.
Q. Do Apple Watches work for lefties?
A. Lefties should take note that Apple Watches are oriented for right-handed people. However, the case can be flipped, which places the controls on the left side, providing easier access for lefties.
Q. Are Apple watches waterproof? What about water resistance?
A. Most Apple watches are designed to be water resistant; they can withstand splashes and rain showers. However, for water athletes, there are waterproof models that are effective in up to 50 meters of water.
Apple Watches we recommend
Best of the best: Apple Watch Series 3 Aluminum Case with Sport Band
Our take: It's lightweight and sporty, and it has some great features that add convenience in case you don't want to carry your phone.
What we like: We love the impressive audio quality and connectivity options.
What we dislike: The LTE connectivity drains the battery and can be spotty.
Best bang for your buck: Apple Watch Series 1 Aluminum Case with Sport Band
Our take: This is an excellent alternative to the Series 3 that runs almost as many apps and is easy to set up.
What we like: The Series 1 is a great choice if you want to monitor your health while taking calls and monitoring texts.
What we dislike: It's not waterproof and lacks a built-in GPS.
Our take: The combination of a built-in GPS with cellular and a 30% larger display makes this a model worth considering.
What we like: The latest series adds louder speakers and faster processing speeds.
What we dislike: With the latest technology, you run the risk of unexpected issues.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.