After months of speculation, the Apple Watch is here. From early 2015 you'll be able to get an Apple device for your wrist that connects to your iPhone (iPhone 5 and higher) to deliver a series of notifications, sports data, and even let you pay for stuff.

We played with a prototype of the new Watch ahead of its official release in 2015 to find out whether it is something you will be craving, or just yet another wearable to forget.


There are two sizes, six different straps, and three different material finishes. The smaller screen sizes, which Apple hasn't even detailed in terms of inches, is the surprisingly the major winning factor of the Apple Watch. This is a different Apple, one that has previously only said that one size fits all. 

Those with thinner wrists will be encouraged to go for the smaller face, while bigger wristed wearers (read men) will no doubt want something a little more beefier. It's a move that will no doubt aplease and one that will mean it is much more appealing to females and a fashion-conscious audience.

On the hand and both sit beautifully, although the design will polarise people's opinions in the same way all watches currently do. 

If the size doesn't strike you - the Moto 360 looks like it was designed for giants in comparison - the range of materials and straps available certainly will.

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Those three different designs sit in three different camps. There is Watch, Watch Sport, and Watch Edition ranges, as well as six straps at launch that you can interchange quickly and easily. 

Regardless of materials, all feel solid and well made with a sense of something well built rather than cheap, tacky, and gadgetity. This is light years away from the first Android Wear devices, and even the more aesthetically pleasing Moto 360.

The straps slip on and off with ease, while the range available - silicone, leather, and metal - will appeal to even the most die-hard Swiss Watch fan.

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As we've come to expect from Apple, it is premium materials. The Edition, for instance, features an 18-carat gold finish woven into the design rather than just painted on, and it will come in a stylish presentation case that doubles as a wireless charger that can sit on your night stand we've been told. 

The screen itself is made with a flexible display that gives the watch a curved feeling to it, while a traditional-looking crown (dial) on the side of the watch is the main control interface alongside the touch gestures on the screen (you can talk to it as well).

Although expectations would be that you would feel the wheel click like something mechanical, it doesn't, allowing to freely rotate infinitum. To select what you want requires a press of the button into the watch. 

Beneath the "digital crown" is a single button used to access contacts and if you are using the watch to pay for things, a double tap instigates the payment process. 

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On the back of the device is a heart rate monitor so you can measure your heart rate or send it to others. Apple has made sharing your heart rate a thing, we're not yet sure why.

The design won't appeal to everyone. Those looking for a circular display, as promoted by Motorola and LG, will be disappointed, but like the Asus ZenWatch, the Apple Watch gets away with it. The general feeling on the demo room floor was positive with fashionastas crowing how lovely it all is. 


In practice and it is a fairly intuitive design interface that we suspect will be quick to learn. There's no pitch to zoom to be found here and it is positive that Apple have opted for a dedicated UX rather than just trying to force iOS to work on the smaller screen.  

Zooming in to and out of apps is done via the digital crown on the side, while you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access notifications. Apple likes circular design interfaces (remember the iPod) and that heritage is still to be found here too. 

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There is another button on the side of the phone that you can tap to access your favourite contacts and a communications hub. And when someone messages you, the watch software is clever enough to analyse what is written and give you a number of boiler-plate replies based on the words in the message. If it works as prescribed, you may never have to get your phone out again, but your friends will need to get used to simple to the point messages from you in the future. 

If that wasn't enough, you'll be able to send other Watch owners special-hand drawn messages and sketches or your heartbeat. The Watch will even vibrate on the receiver's wrist. You can imagine where that will take us in the future.

NFC, heart rate monitor, barometer, but no GPS

Jumping on Apple's new Apple Pay service, users will be able to use the Watch to pay at contactless payment spots or if you stay at a W Hotel use it to get into your room.

You will need the iPhone in your pocket to make that happen though. That's also the case with GPS, which isn't ideal for running, but not the end of the world.

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Runners will still get pace, height, and distance measurements as well as heart rate data but you won't be able to track where you ran unless you take your phone with you.  You will however be able to ditch your phone when it comes to listening to music. Again Apple is being coy on storage specifics apart from telling us that it will be lots of tracks, and certainly enough for most people to never run out of tunes on a run. Ultra marathon runners, there's a challenge if ever we saw one. 

Where the NFC feature goes further is when other contactless services start to use the feature. W Hotels have already said that when the Watch launches you will be able to use it to open your hotel room door, for example. 


Hoping to replace fitness bands as well, there will be dedicated apps on the Watch to help you track your fitness stats. One will track your movement through the day, while the other will be more dedicated to actual workout stats. That's above and beyond your favourite app no doubt offering similar experiences. Nike's move to ditch the Fuelband makes sense now, doesn't it?

It's certainly a step in the right direction though. The managing of all these stats will appeal to many and mean they can ditch the Fuelband or fitness tracker they've recently adopted if they want. Nobody likes double wristing wearables after all. 

Complicated early verdict

With so many features, so many options, and so many elements to the new Apple Watch, the biggest worry is that Apple customers won't understand the full extent of what the Watch can do or how it will be able to make everything easier.

Like the iPad, this is new territory for Apple and, for the most part, consumers as well. The biggest job now for Apple is not telling us why we need it, like Google with Android Wear (it's already piqued our interest there), but rather: how we are going to use it and understand it when we do put it on our wrist?

Apple has been coy about a number of things. Specs like battery life (it is generally expected to be a day), power, capabilities, even the screen size have been left to the sidelines as the company focuses on the experience, on making your life better, on making you believe this is the ultimate iPhone accessory to own. 

Apple's move however to create multiple variants to suit the vast array of different customers here is clever. It makes Samsung's scattergun approach look haphazard, while showing others that if you want to compete in this world you need money and influence to succeed. 

We suspect Apple's approach at appealing to the fashion savvy will make the Edition Watch the one to lust after just like many in the fashion world do over a £1000 skirt or a $500 bag.

For them, the price of the Watch Edition range, which is expected to be in the thousands not hundreds won't be a factor, the mere fact they've got one and you haven't, or that it's an object to be enjoyed and appreciated as a piece of design rather than a commodity like Android Wear will no doubt be, will most likely be the main appeal. 

The Sport will be the one for the rest of us, giving us a gateway into this brave new world and likely be the one that drives sales. 

Once we've got over that hurdle of understanding what and why, we then have to come to terms with whether we really need a gadget on our wrists. Especially one that will most likely need charging on a daily basis. 

As Apple have proved over and over again though, you don't need to stack them high and sell them cheap to be successful and if it can get the fashion world and influencers on their side to help its proposition, then Android Wear will become the wearable for those that can't afford an Apple Watch. 

One thing is certain though, it's exciting times, but uncharted waters.