Apple Watch Buyer’s Guide: Which One Is Right for You? [iOS Blog]
After announcing the Apple Watch in September of 2014, launch time has finally arrived. Apple in March announced that pre-orders for the Apple Watch will begin on April 10, with an official launch taking place on April 24.
Apple product lines for its iOS devices and Macs are relatively simple, consisting of a few models from which to choose. Picking an Apple Watch is a little more complicated, with the different models, a couple of watch sizes, and multiple band options. The prices start at $349 and go all the way up to $17,000 — a very wide range.
This guide walks you through the considerations you need to make when buying an Apple Watch. If you’re not sure which one to buy, this guide will lead you in the right direction.
The first step in buying an Apple Watch is to pick one of the three available models. Each model’s case is made of a different metal, but the actual hardware and software used inside the case is the same.
Apple Watch Sport: This is the watch for athletes and active users, combining strength with a light weight. It’s also the cheapest available option.
The case is made of anodized aluminum that’s available in silver or space gray, and Apple says it created a new alloy of 7000 series aluminum that’s 60 percent stronger that standard alloys. Apple doesn’t specify the exact alloy number, but 7000 series aluminum tends to be among the strongest aluminum alloys; some are almost as tough as steel.
Apple uses Ion-X glass to protect the display on the Sport collection. Ion-X isn’t as hard as the sapphire crystal used in other watch models, but it is lighter, and Apple says it is especially resistant to scratches and impact.
Apple Watch: This is the watch Apple is positioning as the everyday solution, as seen by the collection sharing its name with the larger product line. It’s not as light as the Apple Watch Sport, but it’s stronger overall. There’s a wide variety of bands from which to choose — we’ll get into that in a bit.
It has a stainless steel case that’s available in a polished silver form or in space black. Apple says it uses 316L stainless steel, a type of steel that has good corrosion resistance, and Apple says it cold-forges the steel to make it 80 percent harder than usual. The steel case is heavier than the Sport’s aluminum case, but total weight will vary based on the band you pick. Some bands, like the fluoroelastomer band for the Apple Watch Sport, are heavier than other bands, like the leather Modern Buckle.
Apple uses sapphire crystal to protect the display. Sapphire, which is heavier than the Ion-X glass used in the Sport collection, has a Mohs hardness rating of 9 — diamonds are the only substance that’s harder.
Apple Watch Edition: This is the one for serious watch aficionados who have no problem plunking down thousands of dollars — it’s not just a smart watch, it’s also a status symbol. The case is made of 18-karat gold that Apple claims is harder than standard gold, and it’s available in yellow or rose gold. This watch also uses sapphire crystal to cover the display.
Apple says the gold watch is available in limited quantities and in a limited number of high-end luxury stores. It’s possible you may not be able to check out the Apple Watch Edition in a regular Apple Store, as it is not yet clear which retail Apple Stores will be carrying them. If you want to see one of Apple’s $10,000 watches in person, you may need to visit one of the luxury pop-up shops or perhaps a flagship Apple retail store.
This might be the most important decision you make about the Apple Watch. Apple offers a set of band options for each model, and in some instances, the type of band you choose will affect the price. If you’re worried about how each band fits on your wrist, Apple has a handy Apple Watch Sizing Guide. Listed below are the bands that you pick at the time of purchase.
Apple Watch Sport: Apple offers only fluoroelastomer (a soft but durable rubber) bands with this model. You do get to pick from five different colors: black, blue, green, pink, and white. And Apple gives you two bands in separate sizes (small/medium and medium/large), so the watch is guaranteed to fit all wrists.
Apple Watch: The selection of bands is wider for this model. There are six bands to choose from: Link Bracelet, Milanese Loop, Modern Buckle, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, and a Sport Band like the one that comes with the Apple Watch Sport. These vary wildly in price, with the Modern Buckle and Link Bracelet carrying the highest price tags at $249 and $449, respectively.
Apple Watch Edition: Apple’s approach to this watch limits the choices and sizes from which you can choose. The 38mm and 42mm models are available with a black or white Sports Band. Two 38mm models come with either a Rose Gray or Bright Red leather Modern Buckle band. And two 42mm models comes with either a Midnight Blue or black leather Classic Buckle band. You can, of course, purchase additional bands to go with your Apple Watch Edition, but many of the bands won’t match well due a custom-colored Digital Crown.
Since watches are as much a fashion accessory as a practical tool, Apple sells its watch bands separately. Below is a price guide to the bands sans watch.
If you buy an Apple Watch Sport and you want to buy an additional band, you might want to see how a band looks with the watch first. The Sport has an aluminum case, so will you be okay with the way it looks with a stainless steel Milanese Loop, or the stainless steel buckle of the Classic Loop? It may be a trivial nit-picky thing for some, but for others it’s a detail that matters. (The same can be said of the gold Apple Watch Edition. There’s no gold Milanese Loop or Link Bracelet, nor are there leather bands with gold buckles available after market.)
There are a few other things to keep in mind when choosing a band. Some of the bands are quite light (Modern Buckle and Classic Buckle) while others are very heavy. The 42mm Link Bracelet weighs 75 grams, which is a good bit heavier than the Classic Buckle, which weighs only 16 grams. Some of the bands are also going to be more resistant to water than others. You won’t want to get one of the leather bands wet, but the Sport Bands will handle moisture with no problem. The Watch itself has a water resistance rating of IPX7 — you can wash your hands with it on or exercise while wearing it, but you won’t want to go swimming without taking it off.
You can see a full chart that lists all of the different Apple Watch combinations, sizes, and weights by clicking here.
Apple offers two different sizes for each watch: 38mm and 42mm. That’s measured vertically, not horizontally. You can see the actual sizes of the Apple Watch using the Apple Store iOS app.
The two sizes also have different screen resolutions. Both are Retina displays, but the 38mm watch has a 340-by-272 pixel screen, while the 42mm watch is 390-by-312. The Apple Watch’s software interface isn’t affected by the screen size — a bigger screen simply means bigger on-screen elements.
The size you pick comes down to your personal preference — though keep in mind that the Modern Buckle Apple Watch comes only in 38mm, and the Leather Loop Apple Watch is only available in 42mm. The Apple Store iOS app has a section where you can see actual-sized pictures of the Apple Watch. You can display the 38mm or the 42mm watch face on your iPhone screen and get an idea of how big it is on your wrist.
Combine the model, size and band, and you can calculate a price.
Apple Watch Sport: Since it comes only with a Sport Band, the pricing for this model is easy. It’s $349 for 38mm, and $399 for 42mm.
Apple Watch: Since there are more band options, there are more prices for this model. Here are the prices for the Apple Watch models.
Apple Watch Edition: Here are the prices for the eight Edition models.
The charging cables are the only accessories currently listed in the Apple Store. You can be sure that third parties are jumping on the Apple Watch bandwagon with bands, stands, battery replacements, and a lot more.
Get ready to order
At the Apple Watch event, the company said that the first wave of watches will be available in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, United Kingdom, and United States. Circle April 10 on your calendar: That’s when Apple will start accepting pre-orders and when you’ll be able to try on a watch at the Apple Store.
The watch will then start shipping on April 24. On this date, the Apple Watch will be available at Apple retail locations, select department stores, and boutiques worldwide.
Which Apple Watch should you buy?
There’s an excellent variety of Apple Watch models, and since they all have the same functions, it really comes down to your personal taste and your budget. The Apple Watch Sport is ideal for athletes due to its sweat proof fluoroelastomer band, and it’s also the ideal choice for those who want to get an Apple Watch at the lowest cost. It’s the watch with the most colorful bands.
The Apple Watch is the watch you can wear everyday, appropriate for both work and casual outings. It can also handle the rigors of the active user or athlete, though it’s heavier than the Sport when not paired with a leather band. The Apple Watch Edition is the watch for those with deep pockets who are looking for a luxury option.
Whichever watch you choose, keep one thing in mind — this is a first generation device. We don’t know its product cycle and thus we don’t know when an upgrade is coming. Apple could choose to release an all new version of the device next year, and thus far, there’s no indication that existing watches are upgradeable.
Before you shell out $10,000 or even $1,000 on an Apple Watch, make sure you’re comfortable knowing that this isn’t a product that has the same long life as other watches. There are going to be technological advances and they’re going to be major, so make this purchase knowing that you’ll need to upgrade at some point.
For in-depth details on the features of the Apple Watch, how it works, the materials its made of, and more, visit MacRumors Apple Watch: Everything We Know.