The Thai Tech team has now received our Apple Watch, the 42 mm Sport model in space grey with a black rubber strap. As far as we know, this is the first review of the Apple Watch in Thailand – a brief account of our first impressions and thoughts on the watch in general.
The Apple Watch in Thailand
We ordered the Apple Watch in the UK, the first moment that the online pre-orders went live on Friday April the 10th, though it was initially disappointing because the expected delivery date was estimated at 4-6 weeks, meaning mid-to-late May.
Thankfully, the postman turned up earlier than expected in the first week of May, however we still had a delay of two weeks while we arranged shipping to the Thai Tech offices.
Currently, the Apple Watch is not yet available in Thailand, though the Apple Thailand website does say that it’s due sometime this year.
Upon receiving the watch, the first thing that was apparent was that the box and packaging is a lot larger than expected – roughly 30 cm long. The box contains the watch itself, laid out flat, as well as various bits of packaging, a quick start guide, and the inductive charger.
Taking out the watch, it became obvious immediately that the black rubber of the strap is extremely soft and smooth to the touch, quite unexpectedly.
After the initial charge of a few hours, it was a simple setup process to pair the watch with an iPhone, install some of the third party apps, and begin using it.
Over the past week or so, I have been using the watch every day, putting it on in the morning and wearing it until requiring a charge, which under my usage conditions appears to be around every 2 days. There is however a special power reserve mode that puts the watch into a low power state, which is said to give a few more days of just telling the time.
I initially set the watch to mirror all the notifications on the iPhone. When you are wearing the watch, all notifications come through to the watch, as a gentle tap on the wrist, and do not appear on the phone unless you take the watch off.
The display is incredibly bright – it’s an OLED display, which means that it only lights up the pixels that are non-black. This means it can save power, besides providing very clear and crisp elements on the screen. In fact, the display is one of the nicest things about the Apple Watch. There are a half dozen or so different watch faces, which can all be customised to show individual ‘complications’ – i.e. little widgets that show things like the weather, your day-to-day activity, the remaining battery power, and so on.
Unfortunately, there are no third party faces or complications yet, but this is promised in watchOS version2, which was just previewed at WWDC 2015.
Showing the time (or just activating the screen) is done by a flick of the wrist, and it works extremely well, going off again when you tilt your wrist down. However, under direct sunlight, it’s not that easy to see, though it’s not as bad as you might expect.
The stock apps on the watch are many and varied – there’s a message app, calendar, a timer, a stopwatch, a remote control (for iTunes libraries and controlling Apple TV), a camera app (to take photos via the iPhone), as well as stocks, weather, an activity app, exercise apps (that track your workouts), and many more. They all load up pretty quickly, and can be controlled by scrolling the digital crown up and down, or by touching the screen. You can also ‘force touch’ a harder press on the screen within apps to activate more menus and functions.
For example, pressing hard on the watch face allows you to then choose a face or customise them in several ways. Likewise, force touching in the calendar app allows you to change the layout, such as a list of events, or just the current day. It’s not immediately obvious though which apps offer force touch features, so it’s a bit of a try-and-see affair. Hopefully in future updates there will be a better way to determine if an app supports force touch.
Reading messages and responding, such as to an email, message, or a Skype message, is quite easy. There are pre-canned responses that you can select, and it tries to intelligently provide appropriate ones based on the context of the message. You can also hit the microphone icon and speak to Siri, just as you would on an iPhone. I’ve found this very accurate, and it usually gets the sentence you’ve said correct first time most of the time.
Besides using Siri to dictate a response, there are also various animated emojis and icons. These can all be adjusted by touch or using the digital crown. You can even press two fingers on the screen in a message to send your heartbeat (if the recipient has an Apple Watch), using the built-in sensors beneath the device itself.
Talking of your heartbeat, there are some built-in exercise and health apps, which can be used to track workouts, or just the amount of exercise you’ve done in a particular day. For example, the activity app is always tracking how many calories you’ve burned, as well as your heartbeat (every ten minutes), which is then synchronised with the Activity iPhone app, as well as the Health app. It’s quite cool seeing your heartbeat throughout the day. However, the activity app has only served to highlight just how in active I am each day…
Most of the heavy lifting for third party apps is done on the iPhone itself. In other words, if you’re using Skype to read messages, the messages are processed on the iPhone and presented as a list. You can interact with them, but the paired phone is used to actually deliver the messages, rather than doing it from the watch. This means that sometime if you’re loading up news articles on the Yahoo News app for instance, there can be a short delay while it receives data from the phone over Bluetooth. Again, hopefully this is something that will improve with ‘native’ apps made possible by watchOS 2, which is expected to be available to consumers in the autumn (but which is available to developers right now).
So, after 2 weeks with the Apple Watch now, I’d some it up by saying that it’s definitely a fun, interesting and useful gadget (if you have an iPhone), and it also looks and feels great, more so than you would imagine just by looking at the pictures. It has a premium feel, and the build quality is excellent. Oh, and even though it’s only rated as being water resistant (i.e. you can wear it in the shower or when it’s raining), various online sites have tested it underwater for several hours, and found that it functions fine.
Would I recommend the Apple Watch at this point? Yes, if you like being one of the first people to buy a new gadget and get in early…but for many people it may make sense to wait until version 2. But, undoubtedly, it’s a great little device, and one of the very best smartwatches that money can buy right now.
This is just the start, and it’s certainly going to be an exciting time for smartwatches and wearables of all kinds over the next few years.
Jonathan is our Google Nexus and Android enthusiast. He is also fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to writing about tech, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and has previously written for one the UK’s leading watch and horology websites.