Apple watch release date, price & specs
On sale April 24th, we look at prices and what the Apple Watch can do
The Apple Watch has now been officially launched, with a release date and some prices being confirmed. The latest Apple product comes in a bewildering array of finishes and straps, with prices ranging from an understandable £299 up to a bonkers £13,500. What we also got to see at the event were a lot more examples of how we'll be able to use the Apple Watch in practice.
The Apple Watch WILL launch on April 24th
Tim cook promised us the Apple Watch in April, and the company has delivered, with the watch going on sale on the 24th of April. However, if you want to buy one then you'd better plan ahead. The Apple Watch will be available to pre-order online from the 10th of April. Or if you're not yet entirely convinced that it's for you then you can get a hands-on with the watch and a preview of its features in Apple stores from the same date.
We're a little disappointed that after such a long wait since the initial unveiling that we now have to wait another six and-a-half weeks before the Apple Watch goes on sale. it's not a worldwide launch, with the following countries getting the watch on that date.
A special Apple Watch shop will open in Selfridges
As the Apple Watch is a bit of a departure from Apple’s usual range of products, the company is treating the launch slightly differently and is opening dedicated shops. In London, the Apple Watch Shop will open in Selfridges.
Currently, the store now has a ‘creative barricade’ hiding the shop from view, until it’s ready to open on the 10th April. On that date, customers will be able to make an appointment to try the Watch on at the new store, as well as regular Apple stores. All Apple stores will be able to take pre-orders, too, although the Watch can also be pre-ordered through the Apple website.
In addition to its own stores, Apple will be selling the watch through select boutiques around the world, including Colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Maxfield in LA and The Corner in Berlin.
“The experience of shopping for an Apple Watch is a deeply personal one. The department stores and specialty stores that we’re working with are some of the best in the world at offering such experiences, so it was natural for us to see our product there,” said Paul Deneve, VP at Apple.
The Apple Watch will be available in TWO different sizes
One of the big problems with a lot of smartwatches is that they're too big and won't fit all wrists, as you can see from big models, such as the Motorola Moto 360 and LG G Watch R. Apple counters that by making its watch in two different sizes, with 38mm and 42mm screens.
Nominally that means watches specifically for men and women, with Apple catering for a wider part of the market than other smartwatch manufacturers. We have to say that this feels like the right way to go and a watch has to be comfortable to wear as well as providing the best technology.
Prices vary a little between the two sizes, with the larger version simply costing £40 more on most models.
The THREE versions have wildly varying PRICES
As well as the size options, Apple will sell the watch in three different versions. There's the standard Watch, which will have a stainless steel case; the Sport version that has an aluminium case; and the Watch Edition, which will be made from 18 karat gold and will be suitably expensive to match.
The Apple Watch Sport starts from £299, the Apple Watch costs from £479 and the Apple Watch Edition starts at £8,000.
As well as the differences in build material, each model also uses different glass on the watch face. The standard Apple Watch and Gold Apple Watch Edition both use sapphire crystal glass, which should be able to withstand serious scrapes and scratches (sapphire is second only to diamond in hardness and has long been used for watch faces), while the Apple Watch Sport uses Ion-X Glass. Because sapphire glass isn't particularly resistant to drops, ion-strengthened glass makes more sense on a watch that will be worn when exercising.
Disappointingly, the Apple Watch is not waterproof, not even the Sport version, although according to Yahoo it is water resistant and "Sweating, wearing it in the rain, washing your hands, or cooking with it are fine".
There are LOTS of colour and strap choices
The square Apple Watch is a beautiful-looking wearable with plenty of choices of colour and straps to suit different people. Apple has designed six different straps along with a mechanism for making it easy to swap between them. The Sport band is made from sweat-resistant plastic, but people will be able to choose between a leather quilted loop, stainless steel link bracelet and Milanese loop.
It's good to see this level of customisation as, combined with the choice of models, it means that not everybody will be wearing exactly the same watch in exactly the same colour.
PRICES vary according to your strap - A LOT
However, your choice of strap hugely affect the pricing of your final watch. The Apple Watch Sport comes in different colours, but they all cost the same, so that's simple: £299 or £339.
The Apple Watch though is available with the Sports Band for £479, with a classic buckle strap or milanese loop for £559, a leather loop for £599, a 'modern buckle' for £649, and then a whopping £819 for a stainless steel link bracelet. Add another £80 for the black finish, plus £40 for the bigger 42mm version, and the top model here comes to £949 inc VAT.
^ £819 is a lot more than we'd hoped to pay for a full stainless steel Apple Watch
The Apple Watch Edition maybe only exists to make you feel better about buying a £949 smartwatch. Prices range from £8,000 for an 18-carat rose gold case and smart band, up to £13,500 for a yellow gold model with a red buckle strap. With no idea on how many years your watch will last, battery replacement, software support, or simple technical obsolescence, it's a lot to pay.
Battery life could be an ISSUE
Apple's already said that the Apple Watch will need to be charged daily, with it now claiming a simple battery life figure of 18 hours. it's very vague on what that figure actually represents, but you'll certainly be charging it on a daily basis.
Some detail was leaked though, with 9to5Mac obtaining Apple's estimated battery life targets from its sources close to the project. At first, Apple was reportedly aiming for a battery life of one day of mixed usage, which combined a small amount of active use with longer periods of passive use. More recently, Apple changed this goal to roughly 2.5-to-4 hours of active application use, 19 hours of combined active and passive use, three days of pure standby time or four days of sleep.
This may come as a disappointment to anyone hoping that Apple might be able to solve the battery life problem that's been plaguing smartwatches such as the Motorola Moto 360 and LG G Watch R, but 9to5Mac suggested that the 2.5 hours figure of 'heavy' use will likely mean intense, processor-heavy gameplay, while standard app use will likely garner around 3.5 hours of continuous use. Strangely, Apple seems to be expecting better battery life figures when using its fitness tracking software, which is targeted for nearly 4 hours of straight exercise tracking.
If you're not interested in using apps and only want to use it as a time piece, then Apple's figures suggest that it will be able to display its watch face and ticking animations for three straight hours as long as you don't use it for anything else. However, like most smartwatches, you're unlikely to be looking at it this long, as the display will turn itself off when it's not in use, prolonging the battery much further. Therefore, it seems most likely you'll be able to squeeze a full day out of the Apple Watch under normal use, but you're less likely to be able to stretch it over multiple days.
9to5Mac says that the ongoing battery concerns were one of the main reasons why Apple pushed back the launch of the Apple Watch from late 2014 to early this year. As Apple continue testing the device, it's believed that around 3,000 watches are currently in circulation for real-world testing, mostly consisting of the stainless steel model.