When it came out in 2015, I rolled my eyes at the Apple Watch. “Why would anyone spend upward of $400 on a mini computer for your wrist?” I wondered. I felt proud that I resisted the hype around this seemingly extravagant timepiece.
Two years later, to celebrate a big milestone in his career, I got an Apple Watch Series 1 for my husband. He had been hinting at it for months. There was an insanely good sale at our nearest Target; I scored it for $129.99 (usually $249.99). Soon after seeing all its capabilities up close, I caved and bought one as an early birthday present to myself.
This year, Apple announced that the Series 3 watch would have the added capability of cellular data. Whereas before the watch needed proximity to your phone, you can now leave your iPhone at home and still be connected. Talk about a game changer for outdoor runs! With 3.9 million Apple Watches sold in Q3 alone and more than 50 percent growth year over year, you’re probably wondering whether you should add this wrist candy to your Christmas wish list or not. Here’s the lowdown.
Who Should Buy an Apple Watch
Even if you’re in the “definitely not for me” camp, chances are that the Apple Watch has features that can actually benefit your lifestyle and needs. I’ve rounded up a short list of features based on the latest tech reports to help you decide whether camp Apple Watch might be a fit for you.
01. You need (or want) to spend most of your time away from your phone.
The idea of getting notifications on your watch face may seem excessive; after all, couldn’t you just pull your phone out of your pocket or purse to check messages? Well, not all of us have that luxury.
Busy nurse and mom Angelica Espejo DelaLlana tells me, “It’s great for getting messages about the kids that may not be urgent but still important. . . . Also, I can leave the phone charging and not miss important calls.” As a working mama of two, I also vouch for the perks of being able to answer calls and get texts instead of struggling to get my phone out when my arms are full of keys, groceries, and toddler hands or when we’re in the middle of a tickle fight.
02. You want to live a fitter, healthier life.
I’ve written about the proven benefits of health and fitness trackers before, like knowing your heart rate to determine your fitness level and your overall well-being. A new study published by the University of California, San Francisco says that the Apple Watch may be able to accurately detect hypertension (aka high blood pressure) and sleep apnea, with 82 and 90 percent accuracy, respectively. Similar data was used “to determine that the Apple Watch is able to detect abnormal heart rate rhythms with 97 percent accuracy,” Mac Rumors reports.
But beyond that, “When I get off my lazy bum and work out, it gives [me] a sense of immediate gratification that I’ve reached some goals and makes me want to do more each time,” Angelica says. I hear you, girl.
Who Should Not Buy an Apple Watch
01. You don’t like watches or already have a traditional watch you wouldn’t want to take off.
iMore’s buying guide notes that if you’re not into having “complications” on your wrist (personalized features such as the weather, activity levels, upcoming appointments, driving directions, etc.), an Apple Watch may be more, well, complicated than you need.
Jacky Tse, a bio-search tech manager, argues, “There is no function on the watch that’s so needed that one can’t do with taking the phone out of your pocket. Are we that concerned with instant gratification that we can’t wait one extra second?” Tse adds that he only needs his watch for timekeeping. “But that’s only me. I can understand how it might make it easier for others, but I just don’t see it.”
It’s simple, some of us just prefer to keep it old-school. After my husband got his smart watch, he discovered he is one of them.
02. You’re a marathon runner or regularly do other types of extended workouts.
Apple Insider recently reported that the latest model’s battery only lasts three hours when streaming music and using GPS. The average time finishing a marathon is four hours and forty-five minutes for women. “Even half-marathon runners will probably want to at least bring their iPhone along with their Apple Watch. Consider that the average running time for both men and women is over two hours, cutting it close to the advertised three-hour limit,” according to Apple Insider.
My cousin Dr. Jennifer Liquido, a pediatrician and perpetual marathon runner, tells me, “I have a Garmin Fenix, which provides [me] with better info for running and other sports activities like running metrics—vertical oscillation, ground contact time, VO2max—some things I look at to improve my running efficiency.”
Apple Pay, quickly communicating on the go, remote control, and other Apple Watch features can help or hinder how you prefer to live your life. In short, like my husband and me, you kind of don’t know whether you would use one until you try it out for yourself. Of course, in anticipation of this, customers who buy an Apple Watch 3 at an Apple store have a week to try it out and return it if it isn’t for them.
However, if you’re sure you’d like to get one for yourself or someone else, Forbes contributor Gordon Kelly notes that the Apple Watch rarely goes on sale, and you probably won’t find a discount at the Apple store. Big-box retailers such as Best Buy, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Target, and Walmart will actually have the best Apple product deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If the 3 Series is too much of a leap, many expert reviewers report that the (way more affordable) Series 1 is still a very solid (and useful) product.
Tell us why you love the Apple Watch (or don’t) in the comments below.