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Apple Watch: Here’s what I learned from my try-on experience

by Brandon Russell | April 10, 2015April 10, 2015 3:00 pm PDT

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Today is not the big Apple Watch release day — you’ll have to wait a few more weeks before it’s on your wrist. You can, however, pre-order one, or, better yet, go into a store and try one on. I did. It didn’t change my life, but it did tell me a lot about what to expect when Apple’s wearable becomes available. Here are five things I learned.

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People are curious

I had the chance to talk to a few people before the store opened, and every one of them said they simply wanted to know what the Apple Watch was like. It’s one thing to see a video demonstration, or to read a person’s opinion. You have to actually try it on and use it to really understand whether or not Apple’s device is worth having on your wrist 24/7.

After a rousing round of applause from Apple’s employees, about thirty or so people were ushered into the Irvine Apple Store, with customers feverishly surrounding the displays and demo units positioned around the room.

The displays were simply meant to show off the different Apple Watch models — similar to how jewelry would be displayed, sitting pristinely behind a sheet of glass. The demo stations gave folks the opportunity to go through every facet of the Apple Watch, including the digital crown, Force Touch and UI.

You can’t actually try the watches on at these demo stations, but they provide a pretty comprehensive look at what an Apple Watch is capable of. People all around me were excitedly swiping through the different screens, spinning the digital crown, and just getting a feel of what the wearable is capable of.

It was actually pretty neat the way the demo stations were set up; iPads were encased next to the watches, and every time you went to a new area in the UI, the iPad would have information explaining how the Apple Watch’s software worked. You can catch a glimpse of this on our Snapchat (username: buffalosnap).

Most of the chatter among customers seemed to be around the two different sizes — 38mm and 42mm — along with the different bands Apple is offering.

Overall, the excitement among both consumers and employees was infectious, and I have no doubt people will be drawn to the weird new gadget. That’s how Apple stores work, and that formula really lends itself to the Apple Watch. Curious to see how it works? Try it on in person — and make an appointment to try one on in a one-on-one session.

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It looks fantastic in person

It’s a tossup between this and the Moto 360, but I’m leaning toward Motorola’s wearable. I’m not a huge fan of the square design, and the 42mm model was noticeably thick. But it’s still a gorgeous piece of technology, carefully and expertly crafted. The stainless steel was my favorite, shining and glistening beautifully like a freshly cut diamond. I only briefly glanced at the Apple Watch Edition, fearing that if I stared too long I’d be turned to stone.

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The bands are very comfy

For how expensive the bands are, they better be comfortable. They are.

I tried out several: sport band, leather with classic buckle, milanese, and the leather loop. Each of them had their own unique buckles and textures, and they all felt very comfortable — surprisingly so. In fact, I had a hard time really actually feeling them. For something that sits on your wrist all day long, you don’t really want to be conscious it’s there. It’s impressive how Apple was able to achieve this level of comfort, especially with so many different materials.

I had concerns the sport band might be too rigid and inflexible, but it was actually one of the best ones, and it looks great, too. That’ll likely be the band most people go with, especially considering how expensive they are. But don’t think that just because the sport band is Apple’s entry option that it’s cheap. It’s not, and it feels great.

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It’s a little confusing

Yeah. So the UI of the Apple Watch can be a little confusing, and combined with the digital crown, Force Touch screen and side button, there’s a rather large learning curve. As I mentioned above, Apple has really made a huge effort to provide the best educational experience for consumers. Because that’s what the demo units are all about. You can go through the UI at your own pace, and figure out what the different swipes, taps and features do.

Because I only used the device for all of ten minutes, I didn’t really get a comprehensive feel for what the experience will be like throughout a busy work day. But I can tell that it’s going to take a lot of getting used to. This is definitely a unique case among Apple where things might not just click for consumers, which may or may not be a problem.

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You probably don’t need it

With an entry price of $349, it’s definitely an expensive accessory for your phone. And since this is just the first generation Apple Watch, you really have to assess if you’re willing to put up with a device that’s mostly just a wide scale experiment. It seems to work well enough, and it looks and feel great. But do most consumers really need a smartwatch? I suspect not, but there’s definitely a lot of excitement among fans, and that might be enough to really draw attention to what Apple’s doing.

Wrap-up

That’s just one man’s experience. I still haven’t bought into the smartwatch market, and I suspect a lot of people will be in the same boat when they go into an Apple store to learn more. It’ll certainly take a lot of work on Apple’s part to convince people they need the device. But that’s what these displays, demo areas and try-on appointments are for.

Luckily, when I was at my try-on appointment, the consultant didn’t offer me any weird fashion advice, but instead focused on what the Apple Watch could do, along with the device’s design and different bands. The employees there really tried to make people feel comfortable with something that’s still very foreign. We want to love a smartwatch, but we’re still not sure if they’re yet at the level we’ve been promised.

If you’re unsure, I’d suggest you make one at your earliest convenience and test it out.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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