How the Apple Watch Compares to Its Biggest Competition

Illustration for article titled How the Apple Watch Compares to Its Biggest Competition

The Apple Watch is finally here in what has been one of the longest waits for an Apple anything in the company’s history. And like almost every product in that storied produce lineage, the Apple Watch enters the retail world with some stiff competition.

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But where the iPod and the iPhone were stupid better than what we had at the time, the Apple Watch is neck and neck with the other smartwatches and wearables on the market.

So take a brief pause from the Apple Watch hysteria today to actually compare the device to some of the very best wearables currently out there. A simple side-by-side shows where Apple Watch is much better and much worse then what we’ve already seen from Android Wear (Moto 360, ASUS ZenWatch, LG G Watch R, Sony SmartWatch 3) and the Pebble Steel.

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Here’s the full breakdown:

Illustration for article titled How the Apple Watch Compares to Its Biggest Competition

Click on the magnifying glass in the top left corner for a larger view.

Aside from price, screen resolution, and storage capacity, the Apple Watch is pretty run-of-the-mill from what we’ve seen from other smartwatches, and in the battery department it’s pretty paltry. In fact, the LG G Watch R and the Sony Smartwatch 3 have double the storage capacity of the Apple Watch.

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The only watch with less battery life is the Pebble Steel, but it still gets by seven days on a single charge because of its e-paper display. Hopefully hardware optimization with Apple’s Watch OS will help curb this alarmingly small battery, but with Apple already saying that you should only expect 18 hours of mixed use, we’re not expecting much.

Overall, nothing that Apple Watch has is something that Android Wear won’t equally match in 2015 as many of these watches release their second generation. But smartwatches are not just hardware. There’s also these things called apps, and the Apple Watch is actually going to have some.

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Unlike Android Wear, which originally launched with only a few dozen apps, Apple is going to have upwards of 3,000 apps of varying quality and usefulness. Much like the iPhone, many third-party apps will be mere shadows of their full potential because of the hardware and software restrictions that Apple inflicts on developers.

Want to use a fitness app? Apple is going to do everything in its power to make sure you use the onboard app that leverages all the wearables sensors and digital crown functionality rather than RunKeeper or some other alternative which can’t. The app situation gets even more suspect as some developers have had their apps outright rejected because their app supports the Pebble platform—one of the few main competitors to the Apple Watch currently.

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But that competition might be growing. It’s almost futile to compare Android Wear and Apple Watch because your phone will likely dictate what you end up buying. But rumors say Google is planning iOS support for Android Wear. There’s even a picture floating around of FaceTime running on an G Watch R. So your decision may soon be much harder.

The Apple Watch isn’t the wearable savior many were feverishly hoping for, but it’s definitely not terrible (for $350). Like every other wearable out there, it comes saddled with its own pros and cons. Is it enough for people to finally take notice of smartwatches? Probably, that’s kind of what Apple does. But rather than redefining the wearable, Apple Watch is just joining the herd.

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DISCUSSION

geekymitch
geekymitch

So I went into the apple store and tinkered with some demo units. As a staunch member of the pebble camp, I wasn’t looking to buy (at least, not yet)...but I’ll admit, the Apple Store once again does what it does best: it makes you kinda want stuff. The watch looks nice, it feels nice, the touch screen screams to be played with. Anyone who thinks opening retail stores wasn’t the single most brilliant thing apple has ever done is fooling themselves. It was what convinced me to buy the first iphone, the first ipad etc etc and so on.

BUT.

18 hour battery life of mixed use is kind of a game changer for me. I’m a heavy user - my pebble vibrates all fucking day long.

In addition, I find 350 to be a little bit pricey considering that’s the entry point. Want a metal band? You’re looking at a cool grand. They’ve done the “apple thing” where you can’t use just any old band, you have to use theirs (though there’s a kickstarter going for an adapter for normal watch bands)...and while they have a pretty decent variety, I don’t like the idea of having to pay several hundreds of dollars for a band that looks no better than the 18 dollar black stainless band I have on my pebble.

Do I regret not pre-ordering? Nope. Do I see one in my future? That gets a definite maybe...I have a Pebble Time on the way and I want to really put that through it’s paces before I decide I want something more. Ultimately I’m in it for email/text notifications and very little else...but then again, before I got my first iphone, my phone was for calls and texts only. So maybe my thought process around it will change. Hopefully by that time we’ll be on to hardware generation 2, and they will have figured some things out (i.e. battery life).