by Jim Lynch

Apple Watch owners shame pro reviewers

Apr 27, 201512 mins
Consumer ElectronicsOperating SystemsSmartwatches

Find out what new owners of the Apple Watch think about their devices

The Apple Watch has finally been delivered to some of Apple’s customers, and many of them have been sharing their thoughts about the watch on the Apple Watch subreddit, and in the MacRumors forum. I’ve found the comments by Apple Watch owners much more interesting and informative than some of the so-called “professional” reviews that nit-picked the Apple Watch or failed to put it into the context of everyday living.

Apple Watch users have thankfully been quite forthcoming about the pros and cons of the new device, and they’ve also been very clear about how well it fits into their daily routines. Their voices have become a helpful counterweight to the Negative Neds and Negative Nellies in the tech media echo chamber.

So here’s a smattering of owner reviews of the Apple Watch for you to enjoy. I’ve also added some comments of my own after each quote. Be sure to click through to the full post to get many more details about the actual experience of owning the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch owner reviews from Reddit

Papermario13689 had a very positive take on his new Apple Watch:

The Taptic engine is beautiful. Instead of feeling like an iPhone vibration, it feels like someone getting your attention by tapping your shoulder, except on your wrist. Several notifications have different tap patterns too.

The sport aluminum feels so smoooooth. Like the band, just run your fingers around it, and you’ll understand what I mean.

The digital crown. Mmmmmmmm. I could turn this thing all day and never get tired of it. It feels strangely more natural than those clunky PC mice scroll wheels. This is the good ol’ Apple smooth scroll at work.

The watch overall has a lovely weight. For sport/exercise folks, it is a solid build feel, but it’s not heavy in any way. You could easily run a marathon with this.

The watch is fantastic. I already feel like it’s a part of my life. The battery life is more than acceptable, the useful functionality is there, and with some tweaking to make the 3rd party apps run faster, it can really be an amazing platform. I’ll leave you all with this: I will never get tired of watching Mickey tap out the seconds with his foot. It brings back my childhood memories of my Mickey Mouse watch from Disney World. The fact that it’s customizable made it an instant pick for me.

More at Reddit

I agree with Papermario on the weight. I tried on an Apple watch this weekend, and I was quite surprised at how light it was on my wrist. I tried on the space gray aluminum watch and I hardly noticed I had it on. The band was surprisingly soft too.

As far as the digital crown goes, I had no problems using it either. I got used to it right away and I could see the value of it immediately for Apple Watch users. It’s a great way to navigate the watch.

Adambunion found that the 38mm Stainless Steel Apple Watch was a perfect fit for him. He also enjoyed the fitness features of his watch:

Firstly, the size. As you’ve heard again and again from others, the watches are smaller in person and I can’t believe how true that is. They do appear smaller once you have one in front of you. That is no issue for me and my 170mm wrist though and the fact I prefer smaller watches 🙂 If, from the pictures, the 38mm looks just about on the edge of acceptable for you, you may want to go with the 42 as the 38 will look smaller in person is something I’ll say for those on the fence about which size to go for.

…earlier today I was sitting reading /r/Applewatch[6] and I received a ‘ping’ on my wrist telling me to walk around a bit. So I did. I went downstairs and made myself a drink at which point I got another ‘ping’ telling me that ‘Sacriel’ had gone live on Twitch (all of this while running a tap and filling my glass with full use of both hands still). ‘Cool’ I thought and walked back up stairs and put on.

This combined with noticing that the daily calorie goals, movement goals along with all your ‘steps taken’ data and more is put into the health app for tracking on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis. You really do feel like this watch is with you through your fitness goals and its going to be keeping track of how badly or well you are doing and can show you real results and progress. For example, being unfit and running around the block at the start of ‘getting fit’ will probably result in pretty high BPM for those of us that are unfit in the heartbeat sensor. After time, you’ll notice in the health app a lower BPM on the graph over time as your cardio improves. I’m not a fitness expert by any means I’m just trying to exemplify the usage cases when it comes to how this can feel like you are being helped along with the data collected.

More at Reddit

Adambunion is absolutely right about the size. In person the Apple Watch seems a lot smaller than it does in photos. I thought the 38mm watch would be right for me, but then I realized that the 42mm felt and looked a bit better on my wrist. If you are going to buy an Apple Watch you should definitely try one on first, if at all possible. It’s really the only way to know which size you will prefer.

Absurdly_sarcastic felt that some reviewers had exaggerated how difficult it was to learn how to use the Apple Watch. And he noted that the taptic engine might be a little weak for some users:

The reviewers were overly critical. This is not hard at all to learn how to use. A few wrong swipes here and there, but I’m a pro already. It’s not THAT much different than iOS. They were also wrong about the speed of the clock face wakeup. When I flick my wrist to see it, it’s pretty instantaneous.

The taptic engine is a little weak. I have already had a few times when I didn’t notice a tap (mainly while driving, though I guess that’s good). I wish it had a stronger setting, with the ability to turn it down. As it is now, you can turn it down, but the strongest setting is a bit weak.

More at Reddit

Absurdly_sarcastic is dead on about reviewers exaggerating about how difficult it is to learn to use an Apple Watch. All you have to do is watch the Apple Watch Guided Tour videos on Apple’s site and you’ll pick up everything very quickly. The Apple Watch software is not complicated to learn how to use, and the whining about it by some professional reviewers should be discarded by anyone interested in getting an Apple Watch.

Another redditor named Rodleland came from the Pebble, and had some interesting insights about his new Apple Watch:

-The packaging is insane. Seriously, take your time unboxing. Savour it – it’s a trip. There’s so many carefully planned pieces to peel back, unfold, take out, and uncover. It’s likely the most incredibly complex, thought-out (and wonderful) pieces of tech apple has ever boxed up.

-It’s not perfect yet. There’s some UI glitches that still need working out. I’m confident that by Watch OS 1.2 everything will be sorted, but it’s not perfect yet. The app screen takes some time to register input, there’s a lot of missed input touches (especially near the top of the screen for “back” inputs), and there are some small loading glitches throughout. This likely won’t concern YOU because if you’re reading this, you’re a rabid fanboy/girl, but take note.

– Taptic Engine 1.0 needs help. This could just be me, but I’ve got prominent haptics turned on, and my band cranked up TIGHT and I’m still missing some notifications. It’s only been a day, and maybe some apps are just acting up and not sending good taps, or taps at all, but it’s been all too likely for me to glance up and see the “red dot of notificationness.” I’m coming from a pebble, and you can NOT miss notifications on that thing, so maybe I just need to reset my expectations and readjust my tolerance for wrist-top notifications, but taps are SUBTLE..

-This thing is boss. Seriously, it’s awesome having something this powerful on your wrist. I’ve had a ton of stares, a ton of questions, people freaking out. It’s obviously part of the early adopter appeal, but as some of you know, it’s awesome. People WILL notice. I find it’s easiest to walk people through the OS/UI by describing your selected face as “the home screen” – that tends to make sense to people. The people at my knockoff apple store (iWorld) in the mall FLIPPED OUT when I walked in today. It’s gonna be a fun ride for a few weeks. Let your friends try your watch on and take a pic.

-Flouroelastomer bands are every bit as awesome as everyone says. – It’s like having your wrist gently squeezed by a cloud. I don’t even notice the thing. It’s so soft, comfortable, and perfect. Seriously- don’t regret your sport band purchase. The bands are amazing. Night and day between the first-world ghetto-rubber on my pebble.

-Glances are where it’s at. Navigating to apps takes too long. Apps with good glances rise to the top quickly and easily. I’ve found myself pulling apps off my glances with savage judgement. I’m stingy about what gets a glance- only the best of the best gets a spot in my glance set. I think you’ll do the same.

-Battery life is a non-issue. I’m writing this as a moderate-notification person at 11PM and I have 43% left. it’s a NON-ISSUE. I charge my phone every night, I don’t have a problem charging my watch every night.

More at Reddit

I didn’t see any UI glitches when I used the Apple Watch at the store. So Rodleland’s comment about that surprised me. The watch I used was quite smooth. And I also found the Taptic Engine to be quite noticeable, but perhaps that is just something that varies from user to user.

I completely agree with Rodleland on the sport band, however. I was amazed at how good it felt on my wrist. I had expected cheap rubber and that sort of thing. But that’s not what they are and it’s not how they feel when you have them on. The quality is definitely there and you’ll notice it the moment you touch your sport watch’s band.

An Apple Watch owner review from the Mac Rumors forum

BD1 focused on how well the Apple Watch performed during his workout:

Elliptical: I did 45 minutes with a mix of steady and high intensity intervals and the results were very close to what I get from my chest strap. Avg HR was exactly the same. Calories on the AW were a little less but Apple calorie algorithms might be better than other apps with all the recent research they did. But not sure about this, just guessing.

While doing the workout I liked how you can just lift your wrist to get current workout results.

Also, my elliptical has moving arms and the watch face did not turn on with the back and forth which I was wondering how this would work. Same with running. Screen stays off unless you lift to look at it.

One thing to note about calorie reporting. While doing the workout the AW reports ‘active’ calories so when I was comparing calories it seemed to be underreporting to what I expected. But when I looked at the final workout results in the activity app it reports active and resting (metabolic) calories. The total of these two were close to what I have been getting from the chest strap. For example, Apple showed 298 active cal and 83 resting cal for 381 total. I was expecting low 400’s.

P90X Weight Workout:

I did 30 minutes recording this as “Other.” When you start other is says it calcs calories about the same as a brisk walk. It did not seem to regularly record HR. Maybe because it is “Other.” But calories were pretty close to chest strap. I am going to do my next Weight exercise as an inside run or walk to see if that continuously records HR.

I would like to see Apple add direct support for weight lifting workouts in the future.

More at Mac Rumors

BD1’s comments about fitness and the Apple Watch really hit home for me. I also do some of P90X’s workouts, so I was very happy to find out that the Apple Watch worked well for counting calories. But I also think we are at the very beginning in terms of the development and value of fitness apps for the Apple Watch. We’re going to see much better app functionality as time goes by.

Read more owner reviews of the Apple Watch The owner reviews I quoted and linked to above are really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of customer feedback about the Apple Watch. For much more you can browse the Apple Watch subreddit or check out the Apple Watch section of the MacRumors forum.

After reading some of the reviews posted by Apple Watch owners, I’m reminded once again to take anything the “professional” reviewers say with a huge grain of salt. There was far too much nit-picking about the Apple Watch in some of those reviews, while the owner reviews provide much better information about how the Apple Watch actually functions as people integrate it into their daily lives.

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