I loved my 38mm Apple Watch, but I love the 42mm even more
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
If you’ve been reading Eye On Apple, you probably already know that I got an Apple Watch about a week ago. It was the 38mm Stainless Steel with Classic Buckle. I was very happy to get it, and I think it’s a great watch. It’s particularly well suited for those with small wrists or those who simply prefer a smaller watch.
However, after using it for a while I decided that I needed the 42mm version [ Find it on Amazon–*What’s this?* ] (I’ll share my reasons below). Unfortunately, it wasn’t shipping until July. So I hit eBay, and was lucky enough to find a 42mm Stainless Steel with Classic Buckle. It arrived today and I wanted to share some of my observations about the differences between the two sizes.
1. Tap targets are easier to hit on the 42mm Apple Watch
I hate to admit this, but my eyes aren’t as young as they used to be in days past. In fact, my optometrist irritated the hell out of me one day by saying that “your eyes have aged to the point where they are losing their ability to focus” or something like that. Ugh! Thanks, doc! Way to make me feel better about being in my mid-40s.
Anyway, I have noticed that it is easier for me to tap on icons, buttons, back links and other interface elements on the 42mm Apple Watch without making a mistake and missing what I tried to tap on. Yes, I could use the 38mm too but I found that I missed a tap here or there in a way that I haven’t on the 42mm.
So if your eyes are similar to mine, you should definitely consider getting the 42mm Apple Watch instead of the 38mm version. It really will make things easier for you as you use it each day.
2. Text is easier to read
Viewing text is another eye-related example of why I prefer the 42mm version of the Apple Watch. First, you can see more text on the screen when using the watch. Second, the text is easier to see without having to adjust the size of it in the Apple Watch settings menu.
Being able to see more text on the Apple Watch screen might not seem all that important, but you come to appreciate it the more you use the watch. It means less scrolling as you use the Apple Watch. And it aids in the quick-information-at-a-glance mission of the watch.
And, of course, who wants to have to put on reading glasses to use their watch? Oh sure, you can adjust the size of the text in the settings menu. But now you’ll see even less text on the Apple Watch screen when you pull up a Glance or otherwise use it.
So reading text on the 42mm is a better experience for folks like me than it is on the 38mm.
3. The 42mm Apple Watch battery lasts longer
Another way that the 42mm Apple Watch works better for me than the 38mm is the life of the battery. There does seem to be a significant difference between the 32mm and 42mm Apple Watch in how long the battery lasts. Both watches will get you through an 18 hour day, but the 42mm Apple Watch seems to have even more power to spare.
When I got my new 42mm Stainless Steel with Classic Buckle at around 9:30 AM, it had about 83% of the battery left. I didn’t charge it when I got it, but I wore it for the rest of the day. I did a weight workout and thus used the Workout app and heart monitor that day, and I still managed to finish up with more than 40% of the battery life still left.
That’s actually quite good, and I must admit that it surprised me a little. I had figured that the battery life might be slightly better but that was more than I’d hoped for when I got my 42mm watch.
I want to reiterate here though that both watches will get you through a regular day. But if you think you might need a bit more battery power than the 42mm is certainly worth considering over the 38mm.
4. Mickey looks better!
Okay, forgive the silly subheading for this section. But I couldn’t help but notice that Mickey Mouse and some of the other watch faces such as Motion look better to my eyes on the larger 42mm Apple Watch. Of course they looked great on the 38mm too, but the larger size of the images just resonated with me more than the smaller version.
And this also applies to your photos and any other images that you might have on the watch. For me it turned out that the larger versions of photos and other images just flat out looked better. Your mileage may vary, of course.
The downsides of the 42mm Apple Watch
Now I don’t want you to read this post and assume that there aren’t any downsides to getting the 42mm Apple Watch. It certainly does take up more space on my wrist, and it’s a tad bit heavier than the 32mm Apple Watch. The 32mm watch weighs in at 40 grams and the 42mm is 50 grams.
When I first looked at the 42mm on my wrist, it did seem significantly larger than the 38mm. But that feeling lasted for about fifteen minutes. After that when I looked at the 38mm it seemed too small for my wrist. It’s similar to what happens when you go from an iPhone 5S to an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. At first the larger phone seems huge, but then you quickly adjust and your old phone seems tiny by comparison.
I didn’t notice the tiny bit of extra weight on the larger Apple Watch at all. I had my 42mm Apple Watch on while lifting weights and the extra 10 grams was utterly unnoticeable to me. But then again I was…er…lifting weights so maybe the extra 10 grams helped me get a better pump? Probably not, but I always try to look on the bright side.
Try both and look carefully at the Apple Watch interface
It’s become common knowledge by now that going to an Apple Store and trying on the 38mm and the 42mm watches is a good idea. But I would add that when you do your try-on, look very carefully at the interface and apps of the Apple Watch as well as at the watch itself.
Ask yourself how comfortable it is to view text and images on the smaller watch. And think about doing that each day, over and over again. If you have any reservations then you should go with the 42mm Apple Watch (assuming it fits your wrist and your fashion sensibilities too) instead of the 38mm model.
If you still aren’t sure which size Apple Watch is right for you, you can also read Amazon’s customer reviews of the 42mm Apple Watch or the 38mm Apple Watch. That will give you an idea about the experiences of other folks who have bought the larger or smaller Apple Watch.
Ultimately which size Apple Watch you get is a very personal decision, and I think both watches are great. But I’m glad I switched to the 42mm watch, it fits my needs a bit better than its smaller 38mm sibling.