Today was Apple’s big Spring Forward event where they announced the availability (April 24th) of the Apple Watch they teased us with back in September of last year. Included with the release dates, they also finally announced the pricing which was a major question back at the initial announcement. Over the past few weeks there has been talk of battery life concerns which Apple did briefly discuss during today’s event. So, now that the details have been released, what do people think? I for one feel that people should definitely wait on getting the Apple Watch.
Let’s get the big one out of the way first. The Apple Watch regardless of version is just too expensive. The Apple Watch Sport version is the least expensive at $350 or $400 but for this you get a silicon band and the basic aluminum body. Step up to $550 for the basic steel body version of the way which can run up to $1049 depending on the size and the strap. Finally, you have the ridiculous $10,000+ for the Apple Watch Edition with its special hardened gold body. It may look great, but beyond the looks you get the same function as a Sport model.
Last week, Pebble launched the Kickstarter for its new Pebble Time watches. Sure, they don’t have as many features as the Apple Watches but they are a lot less expensive with many of the basic functions people are looking for in a smartwatch right now. It is going to be just $199 for the basic steel and polycarbonate version and $299 for the Time Steel version. That is going almost half the cost of the equivalent Apple Watch models. Price has been a serious consideration for many consumers and that will likely be the case here.
I understand that Apple is not going for the average consumer with the Apple Watch but it has priced itself on the premium end of watches. This was true for many of the other Apple launches including the original iPhone and iPad. They eventually obtained great success but I suspect the Apple Watch is going to take time and a few price drops before the average consumer would consider one.
Terrible Battery Life
Once again, the battery life issue comes up with a smartwatch. The issue is that consumers are essentially expected to charge their Apple Watch every night. At 18 hours of “typical” usage, it is pretty much a charge it every night or you won’t be using the watch through the next day. This has plagued almost every watch and I think it has to do with the idea of making a smartwatch with as many features as possible rather than focusing on giving the features consumers want and being as power efficient as possible in delivering them in a functional manner.
Once again, look at the Pebble Time. It comes with a color display but instead of a high resolution display that eats up lots of power, it instead gives an e-ink display. The result is a smartwatch that can last upwards of ten days of standard use. That is a watch you can bring on a trip and still use even if you forget your charger unlike the Apple watch.
Wait For Now
It is likely that Apple will rework the watch into another version next year that will either offer better features, better battery life or hopefully both. Regardless the price is going to be a huge turn off when you also need to own an iPhone to really take advantage of it. This brings up another issue: use outside of the Apple iPhones. Google has announced them plan to get (the basis of most Android smartwatches right now) to work with Apple’s phones. Pebble already has the ability to work with Android or Apple smartphones.
I have many Apple products and think they deliver some great products. This time around, I certainly am disappointed. It may look great and offer some pretty advanced features but I still like the more utilitarian approach of more affordable options. Maybe this will change over time as it did for Apple’s iPhones and iPads with more affordable and improved versions coming out within a year or two of the original. But for that, we just have to wait and see.