Apple finally detailed the specs, price and features of its hotly awaited smartwatch at an event held in San Francisco yesterday, also revealing that the device is due to go on sale on April 24.
The Apple Watch will be priced from $349 to $17,000, depending on the version and strap configuration. The smartwatch will be available in two sizes, a 42mm (1.7in) and a 38mm (1.5in), with the larger version being priced at a $50 premium to the smaller one.
Prices for the stainless steel version of the Apple Watch will start at $549 and go up to $1,099, a $200 premium to the aluminum (sports) model. The key difference between the two, apart from the materials used, will be the addition of a sapphire screen on the stainless steel version.
The launch also marked Apple’s entry into the luxury watch segment, with the Apple Watch Edition that comes with an 18-carat gold case. Prices for the device start at $10,000, but the company in no way has indicated that there will be any differences in the specs between the three models.
While there’s a lot of chatter about Apple seemingly offering nothing ‘more’ on the premium Apple Watch models, given its brand positioning, it’s almost certainly going to be a hit product. Even if a small percentage of the 700 million iPhone users out there buy into the device, Apple will have the most popular smartwatch out there.
It’s already a given that the Sports version of the devices will be the best-selling, and even Apple knows that. However, the functionality and features will really govern whether the company has another massive hit on its hands or if sales will taper following the initial buying frenzy.
All the different size, material and strap options, amounts to 38 different Apple Watch models, but it isn’t clear if all of them will be available outside of the company’s primary markets of North America, Western Europe and China.
Before the event, newsrooms were ringing with discussions on how Apple would address the elephant in the room – poor battery. However, all we got to hear was that the smartwatch will last for about 18 hours (all-day battery) between charges, and that the larger model would have longer battery life as it houses a larger battery. Charging the device from 0-100% would take about 2.5 hours, with the company revealing a Power Reserve facility that would allow that Apple Watch to show the time for up to 72 hours after all other smart functions are turned off.
One of Apple’s key strengths is being able to rally the developer community to build apps for its smart devices, and the Apple Watch is no different. The company claims that thousands of apps have already been built for the device, ahead of it going on sale.
The big names included Facebook, Instagram (because apparently everyone wants to view photos on a tiny screen), Uber and WeChat. Users will be able to make contactless payments through the device (unsurprising) and even phone calls (a little Samsungy).
Apple’s also pushing for its smartwatch to be a full-blown part of the IoT revolution, claiming that the device would be able to unlock doors at a hotel room and even internet-connected garage doors remotely.
The Apple Watch is also being marketed as a full blown health and fitness tracking device, which again collates data which is made sense of using HealthKit apps and now even ResearchKit.
Apple has divulged from its single-button interface control scheme that it made so popular with iOS on the iPhone. The three major things the company touched upon at its keynote was Time (watchfaces), People (communication) and Sports (health and fitness), that would define the Apple Watch.
Nilay Patel From The Verge notes that its rather confusing to have both a crown and a button next to each other, not knowing pressing which one would allow a user to get to the home screen, exit an app or launch a feature.
The Apple Watch isn’t a standalone device (no surprises there) and requires an iPhone 5 or up to be used. With the company’s largest rival, Android Wear, faltering to make a massive impact on the market, all hopes are on Apple to truly usher in the smarwatch age.
For a better look at the Apple Watch interface, follow Nilay Patel’s ‘Hands On’ blog on The Verge.
Are you an Android Fanboy? Wondering what stand to take against the Apple Watch? Here’s Droid Life’s take at the Spring Forward event and Apple Watch.