The Apple Watch is finally onsale in the UK, at least if you’ve pre-ordered from Apple, but what will your money buy you?
(UPDATE) It seems that heavily-tattood people may find their Apple Watch won’t work too well. (See below)
If you want buy the Apple Watch today
Normally there would be a queue forming outside Apple Stores the length and bredth of the country. But you’ll be disapponted to find out that none of them will be stocking the device until June. If you really want to buy the smartwatch today then you need to be quick and head to the Dover Street Market in Mayfair, London, it is going to be the only shop in the country selling the Apple Watch today. Doors opened at 11am this morning and in order to buy one you will need to make an appointment and bring a compatible iPhone running iOS 8.2.
If you’re prepared to wait a few days though, then the team at Goldgenie have been working their bling magic, creating a customised Apple Watch Spectrum collection, ranging from the Apple Watch Elite in a choice of 24k Gold, Rose Gold or Platinum to the striking 18k Gold Apple Watch Diamond Ecstasy, embedded with hundreds of diamonds and finished with a 1 carat gem in the crown. The team have also created a range of classy straps in exotic python and crocodile skins and calfskin, alongside classic link straps in their signature precious metal finishes. The full collection, which is priced from £1,997 ex VAT is available to view and order here.
Reports are coming to light that Some people with heavy amounts of tattoos around their wrist may find the Apple Watch not working as well as expected (if at all). According to social news website Reddit, one user wasn’t receiving notifications for incoming messages and emails when the watch was worn over a tattoo.
“The watch would lock up every time the screen went dark and prompted me for my password. I wouldn’t receive notifications. I couldn’t figure out why especially since the watch was definitely not losing contact with my skin,” said the disgruntled Redditor. “I decided to try holding it against my hand – my left arm is sleeved and where I wear my watch is tattooed as well – and it worked.”
“My hand isn’t tattooed and the Watch stayed unlocked. Once I put it back on the area that is tattooed with black ink the watch would automatically lock again.”
Other tattooed users have emerged on Twitter with similar complaints. The wrist detection feature can be turned off, but it stops Apple Pay from working.
Pre-orders of the new Apple Watch have started with the devices being available to customers from Friday, 24 April. The smartwatch goes on sale in the following countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the United States and the UK. More countries will be added over time, Apple has said.
According to Italian website iSpazio, the Apple Watch will be available to order in Italy from 8 May. As for the second wve of countries getting the smartwatch, AppleInsider thinks that the same 22 markets that were included in Apple’s second tranch of launches for the iPhone 6 last year might get the watch alongside Italyon 8 May.
These countries were; Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.
In the UK, as well as the device retailing at the Apple Store, a pop-up boutique will open at the Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London’s West End. It will be the first day that budding customers will be able to try on the watch, before it goes on sale two weeks later. This will be one of the select few outlets that will sell the 24-carat gold Apple Watch Edition.
With demand likely to be high, customers will have to book a 15-minute time-slot to try out Apple Watch before deciding which model they want to purchase. customers buying the Watch online or in store from Apple will get a personal setup session to customise and pair the device with their iPhone.
Apple have helpfully put together a preview video to show you what you’ve got to look forward to. (You’ve got even more to look forward to if you’re an Apple employee, as those lucky few will get a 50% discount on the Apple watch at launch!)
Reception and availability issues
Already, some customers have taken to Twitter to complain that watches will not ship until June for some. One irate user tweeted that they were irritated that they “stayed up until 3AM to pre-order an #AppleWatch and the site was down until after the May inventory already sold out.”
Currently if you want to get your hands on any type of Apple Watch, the only one available between April 24 and May 8 is the 38mm stainless steel Apple Watch with classic black buckle. And that’s if you live in the UK.
In order to minimise queues, Apple has made the watch available online early.
According to Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts, the web-only approach will “provide the best experience and selection to as many customers as possible”.
“Based on the tremendous interest from people visiting our stores, as well as the number of customers who have gone to the Apple online store to mark their favourite Apple Watch ahead of availability, we expect that strong customer demand will exceed our supply at launch,” Ahrendts added.
Early reviews have not been entirely glowing. Nilay Patel, editor of The Verge said the watch was trying to be a jack of all trades.
“There’s no question that the Apple Watch is the most capable smartwatch available today,” said Patel.
“It is one of the most ambitious products I’ve ever seen; it wants to do and change so much about how we interact with technology. But that ambition robs it of focus: it can do tiny bits of everything, instead of a few things extraordinarily well.”
Geoffrey A Fowler of the Wall Street Journal said: “With the Apple Watch, smartwatches finally make sense”.
“The measure of their success shouldn’t be how well they suck you in, but how efficiently they help you get things done. Living on your arm is part of that efficiency—as a convenient display, but also a way to measure your heart rate or pay at a cash register. This is a big idea about how we use technology, the kind of idea we expect from Apple.”
“The watch is not life-changing. It is, however, excellent. Apple will sell millions of these devices, and many people will love and obsess over them”, said Bloomberg’s Joshua Topolsky.
There are three versions of the Apple Watch and each version will come in two sizes; 38mm and 42mm.
The aluminium Sport edition starts at £299 for the 38mm version. The 42mm size is slightly more at £339.
The stainless steel “Watch” starts at £479 and tops out at £949.
The gold Watch Edition will be in limited supply at Apple Stores and cost an eye-watering £8,000 and go up to £13,500 for the 42mm version.
Aside from telling the time, the Apple Watch has a few features up your sleeve.
The Retina display sports Force Touch, which can tell if you are pressing its lightly or heavily. This can be used for opening up particular functions on the start screen without having to move through a ton of apps to find it.
The watch sports a “Digital Crown” which allows you to control the smartwatch in a similar way to how the original iPod was controlled. There is also a button on the side for extra features.
The watch promises an 18-hour battery life before needing a recharge. To charge, the device uses a magnetic charging cable which uses induction to charge. Users can expect around 6.5 hours of music playback, and 3.5 hours of talk time when using the device.
Apple Watch has a heart rate monitor on the back, which uses a combination of infrared and LED to detect a pulse.
The watch has to pair with a user’s iPhone for some features, such as GPS and barometer-based elevation readings.
It is also certified to the IPX7 waterproof standard, which means it can cope with water at a depth of less than a meter. However, we would NOT recommend swimming with one of these on just yet.
The Taptic Engine is used to vibrate and alert users to things such as turning left or right according to Apple Maps directions.
It also sports Siri, so users can give orders to their watch and reply to messages. Smart Replies has a number of pre-written responses if you are too shy to talk to your wrist.
Digital Touch allows users to make little hand drawn messages to send to others.
Versions: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition
Display size: 38mm and 42mm: 38 mm: 21.2 x 26.5 mm, 33.5 mm (1.32 in) diagonally, 272 x 340 pixels. 42 mm: 24.3 x 30.5 mm, 39 mm (1.5 in) diagonally, 312 x 390 pixels.
Display: Retina touchscreen display with Force Touch, and sapphire glass or Ion-X glass cover.
Sensors: accelerometer, built-in heart rate sensor
Connectivity: 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
Compatibility: iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus
Around 20 apps come built-in. These include: Messages, Activity, Workout, Calendar, Weather, Mail, Photos, Camera Remote, Music, Passbook (including Apple Pay) and even Apple Maps for navigation.
The workout app offers real time statistics on the exercise time, distance travelled, calories burnt and your pace.
A calendar app shows at a glance what events are coming up on a daily or weekly basis.
There are a number of third-party apps that will link in with Apple’s WatchKit software.
A number of third-party apps have started to roll out via the App Store. These include: Babbel, ECB Cricket, Evernote, Expedia, MLB.com At Bat, Sky Guide, The New York Times, Target and Twitter.
This article was updated on 10 April 2015. It was updated again on 24April 2015.