Why I sold my Apple Watch

apple watch 04

Why I sold my Apple Watch

I’m not really an early adopter, but in December I picked up the Apple Watch for “free” by activating the Discovery Vitality Apple Watch Benefit on their Active Rewards program. A couple of months later I sold it. Here is why…

 

The challenge was to achieve my weekly training targets for the next 24 months and have Discovery reward me with a subsidised or even free Apple Watch. Lots of people have followed the same thought processes and there are probably thousands of Apple Watches all over the country thanks to this perk on the Active Rewards program.

 

apple watch 02

 

I’ve also read some interesting posts about how casual fitness enthusiast or sedentary users have used the watch to help them maintain training programs and more active lifestyles (check this story out Part 1 and Part 2)

 

But, is it really a fitness device or just a smartwatch with some cool features?

 

What worked

  • Like most Apple products, it was intuitive and easy to pick up and use
  • The strap is really comfortable and it features a cool tuck-away section which I’d like to see more on watches
  • We all know how crap it is to stop your run and to fish your phone out of a backpack. Now you can just talk to your wrist! This feature came in handy when Aanikah called me during a CT Cycle Tour training session
  • You can track your time standing, moving, or during a workout and then have a caloric counter tied to your heart-rate

 

apple watch 04

Apple’s activity alerts encourage you to stand which is a different take on the usual “move” approach used by other activity trackers on the market

 

  • The Optical Heart Rate sensor is slick and tracks you all day thus eliminating the need for the traditional chest strap
  • It links to Strava and built in workout apps to track all kinds of workouts (running, cycling, gym etc.), plus many other 3rd party apps are available

 

What needs work

  • No built in GPS!!! You will still have to carry your phone around on your training sessions (security risk plus potential water damage – see next point). However, it is able to estimate your distance based on stride length and some other variables, but you will have to calibrate it to improve accuracy. This is still not foolproof and inaccuracies will probably still occur
  • Apple have warned users against any real water exposure and the warranty does not cover this. At best the watch is splash-proof so don’t go shower with it and definitely no triathlons 🙂 FYI – DC Rainmaker had the balls to go full-out on the water testing in this post
  • Battery doesn’t last long at all and gets chowed during activities. You will find yourself charging it each day – I’m already over having to charge my phone each day so adding another device is a schlep
  • While using the native apps and Strava on a run, the pace indicator is not immediate and there are a couple of seconds of lag to display data when you glance down at your arm. I really like instantaneous pace data and I almost tripped a couple of times trying to see how fast I was going – look in front of you Fareed
  • The charger doesn’t use any clips on the watch itself. You basically lay the watch on the magnetic charger and it connects. If you don’t do it properly, you could be leaving for a run with very little battery power – it’s happened to me a few times
  • User reviews have shown it to scratch quite easily so you will need to invest in a protective case/cover to shield it – I was extremely careful and was lucky to keep mine unscathed 🙂

 

apple watch 03

Comparative testing vs. Garmin Fenix 3

 

The Verdict

Yes, it looks cool and you can go all spy-mode by talking into your wrist watch. But, honestly it’s an expensive pedometer with a heart rate monitor built in. Don’t get me wrong, there are real benefits when you look at it from a smartwatch perspective – but to be very clear: this is a smartwatch with additional features and not a fitness device with smartwatch functionality (à la Garmin Fenix 3).

 

In the context of the Apple Watch and the Discovery Vitality Active Rewards program, it can definitely assist in developing lasting healthy habits in those who don’t already ascribe to an active lifestyle.

 

However, if you’re already engaging in an active lifestyle and are looking for a fitness watch for running etc. then I’d rather recommend options like the Polar M400, TomTom Runner 2 Cardio, Garmin 920 XT or Fenix 3. These are all available for cheaper, have built in GPS units, are waterproof to 50m, will give you multiple days in battery life and include Bluetooth so you can receive phone notifications on your wrist.

 

They just do the job better.

 

The Apple Watch is a first generation luxury item. Maybe in future things will improve. But for now, I sold mine.

 

Do you have an Apple Watch? Feel free to share your experience with it below.

 

– Peace

 

16/25

Just run with your cellphone

Looks4/5

Fit4/5

Quality4/5

Performance2/5

Price2/5

Let us help you find the best road and trail running gear here

Fareed

fareed@leavethecouch.com
10 Comments
  • Shanaz Isaacs

    May 12, 2016 at 11:12 am Reply

    I’ m considering the Tom Tom Runner 2 …
    Interesting review though!

    • Fareed

      May 12, 2016 at 4:26 pm Reply

      The TomTom Runner 2 is a really good device! I am busy with a review on it and will be posting shortly. But, in a nutshell, it does everything at a very competitive price and looks decent 🙂

  • Orelando_G

    May 12, 2016 at 11:20 am Reply

    Great review Fareed.

    I like how you describe it as a pedometer with a heart rate monitor. I have read that a few people have tested the HRM against other fitness devices and the Apple Watch is grossly inaccurate. If you training by heart rate you really need accuracy.

    So then I guess it is really just a pedometer

    • Fareed

      May 12, 2016 at 4:27 pm Reply

      lol. It’s not like we’re hating on the Apple Watch, it’s just that it’s not the fitness device that people are led to believe it is. Too many limitations at a very expensive price

  • Greg

    May 12, 2016 at 12:02 pm Reply

    MUCH cheaper than the Fenix3 is the Vivoactive… Gives you 90% of the Fenix3, for half the price… well worth a look!

    • Fareed

      May 12, 2016 at 6:48 pm Reply

      The Vivoactive is a solid option, but the Fenix 3 just offers more in terms of metrics, screens, battery life etc. I’m not trying to push high-end multisport devices down everyone’s throat. However, I’ve spent long days in the mountains and I like coming home and still having juice left to do runs and rides a couple of days later. It allows for more flexibility which obviously comes at a premium and if you can afford it then go for that

  • Louis Kotze

    May 13, 2016 at 4:57 am Reply

    Hi Fareed. I’m currently looking at the Fenix 3 or the Suunto Ambit 3
    I’m in 2 minds between the 2. Any advice?

    • Fareed

      May 13, 2016 at 7:12 am Reply

      It depends on what you are looking for…

      The Fenix 3 has had newer bit and bobs included in it (colour screen, really good looking etc.), which makes it more likely to be relevant in a few years. With the Ambit 3 you know that you will get an accurate device that just works – Suunto products are fantastic, hence why the majority of top mountain runners sport them on their arms.

      My (simple) view on the matter is that they both essentially do the same thing i.e. accurate multisport watches with mega battery life (similarly to how we all view Cell Phone providers and Banks – they are actually all the same). The one thing that was the deciding factor for me was the ease of use with the Garmin. In order to make any changes to the Suunto you will need to plug it into a PC, whereas the Garmin can be customised on the fly.

      Believe me, once you can do things strictly via Bluetooth or by pressing a few buttons you won’t want to go back to plugging into a PC.

      • Louis Kotze

        May 13, 2016 at 8:15 am Reply

        Great that helps a lot!. I do a bit of trail but road running is my forte. Last year my watch battery died halfway through Comrades. So hence me looking at either Fenix or Ambit.

        • Fareed

          May 13, 2016 at 9:27 am Reply

          Awww man. That’s the worst!

          Yep, I dig the option on both of these devices to increase the battery life by decreasing GPS tracking frequency. FYI, the watches with wrist-based HRMs don’t have as long battery lives even with the reduced tracking frequency – in your search for a Comrades friendly watch, I would recommend staying away from those.

          Good luck for the race!

Post a Comment