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First look: Apple Watch

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The three types of Apple Watches come in two sizes - 38mm and 42mm - which are the lengths of the watch cases.

  • Apple Watch Sport, the entry-level model, is encased in silver or space grey anodised aluminium, with a strengthened Ion-X glass display.
    Price range: US$349 (S$484) to US$399
  • Apple Watch, the mid-range model, has a stainless steel or space black casing with sapphire crystal glass display.
    Price range: US$549 to US$1,099
  • Apple Watch Edition, the luxury model, has an 18-karat rose gold or yellow gold casing and sapphire crystal glass display.
    Price range: US$10,000 to US$17,000

The larger ones cost more. For example, the 38mm Apple Watch Sport costs US$349 while the 42mm version is priced at US$399.

Regardless of type or size, all have the same rectangular watch face with just two buttons - Digital Crown and Communication - on the right side.

The watches also feature the same Retina Display with Force Touch, which can sense the difference between a tap and a press. The smaller model has a 340 x 272-pixel display; while that of the 42mm one has a 390 x 312-pixel resolution.

 

Bands and accessories

If you wonder why the price varies so much, it is because of the different casings and watch bands.

The more affordable Apple Watch Sport is available in 10 versions with the rubber sport band only.

For the mid-priced Apple Watch, there are 20 variations, with bands ranging from sport band to stainless-steel link bracelet.

The basic Edition model comes with the sport band. But if you can afford the Edition, why stop at a sport band?

Extra bands start at US$49 for the sport band and head skywards to US$449 for the link bracelet.

You will probably want an extra Apple Watch magnetic charging cable (US$29 for a metre-long cable, US$39 for a 2m cable).

Features

Like most smartwatches on the market, this one needs to be synced with a smartphone. In this case, an Apple iPhone (iPhone 5 or later, running iOS 8.2) via Bluetooth Low Energy and built-in Wi-Fi.

It displays all the notifications you have activated on your iPhone. So, unlike some Android Wear smartwatches which will display only certain notifications, this watch will show them all, from WhatsApp messages to NBA scores from ESPN.

Also, while some smartwatches can show only a stub of an e-mail message, the Apple Watch will let you read the whole thing. But do mind your table manners.

You can doodle on this watch and send your art to anyone who is also using an Apple Watch.

With a microphone and speaker built in, the watch lets you call up Apple's virtual assistant, Siri, simply by saying: "Hey Siri."

When I asked for the weather, the watch brought up the current weather, as well as the forecast for the rest of the week.

Other features include a heart-rate monitor and motion sensors, which let the watch do double duty as a fitness tracker.

Feel and handling

The mid-range stainless steel Watch model (US$699) with a blue leather loop watch band felt every bit as expensive as its price tag from the moment I strapped it on.

The stainless steel case feels super smooth. No rough edges here.

The Digital Crown looks just like the crown on a regular watch. Press it to go to the home screen, where all the apps are shown as circular icons. Turn it to zoom in and out, and to browse the apps; then tap the display to move the screen around to pick an app.

Tap again on the crown to centre the home screen; double tap to return to the watch face.

Swiping upwards on the watch face brings up Glances, a quick view of my app's most important content.

The demo unit did not allow me to force tap on the watch face to access customisation options. But this will be a feature of the watch.

Just below the crown is the big Communication button. This is a shortcut to bring up your contacts.

The apps will include ones for Uber to book a car, or unlock your W Hotel room, but the ones on the demo unit were just demo apps.

Battery life, water resistance

The watch is supposed to have an "all-day" battery life of 18 hours but if you use it to talk Dick Tracy-style, the battery will last just three hours. It looks like you will have to charge your Apple Watch every night.

The watch is IPX7-certified, which means it should survive being dunked in metre-deep water for up to 30 minutes. In other words, you can keep it on when you wash your hands, or go jogging in the rain. But forget about taking it for a swim.

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