Yesterday at its event, Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 2. Unlike previous announcements, where the firm would give customers nine days or so before pre-orders begin to think about what they want, you only get a day and a half this time around. Pre-orders for the Apple Watch Series 2 and the iPhone 7 begin at midnight Pacific Time tonight.
Unfortunately, the selection of Apple Watches is as confusing as it ever has been, and it's expensive as well. As you'd expect, "confusing" and "expensive" put together is a recipe for disaster. With that in mind, here are some tips to make your purchasing decision a bit easier.
1. Get the Sport band
I've been using the Apple Watch Sport (Space Gray, 42mm) since day one, and one thing that I've never looked back on is getting the Sport model, which of course comes with the Sport band. Apple's pricing is confusing, but one thing that's clear is that if you want one of the nicer bands, the price goes up pretty quickly.
Here's the deal. There are a lot of great third-party Apple Watch bands out there, and they usually cost less than a third of what Apple would charge you for something identical. Just look on Amazon. All bands are interchangeable, so even if you buy the cheapest aluminum Apple Watch, you can still grab that fancy Milanese Loop.
Another thing I've found is that the Sport band comes in handy. In active situations, the magnetic clasps on the Milanese Loop or the Leather Loop can get loose. If you're going out to exercise, or to say, the batting cages, you might want to swap out your fancy band for a Sport, which luckily came with your Watch, if you were smart.
2. Know which casing you want
Last year, you had the option of aluminum starting at $349, stainless steel starting at $549, and gold starting at $10,000. This year, Apple has quietly killed off its insanely expensive gold model, replacing it with ceramic, which is the new Apple Watch Edition.
This year's lineup starts with $369 for aluminum, $549 for stainless steel, and $1249 for ceramic. It's $50 more for the 42mm model, or $30 more in the case of aluminum. Aluminum comes in Space Gray, silver, gold, and rose gold; stainless steel comes in standard and Space Black; and ceramic comes in white.
Unlike the band that you choose, the casing is what you're going to be stuck with. Note that the stainless steel models easily get scratched (think old iPods), but that can easily be buffed out with metal polish. They also have stronger displays than the aluminum models.
Of course, aluminum is the most budget-friendly, and the new Nike Plus models use them for the same price. If you get gold, silver, or rose gold, it can potentially match your iPhone 7 purchase; however, the more expensive Space Black would match your Jet Black iPhone.
Unfortunately, there is no matching Watch for the matte black iPhone 7, as the Watch hasn't yet replaced Space Gray with black.
3. But are you sure that you want Series 2?
After Apple announced the Watch Series 2, the company stated that it would continue to sell the original Apple Watch, calling it Series 1. Moreover, Apple Watch Series 1 has been refreshed to include the same chipset as Series 2, so the performance issues that I've been having for the past year and a half wouldn't apply to Series 1.
They only come in aluminum and they start at $269, so what exactly are you missing out on by saving $100?
For one thing, GPS. This was absolutely the most requested feature that was left out of the original Apple Watch. If you're going to go for a run and you want your Watch to track where you went, you'll either need your iPhone with you, or a Series 2.
Another thing is that Series 2 is waterproof. Apple says that it's water resistant for up to 50 meters. If you want to go swimming with your Watch on, once again you'll want a Series 2.
Other than that, you're not missing much. I've personally found myself missing GPS from time to time when using the Apple Watch, but it's not a dealbreaker. Of course, now that the option for GPS is there, I wouldn't go and try to save $100 by giving it up, but then again, I can't make that decision for you.
4. Make sure you're happy with Apple services
This is less about which Watch to buy and more about if you should get one at all, but there are a lot of reasons for this one. For one thing, you're locking yourself into an ecosystem when you buy a smartwatch. Your Apple Watch will only work with iPhones, and you're probably not going to want to buy a new one every two years when you upgrade your phone. Make sure that you plan on sticking with Apple.
But that's certainly not all. When the Apple Watch first launched, there were few things that you could do with it without having an iPhone nearby. One of those was that you could listen to music via Bluetooth headphones.
Unfortunately, if you do want to preload music, you have to do it with content that you have in the stock Music app. If you're a Spotify subscriber, you're out of luck. Remember, the Apple Watch does not have its own cellular connectivity.
Music is the most obvious example, but Maps is another. Google Maps on the Watch is just awful. If you like to use GPS, plan on using Apple Maps.
If you're not comfortable with the lock into Apple services, there sadly aren't a lot of alternatives for you. Android Wear works with iPhones...barely. You can't load music onto an Android Wear watch from Apple's devices. Take a look around and make sure you know what's right for you.
5. Know the return policy
So you figured out which Apple Watch you wanted, bought the 42mm ceramic model for $1300, used it for a few days, and suddenly realized that you'd be better served by an aluminum Series 1. Good news! Apple has a 14-day return policy in most regions, including the US and UK. If you're unsure, do a Google search for the company's return policy. It's pretty easy to find.
Not only that, but the folks at the Apple Store are super friendly. When you go in and say that you want to return your Apple Watch, they won't give you the stink-eye like you might get from some other retailers.
The point is that your decision doesn't have to be absolutely final. Picking out an expensive product to buy can be nerve-wracking. Don't let it be. You've got 14 days to change your mind, swap it for a new one, or just get your money back.