Closeup of an apple watch on a wrist

A non-gadgety person’s review of Apple Watch Series 3

Published 2018-08-31

I was one of the last people I know to buy a cel phone, ditto a smartphone. Far and away my #1 app, almost since buying my first iPhone, is Strava. #2 is Camera. (Of course I swiftly put Strava chocolate into photo peanut butter.)

I have been on the lookout out for a budget Apple watch for a long time because theoretically this is exactly what I want. I hate carrying a phone in my pocket. I (used to) like wearing watches. I’ve had three GPS watches (returned two of them) and they are ... not awesome. In particular the HRM always putzes out, inevitably halfway through a workout. Plus you have to wear a strap around your tits to get your heart rate. The Series 3 Apple watch gets good reviews for its HRM, so this seems exactly like my thing.

And when refurbed Series 3 Watches started to turn up in the Apple Store (and I could get one for under $300), I pulled the trigger. This was just barely cheap enough to qualify as an “impulse purchase.” (We spent this much on a birthday party once so it has become my “ridiculous impulse” bar.) Plus it is my birthday! I’m entitled. I couldn’t wait to pick it up, and was excited to synch it up and try it on.

Long gone, I suppose, is the magical feeling of flipping on a brand new unfamiliar Apple product whereafter Everything Is Different. The whole experience was fiddly and invasive. When someone called me, the watch rang (and vibrated, ugh ick) instead of my phone. Sometimes neither one rang. It was forever notifying me of something. I accidentally took a bunch of remote pictures of the inside of my pocket. It kept starting up some kind of app that told me to “breathe.” It nagged me to stand up (for a whopping one minute an hour.) The HRM was forever telling me my heart rate from five minutes ago. I tried to make some phone calls but the microphone wasn't working. (Or maybe, as near I can tell, the microphone on my phone in my pocket was working instead. It was kind of confusing.) It took way longer than I anticipated to get Strava onto the watch. The thing is surprisingly heavy, and the two included straps are either too long or too short.

(All watches feel too heavy to me now. Carrying a phone has conditioned me to not wear one. So in this strange way Apple has conditioned me to not want a watch at all)

And I cannot stress enough how ass-ugly the faces are which just blows my fucking mind. Apple of all companies should be able to nail at least one really beautiful watch face. The Solar face (pictured) is the least offensive. But maybe the faces are ugly because it’s kind of a hassle to check the time, & Apple is thoughtfully trying to dissuade you doing so. The wrist-flick thing requires conscious action. You can’t just glance at your wrist. And half the time clicking on the wheel thingy brings up the last thing you were looking at, and not the damn time.

Call me old-fashioned, but the #1 killer app of a watch is quickly letting you know what time it is

When I got my first Mac within minutes I felt like my life was different. Same for my first PowerBook and iPod and iPhone. Everything about my Apple Watch experience was: “this is totally optional and unless something compels me to use it, I wouldn’t.”

All I want, really, is a Strava Watch. I want a giant button to tap when I start to ride my bike, and I want it monitor my heart rate. It would be nice if it were also a Dick Tracy—style phone. Although I didn’t get the cel phone version, just the cheapo GPS type). Those are the only things I need it to do. I don’t want it to remind me to walk or stand up or breathe or sleep.

I wore the thing for about four hours yesterday before I realized I would probably never bother with it, even when I was working out. When we left for the morning, I just put it back in its box.

I bought my first Mac in 1991. I shudder to think how many tens of thousands of dollars I’ve given to Apple. The Apple Watch will be the first Apple product I ever return.