I did not need an Apple Watch. Until I did. And now that I just bought another, I'm still not sure about it.
I said I would never buy one. Then after I got it as a Christmas present three years ago, I was underwhelmed because it didn’t do enough.
Three years later I was cursing it when battery life dwindled to a couple of hours, my exercise rings showed I had walked zero steps after I had traipsed several miles, and I kept getting screen blasts saying storage was full — and I should delete music or photos. Nearly defunct and incapacitated, my model 8GB MJ2X2LL/A Apple Watch (series 1) has sat largely idle for months.
So what did I do after that that subpar experience? I bought another one this week. Even as I clicked the “place order” button to buy the Apple Watch 5 (thanks, Amazon, for the surprise $80 discount and applying ThankYou points), I cringed because a new, better one is likely just around the corner in time for the holiday season. Apple Watch Series 6, no doubt, would do far more than the one I hadn’t even received yet.
I have a lovely, analog Movado watch — with zero bells and whistles — that’s well over a decade old. It’s attractive, tells time when I look at it — without my having to position my arm just right — and I don’t have to charge it overnight. A new battery from the jewelry store down the street every couple of years, and it runs like a charm. But in the age of the smartwatch, I want itto do more, especially now that I know about circles. Even Movado gets it. They’ve hopped aboard the connected-watch wagon, too.
We early adopters are nuts. Sometimes I imagine telling my grandmother — who scraped along through the Depression — that I spent over $300 for a watch, then had to replace it three years later because it couldn’t tell time for more than half a day without plugging into a wall outlet.
But I’m caught in the web of Apple’s ecosystem.
I’m on my third iPad, mostly for viewing baseball on the side while watching something else on TV. The iPad is largely on the DL, for now, since baseball is on pause.
Then there are the AirPods, which are pretty great. I love the no-fuss connection between my phone and the buds. They always know what the other one is doing, and the phone shows me cute little videos when the AirPods come out of the case — along with remaining battery life. The relationship between the iPhone and the AirPods is seamless, and I’m spoiled. I have one pair for working out and noise-canceling ones for work.
But the Apple Watch? The Watch is different. Maybe it’s because it replaced a device that had one simple function, then adds layers of complexity on top. It’s a watch, for crying out loud: Whose idea was to call the extras it provides “complications?” No wonder my first Apple Watch gave me agita. Now I’m putting myself through it again.
The unboxing is seductive. Apple Watch comes in a long sleek box with a silky feel, which makes you feel like you’re about to join an exclusive club. Slots are customized for each part, and the precious watch itself is wrapped in a tiny tight-fitting cloak.
I gave a “heh-heh” when I read instruction #1: Open the band box. “Got it!” I snickered at the dummied-down directions. That was until I failed #2, which was snapping the bands into the watch. When instructed to hold the phone to the Watch for pairing, I realized the face was upside down. Somehow when I was holding the watch, I hit right hand on the orientation screen; my Watch thought I was a southpaw.
My welcome to the Series 5 wasn’t filled with the warm and cuddly fanfare I thought I deserved. The lawyers arrived first: “Do not use your product until you have read the terms of the warranty,” the screen commanded. I read the warranty and learned that my watch isn’t covered in the event of an earthquake, nor are batteries or protective coatings “that are designed to diminish over time.”
That’s because Apple wants to sell me an extended warranty to grow their soaring services business, which netted the company $13.3 billion from Dec. 29-March 28. Its most recent earnings report spells out the importance of the services business these days with upgrade cycles for iPhones stretching out over several years: Apple’s sales grew 1% over the 2019 quarter “primarily driven by higher Services and Wearables, Home and Accessories net sales” and “partially offset by lower iPhone net sales.”
I have never liked the idea of buying an extended warranty because it says to me: “You know that $400 gizmo you just bought? It’s going to die in a year; pay me now or pay me later.” I once left a $1,000 camera at the register at Best Buy when the cashier pushed an extended warranty on me, using the self-defeating threat that the camera’s zoom lens was known to be “kludgy.”
My watch comes with a 1-year warranty. I have 2 months to decide if I want to get supplemental insurance ($79 for a 24-month Apple Care+ insurance plan that covers two “incidents” of accidental damage). The $79 covers the policy and tech support. On top of that, it’s $69 a pop per incident. My most likely incident would be loss or theft, and those aren’t covered, so Imma pass.
After the warranty introduction, I received an email from the Apple welcome wagon with the watchOS software license agreement (not exactly a Hallmark card), Apple Pay (more services) supplemental terms and conditions and notices from Apple. This morning I received my official “Welcome to your new Apple Watch Series 5” email. That was a bit anticlimactic.
The good news is the Series 5 display is always on; I don’t have to hold my wrist at the correct angle to see the time. I’m now ready to embark on my new relationship, complications and all…