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The Apple Watch: Sport and Fitness In-Depth Review


Ahh yes, the long awaited Apple Watch for Fitness In-Depth Review.  I’ve now spent almost 10 months with the Apple Watch.  Or rather, three different Apple Watches.  All of which I’ve bought myself – and all in an attempt to understand how well the unit works across a wide range of fitness activities. And how well it stands up to the day to day poundings of sport.

But I’ll cover more than just sports; I’ll get into how it works as a day to day activity tracker.  From optical HR to steps, and even sleep.

However, what I won’t cover in-depth is general use of the Apple Watch in a non-sport setting.  There’s approximately 259,000,000 pages out there that will do that.  Some of them quite well in fact.  However, there’s virtually no in-depth resource for sports and fitness.  Some folks have tried to talk to things like HR accuracy, but many of their tests are flawed or silly-easy to pass.  Walking on a treadmill doesn’t count.

So with that, let’s get going!

(Side note: While this review may seem untimely, keep in mind that Apple is not expected to announce a new Apple Watch in March 2016, but rather, just new bands and minor software updates.  Instead, a new unit is expected in the September timeframe.)

Some Background:

First off, there are technically a few different variants of the Apple Watch.  However these purchasing differences are 100% related to the exterior of the unit.  This includes aspects such as the exterior case material, watch band size, and the wrist straps.  Some of which are interchangeable (straps), while other aspects are hard-set the way you buy it (case material).

In my case, I’ve purchased three units.  Two Apple Watch Sport units (42mm, white sport band), and one Apple Watch stainless steel (42mm, black classic leather band).


Why three?  Well, I had my first Apple Watch Sport for approximately 4 months, working just fine and dandy.  However, after a trip to Croatia this past summer, the watch got checked into my airline luggage, which Croatia Airlines promptly lost…permanently (along with $5,000 in other equipment/gadgets).  So, I bought a replacement for it (same style/color).  However, the other Apple Watch I bought was simply because when I ordered way back in April I did one to my US address and one to my French address.  At that point, you didn’t really know how many weeks or months it’d be.  So, two it was.


In any case, my purchases aside – they work identically.  And in my testing, I’ve found no differences between the three models.  It’s been kinda handy having three units, because I’ve been able to compare and validate I didn’t have just a one-off issue.

Next, over the past 10 months, Apple has issued numerous different software updates. Some major, some minor.  For the purposes of this review, any accuracy related data is based on the latest software update as of publishing date.



Every once in a while I do unboxing videos, as opposed to unboxing photos.  This would be one of those cases.  As such, go forth and bask in the glory of my unboxing video prowess:

See – that was much more efficient than 38 photos, right?

Daily Activity Tracking:


Now that we’ve got it unboxed, let’s start by talking about the daily activity tracking.  This is one area that the Apple Watch does a suburb job at, and does so in a semi untraditional way.  For most other companies (Garmin, Fitbit, Polar, etc…), their devices are mostly centered around the concept of steps.  Sure, you can show calories, distance, and sometimes floors.  But really, it comes down to steps.

Now Garmin a number of years back introduced inactivity alerts, and others in the industry followed suit as well.  The idea with that is that every hour you had to get up and move somewhere.  Specifically, about 100-150 meters of somewhere.  You had to walk that distance to ‘clear’ the bar.

Whereas Apple takes a slightly different approach. Every hour, at 10 minutes till the hour, they’ll remind you to stand up if you haven’t already done so.


Their idea is that if they can get you to stand up for just one minute, then you’ll likely go off and do something else.  Which, I’ve found to be true.  I’ve found I’m far more likely to get up and nail that ‘stand goal’ for 1 minute on the Apple Watch, than I am to go and wander 100-150 meters away.  That’s especially true if it’s late night in our apartment.



These stand goals form part of the larger circles of life that the Apple Watch has in their activity tracking dashboard, which you can see below.  Those three circles of life are: Move (Yellow/Greenish), Exercise (Red), and Stand (Blue).


Move basically aligns to steps, and standing is…well…standing.  However exercise is a bit more ‘loose’ in its definition.  For example, today I knocked out 110 minutes of exercise.  How I did that, I’m not terribly sure, since I didn’t actually do anything I’d consider ‘exercise’ today that the Apple Watch tracked.  I walked between some meetings, but that’s it.  The only exercise I did was a swim at the pool, which I did not bring my Apple watch with me on.

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Next, all of this is viewable on a calendar dashboard, with each of the circles of life showing up rather clearly.  From there you can then ‘win’ (or unlock) Achievement badges.

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The watch itself mirrors these three circles, but otherwise doesn’t dive too deeply into the stats there.  Much of that you’d do within the Activity app.  Or, more specifically, within the Apple Health app.

See, there are actually two apps related to fitness from Apple.  There’s the ‘Activity’ app, and there’s the ‘Health’ app.  Seen below in order: Apps screen (Activity icon on bottom row, Health icon on 2nd to last row), Activity App, Health App.

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Here’s how to differentiate them:

Activity App: This is basically the Apple equivalent of what you’d see with the Fitbit App, Garmin App, or Polar apps.  It shows your day to day progress around activity tracking (steps/etc…) and workouts.  However, think of it like a super-simplified version.  For example, if I complete a run with GPS tracking, I’ll never see the GPS track anywhere in an Apple app.  It’s simply not shown (whereas in Fitbit, Garmin, or others, it’s prominently displayed).  Similarly, there’s no concept of friends/connections in the Apple realm.  Whereas with Fitbit/Garmin/others, you can create leaderboard contests, friends, and all assortment of goal-fueled competitions.

Health App: This is also often interchangeably called Health Kit by folks, though there is a small technical difference.  Health Kit is the set of services & API’s that apps can use, whereas Apple Health is the app that you as a consumer use.  Nonetheless, this is basically a massive database for all sorts of health and wellness information.  While it does feature some basic dashboards, the average person probably isn’t going to set these up beyond the defaults.  The potential here is vast though, and this is where 3rd parties can add data.  So for example, Garmin pumps some data into this, as does Withings.  Fitbit does not however, due to their general pissing match with Apple.

If we look more deeply into the Health App, you’ll see it supports many more data types than the Apple Watch can or ever could measure.  For example: weight scale data.  Some other metrics are things that we’ll likely see Apple add over time of course with new hardware.

Now, it’s really important to understand one key thing about Apple Health: It lives on your phone. End of story.  There is no Apple Health ‘Cloud’, or online platform (such as with Google Fit, Garmin Connect, Fitbit, Withings, and everyone else in the world).  The idea behind this is to increase security of your personal health (and potentially medical) data.  But there are pros and cons to everything.  By doing so it requires that when 3rd parties want to add data, they must do so through an app on your phone.  So for example, lets say you had the Withings WiFi Scale.  That can’t directly talk to Apple Health.  Instead, you have to stand on the scale, let it do its WiFi sync thing, and then open up the Withings App on your phone.  Then from there the Withings App will sync to Apple Health using Health Kit API’s.

Finally, it’s worth noting that unlike every other mainstream fitness tracker company – there is no desktop app for the Apple Watch sport/fitness activities.  There’s no website you can check.  That’s because everything sits on your phone.  So there’s no way a 3rd party website can reach into your phone unless you sync that data via a 3rd party app installed on your phone.  In any case, there’s no equivalent to Garmin Connect website, or the Polar Flow website, or the Fitbit website.

Got all that?  Good.  Let’s talk bright shiny things.



I want to very briefly cover sleep and the Apple Watch.  At present, the Apple Watch does NOT track sleep metrics natively.  Meaning, Apple doesn’t provide any sort of sleep tracking functionality within the unit, though it does within the Apple Health app.

However, some 3rd party apps have stepped in to bridge that gap, one being HeartWatch.  This little app allows you to track sleep using the sensors within the watch.  Of course, this means you’ll have to wear it longer each day, stretching the limits of the battery (which I’ve found to be pretty consistently about 36 hours worth).

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However, the app will not only track sleep, but also your HR ranges and other metrics more clearly.

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And finally, it’ll dump this data into the Apple Health app, so you can track it there.

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It’s definitely a solid option if you’re trying to track very basic sleep data with the Apple Watch.

The Optical Sensor:


The Apple Watch is hardly the first watch to have an optical HR sensor in it.  In fact, they’re far from the first.  Nor will they be the last.  Optical HR sensors are becoming commodity in the activity tracker and fitness realm.  What isn’t commodity however is the quality of the sensor, which varies heavily from unit to unit.  But more on that in a moment.

The way optical HR sensors work is that they shine an LED light down through your skin to your blood capillaries.  From there, the optical sensors (photodiodes) then pickup that light and measure the blood flow, and thus your heart rate.  Apple employs two green LED’s, and two photodiodes on the back.  The technology has been around for many years in a number of different forms.  But it’s really only been the last 3-4 years that we’ve seen it migrate into the sport world (well before Apple got there).


However, the Apple Watch also has a secondary method for capturing HR, which is using infrared.  It does this when it’s capturing your 24×7 HR, whereas the green LED’s are used for sport activity.  In the 24×7 mode, Apple Watch measures every 10 minutes.  You can see this if you open up the Apple Health App and look at the HR readings, always every 10 minutes on the dot:

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There are exceptions though.  It won’t always take a reading if I’m moving around too much (see on the right screenshot between 6:58PM and 8:05PM), as the infrared sensor isn’t very good during movement. That’s an area where the other companies just leverage LED sensors 24×7 instead (i.e. Fitbit).

Meanwhile, in workout mode it’ll leverage the green LED’s to provide continuous HR throughout the workout.  Like all optical HR sensor units on the market, you need to take some care when it comes to positioning on the wrist.  For example, the further away from the wrist bone the better. Being right on the wrist bone just won’t work well, no matter the brand.


Next, there’s certainly been lots of commotion in the mainstream media about how well the Apple Watch works on various skin tones and things like tattoos or hairier arms.  The reality is that this is no different than other optical HR sensors. Some companies will add in secondary LED colors to add more breadth to their optical HR measurements.  Yet others with just green-alone are able to do just as good.

But ultimately, the non-click-bait headline is actually that Apple isn’t really any different than anyone else.  For some people it’s just not going to work – no matter if their skin is white or black, or tattooed or not.  There are plenty of reports of perfectly functioning Apple Watches with optical HR across a wide variety of skin tones (just as there are on other sensor companies).

What is FAR more important than skin tone, is really just how you wear it: Snug, and away from the wrist bone.  If you do that, you’re rather likely to at least have a starting point for good results.

An Optical HR Testing Primer:


So how about optical HR accuracy?  Well, I’m going to cover that sport by sport below in each section.  Sorta different than before, but I think it works for this specific review.  But I want to talk a bit about how to properly test devices for optical HR accuracy.  Here’s a bulleted ‘rule’ listing that I try and follow:

– The goal of the tests should be to validate optical HR accuracy over numerous workout types.  For example, in running you should do both workouts that shift intensities slowly, as well as ones that shift intensities quickly.  An example of a slowly-shifting workout is a long run, or just an easy run.  Whereas shifting intensities quickly is an interval workout (or fartleks), where you’re dramatically changing your HR quickly.  After all, these are the workouts that have the biggest training benefit for any sport.

– You should only put one optical HR sensor per wrist.  Any more than that and you’re very likely to impact accuracy between watches on the wrist due to constricting blood-flow.  If you really must use more than one device per wrist, then they should be significantly spaced out, and the secondary devices shouldn’t be other optical HR sensors.  But again, really, just don’t put more than one per wrist.

– You should test both inside and outside of wrists, as well as both wrists.  Most devices will work better for people in one specific configuration (i.e. inside or outside).  And sometimes one device will track better on a left wrist versus right wrist.  This is because sometimes runners will move one wrist/arm more than another while running.  Next, it shouldn’t be over your wrist bone (that’s bad). Finally, you should validate it’s sufficiently snug to ensure proper data accuracy.

– Data should be collected on more than one secondary device.  In almost all my testing, I’m looking to use three to four HR tracking devices.  Using two devices leaves you with no way to know which is correct.  Yes, comparing to a chest strap is great.  But everyone seems to forget they too can be easily fooled.

– Ensure data is captured at the highest rate as possible – ideally once per second.  Apple does that, and then I use 3rd party tools to export those to compare.

– Finally, last but not least – never ever compare the ‘Average’ for an activity.  When you see a site that compares the ‘average HR’ for a run, just close the tab and run away.  You can be wrong 100% of the time on HR (by a lot), and still get the average right.  It tries to boil down thousands of data points during an activity into one single data point.  And it’s never right.  Ever.

The above is just a brief overview.  Perhaps one of these days I’ll write some commandments of data comparison for sport/fitness.  But for now – keep those items in mind when approaching accuracy testing in general.


Likely the most common workout type folks will do with the Apple Watch is simply running with it.  And for the most part, out of all of the fitness activities, that’s the one it’s most skilled at and that I tend to get the best results at.

To begin, you’ll start by opening up the sport menu, which is the little neon green icon with a runner on it.  From there, you’ll choose a particular sport type, with several to choose from.


By going with Outdoor Run, it’ll utilize the GPS from your phone.  Remember there is NO GPS within the Apple Watch.  Instead, it leverages your phone’s GPS (at the cost of battery there, and having to carry your phone).  When I do so, I just use a simple armband for it.  Like any other GPS distance you’ll want to ensure it’s not buried somewhere with poor GPS satellite signal, as that’ll impact accuracy.


There is a secondary mode, where you run without your phone.  When you do that, it’ll use the accelerometers in your watch to determine distance.  This is much like most other watches have been doing for years now.  Accuracy will vary quite a bit, but I’ll cover that in a moment.

To start your run you’ll select between a few different modes.  These modes are basically for setting the ‘goal’ of your run.  These include time, distance, calories, and simply ‘Open’.  The vast majority of the time I just use the ‘open’ mode, which means I can run as long as I want until my workout is done.  There is no native interval functionality or anything else like that in the Apple Watch.  For that you need to use one of the (many) 3rd party apps.

With that you’ll tap the start button and get going after a short 3-second countdown.

Once you’re in a run, you can swipe left/right to change different data pages.  These are all pretty simplistic, and boil down to the following page metrics: Elapsed Time (Page 1), Current Pace (Page 2), Distance (Page 3), Active Calories (Page 4), Total Calories (Page 5), and Heart Rate (Page 6).


On all pages you have an upper field, which allows you to iterate between: Total Time, Time of Day, and Pace.


You cannot customize these beyond changing the pace from lap to average.  Any other customization you might want to do must come from 3rd parties (which again, there are tons of).  In fact, at the end of the day when it comes to the default workout app – you have exactly one, and only one option:

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During the run your pace and distance will by default come from your phone.  If you didn’t take your phone on the run, then it’ll come from the accelerometer inside the watch.  The accelerometer ‘learns’ your arm swing style based on doing runs with the GPS data from your phone.  So it’s best to at least do a few runs at different intensities with the phone, before you go phone-less.  Also, you’ll want to be consistent in using the watch on the same wrist.

In my experience, the distance data from that varies quite a bit depending on the type of run.  For example, if I’ve got a nice steady-state run (where my pace doesn’t change much) – it’s usually within 2-4% of numerous GPS watches.  Which is roughly on-par with what I see for other accelerometer based watch measurements.

However, if I do intervals, or change my pace outside of paces I normally run at, it can alter the accuracy.  Upwards of 10-12% in some cases.  This can be substantial.  Here’s a few examples.

Interval Run:
Apple Watch (non phone GPS): 8.37mi
Garmin Epix (GPS): 8.00mi
Polar V800 (GPS): 8.03mi
Suunto Ambit3 Peak (GPS): 8.08mi


Steady-state run:
Apple Watch (no phone GPS): 5.65mi
Garmin Fenix3 HR (GPS): 6.35mi (yes, .70mi off)


Interval Run:
Apple Watch (non phone GPS): 8.37mi
Garmin Epix (GPS): 8.00mi
Polar V800 (GPS): 8.03mi
Suunto Ambit3 Peak (GPS): 8.08mi


Steady-state run:
Apple Watch (no phone GPS): 5.65mi
Garmin Fenix3 HR (GPS): 5.35mi

When it comes to accuracy using GPS – in general I find things quite good there and right-on par with other GPS units on the market today.  The reality is that the iPhone has come a long way with GPS accuracy.  Like any GPS unit, it can have a bad day nestled in there, but in most cases, it’s spot on.  One thing to be aware of is that many apps attempt to ‘massage’ Apple’s GPS data stream.  Some do indeed reduce errors – while others introduce errors.  This is one area where the bigger apps (RunKeeper, Strava, MapMyFitness) have an edge over smaller apps with just the pure volume of activities they see and edge cases to work around.

Next, HR accuracy.  How well does the Apple Watch track optical HR?  Let the fun begin!


Now if you want the short story here, it’s this: The Apple Watch ranges between good tracking and downright horrible tracking.  It mostly depends on the intensity.  For runs where your intensity level is relatively even, it tracks quite well.  But if you shift intensities a lot – it craps the bed (and doesn’t recover), and you’ll find yourself on a screen virtually identical to the one above.

Let’s look at a few examples.  First is a simple evening run that’s relatively stable.  In this case, it’s compared against just a single HR strap, but it’s pretty easy to spot the variations (which are few).  It starts off and the Apple Watch struggles a bit at the beginning in the first few minutes.  You’ll see that when it struggles, it doesn’t usually bother to plot bad data points.  It simply doesn’t plot any.

But around the 6 minute marker, it locks on, and basically is spot on the rest of the run.  No real issues.  This was against a traditional chest HR strap (Stryd).  Note the numbers shown at the top are for that exact point in time my mouse is at – not the average of the run.


What I saw above is very common for steady-state type runs.  The Apple Watch very rarely has problems with that.  By the same token, most other optical HR devices get that right too.

And when I say ‘rarely’, I mean, sometimes it does.  For example this steady-state run.  In this case, it was totally off from the other units I had (Apple Watch in teal).  I’m not sure I really need any further commentary on this:


Next, let’s look at an interval run below.  This was essentially a warm-up period, followed by 2x10min at intensity, then 2x5mins at intensity, then 4×30” sprints.  This is compared against a Garmin Fenix3 HR (optical HR), and a Garmin HRM-TRI (chest strap).


So in general, the Apple Watch was totally lost here for the first 14 minutes.  It’s as if it never figured out tracking, and then it wasn’t until the 17-18 minute marker that it latched on.  Yet when it did that – it nailed it for the next 4-5 minutes.

However, at the start of the next interval, it lost the plot again.  It recovered briefly for about a minute mid-way through, but then again lost it.  This pattern repeated itself throughout the rest of the run.  From a HR monitoring standpoint, the Apple Watch failed miserably here too.

But it doesn’t always fail on intervals.  For example, here’s a semi-similar workout.  In this case, I build intensity over the course of about 30 minutes, and then do longer repeat sets.  Outside of being totally lost the first 9 minutes, it tracks pretty well until the 54 minute marker


It’s however those last four 30-second long sprints that it just doesn’t stand a chance.  You see it simply not even record a data point during these – as if they didn’t happen (well, it got #2 right).  The Fenix3HR shows some delay too, which is somewhat common for optical HR in these short sprints.

And despite having some 70+ workouts on the Apple Watch, this is roughly the pattern repeated over and over again.  Sometimes it’s mostly good, and yet other times it fails epically.  At least with some other optical HR sensors, when they fail, they fail in fairly predictable ways.  But with the Apple Watch – I never know when it’s going to fail to track.  For example, the easy run above it should have nailed.  That was like eating ice cream, it was a super-simple and very level easy run.  Meanwhile, the intense run here (last one above), and it mostly got that right.

Finally, it’s worth noting that in addition to using the optical HR sensor internal to the Apple Watch, you can also connect/pair it to Bluetooth Smart heart rate straps.  This allows you to skip any inaccuracy issues with the optical HR sensor, and just measure a workout directly using a chest strap.  No phone required either.


This data is then recorded just like any other workout would be.  So if you like the Apple Watch but don’t want to have inaccurate HR data – this is one option you could look at using.



In many ways, cycling is the area where the Apple Watch struggled the most.  And in more ways than one.  First is around optical HR sensor accuracy while riding.  In that area I found it’s consistently inaccurate in its ability to correctly track heart rate, especially with anything but pristine roads.  For example, the vast majority of the time I found that when I turned my wrist to show my heart rate while riding, it’d struggle to display anything at all, with a ‘acquiring HR’ message being the most common.

Less you think this was a single watch, all three units I have (one from the US, two from Europe) have the same challenges.

If you look at the raw data from numerous rides, you’ll see it rarely gets it right while riding – be it mid-HR range riding (aka Z2 HR zones), or even sprints.  Rather than iterate through and repeat myself numerous times, I’ll just let the graphs do the talking:

Let’s start with an indoor trainer ride (Zwift).  This is basically the easiest possible bike scenario because there are no vibrations, and thus it’s essentially no different than sitting on a couch.  As such, the Apple Watch nails it without issue (albeit a very slight delay):


On this next graph, we see the Apple Watch struggle numerous times to acquire HR.  Those long connecting lines indicate it’s trying, but is unsuccessful.  Now interestingly, you see the other optical HR unit (the Fenix3 HR) also struggling in some sections.  In its case, it sticks out a number (even if wrong).  I haven’t decided if there is a lesser evil in one method versus the other.


The below is actually a pretty good one, and it tracks reasonably well through most of it, except two sections of about 10-15 mins (first one), and 8-10 mins (second one).  This was a route with numerous climbs, which meant that speeds were slower (and thus less vibrations).


Next below was a typical stop and go ride through traffic, but still somewhat intense.  Sorry the tool for some reason selected the same color for two straps, however, the Apple Watch is the bottom one (as evidenced by the digits to the upper right).  In short, I don’t think it ever matched.


Now, this sorta doesn’t surprise me.  I’ve seen this in many cases on other optical sensors from various companies (but not all companies) using wrist based.  The slight vibrations in the road can cause trouble with a unit’s tracking, especially wrist-based units where the region isn’t quite as ideal as something further up your arm.  You’ll notice the Scosche Optical HR in one of the graphs does well, and that’s because it’s on my upper arm, which reduces the vibrations considerably.

But in many ways, the lack of optical HR accuracy on the bike is actually the least of one’s concerns.  The bigger issue is just the display.  See, the watch by default turns off automatically when you rotate your wrist.  As a result, in the standard riding position (road riding), the unit will be off.  So anytime you want to view some stat from your watch during a ride you have to tilt your wrist.

But of course that doesn’t always work.  And it’s not always a minor tilt, but a fairly substantial tilt to get the display to turn on, many times requiring you to remove your hands from the handlebars.  Obviously for most readers here taking your hands off your handlebar is trivial – but it’s the fact that you have to do it anytime you want to see your data that makes it kinda a pain in the ass.

Where it can be more useful is if you’re using it more to drive alerts/notifications while you ride.  In this case it’s helpful because these are less prevalent than just checking time/distance/pace/etc… So incoming texts and phone calls are glanceable, rather than having to take out your phone while riding.  Of course, almost all new GPS bike computers these days have that functionality too.

So in short, for cycling the Apple Watch isn’t ideal.

Aquatic Adventures:


I’ve previously written about this in detail, so I won’t re-hash too much.  In short, the Apple Watch is far more resilient to water than Apple would have you believe.  Which is great, having a company under-promise and over-deliver is better than the opposite.

Back in early May I did a series of tests with the Apple Watch in various watery conditions.  And since then I’d used the same watch every day in showers and additional occasional swims.  Here were the original sets of videos.

First, swimming 1,000 meters with it:

Then, jumping off a 10m high-dive platform:

And then, the waterproofing chamber:

In fact, I even used it in the water at the end of July on a sailing trip in Croatia, where I was in the saltwater 2-5 times a day swimming around and whatnot.  Zero problems up until that point.  Unfortunately, on the flight back home the airline lost my luggage – including the watch.  It had been in my suitcase as eventually on the boat power outlets in the evening became a high-commodity item, so the battery ran out and I just waited till I got back to civilization to use it.  Thus along with $5,000 in action cams, it too is missing somewhere in an airport in Europe.  Functional and fine…but missing.

There have been apps created for swimming with the Apple Watch (as outlined here in great detail), however Apple has rejected approval of those apps since they argue it’s encouraging users to do something bad to their Apple Watch.  It appears things do work fairly well, so hopefully the next version of the Apple Watch will gain the official waterproof stamp.


Still, I have no concerns with water and the Apple Watch.  I suspect the next iteration of the Apple Watch will probably formalize what we already know: It’s waterproofed much better than Apple lets on.

Fitness Apps for Apple Watch:


When I first started this review process some…well…10 months ago, there weren’t many apps out there that dealt with fitness well.  But these days, fitness apps for the Apple Watch are really a dime a dozen.  That’s largely because Apple essentially forces app makers to develop Apple Watch companion apps if they want to get on any of the ‘featured’ pages of the App Store.  It is the ultimate carrot, or perhaps, baseball bat.

In addition, when I first started this process and the watch came out – apps had far less access to the internals of the Apple Watch than today.  For example, it used to be that an app couldn’t access the optical HR sensor information (watchOS1).  Yet today, they can today with watchOS2.  That allows apps to be far more self-sufficient than in the past.  It’s now a totally viable alternative to the default workout app.

In fact, not so much viable as it is really just simply a far better alternative.  Companies like RunKeeper, Strava, MapMyFitness, and iSmoothRun all have varying experiences that surpass Apple’s.

For example, iSmoothRun has custom pages you can setup easily with far more metrics:

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Same goes for RunMeter, which seems to have the most customization options of any app out there – rivaling even your Garmin device for ways you can configure it.

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Of course, all of these apps are somewhat hobbled by the same restrictions: Poor optical HR accuracy at the wrist, and higher battery burn on your phone (for GPS data).  Still, they offer a glimpse of what could be the future if Apple addresses optical HR accuracy and then plops a GPS into the unit.

Finally, many will wonder how I get data out of the Apple Watch (if recorded on the native workout app).  For that there’s a few different apps you can use, but my personal favorite is Heart Graph. It allows me to download workouts from the Apple Health ‘database’, and then export them out easily to Dropbox or e-mail.

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The workouts come out as standard .TCX files, making them compatible with numerous services.  I also like it because it’s not restricted to certain workout types, whereas some other apps will only export running workouts, or cycling workouts for example.

Some non-fitness thoughts:


In many ways (actually, every way), the best part of the Apple Watch is without question the 3rd party apps.  There’s simply no smart watch (or smart band) platform out there that enjoys better application support.  This is hardly a surprise of course, and, it’s also with a few caveats.

While many apps these days now support the Apple Watch, the degree to which they support them varies – and changes frequently (usually for the better).  For example, I’m often travelling.  As such, I’m heavily dependent on travel apps and in particular, apps for various airlines.  That includes United Airlines, Lufthansa, and British Airways. But also Expedia and Booking.com.  All five of which are of course major players in the travel industry.  And all have apps.

But some of these apps do little more than glorified notifications.  For example, Expedia’s app will alert me 24 hours before a flight departs that I can now check-in for it.  But that notification is little more than a textual alert. I can’t actually do anything from the app at that point.  I can’t check-in from the Expedia app, nor does it redirect me to the airlines app.  So basically, it’s just telling me to open another app – on my phone.


On the flip side, apps like United do allow me to check-in for a flight – which is great.  And the same goes for a boarding pass – again, making for an easy overall transaction.  It’s done well.

There are of course many non-fitness apps which are pushing the boundaries of the Apple Watch.  For example, at our Cake Studio in Paris and the DCR Cave we prolifically use Dropcam to monitor these spaces.  There’s a great little app called Drip that allows me to quickly glance at the cams.  That in turn allows me to instantly see how we’re doing that day, or if the baking is going according to schedule for that morning or a special event.  I only need a glance to know the status versus opening up the entire app on my phone.  So in this case, it works well.


Similarly, e-mail is another example of that.  I’m often in meetings or presentations for extended periods of time (or long dinners as is the case here in Europe).  In many such cases it might be considered rude to pull out one’s phone and skim through e-mail.  However with the Apple Watch I can quickly and innocuously tap the e-mail icon and skim through e-mail senders.  In most cases, I decide whether something is important based on the person sending me the e-mail (and then secondarily based on the subject).  I can skim through the list in a few seconds and be done – no phone required.

Again, these are all just a few examples on both sides of the coin.  There are many sites out there that outline more mainstream Apple Watch features in far more detail, as the focus of this post is fitness rather than non-fitness aspects.

All that said, I think it’s Apple’s own smart notifications functionality that reigns supreme over other smart watches that can connect to iOS.  See today when you connect a Garmin smartwatch, or a Fitbit one (or anyone’s), it’ll double-notify you.  By that I mean both my pocket and my watch buzz at the same time.

However, with the Apple Watch, it won’t.  If you’re actively wearing the watch, the phone is smart enough to know to send it to just the Apple Watch and not buzz your pocket.  Further yet, it’s smart enough to not display that alert until you raise your wrist to glance at it.  Whereas with a Garmin notification, it’s like a bull in the China shop.  It’s coming in and showing you that text, whether or not you’re ready to see it.  And if you wait too long?  It’s now gone off the screen.

Whereas with the Apple Watch, if you wait a few extra seconds until you glance at your watch – it’ll properly show you the text.  And – you can actually respond to the text on your watch (something you can’t do on a Garmin unit).

Of course – as awesome as these features are, I’ve found that they are hardly deal-killers for me.  Within a day or two of taking off the Apple Watch, I don’t feel like I’ve lost some huge productivity boon.  Rather, I feel like I just tweak my behavior slightly and all is well.



In many ways the Apple Watch is good for the fitness industry at large, because it increases awareness of fitness technology.  There’s no denying that.  More fitness-focused devices on more people’s wrists that drive changes in behavior is a good thing.

But on the flip side, as a fitness device – the Apple Watch isn’t terribly good at fitness.  At least not by any objective measure.  Not cost, not features, not accuracy, and not reliability.  Which is odd to me, because in so many ways many people (perhaps including myself) believed that an Apple product has so much perfection in design inherently there.  They are known for rejecting product launches at the last second when not perfect (ok, Apple Maps aside).  When I sat down and discussed some of my concerns and challenges with the Apple Watch engineering teams, they got it.  They’re smart people – no doubt.  Though at times I felt like they lacked perspective on the larger set of products offered in the marketplace.  And ultimately, nothing of substance has changed with my initial discussions with them last summer.

Apple will occasionally bring various media outlets into their ‘semi-secret’ fitness lab building.  This is largely done as a measure to impress the journalists and show that Apple is focused on the fitness realm.  And no doubt, plenty of data is coming from those efforts. But having done these sorts of tours in the past at my previous employer, it is, to a large extent designed to shock and awe.  Designed to transport you into believing the pretty, versus the reality of objective data.  And that’s the challenge with the Apple Watch from a fitness standpoint, objectively, it doesn’t really measure up to competitor devices.

From a functionality standpoint for 1/4th the cost, there are far better activity trackers from Fitbit with a crapton more features – and, they tend to do a better job too.  The same goes for running watches from Garmin or Polar at 1/3rd the cost.  And for cycling, again, 1/3rd the cost for very strong contenders.  All of which do a better job than the Apple Watch.  The same goes for optical HR, again in units starting at $75 from Scosche and Mio for incredibly reliable HR.

Sure, none of those units have the brilliantly colorful display of the Apple Watch.  Nor do they have the massive app store of Apple behind them.  Or the sexiness of the watch.  But what they lack there, they make up for in purpose, accuracy, reliability and sport features.  And all of them last more than a day on a single battery.

So if you’re looking for a general smartwatch, then yes, the Apple Watch is brilliantly awesome – and I’d argue better than anything else out there.  But, once you add sport and fitness into it, you kinda have to throw out the Apple Watch if you want accuracy and reliability (such as on distance or HR).  At least for now anyway, as I have no doubt that a second generation Apple Watch will likely nail the vast majority of items in the first.  That’s sorta the way Apple has historically worked, and I can’t imagine history won’t repeat itself as usual.

Thanks for reading!

(Preemptive question/answer: Yes, I’m working on a Moto 360 Sport with Android Wear review.  No, I don’t have a specific timeframe for it.)

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  1. Rob Montgomery

    Nice review Ray. Thanks!

  2. Nikos K.

    Nice review Ray.

    I am an apple fan, for years, but i think, as you already note, this is not an innovating product at least for fitness world.

    I will expect next gen. Apple Watch to do far more in terms of reliability accuracy and day to day battery life usability. This seems to be the only road for success in all around wearable nowadays.

    • tfk

      @DC – nice review

      Battery: How?
      better, lower-powered CPU maybe? 10% gain?????
      increase the battery size to increase the life = bigger watch
      add the needed GPS and the battery life falls. -5% loss????

      optical HR accuracy: they should do better next time. It looks quite bad on the whole from this review so improvement should not be beyond the wit of the genius employees they have.

      not sure Apple have quantumly different hardware to anyone else (actually I am sure :-) )

      that funny casio thing at CES had a good idea with two screens layers…one hi res the other, err …not.

  3. Nico

    In the running section, I bet it should read, for the secondary mode, ‘the accelerometers in your watch’ (not phone, which is left home…) :-)

  4. Keith

    Excellent review. Still looking forward to the Fenix 3HR though.

    (In Daily Activity Tracking – “Apple Watch does a suburb job at”??)

    • Hang tight on the Fenix3HR. Review coming up later today…

    • Frank

      Really looking forward to the Fenix HR review, the built in HR on my Apple Watch is great for my normal run routine runs but not for Multi Sport stuff or where I need the accuracy of a Garmin GPS.

      I think I have room for both devices though, I travel a lot and find the integration of the apple watch with Travel and booking apps great.

  5. ReidK

    Gosh, I’m so tempted to swim laps with the apple watch but I’m so scared. . .

    • Go for it! The problem is though, you don’t get much benefit since there is no apps for logging pace, laps etc, because Apple won’t let allow them in the App Store. I suspect this will be a big feature for V2.

      So for now all you can do is start the Workout app and set to Other – you will get a VERY rough estimate of calories, and HR but no swimming metrics at all of course.

      On a separate point my son had an issue with his digtial crown sticking; we took it to the Apple Store and the advice was to actually wear it in the shower because it would help wash out any salt from sweating…

    • slartiblartfast

      You will need a stunt double like Ray’s tower jumping volunteer.

    • Interesting on the crown sticking advice. That’s actually pretty similar advice to what I give to folks for sticky buttons on most GPS devices (stick it in a bowl of warm soapy water for 15-20 mins).

    • Even after seeing Ray’s earlier swim/waterproofing test, I was still too scared to swim with my Apple Watch, too. I have a 910XT that I use for swimming, but I wanted to capture my swim calories in my Move ring. I’m too lazy to want to double exercise to keep my Move streak going. :)

      So I wrote an app! It lets you enter your swim time and distance after your swim–no need to wear your watch in the pool–and calculates a rough calorie count, which you can change (to match your Garmin, etc). It saves the swim as a workout in the Health app.

      It’s called Swimtivity and it’s available in the App Store. I hope someone finds it useful!

    • Rob

      Interesting, my crown sticks as well

  6. JJ Lee


    Is the Scosche Rhythm+ capable of pairing with the Apple Watch?

    • Hi JJ

      Yes you can pair the Rhythm+ to the Apple Watch.

      What I’m not sure if and something Ray doesn’t cover much is how that affects battery life? I’m guessing it could potentially improve it for the watch since the BLE connection would use less power than the HR sensor on the watch?

      Any thoughts Ray?

    • Andie

      I stopped using the watch for its sensor and i usually pair it with a polar h7. It deffinitely improves battery life as it doesn’t turn its sensors on by a few hours.

      But it has bugs. If i don’t turn off bluetooth on the iphone during the workout i would lose the connection with the strap and not reaconnect… For the fitness side i believe it is not very useful natively and there area lot of bugs to overcome with eact step

  7. Gili

    I prefer my Fenix 3 watch as my “casual” daily watch, and not just for fitness in which which it’s obviously far superior over the Apple’s watch. The 2 reasons are:
    1. Battery life of the Fenix is way better – even with daily GPS activity I have to charge it once a week or even more.
    2. Screen is always on. I find it annoying that the Apple’s watch screen is off unless you’re doing a gesture.

    Obviously smart watch features are much better in Apple’s, however I didn’t find some killer app that will make me prefer it. Fenix’ smart features are a bit lacking, especially the ability to dismiss incoming calls, and send some predefined text messages, but they’re adequate enough for me to use it daily and keep it on, rather than Apple’s one.

    • Graham R

      Yep – I talked my wife into an apple watch, and then it was an easy switch to a F3 Perf bundle since it “does more, looks nicer and is cheaper” (HER WORDS!)

      i love the F3 and will be picking up a few leather straps for a bit more polished look at the office, but it looks far less tech-watch-y than the apple watch or the TomTom i had before it.

    • Patrick

      I’ve been considering switching to a fenix 3 HR from my Apple Watch/Garmin 235 combo, but very time I try the fenix 3 it seems overly large for a daily wear watch. Is it something you’ve just gotten accustomed to over time? Do you use it for sleep tracking?

      Ideally, I’d like something more the size and shape of the Garmin 235/630, but in the style of the fenix 3. I just don’t see anything like that on the horizon.

    • Gili

      I was also worried with the size and weight of the fenix 3, also since I’m thin, and hesitated with its purchase. I thought when I bought it that I would use it only for fitness and continue with the apple as a daily watch. However really liked it the minute I got it, got used to the size after a few hours. Wearing it since then. I think it does look great and they designed it well.

  8. Mick Wall

    Towards the top, in the activity tracking section.

    “This is one area that the Apple Watch does a suburb job”

    Superb? :)

    • slartiblartfast

      Ray means that most people who want an activity tracker live in the suburbs.

    • Probably some truth to that…

    • Graham R

      i wish i could +1 comments! 😀

    • MattB

      Also there’s an ‘Apple employees’ rather than ’employs’ a bit further down :)

    • Jono

      They live in the suburbs, but not in a traditional free-standing house.

  9. Hammer

    “Apple’s own smart notifications functionality that reigns supreme over other smart watches that can connect to iOS”

    As someone with a good knowledge in terms of the tech side of things, is this something that Apple could open to others via an API or tweaked allowances in terms of what Third Party developers can and can’t do when they bluetooth on iOS?

    The biggest factor in ensuring that I’m holding off (and generally advising others to hold off) an Apple Watch remains battery life. I’m sure this is going to get better when further models come out, but until then I’m happy with reduced function and a week of battery life.

    • > but until then I’m happy with reduced function and a week of battery life.

      I think this is highly unlikely from Apple. Just look at the iPhone, many people have asked for a thicker rather than thinner phone with better battery life. It has never happened, and I don’t think it ever will. From Apple’s point of view the battery life is sufficient to be charged daily and that would be their goal (at least for this version). I tend to agree with them, battery life is fine for normal activity tracking and app use (and I use a lot of apps).

      Where it falls down though is during logged activity when the HRM is active. I find anything over 4hrs of logged activity typically kills it. But I suspect this sort of activity is just not in Apples target audience for this version.

  10. Mike

    Hey Ray, thanks for the review. No real surprises for readers keeping up with your posts.

    What does surprise me is the apparent lack of accuracy of the Fenix 3HR! Seems like Garmin still doesn’t get it right, even though it’s their 3rd watch (225, 235, Fenix3HR) in addition to the activity trackers. I just don’t get why they couldn’t license Mio’s or Valencell’s sensor. It’s a real shame because for a watch at the price point of the Fenix 3HR we should expect better results. I’d love either a 920xt or a Fenix with optical HR so I can wear only one device, but this aspect kills it.

    • Bart

      I’ve been looking at the HR of the Fenix3HR and hoped it would be better. Didn’t expect any differences between the 235 and the Fenix3 HR and this seems to be the case.
      It seems like Garmin is releasing a feature when say 75% of the users would be fine with it (can’t blame them). The other 25% will have to wait for the next generation watches (at which the story repeats)
      The biggest question i am nowerdays asking is: “Am i willing to accept the x percentage of faults or do i wait” for the Fenix3HR i would have paid the extra price if a) the HR was perfect and b) usable during swim. (so i end up waiting and waiting)
      The For all the results we have to wait for the Fenix3HR results later this day.

    • Paul S

      Or you could just wear a dedicated HR belt. Cheap. Accurate.

      Personally, if they had an Apple Watch without the HR hardware, I’d have one, since I never pay any attention to it anyway. When I want HR I put on my old style Garmin hard shell chest belt.

  11. maxfrance

    Italians are renowned for their regional proverbs; in Milan a very popular one is “ofelè fa el to’ mestè”, which, loosely translated, sounds like “pastry chef, do your own job”.

    Or better explained, everyone should mind his own business, and do what is good for.

    At present time, Apple can’t compete with Garmin, Polar and such, in the highly specialized fitness devices market.
    Apple watch is a great fashion item, but certainly not as good as a $100 sports watch from any of the above.
    IMHO, of course.

    • Nice proverb :). I’m going to use that one…

      Apple Watch is a bit more than a fashion watch (and I’d say probably not even a fashion watch in the sense that it is less likely to be worn for it’s appearance over function); it’s a great companion for an iPhone, and has great utility if you find apps that are of value to you, and enjoy notifications etc. But I agree not a great sports watch yet. Having said that I routinely use Strava+Apple Watch for running now over my Fenix 3 (Still use Fenix 3 for swimming, indoor running and multi-sport events though) – just much more convenient for me (I always run with my phone anyway)

    • maxfrance

      I didn’t mean to bash Apple Watch, of course !
      It’s great for many other functions and capabilities, as far as one isn’t on a tight budget as I unfortunately am.
      My Garmin FR10 with a TickrX HRM is far more reliable and accurate, I’d bet.

      Anyway I think you can’t usually compare apples (..) to bananas; in this case I’d prefer bananas without any doubt.

    • No I didn’t take it as Apple bashing – just trying to add my 2p :)

      I enjoyed the Apples to Bananas analogy too – perhaps you could make that a new Italian proverb :)



    • maxfrance


      You’re welcome !

  12. Stephen Knott

    Thanks Ray… good review… confirmed what I thought… wonder if the AppleWatch2 will address some or all of the above…

  13. Drucik

    Something is not right here:
    “There is a secondary mode, where you run without your phone. When you do that, it’ll use the accelerometers in your phone to determine distance. ”
    You run without phone and watch still uses its accelerometer? 😉

  14. Jim Carter

    Great review Ray. What I do like from above is the ability to customize the watch display from some apps – it’s just seems like it would be so much simply than from the device itself.

    Would be great feature if Garmin introduced it into their Connect app or web page (unless it’s there and I’m missing it).

  15. Asaf

    I didn’t fully understand this one:
    You should only put one optical HR sensor per wrist. Any more than that and you’re very likely to impact accuracy between watches on the wrist due to constricting blood-flow. If you really must use more than one device per wrist, then they should be significantly spaced out, and the secondary devices shouldn’t be other optical HR sensors. But again, really, just don’t put more than one per wrist.

    due to constricting blood-flow?
    How can one watch influence another?

    • Yes, constricting. The reason is that many people will over-tighten HR straps, which impacts blood flood in that area. It’s something multiple HR sensor companies and I have discussed a bit and that they’ve seen in their testing as well (and partially wanted to ensure when I tested I wasn’t doubling up numerous units).

      In fact, you can ever get more detailed and note that ideally you wouldn’t hold something like a full water bottle (heavy), as that can also impact optical HR. However, I don’t agree there and believe that once you start saying that, then you’ve moved into the realm of forcing runners/etc to change their behavior significantly.

    • Asaf

      Thanks, now I see your point.

    • Mike Lin

      Speaking of multiple devices, do you ever notice RF interference with multiple broadcasting devices? When testing the TomTom Spark against the Mio Link and HRM-Run, I noticed the BT music was cutting out very badly. Do you think that can affect the sensor readings?

    • Nope, the only interference I ever see is wifi interference indoors.

      However, one thing to be aware of with the TomTom Spark and BT Music is that I’ve found in general BT headphones are crazy-sensitive to positioning. You probably already know, but even being on the wrong side of your body compared to the headset transmitter is the biggest difference.

      In theory though, I’ve never seen ANT+ & Bluetooth (smart or otherwise) conflict. Nor GPS (I have seen GoPro WiFi break GPS though).

    • Ken Webster

      I am an LA Fitness member and I have an Apple Watch Sport (42mm) that I use with a Polar H7 chest strap. I’ve noticed that on the gym floor, the Watch loses its Bluetooth connection with the strap after about 10-15 minutes. The Watch and strap are still PAIRED, mind you – but the Watch shows a “Not Connected” message in the Bluetooth settings and continues to spin (i.e. re-establish the connection). I’ve seen this happen almost consistently at two different LA Fitness gyms. Rebooting the watch will re-establish the connection temporarily, then drop again after 5-15 minutes. This does not happen when I’m doing other activities (inside or outside) away from LA Fitness or even at other gyms such as Planet Fitness. The Watch and strap perform flawlessly (I use the Under Armor Record watch app to record my activities).

      My only explanation is that there is some RF unique to the LA Fitness environment that’s causing the issue – though what it could be, I have no idea. I usually see this behavior on the lifting portion of the floor (i.e. free-weight and machine) and I can’t guess for the life of my what kind of RF could be present at that remote part of the gym floor with enough strength to interfere with my local devices. Being an IT guy as well, I’ve been thinking of bringing some kind of spectrum analyzer to see if I can pick up anything.

      Has anyone else experienced this strange phenomena?

  16. Gabe

    Ray hope you’re enjoying those Samsung Checks! jk

    So would you say the Apple Watch is more or less intuitive than the likes of garmin, Fitbit, etc?

    • I’m pretty sure Samsung doesn’t want me writing another review on their fitness products…

      I’m not sure it’s more or less intuitive, perhaps more simplified. I think using a Fitbit Blaze for example is just as easy, as is a Garmin FR25.

  17. Jonathan Winter

    First class review again Ray. Basically confirmed what I originally thought of the Apple Watch. Cheers. Jon

  18. TR

    Great to see a review tackling it from the other perspective – fitness first from someone with your experience.

    As for the verdict, I’m not really surprised here. IMHO the companies with years of prior experience of building sport watches (Garmin/Polar etc) will make watches “smarter” faster then a tech company like Apple/Google/MS theirs “sportier”. Because as you mentioned, there just isn’t much added value beside notifications. All Garmin and others has to do here is to make them better, like having a good notification center on the watch itself and the logic how they appear etc.

    • Paul S.

      Always remember that Apple sits on a huge pile of cash, and could simply buy Garmin/Polar/etc. if they really wanted to get into that market.

      In order for Garmin to even come close to what the Apple Watch can do now with notifications, they’d have to incorporate voice control into their watches. (And since they make stand alone devices, Garmin would have to do voice control on the device itself, and not hand it up to higher levels the way Apple does.) It’s not simply that it’s smarter as Ray describes above, but you can answer notifications right on the Watch, either with canned responses (being married, I use “Ok” a lot), or dictating a more complicated response. I really doubt Garmin will ever reach the level of smart watch usefulness that the first generation Apple Watch has right now. I certainly wish that my Epix would respond the same way as my Watch when I tell it to “take me to X”, but it can’t. The Epix, however, is actually useful for outdoor activities, and the Watch is not.

      The thing that I use most on the Apple Watch is the complications on the watch face, followed by glances. Simply by raising my arm, I can see what the temperature and conditions are outside, what the forecast high and low are, when the sun rises/sets, in addition to the time/date. I rarely use an app on the Watch (they’re so slow to launch that usually I can have my phone out and launch the corresponding more full featured app on the phone before the app is ready on my Watch).

    • Kyle

      Unfortunately Garmin, suunto, polar are all way behind when it comes to being a smart watch. I believe Apple or and Android smartwatch will be closer to a sports watch than vice versa. All it takes is basically a well developed fitness app that needs to be put into the watches. Combine that with GPS , good battery life and Garmin and all them are all in bad shape. If you don’t think those companies can develop a fitness app overlay that is basically the whole OS for the fitness watches your mistaken. I love my Suunto A3 Peak and I also use Sony smartwatch 3. If smartwatches can ever get ALOT better battery life then those companies are in trouble.

    • TR

      Those smart watches won’t get a better battery life unless :

      A) they ditch the mobile hardware in them and shiny touchscreens,
      B) some revolutionary battery technology becomes mainstream (also in price).

      You can’t stuff a mobile phone SOC in a watch with meager couple hundreds mAh of battery with a fancy touchscreen and expect good battery life (and not to mention a GPS chip). That’s where the Garmin and co. are masters of the domain with their hardware experience and choices. You can’t rely on any magical piece of software/OS/API that would avoid this.

  19. Duane

    Nice and fair review. The Apple Watch is the fitness tracker I want to believe in, but my mind prevails over my heart here and in the current models it seems to have no advantage over its competition.

  20. Brian

    People always ask me what I think of mine. I usually respond with if I can only have one, my priority would be fitness, and I’d still with my Fenix3 no doubt. But from a day to day ‘smartwatch’ point of view, I do really like my Apple Watch (especially since my employer rolled out 2-factor authentication – so nice to be able to do the second part right on my watch, which is always next to the keyboard I’m typing on…)

  21. Greg

    Waiting for Moto 360 sport review…using ghostracer or even the moto running app.

  22. Husain

    Great Review!

  23. Julian

    Hey Ray,

    Any plans to publish the Garmin Edge 520 review? I know it’s un-related to the Apple Watch, just been eagerly waiting the past few months. Thanks.

  24. Noelle

    Looking forward to your take on the Moto 360 sport. I have a 2nd gen regular Moto 360, and I don’t think it’s as strong as Apple seems to be in its activity tracking software yet. It has the capabilities – none of the available software seems to be leveraging it to its full potential yet (Google Fit will track HR throughout the day, but doesn’t do any analysis on that data – lowest rating, etc). I don’t use a lot of 3rd party apps, but they don’t seem particularly developed either.

    However, I knew all of that when I bought the watch – for day to day, I wanted something that *legitimately* looks like a watch I would actually wear, even in a business formal outfit, while still doing a decent job tracking my overall activity and pushing notifications to my wrist, and something I can use for fitness in a pinch (with a silicone band). Garmin’s watches just aren’t there for me yet.

  25. Jesper

    Ray, didn’t you get the colors swapped where you first talk about the circles??

  26. Jon

    One thing I’m really surprised at, given they’re clearly (from this review) a smartwatch first, fitness device distant second, is how cheap/unsophisticated they look. My Fenix 3 is the other way around (fitness device first, smartwatch a distant second) and yet actually looks nice and smart (watch-like!) on my wrist – I wear it happily as my day to day watch. I wouldn’t be happy wearing one of these all the time, in the same way that I wouldn’t want to wear a Fitbit.

    On the wrist they definitely look more OMG than than Omega!

    • Paul S

      Don’t judge by the pictures. The screen is superb indoors, although it can be hard to see outdoors. It’s actually pretty elegant in my opinion, certainly more so than my Epix or Fenix as a daily wear watch. I haven’t seen a Fenix 3, though.

      And if you want high fashion, just buy the Edition. (I’m a little surprised that Ray doesn’t have one, although you can buy a lot of baby gear for the price :-))

    • Jon

      I have seen them in the flesh and I know a few people who own them. I wasn’t trying to be rude to people who own and like them – I’m glad you do! It’s only my opinion, and I recognise that we all have different tastes and styles. But despite all of Apple’s considerable marketing claims and positioning, I think I’d struggle to find anybody I know who thought a wrist looked better with one of these on it than without.

      I suppose they look passable in a sort of nerdy way (and I am a self-confessed nerd!) when worn with casual clothes, but I think they stick out like a sore thumb with office wear. Most of the ones I’ve seen have had silicon straps, which doesn’t help, but the blank face, mini-iphone-on-your-wrist look just isn’t decorative or stylish to my eyes.

    • raven

      I have a milanese loop for going out and have received a lot of compliments on the Apple Watch, and if anyone thought it looked cheap or unsophisticated, they were polite enough I guess not to bring it to my attention. I’ve had a lot of inquiries and people telling me they were considering getting one themselves.

      Also, I previously didn’t bother to wear a watch on my wrist. I occasionally had a pocket watch for formal occasions but never bother with a traditional watch. I’m guessing I could find many people that would think I’d look better with an expensive elegant swiss made watch, but I don’t think anyone sees my current Apple Watch as a detriment to my appearance!

      Obviously it won’t be to everyone’s style though. I can appreciate it isn’t for you; I’m mildly surprised you can’t think of anyone this would be appropriate for.

  27. I’ve had my Apple Watch since December – got it to replace the Samsung Gear S I had which developed a bad issue of screen-burn-in. Overall, I can agree with just about everything stated here. I’m glad Ray has taken this approach to the review of Watch. Much like the Watch folks who just focus on the horological aspects, being able to focus in on specific niches of Watch, not just the entire thing, makes this very worth the read.

    Ok, I didn’t know about HeartWatch – that recommendation was good enough to make me reconsider the Polar Loop 2 I wear on my other wrist.

    Fitness w/Watch is passable. Not great, but passable. I don’t know that Apple should really do more other than make Health Kit a better aggregation point for the various other apps and services out there.

    I’d like to throw another app out there that was recommended to me – Run Gap. Basically connects to other services so that you can get that data into Health and see more clearly. Its a sync too – so that helps those services stay up if you need their export or analytics features. Plus, it supports getting stuff into/out of Fitbit – which isn’t a bugger for the audience here, but does influence our ability to be on services wellness/lighter-fitness folks are enjoying to use.

    Again, great review. I’ve got my Watch and don’t really see a need for a v2 on my wrist. It would have to be as compelling as the Gear S was for being a phone (in addition to everything else). I do wonder what fitness-oriented bands could bring to the party – and perhaps that’s something to see with the spring rumors. Well, that an a midnight green (aka Philly Eagles green) band that goes w/my gold aluminum sport.

    • raven

      I would love it if the March 15th event introduced a fitness focused watch band that had GPS and extra battery; swap bands for the workout, then switch back to the everyday wear!

  28. Brook

    I’m surprised you haven’t looked at Sony’s Smartwatch 3 with Android Wear. GPS on the watch and onboard storage so you could leave your phone at home. Using Ghostracer, you have a plethora of customization that you can do with your run displays.

    • Kyle

      Agreed. It’s definitely a watch that’s got overlooked.

    • Anders

      I would also like to see a proper review of this watch. It’s been out since 2014, doesn’t need a phone for GPS and music, and it’s much cheaper than the newly released Moto 360 sport (about 1/3 the price). It’s good that a review of the Motorola is in the works, but I think it could/should be combined with the Sony watch since the software is the same in both of them.

  29. John

    Ray, since you used the term above, I am going to take the liberty to ask this question on this post. Can you explain how to fartlek?

    • Paul S

      Not on a family web site :-)

      (Seriously, just Google. Wikipedia has an entry.)

  30. kermit262

    Nice review Ray. Will you take a look at your Steady-state Run / Interval Run table? I’m not sure the numbers are correct.

  31. Eric Hanneken

    “[T]he watch got checked into my airline luggage, which Croatia Airlines promptly lost…permanently (along with $5,000 in other equipment/gadgets).”

    “Lost.” Right. I’m sure the bag is intact, sitting in a back room at Zagreb International, waiting to be noticed by an airline employee.

  32. Brandon H

    “…it lots the plot again”

    I think you meant: “it lost the plot again.”

    I enjoyed the review, but I’ll stick with my Garmin 235

  33. Patrick

    I’ve been using an Apple Watch since it’s launch in May, but gave up using it running after about two weeks. Even when it pulls GPS from the phone, the touch screen, poor readout and delay displaying data from the phone make it a mediocre running watch, at best. For running I still use a Garmin.

    As a smartwatch I think it’s pretty good and basic fitness tracking is fine. What I’d love is a third-party site that allows me to load daily step/fitness data from the AW, and runs and sleep tracking from the Garmin. As things stand, I end up using my Garmin 235 as a daily wear watch and the AW sits on my nightstand.

  34. Mike K

    So if you really need good sports/activity tracking out of a watch but want some kind of smart phone functionality, and general use, doesn’t something like the Vivoactive seem more appealing then? It’d be interesting to read a comparison between the two, or other similar devices.

    • raven

      Mike, it really depends on which features you need. The new Vivoactive HR should be a strong contender; the current one doesn’t have optical HRM. I think the Apple Watch third party apps will do better in the long run than Connect IQ if that’s important to you, and I don’t think Garmin has anything equivalent to Apple Pay functionality. You really need to define what you want in “smart phone functionality and general use”.

      If you need serious triathlete support, you might want a combination of something like a 920XT for the sports, and the Apple Watch or Android equivalent (Moto 360?) for daily wear. That’s a lot of money (although less than what Ray spends on all his gear)!

    • funkright

      The new Vivoactive HR, I think, will give the Apple Watch a run (pun intended) for its money. But, I have to say, I love my Apple Watch. It’s not the best fitness tracker out there, but it’s good enough for my usage (general fitness for a late 40’s guy) and the additional functionality is amazing. I’m optimistically looking forward to the Vivoactive HR’s next iteration and hope it pushes the market even further ahead. Cheers :)

  35. Anthony

    Hi Ray,

    Good to see the review, and backs up a lot of the first impressions (and thoughts on friends’ watches). In particular the lack of GPS means it can’t come close to replacing my Garmin.

    One question; How much do you feel the solid gold version adds much as a fitness accessory? 😉

  36. Scott Buchanan

    Really hard not to keep thinking “Emperor’s new clothes, Emperor’s new clothes, Emperor’s new clothes” Ad infinitum.

    Am happy with 630 for running, Viofit1 for activity tracking, Fenix3 for general stuff and Patek for special occasions.

    Anyway, thanks for the review.

    • raven

      “Emperor’s new clothes” is a bit of a stretch as that implies there is nothing at all there. For a first attempt, it is certainly imperfect but has some strengths. It’s a good activity tracker, and having heart rate throughout the day is good. It would be nice if it could replace the four devices you need, but it isn’t there yet. On the other hand, you need four devices — why can’t any of those be the one device you need? Can’t the Fenix3 do all the stuff the others do?

  37. I’m a little bit surprised the HR accuracy is that bad.

    I run with an FR620 and Scosche Rhythm, but take the Apple Watch along for the trip. In my unscientific observations (glancing at it once in a while) it is never more than +/-1 beat different.

    I’d been waiting for this review because I wondered what Ray’s more methodical approach would reveal.

    Also, another minus as a running watch is the fact that the screen does NOT work well when it, or your fingers, are wet (sweaty)

  38. Brian Simpson

    I initially bought an Apple Watch last Summer in the hopes it would become my standalone running watch. Built-in heart rate and the ability to store music and listen to it using bluetooth headphones along with not carrying my phone was the goal. Well as Ray has indicated in his review above the results were not good. And the bluetooth headphones would not stay connected.

    So I bought a Garmin 225 (and have now moved on to a 235) and have not looked back.

    One thing Ray did not mention in his review is the poor visibility of the Apple Watch screen in bright sunlight. One of his pictures shows some of the problem with the watch outside in bright light as the black background makes readability extremely difficult.

    • Patrick

      Same story here, Brian.

    • Yeah, it’s not great, but I find that taking pictures of it makes it far worse than it looks (the same with the Fitbit Blaze – it’s quite readable, but take a photo during sun and it looks like crap).

  39. Matt

    Totally agree with your review. Very cool watch, totally fun to use, lots of bells and whistles, but from a fitness point of view, it’s pretty useless. Mine was never accurate, didn’t seem to really have a clue what i was doing, and add to that the battery life is shit, and you’ll understand why my day-to-day watch is the Fenix 3.

  40. Bob Goodmn

    I know this is a bit OT, but what exactly happened in the gps test to make the Fenix 3 be out by .67 miles??

    • Bob Goodmn

      Sorry, meant 0.70 miles.

    • Dom

      That’s not a GPS test, exactly; it’s a comparison of the Apple watch using accelerometers to calculate distance versus watches using GPS. I suspect the ‘0.7 off’ is meant to imply that the Apple watch is off, not the Fenix. But I see how you would read it that way, and it might be worth Ray making it unambiguous?

    • Bob Goodman

      Right…..looked at it again, and that makes sense. Thxs.

    • In that particular run, the Fenix was perhaps 150-200m longer due to a GPS oddity, but otherwise the Apple Watch was the most off. I need to dig up The Girl’s GPS track from that run to add it in to provide more context (since she was running side by side with me).

  41. Mark Harris

    Good review.

    As a fat office worker I find my Apple Watch motives me to walk up the stairs rather than get the lift so I can ‘close the rings’. Which is a good thing.

    I also use Applepay, which is useful.

  42. Roelof


    This review exactly describes my experience, I really love my apple Watch as a smartwatch but for my running it just doesn’t do the job for me.

    I found (with the phone) the speed not always correct, especially when doing intervals. It takes quite long before showing the correct speed when going from slow to fast.
    Same goes for the heart rate monitor, but it is the same with all those optical solutions (I also have a Mio Link which has the same issues) when doing interval running.

    What I also did not like is that you have to swipe through all the screens to see heart rate, speed etc. This does not always work well when you are sweating (they should make it so that you could use the digital crown).

    And finally there are just no good apps that allow you to put in your own training data like Garmin and Polar have with workouts with can combine speed, time and heart rate zones.

    As a day to day watch I really like the device and wear it every day, but for my running and other fitness activities I really prefer my Fenix 3 with heart rate strap a lot more, if only they could merge :)

    • raven

      I totally agree the digital crown (and the other physical button) should be useable in a workout; sweat makes using the touchscreen a problem at times. I hope this is addressed in the future.

  43. Don


    It seems to me that the Apple watch is useless for a serious athlete due to its complete lack of consistency – it can’t be relied on or trusted within an exercise but especially when comparing efforts from different exercises across weeks.

    Are there any optical HR watches that are accurate/consistent enough to be used by a serious athlete? Or is it the nature of optical wrist sensors that they’ll be inaccurate?

    • raven

      Apple must have known the optical sensor would be problematic for serious athletes, which is why they have support for connecting other HRMs to it. I believe that is the case for the Garmin devices with optical sensors and maybe everyone in the industry today? Is there a serious athlete focused device with optical HRM that doesn’t allow connecting a secondary HRM for times when the optical won’t perform well? I don’t think there is.

  44. Bart Bouse

    Certainly sounds as though the iphone paired with a Mio Link with the Strava or Runkeeper app is far better. Just leave the Apple watch at home. Am I wrong?

    I’m also still struggling with the whole smart watch thing and trying to determine why I would want something on my wrist going off/buzzing when the phone in my pocket and the ipad in my hand or lap are doing the same thing. How many devices do I need notifying me of the same event? Worse yet, if I’m sitting at my office desk, the computer is also notifying me.

    • raven

      Bart, when a notification goes to the Apple Watch, it does not go to the iPhone as well, so in that case, there is only ever one device going off. I have mine set to notify me when VIPs email me (e.g. my wife) but not other email, and I’ve turned that off on the iPhone as well. So I only get notified of an email when it is one of a few people, and otherwise I get to it when I am ready to check email regularly. Meanwhile, I do have all texts go to my watch, but I’m not a heavy texter, so it isn’t going off every five minutes usually. When I do get a text, it is super-quick to either send a canned response: “Sounds good!” or I can dictate a short response which has about 95% accuracy and just feels like the future.

      From what I’ve noticed in the world, a lot of people get a lot of silly nuisance notifications and would do well to dive into their settings and make it so things aren’t buzzing at them every other minute. This is regardless of whether or not a watch is involved. As for the usefulness of getting notified and responding via watch, it isn’t *necessary,* but you know, I was doing ok with just my Mac before the iPhone came alone and I didn’t really need that either! In both cases though, it has made things easier to do, like pressing the digital crown and telling Siri to set a timer for 12 minutes when I’m in the kitchen cooking. I owned kitchen timers before, but the watch is easier and more fun to do.

  45. Mike

    I bought one of these when it first came out, and held it through the “major” update. What a disappointment and waste of money. Totally useless watch, for both its “smart” functions as well as anything even marginally fitness related. I sold it pretty quickly, for about 75 cents on the dollar, and lucky I did – a week later they dropped the price because of poor sales. This watch is totally unusable without a phone, and even then it is so sluggish that it’s more frustrating than anything. Maybe the next one will be better, who knows, the first iPhone was also pretty bad. Unfortunately for Apple, there are many other competitors with better products on the market (e.g., the Garmin Vivoactive far outpaces this thing for fitness, battery life, daily activity tracking and price), that after feeling burned by Apple’s $400 disgrace, I am not so sure I would readily waste more money giving them a shot.

    • SLTX

      I did same thing as you. Held out for the “major” update but watch still was not great at most things(app loading is still so slow). It would tell me to stand up when I was actually standing. It reminds me of a device from about 15 years ago where devices that did many things, did not of them great. The thing that really gets me is that the Apple software for the data collected by the device is the worst on the market. How could Apple fail so miserably on this front? It might be the only device for any real amount of money that does not have a website with more data and more things you can do with the data.
      So in the end I sold my too and was happy to get something back for it before the bad sales.
      And by the way, I have all apple products, desktop, laptop, router, phone, Apple TV, so I am kinda of an Apple Fanboy just not for this product.

  46. Bob190

    I agree that the Apple Watch is a disappointment for anyone is even somewhat serious about running. It’s a shame really, because I find it invaluable as a smart watch.

    I still wear it while running on my right wrist and basically use it as a music player and activity tracker (I hate carrying my phone on runs). Usually prior to runs I download a playlist from Apple Music, then sync it to the watch to listen to while running. I start the workout app too just to get the workout data in the activity app.

    I wear my Garmin 225 on the left wrist and it tracks my run data.

    It is amazing that some days the data is spot on .. the AW and Garmin are amazingly close with regard to distance and HR. Other days, not so much. I struggle with why Apple didn’t put more effort into the accuracy of the watch with regard to running, etc. Additionally, I find the AW touch screen pretty nearly impossible to use when you are sweating (like on a run).

    Otherwise, I wear it every day as I find the complications very valuable, like get notifications/alerts from various news outlets, and the ease at which you can reply to text messages.

    Again, it’s a shame its not a better watch for running.

    Ray .. thanks for the heads up on the HeartWatch app .. really cool app.

  47. Nigel

    Ray, great stuff as always. Spotted a couple of copy editing errors so renewing my offer to help with that. Hit me up by email if interested.

    • Thanks. Yeah, I published slightly ahead of my awesome editor having a chance to run through the text today. :(

  48. raven

    At the end of the review, Ray states the following: “From a functionality standpoint for 1/4th the cost, there are far better activity trackers from Fitbit with a crapton more features – and, they tend to do a better job too.”

    Earlier though, he says “let’s start by talking about the daily activity tracking. This is one area that the Apple Watch does a suburb job at, and does so in a semi untraditional way.” As others have pointed out, he means “superb” here. I’m not sure how others do a better job here; I’d agree there are either equal or acceptable equivalents, and on a cost-basis if this is your only criteria than the Apple Watch is way overpriced (as you can do simple step counting with the iPhone 5s or later and an app like the free Pedometer++), but I personally like Apple’s approach here.

    Pretty much all activity trackers focus only on step counting, which is ok for many people, but hurts those who do other activities that don’t take traditional steps. Nike has their NikeFuel metric which is different, and Misfit has a similar points system that also focuses on counting as much activity as possible and not just step, but both of those are measures that are a little quirky to understand. Apple’s use of a Move ring, counting active calories, is much better in my opinion. It doesn’t have the competitive option NikeFuel or Misfit Points has in comparing your numbers against others on a leaderboard, but I don’t find that a motivating feature anyway. Additionally, the Stand and Exercise rings I find are useful. Nike had the concept of “winning the hour” but in my experience didn’t work so well, it required constant movement for like five minutes, meaning you win when you workout but didn’t help you get away from the desk at work too much.

    So I think the Apple Watch is a strong contender against the Fitbits, Jawbones, and Withings of the world, other than cost. However, if the other non-fitness features of the Apple Watch are compelling (the notifications and Apple Pay are strong for example, third party apps are still generally a work in progress and need more support from Apple) then that might make the extra cost worth it, especially if the price goes down, as there have been some Best Buy sales in the past, and I think over time the entry price will continue to fall.

    Overall though, even those who don’t have any interest in the Apple Watch should be pleased at how this is bringing the industry forward faster — a lot of the moves Garmin has made in the last year I think are highly motivated by competition in general by others, including Apple.

    • Just to clarify the semi-conflicting statements on activity tracking:

      The specific implementation of activity tracking itself (steps/standing/etc..), I think Apple does an awesome job at (or supper-time job, if you will ;)).

      However, the general activity tracking system (leaderboards, following friends, clear trends/reporting, even its own app story), it does a poor job at. An area where Fitbit and Garmin kick its ass.

    • raven

      Ah, that makes more sense, Ray, thanks. It doesn’t concern me much that Apple doesn’t have a social network for fitness, as I figure that I can always do something like use Strava’s app to both utilize the watch and connect socially.

      On the other hand, the trophy/achievement things I find pretty cool and I prefer that kind of gamification to most leaderboards (except Strava segments). I recall Fitbit does a bit of that but I never noticed them, Nike has a bunch of them, and I don’t think Garmin does that at all.

  49. Joao

    I’d like to add something to your great review about battery life. With my watch, I found that if I start the fitness app on a long day of cycling(in fact all the day in the Camino de Santiago), battery won’t last the day. It dropped dead at around 5 PM, having started it at 6:30 AM. The next day I didn’t start the app, and it lasted all day long, and with plenty of reserve. Great review as always. Thank you DC

    • Interesting. I’ve been somewhat surprised with my battery life. It seems astoundingly consistent to me, that when I wake up and put it on around 8-9AM, it seems to last till just past dinner the following day (around 8-9PM).

      I suspect aspects such as 3rd party apps, usage, etc… play a huge role in it though. For me, I’m a ‘basics’ kinda guy with the Apple Watch app -mostly just using notifications.

    • raven

      If Joao is using the Apple fitness app to track an activity, then the optical HRM is on the entire time, which would be a huge energy drain, yes? I suspect connect an external HRM would fix this as the watch would then use that and not the internal HRM.

    • joao

      Hi Raven. Actually it was paired with the wahoo HR chest strap. Alço, I was not using third party apps that I’m aware.:-)

    • joao

      Also, sorry..

  50. Jean-Marie Billon

    Thank you Ray for this very thorough review. I hope that, as you said, Apple will nail these distance and HR inaccuracies when they release their second generation. I am a cyclist and was hoping to be able to eliminate the need for a HR waistband while using a single watch for different purposes but, thanks to your review, I now know that the Apple Watch is not the answer.
    Kind regards,

  51. S-Go

    Good review. Small typo though: “Apple employees two green LED’s” ought to be ’employs’.

  52. Andy Stansfield

    Great review, as usual. My own use of fitness tech is not driven by my being a serious athlete (I’m so not!) but by health insurance. My insurer (Vitality) gives me rewards for exercise and they base that on steps (eg Fitbit, Garmin, Fitbug etc) and HR data (eg Polar, Garmin). At present I use Vivofit and a Polar HR watch; I bought the Garmin after the Polar but don’t use it for HR as it’s a bit too basic (eg no pause) .

    My main point is that earning those rewards is central to my purchasing and Vitality won’t accept HR data from anything except a chest belt. So optical-sourced data is a no-no for me until they do. As of today, Apple doesn’t feature in their list of fitness trackers at all.

    So I’m looking forward to the Vivoactive in Spring which will qualify for data for insurance but also give me 24/7 HR data that I want personally. Vitality therefore is a key determinant of my fitness tech purchasing.

    I don’t know how much of a driver insurance is in fitness tech now, let alone in the future, but it may well become a major influence. Which will only be a good thing for accuracy in the long term, I expect.

    • Paul S.

      That is such an asinine idea. Accelerometers can’t measure most activities, so why base you’re insurance rates on a bogus number? “Steps” is not a measure of activity. (Heart rate at least makes some sense, so long as it gets high enough.) If this kind of nonsense becomes popular, expect nothing improvement of accuracy of fitness trackers, but expect a big market in gadgets that you can put your activity tracker on that will run up the approved number of “steps” without the user actually doing anything.

      If they want to base their insurance rates on anything, they should simply ask whether their employees currently have, say, a Strava account. Give discounts to the ones that already do, and allow others to join in if they create accounts and regularly add activities.

    • Andy Stansfield

      I agree it’s asinine! I also make my own bread and kneading a loaf gets me 2,000 ‘steps’! But the rewards work for me and I get money off gadgets and trainers I’d buy anyway. They do link to a Move app but not Strava or any other; it’s nowhere near a mature thing and I don’t know of another insurance company doing it – yet. But if it’s a model that works for them I expect it’ll grow.

  53. Markus

    I primarily bought my Apple Watch for curiosity. The sport side of the watch was disappointing. For the few runs I did, the watch always was black when I wanted to see data. I was forced to keep my arm up for a moment to wake up the display. It might work well to make people aware of there health. As an entry point delivering a lot of data about themselves. Once they got the interest, they should upgrade to a serious device, designed for the purpose. I sold my Apple Watch after a 3 months and don’t miss it at all.

  54. Troy

    Yes, glad you mentioned the HeartWatch App
    Really nice!! Enjoying it as well

    With ismoothrun, you can capture HR from the watch or turn it off. Then just use another HR Strap. Scos rhy + for me
    As mentioned, lots of screen customizations

    I do not really use the Apps on the watch itself. Pretty slow to load
    But, I really like the notifications and complication
    I have it set for my calendar, a voice record, and weather

  55. Radim

    Hi Ray,
    Thank you for this review! If it makes sense, could you please add a comparison table to other activity watches such as Fitbit, Microsoft Band and some Garmin devices?

  56. giorgitd

    typo…’accelerometers in your *watch*’

  57. Ted

    Thanks for this great review, Ray!

    As other commenters have said my experience using the AW is very similar to yours and I totally agree other devices out there on a feature by feature basis are both way cheaper and more accurate than the AW.

    I had hoped the os2 would fix things and while it did improve things it’s still not there for a serious athlete. My Ambit2 is rock solid 99% of the time and I trust it. The AW not so much. That being said my Ambit2 is sitting on my shelf and has no charge – haven’t used it in months! After some early frustrations I’ve finally given in and either live with the poor optical HR during a run or use a chest strap. With a chest strap and Strava I can live with results for daily runs but if I’m going to be training for a race the Suunto comes back out potentially but then again the convenience of a single device that looks great, can easily be dressed up or down and “just works” for most everything else is really hard to beat. Having tried many other devices for years the AW is really hard to beat although I do hope it gets some key improvements in the future.

    Ray – one thing I have noticed is that while running using the apple running app and my phone the distance is consistently wrong. Side by side with my Suunto OR runs with the watch and Strava (even Strava and Apple running app at the same time) the apple app is always way over on distance – by as much as .25 to .5 miles in a 4-5 mile run. Have you noticed this too? I could see this being true if I didn’t have my phone.


  58. Mike B.

    Great review, Ray; been waiting to see this for a long time.

    “But on the flip side, as a fitness device – the Apple Watch isn’t terribly good at fitness.”

    Understatement of the year, given the next two sentences that follow: “At least not by any objective measure. Not cost, not features, not accuracy, and not reliability.” and “Given the third sentence in that same paragraph: “Not cost, not features, not accuracy, and not reliability.”

    It’s a first generation, and it will improve, and it does so much more than act as a fitness tracker, but if you’re buying it JUST as a fitness tracker, I’d say you’ve probably made the worst choice on the market.

    • TR

      Considering they made a good portion of their Watch keynote reveal talking about fitness and showcasing an ex-model who supposedly ran a maraton with the watch in Africa, it’s pretty fitness minded.

      > It’s a first generation

      Will the 2nd gen come as a software update, or will a current customer have to buy it with real currency ? Because the answer to this kinda matters right now.

    • Mike B.

      One athlete, one event; Ray has had the watch for 10 months. Who ya gonna trust, the person trying to sell you something or the independent reviewer?

      As for a second generation, as Apple has already pushed a few software updates since launch, and they’re a hardware company; expect a brand new piece of hardware. Personally I’d only be interested in a new generation could that stand alone from the iPhone.

  59. Nedim

    “Though at times I felt like they lacked perspective on the larger set of products offered in the marketplace”

    Nicely said. In my dealings with a different Apple department, I’d say that’s spot on. Since I can afford to be politically incorrect, I’d put it as “living in a bubble, oblivious to anything non-Apple, being laggards in many regards and yet, somehow, feeling superior”. Engineers coming to serious meetings with Beats around the neck … ok, then. As someone said “what can not go up forever, won’t”. I’ll leave it at that.

    This review of the Apple Watch is the fairest review I have seen — great, great job!

    But I really wanted to give a comment re: upcoming Moto 360 Sport review:
    NOT-THERE-YET. I bet the hardware is made by people who did not run a mile in their lives. Android Wear is, while having some cool features, at best ALPHA software (ie. in development, not feature complete). And I say this as the owner of a TAG Heuer Connect.

    That said, I am really looking forward to the New Balance / Strava / Android Wear watch!!!

  60. Caferey

    Excellent review as always! Will be interesting to see how the watch is after a few versions, just think of how much Apple phones have changed in only a few years.

  61. Matt Marino

    Excellent review, and one that cements my decision to wait for Apple to better the fitness aspects of the Watch.

    • Paul S.

      Personally, I want Apple to remove the “fitness” hardware entirely and produce a Watch that’s just a smart watch. I don’t pay any attention at all to the HR numbers it produces, and I’d be happier if the sensor wasn’t using my battery. I wish I could simply remove the Activity apps on both Watch and iPhone, but I can’t.

  62. Patrik G

    I’ve been using the AW for 8 months now. Living in the pacific north west I find one of the most annoying thing about the watch being the difficulty to scroll between displays when it’s raining or even just humid. You have to dry the watch face and your finger before you can scroll over to view other data or to pause or stop the recording. This can be pretty annoying as it’s nearly impossible to do whilst exercising. It’s like using the iPhone with wet fingers. Of course this is not a problem inside or when it’s dry. I wish you could use the button on the side to start and stop the recording.

    If you wear clothing on top of the watch it can scroll by itself while exercising, and it has even stopped the recording a few times for me because of this. Not a problem with short sleeves of course. I try to keep the screen on heart rate as this is the screen farthest away from the stop/pause screen and I’m more likely to catch it before it stops the recording. But it does mean I check the watch often to make sure it doesn’t stop recording.

    • Sérgio

      Patrick G, the screen can be locked to prevent that!

  63. Alan

    I would expect that a watch with the name “sport” would be officially water proof to some degree. And that it would have some sport related features, some of them being physical. Ruggedness to withstand weather elements and rougher handling for one.
    I’m not sure that the versions that are aimed at a more stylish “dressed up” market need an optical heart rate monitor either.
    Maybe over time, the software will allow all the features we see in the top of the line Garmin and Polar products to trickle into Apple’s products.

  64. Seth

    I just ordered my Apple Watch Sport and have no intention of using it for fitness related purposes- that’s why I have a 910xt. However, I’m coming from a FitBit Flex. That being said, is there a workaround to compile all of my information in one place, such as My Fitness Pal or Garmin Connect? Can you automaticlaly export steps/flights/etc… to one of those others like you can use other services to connect Strava or Training Peaks to others (tapriik and others). I currently track food in MFP, and use Training Peaks for fitness…

  65. Chris H

    Thanks, Ray. I alternate between wearing a Garmin 620, an Apple Watch, and a Suunto Ambit3 Run for daily use. A few comments about the Apple Watch:

    – for activities (mainly outdoor running), the heart rate is a disaster, along the lines of what you found. As my runs sometimes reach into the 4 hour and longer range, it’s just not reliable (and battery becomes an issue). I’ve taken to turning off heart rate monitoring for these runs, with the watch. Actually I’ve taken to using other GPS watches for these runs!

    – For day-to-day heart rate readings, I can’t trust the first 2 or 3 readings of the watch. When it engages, it seems to jump to some kind of average, even if this makes no sense for your situation (lying down, running hard). After a few heart rate readings, it picks up (30 seconds or so). But this first fault just makes it impossible to trust the thing!

    – Persistent time is necessary for them to include in the future. I sometimes don’t realize how annoying it is to have to shake or push a button to see the time until I put on a regular watch afterwards. One use case – while giving presentations, there is no way to force it to be on, for an hour or so, so it can’t work as a real watch during presentations!

    – I like the perks of the apple watch (notifications, getting calls, quick text replies, apple pay, flight info) but it’s not really worth it if I’m doing much in the way of sport.

    – The colours, screens, look nice, but direct sunlight is a (slight) problem.

    – Heart rate info is nice during sleep, once in a while, to check if there are any changes, but otherwise, not really worth it / reliable enough.

    Thanks for the in-depth review!

  66. mpulsiv

    Fantastic review, I have been waiting for this one for a while.
    From my perspective, athletically inclined users shouldn’t be calling out missing features. After all, the sole purpose of this watch is to be a fashionable accessory for notifications and apps. Activity tracking and fitness are “nice to have” features. I still don’t understand the sole purpose of 24/7 HRM, unless one has a heart condition. Needless to day, heart rate for an average user is just information, nothing else. They don’t know what to do with it. Athletic users should stick to Garmin watches and bands with chest strap HRM’s.

    • kermit262

      “After all, the sole purpose of this watch is to be a fashionable accessory for notifications and apps.” Many would disagree with this, including Apple.

    • Matt Marino

      Apple clearly marketed this as a substantial fitness device, as evidenced by the Christy Turlington-marathon feature at the Watch’s unveiling. Having some random guy running a 5K = “This is a device with some fitness features.” Having Christy Turlington running a marathon = “All runners should buy this.” :-)

    • mpulsiv

      Yet, many users complain about lack of feature or thereof when it comes to fitness. Apple hasn’t unlocked all features in their first release. Steps and 24/7 HRM are the pivot in the industry but in reality these feature are useless, at least for active users. These were introduced for users that live inactive lifestyle and encourage them to sit less and move around more. To put this in perspective, I consider myself highly active user and Vivofit 2 band functionality serves the purpose for indoor activities (e.g., treadmill, elliptical, weight lifting) with HR chest strap. For outdoor activities, Strava app does a fine job and Garmin Edge when on bike. Now, steps metrics, I really don’t know what to do with this data. Somehow, fitness trackers became a highly motivational tool for users to become active. Challenging your friends and family to walk around in Zone 1 is far from pushing your body. Apple watch is great device but I would like to see an option to manually disable steps and 24/7 HRM. I would like to press a button when I engage in physical activity.

    • Bob190

      Personally … I find 24/7 HR monitoring on the AW very useful. It makes it very easy to sport overtraining, effectiveness of recovery, or an oncoming illness (cold, etc.). Especially with 3rd party apps like HeartWatch.

      I don’t think it has any use whatsoever if you have a heart condition as it is not nearly sensitive enough to provide such data.

      I also consider myself a highly active user.

    • bsquared

      mpulsiv I completely agree with you… Now that I’m active and training (weights and cycling) I find no real benefits from tracking steps or 24×7 HRM or sleep. I started fitness journey with Fitbit Flex, then Force, and finally Surge. The Surge is simply too big, bulky, and ugly. Plus all of those wrist based Fitbit trackers have integrated bands that are prone to failure. The Fitbit app was good motivational tool when I needed it. Gave up on wrist trackers once I started training. I don’t mind wearing the Garmin chest strap paired with Edge 520 on the road or spinning in the gym. Still its fun every now and then to compete in work-week challenge, my iPhone 5s is my Fitbit tracker now for the occasional step competition.

      During the day I’m in a co-working space with phone in pocket, notifications on Apple Watch are excellent, I find they have increased my productivity and become indispensable. Instead of pulling out phone and getting distracted, I can rapidly and unobtrusively review/dismiss notifications. And Apple pay is also excellent. While its not a great fitness tracker, it is accurate enough to use on spin sessions in the gym if I forget to put on my Garmin chest strap at 4:30am.

  67. Pfeiper

    Hi Ray,

    Which software do you use for the graphs?

  68. Great review! Best I have ever seen regarding sports

  69. Karl

    Hi Ray,
    Great review as always…
    You are making my decision very hard. I am a pretty big Apple fan and of course bought the watch as soon as it came out. I put my Garmin 610 in drawer and have not pulled it out since. (I am also a big Garmin fan.)

    On the bike I use my Garmin 1000 and upload to Garmin Connect and Strava but I still track with Apple Watch at the same time. I do this because I am addicted to the Rings (Activity) App and want to get credit for my calories.

    When I am running or at the Gym I use the Apple watch activities app and also track my workout with MySmoothRun on my iphone. Again I do both because I really want to hit my calorie goal on the Rings app but still want my data in Strava.

    I have tried just using the Strava App or MySmoothRun app on the Apple Watch but then I do not get any calorie credit in the Rings app. The only way to get credit in the Rings app is to use the Apple Watch’s built in Activity App. I wish Apple would make it so that the Rings app could read your workouts from the Health app and give you credit for your workouts even if you don’t use the build in watch activities app.

    Recently I have become enamored by the Fenix 3 HR. Such a good looking watch with awesome sports functions. I even pre-ordered one a while back. At the time I had been thinking that I would just shelve the Apple Watch and wear the Fenix 3 full time. This way I could just use one device for everything. Now I am worried I will miss the Apple Watches notifications and Apple Pay. Of course I could just wear the Fenix 3 for workouts and use the Apple Watch the rest of the time but the problem will be that I will be obsessed with the unfilled in rings on the Rings app. :-)

    First world problems! I guess its time to go take my OCD meds :-)

    • RAchel

      Haha I am going through the same thing, right down to the calories not being sent to the rings when I used strava/run keeper on the watch. I started using the activity app on the watch and starting my run separately on run keeper.

      I switched to a Garmin F3HR in mid February, but I REALLY miss the rings, and the f3 is so huge on my wrist. I’m basically on the last hole on the strap and tail end hangs out even with adjusting the loop. I also don’t like how Garmin Connect is so limited in what it sends to health kit, and what it does send, it duplicates and triplicates the data. One day, GC sent health kit a 200 mile walk/run distance.

      And yes, I really miss Apple Pay. And notifications. And replying to texts via Siri. And controlling all my connected house doodads from my watch. And Apple TV control. And the simplicity. Just wish it had gps. Or at laws if it’s connected to a phone, let us have an option to save our trail/GPS data so we can export to strava or whatever.

  70. Sérgio

    Hello. I had one, the sport model, and i loved as a smart watch.I didn`l like at all as a sport watch. For the half of the value you can buy one with gps incporporated and much more accurate on the heart rate readings. So i sold it, and buy a Scosche Rhythm Plus to work with my Suunto Ambit 2 that is a great sports watch. My doubt is concerned if teh Scosche while work with the iphone movescount app.
    Great review Ray, as allways

  71. Bob190

    After reading Ray’s review, I started using it again on a few runs.

    This time, I have been been pairing it to my Wahoo Tickr chest strap, instead of using the optical sensor on the watch. I have also been using it without the phone using the workout app and relying on the calibration done earlier when I ran with the phone. For me, the distance is always really close to using GPS.

    I have to say, if only it had GPS it would be the ultimate running watch. You basically hardly know you are wearing it, it is great to be be able to sync a playlist from Apple Music’s vast library, and even post-run, the tools have gotten a lot better to get your run data to sites like Strava, Garmin Connect, etc.

    That said, I am not hopeful that we will see GPS in the next version of the AW unfortunately. Based on past Apple product refreshes, that seems like a AW 3 kinda of thing. I hope I am wrong though.

  72. smileman

    Hi Ray,

    Very much appreciate your work here and was wondering if you had given any thought to reviewing three other smartwatches – the Samsung Gear S2 3G (with eSIM), the Moto 360 Sport, and the Sony Smartwatch 3?

    The latter is getting a little long in the tooth so it may be worth waiting until version 4 comes out before doing a review, but the other two are are both pretty new.

    The inclusion of an eSIM on the Gear S2 3G is particularly interesting as this allows, for the first time, the option of leaving your phone at home and still being able to do everything you can do with a phone (ie make a distress call, receive messages, etc.).

    One of my main questions about these devices is what is daily activity tracking roughly comparable to what you can get with dedicated activity trackers from Garmin, Fitbit, Jawbone, etc.?


    • I’ll pretty much be focusing on the Moto 360 Sport, versus the other ones. But I haven’t gotten yet to the point of a full review being ready.

    • smileman

      Cool, the Moto 360 Sport is the one I’ve decided to give a try.

      Moto Running looks promising so far, and I’ve read that other native workouts will be added to the Moto 360 Sport, like cycling. Hopefully they’ve already confidentially given you a beta version of Moto Cycling and you’re testing it!

      The other interesting thing is that Strava has a beta program right now for two Android Wear devices, the Moto 360 Sport and Sony SW3.

      I imagine a lot more people are interested in ditching their phones when they run than when they cycle, and I believe phone GPS/sensors/radios seem like they’re going to have smartwatches beat for some time to come. However, when I ride I keep my phone in my rear jersey pocket, so having information on a watch face could be useful.

  73. Ern

    Great review Ray! No one comes even remotely close to the type of content on your site. I tried out the Apple Watch , but the fitness app drove me nuts. I couldn’t get past not having an HR graph to review after a workout. IMO that is a pretty basic feature that is the norm among the likes of Polar and Garmin. Why do you think Apple omitted that option?

    • I’m betting it was a can of worms situation. Once they went down that road, it got into questions on charting, graphs, etc… and from there, why folks couldn’t export, etc… Effectively – it was a question of “How do you design an entire fitness platform?”. Which is probably a bridge they didn’t yet want to cross.

    • Bsquared

      Apple wants to encourage app developers and ecosystem. If Apple delivers an entire fitness platform, that would discourage app developers. Therefore Apple delivers a great smartwatch platform along with a basic fitness app.

  74. Scott

    That recommendation for the HeartWatch app is gold. I’m now using it every day.
    Do you have any other “go to” 3rd party apps for your watch. Doesn’t have to be fitness either…
    Thank you.

    • That’s honestly the best non-biz type one. Meaning, I use apps like United Airlines and such, but in terms of fitness, I think that’s the coolest watch-focused one. Most others seem like rough re-hashes of existing phone apps without much added value.

    • Scott

      Thanks Ray… It was actually the non fitness category that I was interested in. You’ve got a good eye for apps. I was wondering what other 3rd party apple watch apps you use?

    • Alan

      Does the heartwatch app allow export of .tcx files?
      or do I need another app like Heart Graph? will they work at the same time?
      Does Wahoo allow file export from a watch based heart rate measurement?

      I would like to compare the apple watch with my polar files.

  75. Matt Marino

    It’ll be interesting to see if Apple releases any smart bands – particularly a GPS band – at its event tomorrow. Word is that some bands will be introduced, but so far they look to be cosmetic and nothing more. Another company has come up with an EKG band, so we can hold out hope. Regardless, after giving it more thought, I may buy a Watch (currently on sale, I might add) and try it out for a few weeks.

  76. Jay

    Great review. I always like to read your take on things, saves me time from trying them myself first.
    One thing I did not see in your review, and not sure if I’m the only one seeking this, but I like to use just one app when possible. Is there any good app out there, that can both map a workout using GPS, *AND* use the HR from the Apple watch (optical or BT external) ? Runkeeper seemed like the only one. I was a fan of MapMyFitness, but it can’t use the HR info. I want something I can use online (review, analyze my workouts, even export my GPS trail) and capture with my Watch/iPhone (or watch alone). If it can be good for swimming activities as well, then I would be golden. If I’m out of luck, zut alors. :-s Cheers.

  77. Alan

    What app did you use on the Apple Watch to export the heart rate files as .tcx?

  78. Dale Jayne


    Any thoughts on the accuracy of the calories burned using the apple watch. I have compared mine to my polar M400 and my Garmin 630 as well as fitbit. It appears to me that the watch is very conservative with calories burned??? Any thoughts?? I primarily do martial arts but even when I run I noticed the calculated calories were well below what I have seen using my garmin and my fitbit. I’m not sure which device is the most accurate or if there is even a way to determine that but just curious.

    Thanks in advance.


  79. Matt Marino

    In a truly YOLO moment, I took advantage of Best Buy’s sale last week and snagged a Watch (42). I figured if I don’t like it, I can sell it or pass it on like I do my other Apple products. It didn’t break the bank, especially with $100 off.

    I went for a short (2 mile) run and a 1 mile walk yesterday and wore my Watch (using Runtastic) as well as my Microsoft Band 1 for comparison. I always run with my iPhone, so I enabled GPS on the Watch for better accuracy. The end result: the Watch didn’t knock it out of the park, but it wasn’t terrible, either. My biggest gripes about the Watch were that it took a sec to grab the GPS data when I raised my wrist & that it was a pain in the arse to stop the run on the Watch screen, and that messed up the distance a bit. That said, I need to fix the settings, so it could have been my fault. My Band occasionally has trouble locking onto GPS (happened yesterday), so I don’t trust it 100 percent, either. At the end of the day, and even with the minor hiccups, my pace and heart rate on the Watch was pretty spot on with what I usually run. I’m not enamored with Runtastic and might try Map My Run (my usual app) or Runkeeper next time.

    The Watch can get better, but I’m much more at ease with keeping it, especially at the price I paid. I read yesterday that Apple has patents in the pipeline for smart bands including one with possible GPS, so let’s hope that proves to be the case when they have their best big event.

  80. Seth

    I used my Apple Watch Sport for the first time on a run last night. I went all DC Rainmaker style and also wore my Garmin 910XT. As expected, I was pretty dissapointed with the watch’s accuracy. My garmin had me at 3.18 miles at 153HR while the watch recoded 3.25 miles at 166HR. I see this as a pretty substantial difference, particularly with HR. It was a 30 minute medium effort run (RPE 6-7) with 6×30 Second Pick ups (RPE9).

    I’m not sure how to view the graph to view the HR over time, but the average was way off!

    • Dale


      I usually pair my apple watch with My H7 polar Chest strap to eliminate any optical HR issues on my non run based workouts since it doesn’t pick up rapid movement well. I’m still curious how the calories burned is calculated vs other devices like my polar and garmin.


    • alan

      Can you pair the H7 directly to the watch and see your heart rate on the watch without having to “poke” the watch? Via Polar Beat app for the watch? or do you still have to have your phone?

  81. Mick Wall

    I really want something that will track heart rate 24×7 and i’m struggling for options.

    For my running workouts I use a Garmin 620 / HRM-RUN strap combo and I will continue to do so.

    So as i’m already into the Garmin ecosystem I fancied a Vivosmart HR until I read Ray’s review and the HR element being a bit crap.

    From the Apple Watch review it would appear workout HR tracking is poor, but I wouldn’t want to use it for that. Would you say the 24/7 HR of the watch is solid? I want to track resting/sleeping HR to keep a lid on overtraining etc.

    I tried a Scosche Rhythm + the other month and sent it back as it was no way near as accurate as my Garmin strap for me. It seemed ok at rest, but wildly inaccurate for me during workouts.

    Thoughts on other options? As an iPhone user, I am drawn to the Apple Watch.

    As much as I’d like a Fenix 3 HR, I don’t think I can stretch the £££ to that.

  82. Alan mushnick

    I would like to use the Polar Beat App for tracking exercise heart rate.
    Can I pair the H7 to the watch and the Polar beat app?
    Can I view my heart rate in real time without having to do something to
    keep the display on? Will the heart rate be visible if I keep the watch on
    the treadmill, not my wrist?
    Can I use the watch to track heart rate during exercise without the

    Or Can I use the internal optical heart rate from the watch and have it use
    the Polar Beat App on the phone or watch?
    Does the watch broadcast heart rate via Bluetooth smart?

  83. Jason Morris

    Thank you for this really great review. I was torn on whether to buy one or not for fitness tracking but now I have the information needed to make that decision. I think I’ll wait until they address some of the legitimate points you made.

  84. Ed

    I am an avid stand up paddleboarder. I sometimes do races that last 6 hours. Two questions. Will the Apple Watch last that long with an blue tooth HR strap? During a fitness mode, can you make an outgoing phone call using siri and can you take an incoming phone call (in the middle of a workout)?

    Thanks and great review by the way.

    • Karl Marsh

      The answer to you second two questions is yes providing your phone is in range of the watch.

      6 hours in workout mode is going to be pretty close to where it will go into low power mode meaning it will stop tracking your workout. The heart strap helps the watch battery last longer but my watch went into low power mode at about 6 hours and 20 minutes on a long bike ride. The watch came off the charger in the morning but was not at 100% when I started the ride. Making phone calls will use battery even faster. YMV

    • Ed

      Thanks Karl!

    • Alan

      I know the Apple Watch isn’t rated as waterproof, but Ray has swam with it. Would it get damaged in a water sport like paddleboarding ?

  85. Aaron

    Awesome review.

    I am in the market for the Apple Watch and I run as a recreational runner. I mean, I have done 5 Half Marathons, and a bunch of 5K’s and 10K’s, but I run the races because it’s fun and keeps me in shape. I am not fast, at all.

    So what I would like to know is, on a run, does the Apple Watch fail, or is it ‘good enough” for average runners who are looking for basic stats like pace, distance and time elapsed?

    If you use it on a run, is the phone piggy back the best way for GPS tracking or is using the accelerometer ok?

    Thanks for any advice and help in advance!


  86. Mark

    Very nice review, I agree 100% with your summary.
    I run Marathons, my AW is my every days watch when at work, great smart watch for notifications, so light I don’t even feel I have it, very reliable as a smart watch, but that’s it.
    When it comes to running I leave it at home or at the hotel and I run with my Polar V800, the most accurate GPS watch I ever had, with a perfect screen, readable in any light condition.

    Great job, you are the best when it comes to reviews!

  87. jr. hd

    ray thanks for your nice review.
    what do u think about gear s2 and
    and can you compare apple watch vs gear s2

  88. Alan

    if I am wearing Apple Watch in Workout mode, is there a way via an app on the iPhone to see my heart rate in real time?
    Thank you Ray and others


  89. geo

    Thanx for a great review
    totally agree with accuracy of HR under exercise regimen, sitting at the desk it si fine, but high intensity sees a lost sensor, luckily I have a Mio Link.

    just a little correction: the green ring is EXERCISE and red is MOVE

    your article says:
    “Those three circles of life are: Move (Yellow/Greenish), Exercise (Red), and Stand (Blue).”

    thanx for a great review

  90. Steve bartlett

    Thanks for the review, just made up my mind on my dilemma after purchasing a garmin vivoactive hr, one Apple Watch now up for sale!

  91. Greg Hilton

    Hi Ray,

    Can you comment if the apple watch measured your RHR ‘about right’?

    • It actually doesn’t give you a consolidated/daily RHR figure. Rather, it records your HR while at rest and dumps it into Apple Health. To that end, it was accurate at measuring my HR while at rest. But it doesn’t (using default Apple apps) give you an RHR value. 3rd party apps can though based on that data, like the one I featured in the post.

    • Greg Hilton

      thanks, so did the 3rd party app give an accurate RHR figure? I notice from your other reviews that many optical devices read high for RHR.

  92. Bob190

    Looks like the Apple Watch will become a bit more useful this fall with the release of WatchOS3. Glad to see auto pause making it into the update.

    This is from Apple’s page on the update:

    “Now you can see up to five workout metrics — distance, pace, active calories, heart rate, and elapsed time — all at once, without having to swipe. You can highlight your most important metric, mark segments, and label workouts like Pilates and Boxing. Your Apple Watch even automatically pauses on a run, like at a stoplight, and resumes when you do.”

  93. Scott R

    The watchOS 3 looks like a good one.
    I’m impressed with some of the features they’re adding to fitness.

    What I really need Apple to include is an interval timer. For example run walk run. Or other typical training intervals and the ability to program those accordingly.

    Don’t be shy about asking Apple to include features you want, there’s even a form on their website to do so.
    link to apple.com

  94. Alan

    I have the Sport. It is an amazing smartwatch, but lags others for fitness and sports features.
    I still think Apple should “split the baby” and make one separate full featured sports watch and another one aimed at a more fashionable smart watch accessory market.

  95. Denis

    I wanted to replace my V800 with an Apple Watch to carry only one watch with me all day long, but after reading this, I think I’ll wait Apple Watch 2 !

  96. Bob190

    This is an interesting thread….

    link to forums.macrumors.com

    Looks like we may be getting some sort of route tracking when running without your phone in WatchOS 3. Looks like it is using some sort of wifi triangulation. Interesting to say the least.

  97. Mike

    I live in the Rocky Mountains where knowing elevation during a workout is extremely important. I currently use Garmin FR610 as my workout watch (I have 3 of them, and use these because they allow me to customize what’s on the screen, with up to 4 fields on the watch, I have 3 because battery life isn’t great, so I carry extras in my pack). As an iPhone owner, I keep wondering if there is an Apple Watch app that provides the following on a single screen on the watch:
    1. Elevation
    2. Moving time
    3. Workout Distance
    4. Current Heart Rate
    Note, in case it matters, at all times during my workouts, I am out of cell/wifi range, so there’s no internet during workout.

  98. Cameron Reddy

    Wondering if you have any comments about the new Apple watches which, as you suspected, addressed the water resistance issue, and perhaps more.

    Very nice review, btw. I’m going to pay some attention to your site…

  99. Tony

    Thanks man. Always read your stuff. You have an ETA on the Series 2 review?

  100. Diane

    Hope you will be able to try the new Apple watch soon! I’m curious as to how it might compare with the Garmin 735XT. Both are interesting to me since they will track runs as well as lap swimming and open water swimming.

  101. Dee

    Hope you can review the Apple Watch 2 soon and see how it compares to the Garmin unit.

  102. Carmi

    I am curious if you have had a chance to play with the Series 2 yet. What are your favorite fitness apps for the watch? Finally, do you have an AppleTV and if so, have you found any outstanding (or just good :-) ) fitness/workout apps for the AppleTV/Apple Watch combination?

  103. Scott R

    Hi Ray, In your upcoming review of the Apple Watch Series 2 and Watch OS3, can you please add a feature request for an interval timer. I can’t believe that Apple forgets to add this core functionality. E.g. 5 min run, 1 min walk, etc. I figure you adding this carries more weight than the many of us :-) Thanks…

  104. J Meehan


    I wish Apple had sent you a Nike+ iWatch that they are planning on announcing/releasing on 10/28/16. I would really like to hear / read your thoughts on it.

  105. Just following up on the preemptive question, what happened to your future review of the Moto 360 Sport?

    “(Preemptive question/answer: Yes, I’m working on a Moto 360 Sport with Android Wear review. No, I don’t have a specific timeframe for it.)”