Apple Watch Review

img_4468It’s been a little over two months since I’ve had the Apple Watch and I’m one proud owner and cannot imagine not having it. I wouldn’t say the watch is something I cannot live without, which is how I feel about my iPhone or MacBook but certain features are extremely convenient.

I’ve worn the Apple Watch every day since I received it and have had the chance to customize the apps, alerts, and interface to my liking. I even wear both the Apple Watch and Garmin Forerunner 220 when I run (weird, yes, I know, but I will explain). I have the Apple Watch Sport Aluminum Case with Lavender Band, Rose Gold (38mm) that I purchased from Amazon since the pricing was less than buying it directly from Apple at the time before Apple’s recent price drop.

There are definitely pros and cons to the watch as many of the reviews have described but overall my experience has been very positive.


img_4471—Activity tracking (my favorite feature!) that shows move, exercise, and stand goals. The watch shows active calories, total steps, and miles. I have my watch set to remind me to stand every hour which has been extremely helpful when we flew to California and at work. The activity tracking goals can also be customized to your lifestyle.
—Heart rate monitoring (my second favorite feature) has been a very important statistic to me since becoming pregnant. This is the reason I wear both watches when I run. The Apple Watch on my right wrist tells me my heart rate and tracks my activity. The Garmin Forerunner 220 tracks GPS and distance for Garmin, RunningAhead, and my blog. There is a reason I don’t wear the Apple Watch exclusively for running which I will explain in the cons.
img_5107—The workout tracking feature is great on the watch. Not only can you track indoor/outdoor runs, you can also track walks and cycling (indoor and outdoor), elliptical, rower, stair stepper, and other. Most fitness trackers that I have seen does not allow for tracking of cycling, rowing, stair stepper, or elliptical workouts.
—Text message alerts and ability to reply with a short response or voice transcription message. I like that alerts can be fairly subtle from the watch. Instead of pulling out my phone in a meeting or out somewhere to read my messages, it’s easy to just flip my wrist up to read when I feel a vibration on my wrist.
—Ability to control music from watch.
—Ability to customize home screen of the watch. Mine includes activity tracking, heart rate, calendar, weather, battery life, Twitter, and Instagram feeds. It is also nice that you can customize your alerts and apps differently than your settings on the phone. On my iPhone, I prefer more alerts and on the watch, I have less.
—Range between watch and the iPhone is pretty far. I can get alerts on my watch between 4 floors at work. I leave my phone at my desk and if I am on another floor, I still have connectivity. This is a much further range than that of the Garmin vivosmart HR.
—Watch app is a great and easy to use. It uses the same Apple iOS interface and allows you to edit settings on the watch straight from the phone.
img_5104—Activity app on the iPhone is easy to use and tracks all of your activity history. It also displays all your achievements (i.e. stand, move, and exercise streaks or doubling/tripling your goals).
—Ability to send finger drawn pictures, emoticons, or heart beat to others who have the Apple Watch. While this isn’t a key feature for me, it is pretty neat to be able to do this.
—Wallet functionality is great for payments. I have been able to use the watch to pay for a handful of items and it has been incredibly cool! I just need to remember that I can do this as more merchants roll out Apple Pay.
—The different bands really allow for someone to turn the watch from casual every day wear to a running watch to a more high-end watch (though, I haven’t had a real need to buy a new band yet).


img_5106—Watch software updates take a long time. The watch update took over an hour to finish and then the watch froze and needed a force restart before it started working again.
—Battery life lasts about a day depending on your activity level. On a work day if I don’t use the watch to track a workout, I can get to about 40-50% battery left. However, if I track my workouts, then I can get to around 10-20% remaining. Even though I listed this as a con, it’s not as bad as expected. Modifications would likely need to be made to conserve battery if using it during a marathon or longer race.
—Needs to be paired with the iPhone. Given where the technology is now, this makes sense but it would be nice to see a watch one day that does not need to be paired to the phone all the time.
—No GPS tracking for running, walking, or running. This is one of the downsides of the watch that prevents it from being a running watch for me. I like being able to look at the routes on my outdoor runs and as a result, I cannot switch away from Garmin.
—Apps are slow and screen is too small for actual usage.
img_5105—No sleep tracking. I enjoyed seeing the statistics on my sleeping patterns on the Garmin vivosmart HR and unfortunately, this is not a feature of the watch (though I guess I wouldn’t really want to sleep with the watch on anyway).
—Lack of social aspect to the watch. Unlike FitBit, Garmin or other activity tracking devices, the Apple Watch and associated apps do not have the social network and encouragement.
—Wallet doesn’t work as well for scanning boarding passes. This is a very minor thing but I was very excited about using my watch to check into flights but unfortunately, the way the scanners are set up at the TSA counters and the positioning of the watch on my wrist, I wasn’t able to get this to work.

img_5108Overall, the watch functionality is very consistent and are nice to haves. The watch however replaces my need for the other non-smart watches I have. I can see why people would prefer multiple bands so they can change it up a bit. The watch also replaces the Garmin vivosmart HR that I purchased in December. While the price of the watch is higher than that of fitness trackers, it does offer more functionality than most fitness trackers that are also not watches. Likely if the Apple Watch continues to increase functionality, I don’t really see the need for an extra fitness tracker. Once I start training for a race again, I wonder though if I will actually end up wearing both watches on my runs – time will tell!

Garmin Forerunner 235 Review

img_4374As promised, here is my review of the Garmin Forerunner 235, albeit not as comprehensive since I no longer own the watch. Josh pre-ordered me the Forerunner 235 from Amazon and it finally came just in time for our trip to Florida in the middle of December so I can test it out for some outdoor running before bringing it on the treadmill back up north. I love my Forerunner 220 but when I saw the Frost Blue colored strap, activity tracking, and notifications all in one device, it was hard for me to say no to this present.

img_4376While in Florida, I wore the watch as an activity tracker (instead of the Garmin Vivosmart HR) for 3 of the days we were there. This meant I wore the watch all day except for when I was sleeping. While the watch is like that of the Vivosmart HR where it could track sleep, the idea of wearing something that large on my wrist to sleep was odd to me. While back home, I wore the watch only for running.

—I absolutely loved the black face with frost blue strap. The strap was also a little more comfortable than that of the Forerunner 220 (though it has never irritated my wrist before). I think it might be due to the extra holes in the strap that allow for a more flexible fit.
—I generally love all the data, stats, and notifications from my Garmin Vivosmart HR, so having a watch (meaning I only needed to wear only one device) with a bigger face to track all of this was even better!
—It was so much easier reading notifications (i.e. text messages or other alerts you set up on the phone) on the watch due to the larger face.
img_4372—The menu of the watch was very similar to that of the Forerunner 220 and Vivosmart HR so it was fairly easy to get the watch set up.
—There are more running features to this watch than that of the Forerunner 220. Not only can it track heart rate, it has a VO2 max estimator, recovery advisor, and race predictor all of which are not on the Forerunner 220. There is also the accelerometer, cadence tracker, and storage of personal records similar to that of the Forerunner 220.
—The watch similar to that of the Forerunner 220 and Vivosmart HR can wirelessly sync with Garmin Connect. This allows for easy access to all the data from the app right on your phone.

—Heart rate monitor did not work as well as the Vivosmart HR one. The main reason I didn’t like the new Forerunner 235 is because the active heart rate was off. When I was running a very easy, slow-paced 3-mile run, it said my escalated to 191 bpm and average was around 170. This I knew was wrong based on feel and the Vivosmart HR. Typically my heart rate has been around 130-140 for easy runs based on the Vivosmart HR. At one point, I decided to wear both on different arms though and the resting heart rate was almost exact but the active heart rate was very different on the Forerunner 235. I tried the watch out on multiple runs during the week I had it and every time it showed my heart rate went above 190 bpm for very easy runs. When the heart rate is wrong, it also affects the recovery advisor which then said I needed to rest for 5 days after a 3 mile easy run?!
—I would prefer to wear an all-in-one device meaning watch and activity tracker, it doesn’t have to be a GPS watch but if it were it would be an added benefit. That is the reason I really liked the Forerunner 235 when I read about its launch. However, this watch was just too bulky and the color scheme was not neutral enough (I know the black/gray one would be better but I would still prefer something more plain watch-like) for me to wear around all day and to work.

img_4373All in all, the cost of the Forerunner 235 at the higher price of $329.99 was not worth it due to the some of the issues I experienced with heart rate monitor. In a lot of the forums I read this was a common complaint but for some it seemed to resolve itself. I ended up returning the watch after a week and perhaps didn’t allow the time it needed to adjust. In my case, I already had a GPS watch I really liked (Forerunner 220) and an activity tracker that tracked heart rate (Vivosmart HR) that it didn’t make sense for me to keep this one. Though with all the new features with notifications and activity tracking, I am starting to consider the new version of the Apple Watch (hopefully it comes out soon, I don’t have much patience!).