I looked forward to the relaese of the Apple Watch about as much as I looked forward to George Lucas’ Phantom Menace. Both from companies that could do no wrong. Well, OK, there may have been a few misfires like Howard the Duck or the Mac Cube, but overall the products were good. Really good. Seeing the iPhone 4’s retina display for the first time was akin to seeing Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer coming onscreen for the first time after the opening credits. Breathtaking. There was never anything like it. The iPhone 4’s screen suddenly made every other screen look fuzzy and pixleated and Star Wars made every other Science Fiction movie look like their special effects department just weren’t trying hard enough.
Was there any of this wonder with the Apple Watch? I don’t think so. Oh sure it was polished. Polished like the Phantom Menace. The spaceships were all chromed and gleaming and Siri looked better than ever. But there was no heart. Despite the years of technological advances between the two movies, a Bluray of the Phantom Menace just wasn’t better than an old VHS copy of Star Wars. I know which I’d pick if I were on a deserted island planet. Similarly, I’m here to tell you that a lowly iPod nano from from 2011, used as a watch, has more going for it than a modern Apple Watch from the same company. This comparison can be made because of the existance of awesome watch straps from iWatchz (now Kubxlab). They turn the 6th gen iPod nano into something that looks like a top-tier modern smart watch. Just look at the photo below.
Now let’s talk price. The nano plus strap is cheaper. The only problem is that Apple has stopped selling this model and has replaced it with a nano twice as big (ironic for something called a “nano”) – perhaps so it wouldn’t compete with its new watch.
But even when combined with the most expensive iWatch strap Apple used to sell in their stores, the package was less expensive than the Apple Watch is today. Although now long gone from their stores, there is always eBay.
Battery life? Nano wins hands down. According to Apple, you can play music on it for 24 hours straight before depleting the battery. The Apple Watch? Just 6.5 hours. In practice, I can go close to a week before my nano needs a charge. And it doesn’t deplete precious battery power from my iPhone either. Storage? The nano on my wrist has 16GB, the Apple watch? Only 8GB. And you can’t use the 8GB any way you like either. Want to fill it with music? Apple only lets you use 2GB for that. Which watch is thinner? The nano. Less likely to get snagged by a shirtsleeve.
I could go on – the nano’s clip makes it extremely easy to snap new watchstraps on, the charging solution is much smaller for the nano – great for trips – and on and on.
But here’s the thing, I actually use my Apple nano watch for HOURS a week becasue it actually does something COMPLIMENTARY to my iPhone. The Apple Watch just duplicates the features of my iPhone in an inferior way. Why did I buy an iPhone 6 with such a great screen if I’m just going to keep it in my pocket and look at a postage stamp sized version instead. I’d rather look at a list of notifications all at once on a nice big screen than scroll through them while looking througha virtual pinhole. To be fair, there’s one feature of the Apple Watch I could see being useful to an iPhone 5 user – the NFC tap-to-pay ability of the watch.
I probably could take the Mastercard tap-to-pay sticker I keep on my iPhone 6 and attach it to my iPod nano to do the same, but I’m happy to keep it on my phone for now (Why do I use the sticker instead of the Apple Pay on my iPhone 6 you may ask? Well, my Canadian bank doesnt allow its Mastercard to be linked with Apple Pay, so I just use their sticker instead. One benefit is that even if my iPhone’s battery runs out, I can still use it to pay.)
But I digress. Aside from the battery life, thinness, price and storage advantages of the nano, its raison d’etre for me is its unparalleled ability to play podcasts and audiobooks for hours at a time without affecting the battery life of my phone. If I played the same content on my phone, I know it would take a major hit to its battery level. If I played the content from the watch, I would ALSO use up battery life on my phone by streaming from it to the watch since there is not much storage on the watch itself for audio as mentioned above. Listening on the Apple watch is not very energy efficient either, since it only has about 1/4 of the battery life to play audio as compared to the nano – i.e. it burns through its battery life 4 times quicker than the nano and then if you add the power needed to receive the stream from the phone, that battery depletion increases even more and if you use a blutooth headphone, there is the power needed to power those as well! Not very environmentally friendly Apple. On my nano watch, I just plug in a small set of earbuds and that’s it! I’m set for 24 hours if I wanted to, with no worry about my phone’s battery.
So why am I comparing the Apple Watch to a product four years older from the same company? To show that they should and could have done better.