Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hands on NATO, by having an unofficial plastic – Apple Watch group [ Gallery ]

Over the weekend I picked up my first nylon, NATO-style strap for the Apple Watch. Next month’s iPhone 5se/iPad Air 3 event is expected to include refreshed Apple Watch bands including new Sport colors, a space black Milanese Loop, and potentially even nylon bands in this style that we’ve reported have been in testing. As I mentioned on a recent 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast episode, one of my watches prior to the Apple Watch used a nylon strap, so I wanted to see what Apple’s expected new bands might feel like ahead of time. Check out my hands-on experience and key takeaways below:

For starters, the specific band that I tested is from a company called Clockwork Synergy — cool name but their packaging doesn’t do their products justice — which I only picked up because it was in stock locally, but there are plenty of alternatives on Amazon and elsewhere. If I had more patience and didn’t want to hastily satisfy my curiosity, I probably would have opted for a black option on Amazon for the same price where you can find more colorful versions as well.

For a relatively inexpensive Apple Watch band ($30 compared to $50 Sport bands), I was actually impressed with the overall build quality of the specific band I tested.

Apple Watch Nylon Band 4

The shiny lugs match the stainless steel Apple Watch just fine (although you can tell they’re cheaper), but might contrast with the matte Apple Watch Sport aluminum and wouldn’t match other colors.

The three rings on the strap are a bit darker, however, and would look great matched with an Apple Watch Sport. You can find replacement Apple Watch lugs online if color-matching the connector is a concern.

Apple Watch Nylon Band 2

The nylon material is a bit different if you’ve been wearing any of Apple’s own straps. The buckle style is similar to some of Apple’s leather bands, but the strap can handle getting caught in the rain without issue. It’s much lighter than metal bands and doesn’t pull hairs (in my experience), but it feels less premium and can potentially be scratchy.

Apple Watch Nylon Band 3

Depending on how Apple prices its own nylon straps, these could potentially be great alternative Apple Watch Sport bands. I’m happy enough with the Sport bands that I’ve got three colors already, but some may find them too rubbery for comfort or prefer something more rugged-looking.

Apple Watch Nylon Band 7

NATO-style nylon straps, I think, would make great near-entry level Apple Watch options, so hopefully gives aluminum Apple Watch buyers more options with these. Apple could still go mid- to high-end with nylon straps, too, as my stainless steel Apple Watch feels plenty nice with this material band. It’s easily something Apple could offer in various designs and colors.

Apple Watch Nylon Band 9

Given that there’s a bit more metal involved with the three-ring style, I’d be surprised to see Apple price these at or below Apple Watch Sports ($349-$399) and Sport bands ($49). Just thinking out loud, Apple could introduce a new tier of aluminum Apple Watches at $399-$449 and bands at $99 — currently Apple Watch bands start at $49, jump to $149, then to $449 — or Apple could do something completely different.

Apple Watch Nylon Band 11

Personally, I’m still happy that it’s so simple to change Apple Watch bands with a click and slide and no tools required. I’ve stuck with three Sport bands (black, white, and red) and the leather Classic Buckle so far. I’m happy enough with this nylon strap, too, that I’ll keep it in the rotation as well. The weather’s starting to warm up, at least where I live, and there’s something summer-y about the feel. I’m curious to see what Apple’s attention to detail will bring to the nylon Apple Watch strap world too.

Check out my full-hands-on gallery below:

It’s not certain that we’ll see Apple introduce this style band next month although they’ve been in testing, but you can pick up your own third-party nylon Apple Watch strap today.

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