Apple sent out an email blast this week marketing the Apple Watch as a Mother’s Day gift recommendation:
Help her do it all and look great, too. Whether she’s working or playing, Apple Watch is the perfect Mother’s Day gift to help her stay connected and active throughout the day.
The email was fine as far as marketing messages go. It featured the message above plus a nice photograph of a woman wearing an Apple Watch Sport with a band color-matched to her jacket. “Celebrate her with a gift she’ll love” and “Finally, something that can keep up with her” cleverly nudged you into making Apple Watch the fashionable fitness tracker gift for the May 8th holiday.
But it also reminded me of a recent experience I had in an Apple Store and a realization about Apple Watch right now. Agree or disagree, I believe the window on buying the first-gen Apple Watch has closed, and in almost every situation potential customers should wait for Apple Watch 2.
I’ll start with my recent shopping experience at an Apple Store. I had a Genius Bar appointment to replace a defective iPad display during an out-of-town visit with my mom. I moved to the iPhone SE and gave my mom my iPhone 6s Plus, and we’d been chatting about fitness and exercising over the weekend.
Her birthday is in May, just a few days after Mother’s Day, so I thought about maybe buying an Apple Watch Sport on the spot as an early gift. Then I considered the downsides to mine — speed and functionality — and I thought about how long Apple Watch has been out and how a refresh is due this fall. Even at $300, down from $350 before March, I couldn’t bring myself to hit go on the purchase even with the birthday/holiday excuse.
The fact is the Apple Watch was introduced 18 months ago, has been on sale for 12, and probably has another 5 months left before being upgraded. We’re at the tail end of its run before being refreshed by an overdue upgrade.
New color options, band varieties, and a price drop make it more compelling right now, but there’s a reward for those who wait. The hardware you buy today, even in rose gold Sport with a Nylon Woven band, is the same hardware introduced a year ago.
Just wait. The next Apple Watch will likely debut this fall alongside new iPhones, which typically launch in September. Whether or not Apple Watch 2 looks different, features a FaceTime camera or cellular connection, or has features we haven’t imagined yet, it will surely be faster and just better at doing what the current Apple Watch already does.
It’s not that there’s anything totally wrong with the Apple Watch. It’s easily criticized, but I generally really like mine. I wear it everyday and would honestly miss not having it, plus it’s way more motivational as a fitness tracker than dedicated bands I’ve tried in the past. It’s just that I expect Apple Watch 2 will be that much better at everything Apple Watch already does. Apple Watch has been on the market for 12 months now and the weak spots are hard to miss. Take it from me: wait 5 or 6 months and see what Apple Watch 2 has to offer.
Speed improvements, reduced glare and increased brightness, better microphones and louder speakers. Any of these changes would make waiting a few more months worth it if you plan on buying an Apple Watch and not replacing it soon after.
Consider past upgrades of first generation Apple hardware too. iPhone to iPhone 3G gained much faster cellular connectivity. iPad to iPad 2 added speed, cameras, reduced weight, thinness, and a new color option. If Apple Watch to Apple Watch 2 is anything like those changes, at this point it’s worth the wait.
There are a few exceptions to my recommendation. If you’re buying a used Apple Watch or find a deal (say, on 9to5Toys) that’s seriously below the $300, then buy now if you’re in the market and strongly consider upgrading in the fall. I’d say $150 is the most you should spend at this point (that’s about the price of a fitness tracker anyway). If you haven’t bought an Apple Watch yet and really want to collect the first generation product, then buy new now or wait until Apple Watch 2 and buy used for less in the fall. Or if you just really want an Apple Watch now and couldn’t care less about what Apple Watch 2 offers, go ahead … if you must.
Finally, a note on bands. We don’t know for sure that Apple Watch bands now will fit Apple Watch 2 when it debuts, but I’d bet money on it. Apple Watch can get a whole lot thinner before it needs to change the band connector unless it goes narrow instead. I believe that Apple continuing to introduce new bands throughout the year suggests we’ll see band compatibility for several generations.
Do consider color, however, as not all bands technically match. I have a stainless steel Apple Watch with Classic Buckle band (although I primarily use black Sport), but plan to buy a space gray Apple Watch Sport next time around which wouldn’t match.
So that’s my advice: Apple Watch is fine, but its flaws and time on the market mean you should probably wait until Apple Watch 2 if you haven’t bought one yet … even for Mother’s Day (sorry mom). Agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments.