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Apple Watch Accessories Round-Up

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Jason R. Rich takes a look at some of the watchbands, insurance options, stands, and accessories that are available for the Apple Watch, and discusses which of these options can enhance your overall experience using the watch.
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In order for an Apple Watch to function, it must be paired with an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or one of the yet unannounced iPhone models slated for release in late 2015. Then, the watch and smartphone need to remain within close proximity to one another in order to exchange information via the wireless Bluetooth connection that remains continuously active.

Beyond having an iPhone as a must-have accessory for your Apple Watch (or the watch being an optional accessory for the iPhone, depending on how you look at it), there are a handful of optional accessories available for the Apple Watch, beyond the magnetic charging cable that comes with the watch.

Give Your Apple Watch a Makeover Using a New Watchband

In addition to being able to switch watchfaces (which are displayed on the watch’s screen), and then customizing each watchface in a matter of minutes using complications, Apple offers a selection of interchangeable watchbands that work with all Apple Watch models. This includes waterproof bands made out of a rubber-like material, called fluoroelastomer (that comes in six colors), as well as a selection of different style leather and stainless steel bands. Some of these watchband options are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1. The Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition are shown here, each with a different style watchband.

Each style watchband is offered for the 38mm and 42mm watch size. The fluoroelastomer Sport Band is priced at $49.00. The Milanese Loop (stainless steel), Classic Buckle (leather), and Leather Loop (leather) watchbands are priced at $149.00 each, while the Modern Buckle (leather) is priced at $249.00. The Link Bracelet, which is made from a 316K stainless steel alloy with a custom butterfly closure, is priced at $449.00.

Depending on the watchband, some are offered in Small, Medium, and/or Large sizes, to accommodate different size wrists. To view a watchband sizing guide, visit http://store.apple.com/us/watch/sizing-guide, or visit any Apple Store to experience a free Apple Watch Try-On Appointment (http://concierge.apple.com/stores/US?channel=1&locale=en_US&type=tryOn).

Apple watchbands are each sold separately from Apple Stores or from Apple’s website (http://store.apple.com/us/watch/bands). A watchband can be changed within 15 to 30 seconds, simply by turning the watch over, pressing the watchband release button associated with each end of the band, sliding each end of the existing band out, and then sliding each end of the replacement band into place.

Simply by swapping the watchband and selecting a different watchface, it’s possible to dramatically change the appearance of the watch itself, allowing it to transform from a tool you’d wear to the gym during a workout, to a fashion statement that can nicely compliment formal business attire, for example.

If you don’t like the watchband styles offered by Apple, a growing number of third-parties are starting to manufacture their own Apple Watch compatible watchbands. For example, a company called Casetify (http://www.casetify.com/apple-watch) offers a vast selection of colorful watchbands made from a soft, high-performance, sweat resistant, and durable polycarbonate material (which is a rubber-like substance). In addition to the pre-designed watchbands, the company offers an online-based tool, that for $70.00, allows you to customize watchbands using your own color scheme, graphics, and/or photos.

AppleCare+ for Apple Watch Can Help Protect Your Investment

Just as AppleCare+ is available directly from Apple for its iOS mobile devices and Macs, AppleCare+ for Apple Watch & Apple Watch Sport, or AppleCare+ for Apple Watch Edition is an optional extended warrantee plan that offers two years of coverage. This coverage includes repair or replacement of the watch itself, its battery, and/or the magnetic charging cable, and includes up to two incidents of accidental damage. Each repair or replacement incident will have a service fee associated with it, which for the Apple Watch Sport will be $69.00, and for the Apple Watch will be $79.00. The per-incident fee for Apple Watch Edition can be up to $1,000.00.

Unlimited technical support during the two year period, offered by any Apple Store around the world, or by calling (800) 275-2273, is included. More information about AppleCare+ for the various Apple Watch models can be found at http://www.apple.com/support/products/faqs.html.

Keep in mind, what AppleCare+ does not include is replacement of the watch due to loss or theft. For this type of coverage, third-party insurance, from a company like Surewise.com (http://www.surewise.com/gadget-insurance/apple-watch-insurance) or Gadget Cover (https://www.gadget-cover.com/apple-watch-insurance), is required.

However, not all third-party insurance policies cover loss or theft, so be sure to read what the policy covers before purchasing the optional insurance. For example, SquareTrade http://www.squaretrade.com/smartwatch-warranty) offers comprehensive coverage for the Apple Watch due to damage, but not theft or loss.

Many Third-Party Apple Watch Stands Are Available

Dozens of companies have created unique-looking desktop stands for the Apple Watch. The majority of these stands can be purchased from Best Buy (or www.bestbuy.com), as well as Amazon.com or eBay.com. While all serve basically the same purpose of displaying the watch at an angle while it’s connected to the magnetic charging cable that comes with the watch, these stands are made from a wide range of materials and range in price from under $15.00 to more than $100.00.

From Amazon.com’s main webpage, enter the search phrase “Apple Watch Stand” (shown in Figure 2) in order to view a optional Apple Watch stands that are available from a wide range of companies.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Apple Watch stands are sold through Amazon.com, for example, and are available from a wide range of manufacturers.

Most of the Apple Watch stands currently available hold the watch upright (not sideways), which means that once the WatchOS 2 operating system update is released in Fall 2015, the new Nightstand Mode feature probably will not work properly when the watch is used with the stand. So, when choosing an optional watch stand, make sure it can hold the watch horizontally or vertically, and that it’s designed to properly hold the watch’s magnetic charging cable.

Some of the least expensive Apple Watch stands that are made from plastic, and that are being sold online, were manufactured to measurement specifications that do not properly accommodate the round disc of the watch’s magnetic charging cable. This means that when the watch is placed on the stand, it’s not held in place properly using the magnetic connection between the watch and the charging cable.

For a stylish Apple Watch stand that’s properly weighted and actually fits the 38mm or 42mm version of the watch, plan on spending around $50.00, but keep in mind that while using a stand will make your watch look nicer while it’s sitting on a flat surface charging, and position the screen at a more viewable angle, for example, it does not speed up the charging process or serve any other purpose.

Recharge Your Apple Watch Without Electricity

Instead of using the supplied Apple Watch magnetic charging cable to connect your watch to a computer’s USB port or an electrical outlet in order to recharge the watch’s battery, Nomad is offering a pocket-size, circular, rechargeable battery pack, called Pod for Apple Watch ($59.95, http://www.hellonomad.com/products/pod-for-apple-watch), that will recharge the Apple Watch’s internal battery up to four times per charge. The Pod for Apple Watch is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3

Figure 3. The optional Pod for Apple Watch is a pocket-sized rechargeable battery pack that allows you to recharge your Apple Watch’s battery up to four times per charge.

Optional Apple Watch Accessories Designed to Protect the Watch

The Zagg HD Clear Shield Screen Protector for Apple Watch ($14.99, http://www.zagg.com/us/en_us/invisibleshield/apple-watch-screen-protector/) is offered in two sizes (38mm and 42mm), and as you can see from Figure 4, is an ultra-thin, clear, scratch-resistant material that is designed to protect the watchface against dirt, scratches, and fingerprint smudges without compromising the clarity of the screen or its touch-screen functionality.

Figure 4

Figure 4. The Zagg HD Clear Shield Screen Protector for Apple Watch will help to protect the watch’s screen against dirt and potential damage.

While the Zagg HD Clear Shield Protector only covers the actual screen of the Apple Watch, the Case-Mate Naked Tough Bumper for Apple Watch ($15.00, http://www.case-mate.com/collections/apple-watch) is a clear casing for the Apple Watch that protects the sides of the watch, while keeping the screen, the sensors on the back of the watch, and the watchband slots readily accessible.

The Speck CandyShell Fit Hard Shell Case for Apple Watch ($29.99, http://www.speckproducts.com/apple/watch-cases/apple-watch-cases.html) is a bit thicker than the Case-Mate Naked Tough Bumper for Apple Watch. As you can see in Figure 5, it is made from durable comolded polycarbonate and thermoplastic polyurethane materials, and it comes in a variety of colors that nicely complement Apple’s Sport Band watchbands.

Figure 5

Figure 5. The Speck CandyShell Fit Hard Shell Case for Apple Watch is an optional casing that can help protect your watch from damage.

Final Thoughts…

Depending on your lifestyle and how you use your Apple Watch, purchasing multiple watchbands, the AppleCare+ extended warrantee or third-party insurance, a watch stand, and/or additional accessories designed to offer an added level of protection for the watch against wear and tear or physical abuse, may or may not make sense for you.

While having multiple watchbands allows you to further customize the appearance of the watch, few of the optional accessories released to date actually do anything to extend the functionality of the watch itself.

This Fall, however, once Apple releases the new WatchOS 2 operating system for Apple Watch, and the watch will be able to run native Apple Watch apps, there’s a good chance that new types of optional Apple Watch accessories will be released that could expand the functionality of the watch.

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