I bought an Apple Watch. And I want it to replace my iPhone.
Because I find a smartphone too big to carry and – foremost – I get annoyed with myself, constantly checking the news, my RSS feeds, Twitter, or email just because I can and/or I “have a minute”.
Generally, I have simply needs (which was the initial thought that prompted me to try this experiment): when I’m in familiar surroundings I mainly need a smartphone for messaging (which is a bit ironic, because I actually wouldn’t need a smartphone for that). Of course, that’s not the only feature I use, but it’s the main one if I’m being honest1. Of course, I do use other smartphone functions as well. But a lot of them are available on the watch, too: maps, podcasts, music, email, iMessage, calendar, shopping list, voice recorder, Apple Pay, my passwords, Shortcuts, 2FA-mechanisms. I could even add my covid vaccination certificate to Apple Wallet2.
The main things that are missing for me are the camera (but only for the occasional practical photo – for photography I always carry one of my analog cameras anyway), the light meter app, Signal messenger (I do get notifications on the watch, though), my notes, and the ability to buy tram/bus/train tickets.
And I already found a few drawbacks since the start of this experiment that I didn’t anticipate: the calendar is unnecessarily limited to show events only 7 days ahead, and you can’t browse other months than the current one. You can’t open PDFs in Mail. And I sometimes get a little impatient putting it on: that is a skill I still need to get comfortable with (I never really wore a wristwatch).
But other than that, the nearly two weeks of usage have been a success. And for some of the shortcomings, alternative workflows exist. But I could – and did – leave my phone at home for the most part. Messaging works really well via the “dictation” feature – and even the now-available QWERTY-keyboard works great, too (even though language support is limited to English right now). My trouser pockets stay flat. It’s easier to quickly check the time (and weather). And battery life really hasn’t been an issue, either. And being out and about with the watch only, listening to a podcast or music via bluetooth headphones, feels very futuristic.
I haven’t used much of the fitness-functions3 and have disabled all notifications and reminders for those. Although I find the ability to track my heart-rate – and do the occasional ECG – insightful. And generally I’m still not sure how I feel about having a device on me, that’s even closer than a smartphone. We’ll see. But so far I really enjoyed the benefits of a smaller, simpler device.
And when I’m travelling and in more unfamiliar places, I think I still want to carry my iPhone. It’s still unbeatable when you constantly need to look something up, navigate, or book tickets.
What kept me from trying this experiment earlier was mainly the prohibitive pricing of cellular plans here in Germany. You have to have a contract plan, and all of them basically have too much stuff for me, so I end up overpaying. I was actually happy on my tiny prepaid plan. But there’s no MultiSim- or eSim-support on prepaid. The change of mind happened when my carrier had an offer for contract plans. I took advantage of that, and here we are. It’s still generally €5 extra per month for getting the MultiSim/eSim for the watch.
For completeness sake, here’s also the model I got: it’s a 41mm aluminium Apple Watch 7 in “Midnight” colour, with cellular of course.