The new Apple Watch is seen on display after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Apple Inc. will sell its new smartwatch at prices starting at $449 in Canada, along with a gold luxury version that will cost more than $13,000.
Apple Watch is the company’s first new gadget since the iPad’s debut five years ago. The device will be available for pre-order on April 10 and in stores on April 24 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and the U.K. and U.S., Cupertino, California-based Apple said Monday.
Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook had already signaled Apple would adopt premium pricing when he unveiled the product in September. The cheapest Apple Watch will cost more than Samsung Electronics Co.’s $399 Gear S smartwatch, which is far pricier than most other wearable fitness monitors. Motorola’s Moto 360 starts at $279.99.
I have been wanting to do this since I was five years old
Cook described the watch handling many functions currently associated with the iPhone, which tethers wirelessly to the watch and connects it to the Internet. For instance, Uber cars can be contacted from the watch.
The watch will track exercise, remind wearers of events with a tap on the wrist, and make calls through the tethered phone, since the watch has a built in speaker and microphone, he said.
“I have been wanting to do this since I was five years old,” said Cook.
The Apple Watch begins shipping in April and comes in two sizes and three styles. A variety of straps will be offered as well. Pre-orders begin April 10, Cook said at an event held in San Francisco to announce more details about the smartwatch.
The Sport model, which has a space grey or silver anodized aluminum case and colourful bands, is priced at $449 (for the 38mm) and $519 (for the 42mm). The Apple Watch version costs $699 (38mm) to $779 (42mm). The high-end Apple Watch Edition, which comes with an 18-karat gold case and polished sapphire crystal, begins at $13,000 and will be available in limited quantities, Cook said.
The Sport may comprise 55% of sales while the Watch version may make up 45% with the high-end version grabbing just a small share, according to Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos.
Apple showed off some of the apps that will be available for the watch. An app from Uber can be used to summon a car. The Starwood Hotel’s app can be used to unlock hotel rooms. The Alarm.com app lets users open their garage doors with the watch. To find watch apps, users go into the Apple Watch app available on iPhones running iOS 8.2, which is now available for download. Apple executives didn’t say how many apps would be available at launch.
Apple said users of the new smartwatch will be able to go 18 hours under typical use before charging the battery. Cook said that the watch will be able to run all day before charging each night. The question of an Apple’s devices ability to hold a charge is a routine following an introduction.
Battery life is a tricky thing that has a lot to do with usage. Apple says the iPhone 6, for example, should stay charged for as much as 14 hours of talk time or 10 hours of surfing the Internet over a cellular network. Users, though, see different results in the real world.
Samsung says its Gear S smartwatch gets about one to two days of typical use out its battery, while Pebble, which doesn’t have power-sucking apps or as vibrant a screen as its rivals have, claims to last five to seven days.
Website 9to5mac had said that the Apple Watch may operate for five hours of heavy use while it will go about a day with a mixture of active and passive use.
“A full day is a decent benchmark for version one,” Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies Inc., said. “What you’re dealing with is that most smartwatches today last maybe a day, nothing gets better than that.”
Battery life was one of the major concerns when Apple brought out the first iPhone in 2007. Apple shares rose on the day in 2007 when Steve Jobs announced ahead of the iPhone’s debut that it would get eight hours of talk time, three more than previously planned. Ultimately, the phone received some criticism over its battery life, something the company worked to improve over time.
The next generation of the watch will probably have better battery life as well, according to analysts such as Jim Suva of Citi.
“Battery life is very important,” he said. “But version one is usually never as good as version two.”
Separately, Apple also also laid out other product successes and launched a new MacBook notebook with 256 gigabytes of storage that weighs as little as 2 pounds. The MacBook will start shipping April 10.
Apple also refreshed its current lineup of MacBook Air and Pro products.
In addition, Apple announced it is offering researchers new development tools, called ResearchKit, to help medical researchers design apps for clinical trials, the company said.
It cut the price of Apple TV by US$30 to US$69 and is partnering with HBO to offer its stand-alone streaming service, HBO NOW, on Apple devices in time for the “Game of Thrones” premiere April 12. It will cost US$14.99 monthly. Cook said 2,500 banks are now signed up with Apple Pay, which is available in 700,000 retail locations nationwide.