Thoughts on buying an Apple Watch

TL:DR: I thought about buying an Apple Watch and did some research. I ultimately decided it’s not for me.

Now, for the longer version.

I had a wonderful epiphany. I hate my phone.

I don’t mean the iPhone SE specifically. Even in 2019, it’s still a great phone. It might be the most beloved iPhone of all time. But I hate I have to always have it on me. Or at least, I hate that I’ve succumbed to societal pressures to have it, to feel like I have to be good at it, to always have it near me. I hate what it’s done to my attention, to my habits. I like myself less when I’m on it.

As part of a 2019 resolution, I looked for a solution. Can you live in the modern world, with its many conveniences, without a smartphone?

If you still want to be in touch with people, you can dumb down. You can get a worse” phone you’ll hate using. But you know what? I used Windows Phones. I already know what it’s like to handicap myself with a phone that doesn’t work.

So what about one of those watches?

Apple Watch has always been kinda interesting but only faintly, and never enough to buy one (or even an old used one, which is my standard approach). So many articles talk about it not being able to replace your phone. But what if I could? What if it worked just fine for me?


So, I’m in the market for a phone. The iPhone SE, as great as it is, is a 2015 computer in a 2012 design. It’s out-gunned in every direction.

But the apple watch will work fine with the iPhone SE, a phone I already own and have to spend no more money on. In Canada, a new iPhone begins at $1000. So if my plan were to be watch-first, and then only have my iPhone around when I actually need it, maybe the SE can last me another year. I’ve done this before with other devices, and it’d surprise you how much life you can get from a thing once you demote it out of that daily carry” position.

The Apple Watch is squarely a first-world, top-tier, 1% solution, and it’s priced like one. In Canada, with the tax, the low-end Apple Watch with cellular will cost $778.57.

Here’s my first snag. I’m on Freedom Mobile, on a $45 plan. Freedom doesn’t support Apple Watch.

On Rogers, Telus, and Bell, it’s $30 a month, with $10 a month for services. But, you need a plan. This is the quote from a Rogers rep:

For the province of Ontario, the least expensive Share Everything plan includes 4 GB of data with unlimited local calling in the No Tab (no contract) pricing category for $80 per month. Therefore, with an Apple watch plan, it would cost $90 ($80 + $10) + tax each month.” (that’s $101.7 a month total)

So the price difference looks like this:

Apple Watch 4 $631.67 Apple Watch 4 with Cellular $778.57

I’m sure there’re ways around this, but still. But the real cost is the monthly change I’d have to make to my phone bill. I pay $45 a month for my current plan. So if I got the regular Apple Watch, I’d be paying $631.67, but would have no extra monthly fee. If I got the cellular Apple Watch, I’d be paying $146.9 extra, plus an extra $55 a month to move to a plan that supports it. If I plan to use the Apple Watch for three years, this is the cost difference (with my phone plan for Apple Watch 4 vs Rogers’ Apple Watch Plan with Apple Watch 4 with cellular):

Apple Watch 4 $2251.67 Apple Watch 4 with Cellular $4439.77

That’s a lot of money to (sometimes) leave your phone at home.

Apple Watch without an iPhone

Apple itself has a little support page that says, with great hope: How to use your Apple Watch without your iPhone nearby. Apple (Apple!) is telling you, sure, leave the hand computer at home. Be free:

If your iPhone and Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular) or Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) are both connected to a cellular network, your watch can do everything that it normally does, even if your iPhone isn’t with you.

There’s apparently lots of stuff you can do without a phone. However, most places won’t really recommend this workflow:

It’s not an iPhone replacement. If you’re expecting to leave your phone for extended periods of time and use the watch to handle all your tasks, you will be disappointed.

Mental Health and iPhone Addiction

I’m not the first person to think Apple Watch might be a great solution to phone addiction:

I’m starting my work days earlier because I’m less concerned with unnecessary notifications. Since I’m less distracted throughout the day, I find myself forgetting less and triaging more. That leaves my nights truly free to do what I’d like without feeling like I should be doing something else. Whether that’s enjoying a long visit with my mom, playing a game of cards with my partner, or crushing candies on my iPad, I finally feel like it’s my time, and that’s a feeling I haven’t experienced in a while — and that makes the Apple Watch worth it for me.

On top of that, it might actually make you happier to wear one of these things.


I’ve been known to use some apps. I was thinking of doing this for another post, but it really works here to show how well an Apple Watch might work for my use-case.

iPhone Watch Surface
Calls Yes Yes No
Texts Yes Yes No
Whatsapp/Messenger Yes No Yes
iOS Shortcuts Yes Yes No
Camera Yes No No
Instagram Yes No Yes
Wallet Yes Yes No
Scrivener Yes No Yes
Video Podcasts Yes No Yes
Audio Podcasts Yes Yes Yes
Spotify Yes No Yes
Apple Music Yes Yes Yes
Stoop Newsletters Yes No No
Pokemon Go Yes No No
IFTTT Yes Yes Yes
Reddit Yes Yes Yes
Toggle Yes Yes Yes
Video playing Yes No Yes
Letterboxd Yes No Yes
Duolingo Yes No Yes
Pinterest Yes No Yes
HQ Trivia Yes No No
Amazon Yes No No
TV Time Yes Yes No
Wallet Yes Yes No
Google Maps Yes No Yes
Calendar Yes Yes Yes
Mail Yes Yes Yes
Just Press Record Yes Yes No
Uber Yes Yes Yes
MapMyRide Yes Yes No
Nike Training Yes Yes No
Outlook Yes Yes Yes
Onenote Yes Yes Yes
Carrot Weather Yes Yes No
Sleep Cycle Yes Yes No
Drafts Yes Yes No
Habitica Yes No Yes

I would be losing things. But not as much as I thought before I began this list.

And think what I could be gaining. But first, let’s talk about what I’d be losing.


You can save music offline with Apple Music. Unfortunately, I mostly use Spotify, and unfortunately there’s no native app yet. I’m not sure an Apple Watch would be enough to get me to switch over.


And yeah, you can’t catch on your Apple Watch. Pull out your iPhone and open the Pokémon Go app there to catch anything.




Unraveling objects away from the phone

So photos are the big problem. I mean, sure, I could just go out and buy a real camera. But that leads me to the central problem here. The phone does everything. It may do nothing at the level of a dedicated device, but it does most things good enough that the value is there.

This is over-thinking, sure, but it comes from a place of wanting to be healthier.

I feel trapped by the phone in a way I never felt trapped by any other object.

And I’d like the Apple Watch to be a solution. One day, it might be. But the cost, and limited app support, means that right now it just can’t be.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t keep looking.


January 21, 2019