For my birthday this year, my husband bought me the new Apple Watch with Nike+! I knew it would be hard for him to top last year’s gift, but he managed it anyway. He pre-ordered it and it arrived a few weeks after my birthday in early October, making me one of the first people in the world to try it out when it arrived on 28 October.
After a month of use, I now (finally!) feel ready to give it a review. I wanted to make sure I thoroughly tested everything, ensuring that any annoyances were user error and not some flaw of Apple or Nike.
First off, you might be wondering how the Nike+ watch is different from the regular Apple Watch. The answer is that you get an exclusive Nike-styled watchband and custom Nike watch faces, and of course, perfect integration with the Nike+ app.
The Nike+ Integration
- As you would expect from two powerhouse brands like Apple and Nike, the integration is pretty seamless. The one-touch start for the Nike+ app is great. No fuss to get started. By default, it has an annoying 3-2-1 countdown before it starts, but I have just learned that I can turn that off.
- The display is a so lovely – a vast improvement from my original Nike+ GPS watch. You can see elapsed time and distance in the standard setup, but an advanced setting will let you also display your pace and heartrate
- The watch can connect to Bluetooth headphones and play music while running which is great. I haven’t tried this yet since I don’t own Bluetooth headphones, but they are on my Christmas list.
- Voice prompts play through the watch’s speakers if you aren’t using headphones. The familiar Nike+ voice lets you know your average pace, distance and time, but you can turn this off for those times when you’re running with a group.
- The watch is like a little personal trainer. If you haven’t run in a few days, it will start to send you motivational messages to encourage you to get back out there. That said, this is only a feature that I’ve read about and never experienced. Maybe I run too frequently?
The Other Good Stuff
- Setting up the watch was seamless. Easy, perfect integration with my iPhone in minutes
- The watch is in fact waterproof. I was very hesitant putting it in the pool the first time. Sitting on the edge of the pool, I tentatively dunked it in a few times just to make sure the waterproofing claims weren’t a gimmick. I successfully swam over 1km in the pool and the watch is still functioning, though I did stop every 50 meters or so to check on it! The watch uses vibrations from the speakers to clear water out after a swim. A very cool feature.
- The watch comes with a versatile fitness app that tracks all sorts of other workouts like indoor or outdoor cycling, pool or open water swimming, walking and stair climbing. I have tried it for spinning and it easily tracked heart-rate, calories and total time. The pool swim was reasonably accurate – just a few metres off
- You can answer calls from the watch! This is just such a strange novelty. I can’t l get over it.
- You can summon Siri just by saying, “Hey Siri!!” She likes to tell me the weather each day. She can also automatically start your run if you ask her.
- The strap is super comfortable and looks cool.
- The battery life is pretty good. It can easily last a full day using a variety of features, and close to two days with minimal use of the apps.
- The watch seems to only sporadically track my actual route while running. While it boasts built-in GPS, it doesn’t seem to work consistently and I’m not clear why. Perhaps this will be fixed in an upgrade.
- It takes forever to sync runs between my Nike+ app on my phone and the watch. They eventually seem to catch up, but the delay is annoying
- Just as in the original Nike+ app, it will show monthly stats like total runs and total distance but for some reason, this data is never right on my watch. It’s usually a run or two behind what it should be. Right now it’s showing the right total number of runs, but the wrong distance. WHY?!
- The heart rate monitor doesn’t work in the pool. Boo.
- I don’t seem to be able to share my runs on my social networks after I’m done. This isn’t really a big deal, and I’m sure no one cares about how far or often I’m running, but I liked the feature.
Overall, I do really like this watch. It’s been a very cool gadget to play with, and the always-on activity tracking is a great motivator. I also get loads of comments on it and it’s a great conversation starter. Everyone wants to know about it!
That said, as a fitness watch, it does leave a little bit to be desired. For running, it’s great, but it definitely does not have the specialist features that some Garmin or Polar devices have. Trying to track a triathlon on this watch would be a real challenge, for example. However, if you are a loyal Nike+ user, and want an Apple watch, this is a perfect combination. I highly recommend it for the runner on your Christmas list this year. But order fast! They take 2-3 weeks to dispatch and Christmas is just 26 days away!
UPDATE (17 October 2018): I feel the need to update this post with one MAJOR drawback of this watch that has infuriated me for two years. I generally do like it a lot, but the battery life is so abysmally bad that it is virtually useless as a fitness tracker for anything longer than an hour. Any time I have EVER tried to use this watch for a long run or race, it has died. It died in the Geneva Marathon. It died in the North London Half. And most recently, it died at 18.3km during the Royal Parks Half Marathon. From full 100% charge in the morning, to totally dead in less than two hours. This is so unbelievably poor. I hear that the new generation of this watch is better, but it has been a pretty big disappointment as a sport watch since Day 1. I really don’t know if I would consider buying another one…