Apple Watch and watchOS: Everything you need to know about Apple's most personal device

Master the Digital Crown.

apple watch sport white band

Apple Watch might not have risen to the must-have level of the iPhone just yet, but Apple’s most personal device is slowly changing the way we interact with other people. After several software revisions, Apple’s wearable has evolved into one of its major project categories, and a constant cycle of new features and bands keep it feeling fresh and fashionable.

But as we approach the third generation of the device, you might still be asking: What can I really do with it? The answer might surprise you. Find out and more in this ultimate guide to Apple Watch.

Apple Watch models

apple watch watchos3 trio Apple

Apple Watch comes in several models and colors.

Apple Watch Series 1

Body: Aluminum
Color: Silver, space gray, rose gold, gold
Band: Sport
Size: 38mm (272 by 340) and 42mm (312 by 390)
Chip: S1P
Water resistance: Only for minor liquid contact
Price: Starting at $269

Apple Watch Series 2

Body: Aluminum
Color: Silver, space gray, rose gold, gold
Band: Sport, leather, stainless steel
Size: 38mm (272 by 340) and 42mm (312 by 390)
Chip: S2
Water resistance: Up to 50 meters
GPS: Yes
Price: Starting at $369

Apple Watch Series 2 Nike +

Body: Aluminum
Color: Silver, space gray
Band: Nike Sport
Size: 38mm (272 by 340) and 42mm (312 by 390)
Chip: S2
Water resistance: Up to 50 meters
GPS: Yes
Price: Starting at $369

Apple Watch Series 2 Hermès

Body: Stainless steel
Color: Silver
Band: Leather
Size: 38mm (272 by 340) and 42mm (312 by 390)
Chip: S2
Water resistance: Up to 50 meters
GPS: Yes
NFC: Yes
Price: Starting at $1,149

Apple Watch Series 2 Edition

Body: Ceramic
Color: White
Band: Sport
Size: 38mm (272 by 340) and 42mm (312 by 390)
Chip: S2
Water resistance: Up to 50 meters
GPS: Yes
NFC: Yes
Price: Starting at $1,249

Apple Watch Bands

apple watch bands spring2017 group Apple

Outfit your Apple Watch any way you want with interhcangeable bands.\

How do I change bands?

You can swap out the band that came with your watch with any Apple band, but make sure you get the right size (and a color that matches). Apple offers most of its watch bands in both 38mm and 42mm sizes, so you’ll need to buy the right one.

To swap out a band, flip the watch over and press the small band release buttons at the top and bottom. As you press the button, slowly slide out the band. Then slide in the new one. You don’t need to hold down the button to insert the new one, and you’ll hear a small click when it’s in place.

How many bands are available?

Lots. The most popular are the sweat resistant elastomer Sport bands, which come in 15 different colors for $49 a pop. There are also Nike Sport bands (also $49), which are made of the same material but have holes, er “compression-molded perforations for breathability.” They are available in seven colors.

Then there are Woven Nylon bands, which come in 13 colors (including an Apple store-exclusive Pride Edition rainbow one) for $49. A series of leather bands are also available in a variety of styles of colors: the $149 Classic Buckle in eight colors, Leather Loop (42mm only) in two colors for $149, and Modern Buckle (38mm only) in two colors for $249.

Fashionistas can opt for one of the Hermès Leather bands. The $489 Double Tour is available in six colors, but is limited to 38mm models. Bigger wrists can opt for the 42mm Single Tour, which comes in six colors for $339 (though the etoupe and fauve colors are also available for the 38mm model). And finally the Double Buckle Cuff for 38mm models will set you back $689 and is available in two colors.

Apple also makes a pair stainless steel bands in silver and space black: a Milanese Loop and a standard link bracelet. The Milanese Loop costs $149 for silver and $199 for black, and the Link Bracelet costs $449 for silver and $549 for black.

And there are third-party options too. Apple’s Made for Apple Watch program allows third-party accessory makers to apply for official approval to sell bands, and many manufacturers sell knock-offs as well. These options are practically as plentiful as iPhone cases and nearly all of them cost significantly less than the ones Apple sells.

Apple Watch Series 2 review

Apple Watch Series 2 solved nearly all the problems we had with the original model, with better navigation, built-in GPS, and incredible water resistance. Read our full review here.

Apple Watch FAQ

apple watch series 2 Rob Schultz/IDG

Apple Watch may be small, but it can do a lot.

What phones does it work with?

Chances are, your iPhone will work just fine with Apple Watch. While the requirements might change with the presumed release of the Series 3 watch in the fall, any model released after the iPhone 4s will work with a new Series 1 or Series 2 Apple Watch. That means the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6s, 6s Plus, SE, 7 and 7 Plus are all compatible.

What do I need to get started?

You’ll need three things to set up your Apple Watch: a Bluetooth connection, a Wi-Fi connection, and the Watch app on your iPhone. To turn on Bluetooth, swipe up to the bottom of the screen and tap the Bluetooth icon to turn it blue. And if you deleted the Watch app, you can download it again in the App Store.

How do I turn it on?

Press and hold the side button until you see the Apple logo appear on the screen.

How do I set it up?

After your turn it on, you will see a language selection screen (it might take a moment for to to appear). Use the crown to scroll to your preferred language. Now open the Watch app on your iPhone. Tap Start Pairing and do the same on your watch. You’ll see a swirly cosmic animation appear on your watch’s screen. Hold the watch face in the viewfinder on your phone’s screen to begin the pairing process. Along the way you’ll be asked to sign in with your Apple ID and create a passcode, sync your apps, and enable Siri. The whole process takes about 10 minutes.

What if I’m left-handed?

No worries. During set-up you’ll be asked to pick a wrist and an orientation for your watch. And since the bands are swappable, you won’t have to struggle to put it on either.

What kinds of sensors does it have?

Apple Watch has a couple different sensors, but they vary by model. All models include a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and an ambient light sensor, as well as a heart-rate sensor and an NFC sensor for Apple Pay. Apple Watch Series 2 has built-in GPS, but Series 1 watches will need to use your iPhone’s location services to figure out where you are.

Can I wear it in the shower?

Yes. All Apple Watches come with at least splash resistance, so showering with it won’t void your warranty.

Can I take it swimming?

It depends. Series 1 watches only have an IPX7 rating, which means they can withstand immersion in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes, so you probably shouldn’t take it into a pool. Apple Watch Series 2 has a water resistance rating of 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010 for wristwatches, so it’s all good for a swim. However, Apple warns that the leather and stainless steel bands aren’t water resistant.

What does the Digital Crown do?

The crown acts as a home button. If the screen is off you can press it to wake. If the screen is on it will either take you to the app screen (if you’re on a watch face) or back to the watch face (if you’re on the app screen or in an app). Additionally, you can double-click it to open the last app you used or press and hold to launch Siri, or hold it down to power your watch off. You an also spin the crown to scroll up or down. Series 2 watches also have a cool Wake Screen on Crown Up feature in the Watch app settings that gradually illuminates the display when you spin the crown when the screen is off.

What does the side button do?

Before watchOS 3, the side button brought up a circular list of your favorite contacts, but pressing it now brings up the much-more-useful Dock, which contains your 10 favorite apps.

How do I charge it?

The Apple Watch uses inductive charging, better known as wireless charging, meaning you don’t have to plug it in to charge. All Apple Watches come with a magnetic puck that easily attaches to the watch when it’s on a stand or lying flat on a table. Apple Watch Edition also comes with a Magnetic Charging Dock, which sells separately for $79.

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