What you need to know about Apple Watch’s hardware features

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Apple is known for its hardware finesse, choosing the right combination of hardware features to improve the device and not overload it with novelties that contribute little to the overall experience. This philosophy of hardware design is evident in the Apple Watch, which reportedly underwent a drastic redesign during the development process. Those Watch hardware features that made the cut are profiled below.

Display

The display is the centerpiece of the Watch – it is the one piece of hardware that everyone will use. As a result, Apple did not skimp on screen, opting to pack a retina resolution screen into its Watch wearable. According to Yahoo’s David Pogue, the Watch will ship with either a 1.5-inch or 1.7-inch display, depending on the watch size that a customer purchases. The smaller 38mm Watch will include a 1.5-inch display with a resolution of 272 x 340 pixels, while the larger 42mm version ships with a 1.7-inch, 312 x 390 resolution display.watch-display

The Apple Watch display also features Force Touch technology, which can distinguish between a tap and press. This innovation allows consumers to interact with apps in a unique way that is compatible with the compact display on the wrist-worn device.

Sensors

Apple reportedly had to compromise in the sensor department, abandoning plans to include a blood pressure monitor, blood oxygen saturation monitor and more into the device. Apple ultimately decided to ship the Watch with a basic heart rate monitor and other motion-detecting sensors. The heart-rate monitor is located on the back of the case and includes infrared LEDs, visible light LEDs and photodiodes to monitor heart rate. A sapphire lens protects the sensors and provides a smooth surface against your wrist.heart-rate-monitor

On the fitness side, the Watch includes an accelerometer, GPS, and Wi‑Fi that’ll detect movement and provide a daily step count and distance traveled. These metrics will be shared with iPhone and the iOS health app and can be used to track a user’s daily activity and fitness level.

Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi

Apple’s Watch will ship with limited connectivity options that include NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi. For a variety of reasons, the first-generation model will not include cellular connectivity. Out of all the connectivity options, NFC may be the most important as it will enable Apple Pay on the device. Watch owners conveniently will be able to use their Watch instead of their phone to authorize payments at supported retailers. Wi-Fi may be used for fitness tracking, software updates, and time-keeping purposes, while Bluetooth may be used to provide a connection to the iPhone and other third-party devices such as wireless headphones.

Water Resistance

The Apple Watch is water resistant and can withstand wetness from normal activities such as sweat from exercise, rain from being outside and hand washing. Apple has not confirmed that the device can be immersed, but Apple CEO Tim Cook said he regularly wears his Watch in the shower. This revelation suggests Apple may have improved the water-resistance features of the device over the past several months.

image Apple Watch water

Speaker and Microphone

The Apple Watch is a communication device as much as it is a notification device. As a result, the Watch will ship with an onboard speaker and microphone that is capable of sending and receiving calls. The microphone also can be used for Siri voice control and the dictation of notes and messages.

Charging and Battery life

Apple opted to use its MagSafe technology with the Watch, allowing users to plug and unplug the device with ease. The magnetic charger will snap into place automatically when the connector is held near to the back of the watch. The system is so refined that customers can even charge the device without looking at it – everything will just snap into place as long as you are close enough in your alignment. The charging system also is inductive, which means there are no exposed contacts that you need to keep free of dust, dirt or grime.

Apple has been tight-lipped about the expected battery life for the hardware, with some rumors suggesting as little as 2.5 hours of runtime under heavy application use. Apple CEO Tim Cook said Watch owners will wind up charging the device daily because they will use it so much. The company also reportedly has been working on a not-yet-announced Power Reserve feature that’ll conserve battery life when the device is not in use. We expect Apple will unveil these details during the company’s March 9th press event.

image Spring forward live stream

Apple will announce the final hardware details and launch information for its Watch next week. The March 9 press event will begin at 10AM PT and will be live streamed on Apple’s event web page. We also will be covering the news as it breaks and will provide analysis after the event. Please join us as welcome the Watch to Apple’s product lineup.

Apple Watch series:

Apple Watch customization options — band styles, watch faces, and color choices