‘Keys, wallet, phone’ has been my morning mantra for the last ten years, ever since ‘iPod’ was culled from the list in 2007.
My brain likes reliable routines and tends to be very sceptical about challengers to ‘the list’.
But recently it couldn’t help but notice that the Apple Watch Series 3 is claiming to be able to ‘run your day, right from your wrist’.
Which got it wondering. With the cellular Series 3 now capable of phone-free calls, messaging, mobile payments, fitness tracking and even gaming, could it genuinely take the role of smartphone for the day? Could ‘keys, wallet, phone’ become ‘keys, watch’?
Yesterday, I decided to find out. On an unusually busy Monday that took in bike rides, a hectic day at work and an evening concert, I left my phone and wallet at home and let the Series 3 (GPS + cellular) run my life.
Would crucial apps work reliably without big daddy iPhone nearby? And would the battery last the day or leave me wandering the streets of Brixton without a ride home? It was time to find out...
7.15am: Morning news hit (Battery left: 100%)
I instinctively reach for my phone for a bed-based news hit in the morning. Not today – the zombie arm would have to settle for the Watch and its 1.65in screen.
It’s actually not a bad way to skim-read the news. The new Siri watch face mixes headlines and calendar events, while the BBC app serves up a couple of paragraphs before pointing you to ‘read more on iPhone’.
Not this time, little buddy – today we’re going on a solo adventure…
9am: The Strava commute (Battery left: 71%)
Strava was one of the first apps to cut its umbilical cord from the iPhone, letting you track rides with the Watch’s built-in GPS.
This was good news for my phone-free day, as I was able to log my 45-minute cycle into the office and add the miles to my tally.
Less good was the hit on the Watch’s battery life. With nigh-on 30% gone from the tank, I’d have to nurse it through the day, or risk a long walk home later…
10am: Slacking at work (Battery left: 68%)
I usually rely on Slack to pick up important work messages when on my way to the desk. That didn’t go well today, when I discovered that Slack is one of the Watch apps that still need an iPhone connection to work (even if you have a cellular Watch).
This meant I missed a courier collection - when I tried pointing plaintively at the red phone symbol on the Watch, Stuff’s postroom didn’t look impressed.
It was a similar story with Todoist, which hunted for my phone during Stuff’s Monday meeting and forgot my ‘to do’ list in the process.
Lesson learned: if you’re going phone-free, check that your favourite apps are happy to do the same.
12:45pm: Talk to the wrist (Battery left: 46%)
Can you use the Apple Watch for work calls? Yes, technically. But unless you’re pretty quick with your Bluetooth headphones, you’ll be like that guy on the train who's always loudly 'circling back' to people via speakerphone.
Once I’d dashed out to the office balcony, I had a few lengthy chats with some tinny-but-clear voice quality and an only moderate hit on battery life (twenty minutes took just over 20% of the Watch’s juice).
Clearly, the Watch isn't a replacement for my work phone. It's more for those times when you're out on a lunchtime run and you get a call saying that your Nespresso machine has exploded.
That didn't happen to me this time, fortunately...