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The first Apple Watch camera has arrived — and the iPhone is less relevant

Apple Watch Wristcam
(Image credit: Wristcam)

Ever wish your Apple Watch could take pictures and videos? Then Wristcam might just be the camera-powered, wearable experience you've been waiting for. And the one that could make iPhones irrelevant. 

The first camera designed for Apple Watch, Wristband is an $299, Apple-certified smart band that features a clever, in-strap component packing both world-facing and self-facing cams. Using either the band's manual controls or the watchOS app, you can capture content when your phone is out of reach.

Of course, Wristcam's 8MP and 2MP cameras can't compete with iPhone 12 Pro's 12MP array, but in the samples I've seen this product certainly makes a strong case. You won't be ditching your smartphone yet, but when it comes to a smartwatch satisfying everyday needs like photography, Wristcam brings Apple Watch a key step closer to practical autonomy.

But it also brings some bulk to an iconically slim smartwatch. Although the 1.2-ounce device doesn't sound heavy, the way it protrudes seems like it could be a nuisance while working out or sleeping. Like any of the best Apple Watch bands, though, it could be swapped easily to suit your immediate needs.

wristcam

(Image credit: Wristcam)

As its own self-contained system, Wristcam pairs to Apple Watch via Bluetooth Low Energy in an effort to sustain its independent, "all day" battery. It also connects to iPhone and the Wristcam companion app via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. 

When there's an image or video you'd like to take, you can either use buttons on the strap or use the viewfinder within the Wristcam app on your Apple Watch. The interface is simple enough — you swipe to switch between photo and video, and double tap to switch between the front-facing and world-facing cams. In the demo I saw, the app and latency worked smoothly.

Wristcam-captured content can be stored your Apple Watch, but can also be synced with your iPhone's photo gallery so your images and videos are readily accessible. Wristcam's app even has a suite of editing tools and filters, too.

In an effort to address privacy concerns of a James Bond-like accessory, Wristcam features blinking status lights that indicate active recording. But it's not like discretion is Wristcam's mission. Instead, it's the ability capture life in the moment. 

I'm skeptical of how many situations I'd sooner use Wristcam over my new iPhone 12 Pro Max, but I'm certainly interested in testing it out for comfort and practicality. I'm less interested in the $299 price tag, but considering the GoPro Hero9 Black costs $449, Wristcam could find a niche as a viable alternative for outdoorsy Apple Watch users.

I, on the other hand, would use it to take pictures of my dog when my phone is out of reach.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.