It's OK to be on the fence about buying an Apple Watch. For most of us, wearable devices are an entirely new category, so this isn't quite like buying a new smartphone or tablet. But if you're thinking about picking up Apple's latest device, you'll be well-served to know not only how to get your hands on one but how to also make sure it's the one you want.
First things first: The Apple Watch became available for pre-orders on April 10, with nearly 1 million people placing orders when the watch went on sale. As a result, Apple had to work its way through a lot of back-orders, with some people who ordered their watches in April only receiving them now. Apple seems to have worked through that initial backlog: Jeff Williams, Apple's senior vice president of operations, says that orders placed through May will ship in two weeks, with the exception of the Apple Watch 42 mm Space Black Stainless Steel with Space Black Link Bracelet.
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If you're on the fence about whether to place an order of your own, you can head down to the nearest Apple Stores to see a watch in person. The smartwatch arrived in Apple Stores on April 10, so that you can try one on to see which model suits your fancy. Given the interest in the Apple Watch, though, you'd be advised to schedule an appointment via Apple's website.
You can also get the Apple Watch at Best Buy, both online and at over 100 of the company's retail locations. Best Buy intends to sell the wearable at all of its 1,050 big-box stores by the end of September. Shoppers will be able to test out 16 different versions of the smartwatch, including its Sport and Watch variations in 38 mm and 42 mm sizes. Best Buy will also carry a variety of Apple Watch bands and accessories -- though the retailer hasn't specified whether or not it will eventually sell the more premium Apple Watch Edition. If you order the new timepiece on BestBuy.com, you can choose to pick it up at a store or have it shipped to you at no extra cost.
As of October 2015, you can now buy an Apple Watch at Target's retail locations as well as Target.com. The mega-retailer carries the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models in both 38mm and 42mm variations, but you'll have to look elsewhere if you want the highest-end Apple Watch Edition. Target also sells a variety of standalone bands for existing Watch owners, as well as AppleCare warranties and magnetic charging docks.
If you can't get to an Apple Store, Target or Best Buy in person, but are still undecided about exactly which Apple Watch will look good on your wrist, don't worry: you can sort of try them on without even leaving home -- with an emphasis on "sort of."
The simplest option is to fire up the Apple Store app on your iPhone. Tap on the Apple Watch model you're interested in, and then tap on View Pricing. Under the header you'll see a Compare Case Sizes link; tap on that to see both the 38mm and 42mm Apple Watches at actual size. Pop those on your wrist and you'll get a decent idea of how it'll look.
If cutting and taping paper is more your style, there are plenty of papercraft DIY options for trying on the Apple Watch as well.
Ordering Your Watch
Up until now, if you wanted to buy an Apple Watch, you had but one option: Let your fingers do the walking to Apple's online store. Back in April, Apple said it was limiting orders to online for the time being to "provide the best experience and selection to as many customers as we can," according to Apple senior vice president of retail Angela Ahrendts in an April press release.
But that has changed, sort of: Apple has opened up its online reservation process, which lets you reserve an Apple Watch at a store near you and pick it up in person. Due to limited in-store quantities, you must make a reservation for a day and time to pick up the specific watch you want. Also, not all styles may be available in stores, so you'll want to make your reservation quickly to hold your desired edition.
More to Learn
As reported by MacRumors back in April, Apple has expanded its usual slate of in-store workshops with sessions devoted to the Apple Watch. Apple Watch Basics promises to walk people through some of the watch's features like Glances, Gestures, and watchfaces. A second workshop, Stay in Touch With Apple Watch concentrates on responding to Messages and mail from your watch as well as sharing your location, taking a call, and using the device's Digital Touch features. The description for each workshop encourages participants to bring their Apple Watch and their iPhone, suggesting that these will be hands-on demos, but if you're interested in seeing how the Watch works in person, the classes provide another opportunity. It's worth checking out Apple's retail site to see if your local store has added any Apple Watch sessions.
The workshops are part of a full-court press by Apple to explain how to use the Apple Watch -- understandable since the device is a departure from the company's usual array of computers, phones, and tablets. A week before the Apple Watch went on sale, Apple started rolling out how-to videos focusing on how to use many of the device's features.
Is The Wait Over?
Back in April, if you were still on the fence about getting an Apple Watch, there was really no harm in waiting as Apple worked out its supply chain and early adopters twiddled their thumbs. Now that summer's here and the smartwatch is making its way to retail locations, you've got more options than ever for picking up an Apple Watch of your own. This turned out to be one of those instances when time was definitely on your side.