Plinka Plinka Hee Haw

So on a whim, I plugged in the serial number of my Series 0 Apple Watch to see what I could get for it in a trade. In pristine condition, apparently the value is…$25. And it’s not in pristine condition, which means they will happily take it in for recycling. This means that your $400 Apple Watch has a functional lifespan of about 3.5 years before it can’t run the apps and can’t handle the battery load any more, which might have changed in more recent models, but it’s about the equivalent of buying a second phone. Which ain’t hay, given that you probably have to pay a thousand bucks for an iPhone already. But…

Let’s think about this. Palm, so-called, is out here selling a tiny Android phone with an e-SIM that pairs to your existing device and is your going-out phone, or your limited-communication phone or whatever else you want from that second older phone that you keep for festivals or camping or travel or whatever. Well, wait, don’t they make an Apple Watch with an e-SIM that leverages LTE and works with your existing number?

Let’s think about this. The Apple Watch with LTE could be the functional equivalent of my so-called shutdown phone if it offered:

Music playback (check)
BBC/RTE audio streaming (unlikely)
Lyft (theoretically possible but I don’t think it’s there)
WhatsApp/Signal (jury’s out)
Phone calls? (sure)

Because in theory, that’s what I need. The ability to go to the pub, stream music, get a ride back and contact someone or be contacted in a pinch. The equivalent of taking a Kindle, an iPod shuffle and a MOTOFONE F3, which is what I used to do on the odd night out five or six years ago. That’s all broadly feasible…but the thing is, if you have a little discipline and can use the Downtime mode on the existing phone, you can limit it effectively to just those things and use it as a Kindle as well, and boom, you’re sorted.

Here’s the other thing: the Apple Watch is less than what we had speculated. I think people were hoping for the equivalent of a voice-activated iPhone on your wrist, but what it has actually become is a glorified Fitbit. If apps don’t work, if the extra functionality isn’t there, then all you’re usefully getting is fitness tracking and notifications. And as it is, with the decline in developers, the Charge 3 Special Edition is the ideal replacement for the Apple Watch at less than half the cost. Unless you REALLY need the ECG or Siri on your arm or just can’t live without being able to reply to notifications, the spiritual heirs of the body of Pebble have you covered. 

It is possible to visualize a scenario where some notional unlocked iPhone X(T) is my only phone, and the Apple Watch with LTE is the dedicated shutdown night/alternate device, driven by a more capable Siri. And I could revert to the old-ass Apple Watch Series 0 as the sleep tracker, which is a gargantuan PITA but doable. The only problem is, as long as I have my phone service through work, I will never have tethering or Watch LTE available to me. So right now the only percentage is to leave the watch in a drawer for future use and in the meantime, maybe look at a Fitbit Charge 3 as the new wearable. And use the SE as a travel and occasionally shutdown phone while I can. The SE is still viable in the medium term, especially since one-hand-ability and TouchID make it eminently more practical (especially abroad). The main advantages of the X over the SE are merely front camera quality, a faster processor, and a larger display and battery – one of which just depletes the other.

It’s not worth carrying two phones, is the thing. Have one or have the other, but going between both is a hassle and confusing. And since the iPhone X is currently the primary, it’s a pain in the ass to keep going back to the X every time you need some function that isn’t presently on the SE (not to mention the processor on the X is two generations faster with 50% more RAM available). My current thinking is that in all likelihood, it’ll be time for a new phone in September 2020, and this time I hope to finally have one device to do for everything assuming we haven’t all been forced to 7-inch slabs by then.

Gonna be awful hard not to spring for that Charge 3 Special Edition, though.

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