I just tried the first Apple Watch camera – here’s what happened
I wear my Apple Watch 6 every day, but this week I wore it a little differently. Instead of stretching a color-matched solo buckle over my hand, I attached Wristcam, the first Apple-certified smart bracelet with a built-in camera.
Wristcam has been on my radar for a few months now, promising the possibility of turning the Apple Watch into a capable camera. For $ 299, Wristcam’s in-strap component contains both world-facing (8 megapixel) and outward-facing (2 megapixel) lenses that you can control either with the wristband’s manual controls, either with the watchOS application.
I finally got one to test it out and wore it to see if it’s really useful and if it helps make my Apple Watch more self-sufficient.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the Apple Watch could become iPhone independent. While watchOS 8 brings new digital keys so you can ditch your wallet, among other advanced updates, I still don’t want to leave home without the cameras on my smartphone.
I was ready to give it a try, however. Here’s what happened when I used Wristcam’s Apple Watch camera for a day instead of my iPhone 12 Pro Max. What if I would do it again.
Animal photography made easy
My morning started at 7 am with a walk in Central Park with my dog, Steve. Rummaging through Steve’s leash, my keys, a 6.7-inch iPhone, and occasionally a coffee, I usually refrain from taking pictures of my dark lab while we’re on the go. Rude, I know.
Steve in Central Park on a wet summer morning 🐾Picture left on iPhone 12 Pro Max 📱 right on @wristcam ⌚️ pic.twitter.com/lqVPbZ2EazJune 30, 2021
Even when released from his leash to run with other four-legged friends, video recording is difficult. But this morning I had a camera strapped to me, so I didn’t have to rummage in my pocket for my phone and risk losing sight of my dog. That’s when I realized the Wristcam looked a bit like a GoPro, which meant I could capture action content while still being in the moment.
What surprised me the most in the morning was how comfortable I felt despite being a lot bigger than all of the best Apple Watch bands. The bulky component doesn’t feel ideal for a weightlifting workout (and Wristcam makes the Apple Watch heavier), but the silicone straps worked well on my three-mile walk, even in the wet wave of northeast heat.
And surprisingly, nothing strange happened on my walk, but in New York City, “you have to see it to believe it” moments happen all the time. I imagine the spy camera on my wrist would be ideal for these occasions, although I admit that orientation takes practice. At first, my photos and videos came out askew or with the subject off-center.
Take me to the ball game
I assumed I would need to charge Wristcam at some point before my evening outing – a baseball game – but at 5 p.m. it had about 50% battery power. As its own stand-alone system, Wristcam pairs to Apple Watch via Bluetooth Low Energy to maintain battery “all day”, and I’ve found that this spec holds up, even though I haven’t used it for. most of my working day. It seems that the battery drains much faster when the cameras are on.
I’m ready to go to the Yankees game tonight but I’m afraid to go out in this heat 🥵 selfie taken on @wristcam pic.twitter.com/s4DcaMIVU3June 30, 2021
As I got ready to leave for Yankee Stadium, I took a few selfies to send to friends. I might just have short arms, but it requires real wrist mobility to get the right angle. And even then, I don’t think I could put another person in the frame. I guess I could pull the Wristcam off and hold it further from my face in a pinch, but that defeats the purpose.
At the ball game, I took a few overhead photos of the people sitting in front of me. But the stadium lights and massive scoreboard caused some blur. If I wanted a close-up of the players, some crisp details of my chicken fillets, or a good photo of myself next to the pitch, I would have used my iPhone.
Would I wear the Wristcam regularly?
Coming home from the game, I finally took the Wristcam off for my Apple Watch to charge before I went to bed, as I usually wear it overnight for sleep tracking. For the same reason, it was time to swap out my loaded camera strap for my slim and reliable ‘ole Solo Loop.
Would I trade it for Wristcam again in the morning? I can think of several specific cases where the Wristcam would allow me to capture moments that I would have otherwise missed while picking up my iPhone. I loved it for walking my dog, for example.
But as much of the fun as I had showing it to other fans online for the Yankees game, I didn’t come away with quality photos. My iPhone’s camera is superior, so Wristcam isn’t an everyday accessory, at least not for me. Until Apple added a native camera to Apple Watch, Wristcam provided an impressive solution for taking photos quickly and without a smartphone.