Apple Watch faces

Apple is promising customizable watch faces with "millions of different appearances." It brings everything to its timepieces, from time lapse backgrounds to classic Mickey Mouse arms as dials.

The first six Apple watch faces
The first six Apple watch faces

However, just to be clear, the smartwatch comes with a base of 11 watch faces, according to the official Apple Watch press release. Most allow you to change the colors, design elements and add functionality.

The Apple Watch face gallery shows off an Astronomy design with an interactive, real-time 3D model of the earth, moon and planets. Likewise, the Solar acts as a contemporary sundial.

Apple watch face images
I can finally get myself the Mickey Mouse watch I always wanted when I was six

If you want a moving background, there's the Motion watch face, or a still image, there's the Photo face. Utility, Chronograph, Color, Modular and Simple exhibit more contemporary designs.

Apple Watch has a number of competitors that run on Google Wear, and since their upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop, you can now download a large range of watch faces there already.

Android Wear

Google has made the Watch Face API available for developers and a number of striking designs are already available to download. We're guessing that Google will be a bit more relaxed about custom watch faces compared to Apple.

This could mean that we'll see a quality versus quantity debate when it comes to comparing watch faces on Apple Watch and Android Wear devices. By the time the Apple Watch launches, there is a good chance there will be a huge variety of faces already available for Android Wear, so Apple might have a fight on its hands when it comes to customization.

Apple Watch battery life

Tim Cook didn't go into great detail about the Apple Watch battery life, but he did hint that the smartwatch is designed to be "worn all day" and is "simple to charge at night."

"We think people are going to use it so much you will wind up charging it daily," Cook later reiterated at a conference in late October.

That had led us to believe that the Apple Watch battery life will be approximately one day, sort of like the Moto 360, LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live we've reviewed.

An Apple spokesperson backs up our theory, more or less confirming that the smartwatch requires a daily charge. The person also reportedly said Apple is working on modifications to eek out more battery life.

Apple Watch battery life
Easy to connect like a MagSafe power adapter

Previously, when it was known as the Apple iWatch, it was rumored to have a 400mAh battery, but Cook is saving that announcement for a later date.

He did, however, call attention to the unique recharging method. The Apple Watch's back crystal houses a magnetic inductive wireless charging solution similar to the MagSafe design. Again, it looks as if Apple bucks another trend - this time it's the popular Qi wireless charging method - in favor of its own standard.

Release date

For a gadget that supposedly keeps the time, the Apple Watch release date speculation has been all over the place. Apple's official line is that it won't deliver the the Apple Watch until early 2015.

Sure, reports in the Taiwanese media have placed the release date as sometime in February, but newer remarks attributed to Apple executives give it a later, less precise and far more likely spring 2015 window.

"We're going into the holidays, we'll go into Chinese New Year, and then we've got a new watch launch coming in the spring," read an alleged internal memo by Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Angela Arendts.

Apple is said to be constrained by the amount of sapphire that it's able to produce thanks to its main, now-bankrupt supplier GTAT, but it's determined to launch its smartwatch with the scratch-resistant material.

This could mean that when the Apple Watch does arrive, there could be less than the targeted 10 million smartwatches the company may want for the launch window. Although it's important to bear in mind that Apple's entry-level model, the Apple Watch Sport, doesn't include a sapphire display.

This may mean that while numbers of the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition versions are less than expected, the company can still produce enough Apple Watch Sport models.

Apple Watch release date
Don't expect to see it alongside the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus this month

Why so long between the Apple Watch unveiling and actual launch? Google. It's first smartwatches have just released care of Samsung Gear Live, LG G Watch and Moto 360. None work with iPhones.

A sneak peek at the iPhone 6 event made the watch right on time, enough to distract people from even prettier Android Wear watches hitting stores now, including the LG G Watch R.

Apple will be working hard to avoid the same kind of limited supply problems it faced when introducing the hot, but hard-to-find gold iPhone 5S last year.

Price

An even trickier question than "when will it come out?" has been "how much will the Apple Watch cost?" There's really no precedent for a premium smartwatch price just yet.

The answer: More than we were hoping to pay, even though its specs may be on par with Android Wear.

Apple Watch
It's classy, but the starting price is out of some peoples' budgets

That notorious Apple tax pushes the pricetag to $349 given components involved. That's £223 in the UK and AU$403 in Australia, but expect those prices to be even higher, above the straight dollar conversion.

It's true that Apple has recruited high-profile people throughout the watch and biometrics industries who have wound up on its Apple Watch team. That talent comes at a price.

Then there's a hidden cost. While a subsidized iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are cheaper upfront in the US, stores make up the difference with contract kickbacks. Not so with a smartwatch. Stores need a cut too.

Apple watch price
Apple Watch cost way more than your average fitness tracker. Are you willing to pay?

For the sake of comparison, Android Wear's cheaper options are the Samsung Gear Live at $200 (£170, AU$250) and LG G Watch at $230 (£160, AU$250).

But Apple's biggest and most stylish competition is from Motorola, and the Moto 360 price is $249 (£199, likely AU$275 given its rivals' prices).

Apple is aiming for luxury given the sapphire glass-protected display, an imposing digital crown, two sizes and even the 18k gold colored edition. Expect prices for that version to climb even higher.

Apple Watch won't be an impulse buy for most consumers. That's why we'll continue to update this page to see whether or not the iPhone-compatible smartwatch is a fit for you. Stay tuned.

The competition

Although we don't know the exact release date of the Apple Watch, what we do know for sure is that it will be launching amid fierce competition.

By the time the Apple Watch launches a number of its competitors will have been well established and may even be gearing up for a new version.

LG G Watch R

LG G Watch R

The LG G Watch R is one such competitor which could give Apple a run for its money. Unlike the Apple Watch (and many other smartwatches) the LG G Watch R comes with an attractive round face that gives it a classy, traditional look.

The screen also looks gorgeous thanks to the P-OLED technology, and on the back of the watch is a heart rate monitor for health apps.

Unlike the Apple Watch the LG G Watch R only comes in one size so if you're not a fan of the design then there's little you can do about it.

At £220 (around $250, AU$280) the LG G Watch R is one of the more expensive smartwatches on the market, and is around the price that the Apple Watch may launch at. By that time, however, the LG G Watch R could have seen a price cut.

Moto 360

Moto 360

The Moto 360 is another stylish smartwatch with a circular design, and it's one of the best wearables on the market today. Although the LCD screen won't be quite as accomplished as the Apple Watch's display, we feel the round design gives the Moto 360 the edge in the looks department.

It's also around $100 cheaper than the lowest priced Apple Watch will be, and again there's a good chance that it will get even cheaper by the time the Apple Watch launches.

The Apple Watch beats the Moto 360 in customization options with the large variety of bands that will be available. Both the Apple Watch and the Moto 360 also allow you to change the style of the watch face, with the recent update to Android 5.0 Lollipop allowing a huge range of new designs to be available to Moto 360.