There are a number of reasons why one might be looking to purchase a third-party band for their Apple Watch, but generally the biggest consideration seems to be price. Apple offers some nice bands for the Watch, but there’s no getting around the fact that they’re expensive. Unless you want the simple Sport band you’re looking at a minimum of $149, and if you want a fairly standard metal link band you’re looking at a whopping $449; that’s more than the watch itself if you bought a Sport model! It should come as no surprise, then, that plenty of companies, both large and small, are offering bands for your Apple Watch. Before you jump off the deep end and start ordering bands left and right, though, there are a few things you should to consider.
Find a Reputable Company
First of all, who is making this band? Is it some random company that popped up out of nowhere and will likely head back there in a few months or a year? Or is it a reputable name that has been making accessories, and Apple accessories in particular, for a while? This is probably the biggest thing to look for: brand names with a history of reliable, quality products and service. Pad & Quill, Spigen, Griffin: these guys have been making Apple accessories for a long time, and their products are generally held to be of high quality and value for money. You know they know what they’re doing. A brand with little experience and no name in the industry can certainly put out a good product, but in many cases they can be cheaply made, cheap in appearance, or poorly fitting, and there’s often no way to know until at least a couple people buy them and leave reviews. Examples include weak magnets on bands that use them, adapters that don’t match the color of your watch, and poor-quality materials that peel and scratch easily.
Read those Reviews
This brings me to the next point: read the reviews! Often products will be shown in a very favorable light in the promo images, and the makers will talk a good game, but in general, if something seems too good to be true it probably is. Without reading the reviews, you’re buying blind and possibly subjecting yourself to a long and torturous return process if you don’t like what you get. And speaking of return processes, check the seller’s before buying. If you’re buying from Amazon, make sure the item is actually fulfilled by Amazon so you can take advantage of their super-easy returns.
Is Apple Watch Compatible?
Make sure your band comes with adapters to fit it to the watch. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to order some separately; they’re available fairly cheap on Amazon. Make sure you order the right band size for your watch: you don’t want to get your shiny new strap in the mail only to find it’s for a 42mm watch when you have a 38! Make sure, as mentioned above, that the adapters on the band actually match the color of watch you have. Reviews are a good place to look for this sort of thing, because sometimes, even if the band maker says the adapters are for a Space Gray watch case, they won’t be the right shade of gray and this can spoil the look. Online stores often use renders in their product images, and unfortunately these don’t always represent reality.
You Get What You Pay For
Basically, this all boils down to one thing: while there are exceptions, you often get what you pay for. Yes, sometimes Apple products cost a little more than another brand’s equivalent (the so-called Apple Tax), they are generally very high quality. You pay a lot for an Apple product, but you know up front that it’s gonna be well-made, and if there is an issue, the warranty and customer service will be stellar. There are third-party link bracelets out there for less than fifty bucks. While many of them are probably quite nice, and certainly that price helps, you have to consider the quality of materials and workmanship, attention to detail, and warranty (if there even is one), among other things.
This is not to say that there aren’t good aftermarket bands out there! There are plenty; many offer better value or a nicer look than Apple’s offerings. The best way to find them is just to read, read, read the reviews on products, and only buy bands that have been reviewed by a number of people. Look for things like material quality, hardware that matches the actual watch case, and quality of customer service. Be diligent, and you can snag some unique bands at some excellent prices, and truly make your Apple Watch your own.