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Has the ship already sailed for the Apple Watch?

Apple’s Watch is still headed for a spring launch, with Tim Cook finally revealing an April release date for the UK. However, rivals are already hard at work on their second-gen devices, prompting us to ask: has Cupertino’s premier wearable already missed its chance in a rapidly maturing market place?

The Apple Watch has been debated and dissected for years, well before its official introduction at the end of 2014. In fact, the first time we wrote about a possible Apple smartwatch was February 2013, over a year and a half before the device was actually shown off on stage. However, almost two years on and the Apple Watch is still nowhere to be seen, with Tim Cook now aiming for an April 2015 release.

And while Apple’s wearable is (apparently) still dealing with pre-launch battery and usability issues, other, second and third-generation Android watches are growing ever closer to launch –  and they’re set to be better, faster, stronger and smarter than Apple’s device, not to mention far cheaper.

Just yesterday we brought you news of the Asus ZenWatch 2, which is aiming to offer a mighty seven days of use from a single charge. Rumours suggest that the device will offer calling and other advanced features via its own SIM slot too. We’d be surprised not to see even more innovation – as well as a gorgeous design – from the Taiwanese tech giant. The ZenWatch 2 should officially launch later this year, not long after Apple’s wearable finally hits stores.

Of course, the ZenWatch 2 isn’t the only second-generation smartwatch in development.

Motorola’s next 360 wearable is also in the works, with the bugs that laboured the first being squashed as we speak. Samsung’s next Gear Live is in development, rumoured to feature a fingerprint scanner as well as a better battery, and LG is already hard at work on new devices which will make use of web OS as well as Android Wear.

Meanwhile, Apple is still treading water with its first watch. A watch which, according to reports, will offer users just a couple of hours of app usage for each charge and will cost in excess of £300 for the base model.

Sure, Apple’s software geniuses have put together a scaled-back iOS which looks like it will deliver excellent usability and lots of scope for solid app development – but, with prevalent battery issues, that will only be more frustrating for early adopters.

Put simply: there are already smartwatches on the market which offer strong rivalry and most likely better value than the Apple Watch. And by the time Tim Cook and chums finally get around to launching the device in April (provided they actually do), it’s going to have a tough battle on its hands.

The Apple logo obviously carries a lot of weight (just look at its recently-announced profits, the best the company has ever seen from its iPhones) and of course we’re ardent fans. But is aesthetic appearance and branding really going to drive people to spend over the odds, during financially tough times, to buy a wearable which doesn’t fully deliver?

Our guess is no. It’ll undoubtedly shift a fair few units, but we reckon most users will be savvy enough to wait until a better version comes along. If you’re on the fence then one of the many alternatives may be a much better bet for your hard-earned cash, and if you’re an Apple die-hard then you’d probably be better off investing in a Pebble to tide you over until the Apple Watch 2 inevitably drops in 2016.

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