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Perovskite solar cell

Japan鈥檚 NEDO and Panasonic achieve 16.09% efficiency for large-area perovskite solar cell module

Panasonic Corporation has achieved an energy conversion efficiency of 16.09% for a perovskite solar module (Aperture area 802 cm2: 30 cm long x 30 cm wide x 2 mm thick) by developing lightweight technology using a glass substrate and a large-area coating method based on inkjet printing.

Japan鈥檚 NEDO and Panasonic achieve 16.09% efficiency for large-area perovskite solar cell module

This was carried out as part of the project of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), which is working on the “Development of Technologies to Reduce Power Generation Costs for High-Performance and High-Reliability Photovoltaic Power Generation” to promote the widespread adoption of solar power generation.

This inkjet-based coating method that can cover a large area reduces manufacturing costs of modules. In addition, this large-area, lightweight, and high-conversion efficiency module allows for generating solar power highly efficiently at locations where conventional solar panels were difficult to install, such as fa莽ades.

By focusing on the inkjet coating method that enables the raw material to be coated precisely and uniformly, Panasonic applied that technology to each layer of the solar cell including perovskite layer on glass substrate and realized high power conversion efficiency for a large-area module.


  • Improving component of perovskite precursor for suitable for ink-jet coating: among the atomic groups that formed perovskite crystal, methylamine has a thermal stability issue during the heating process during module production (methylamine is removed from perovskite crystal by heat, as a result, a certain part of crystal is destroyed). By altering certain part of methylamine into Formamidinium, Cesium, Rubidium that have appropriate atom diameter size, they revealed this method is efficient for crystal stabilization and leads to contribute to high power conversion efficiency.
  • Control of concentration, coating amount and coating speed of perovskite ink: in the thin film forming process with inkjet coating method, there is the flexibility for coating pattern, while dot patterning of material and crystallization uniformity over each layer surface are essential. To satisfy these requirements, both by tuning the concentration of perovskite ink to certain content and by precisely controlling coating amount and speed during printing process, they realized high power conversion efficiency of large-area module.

By optimizing these technologies through coating process in each layer formation, Panasonic succeeded in enhancing crystal growth and improving the uniformity for thickness and crystal layer. As a result, they achieved the power conversion efficiency of 16.09% and took a step forward to practical application.

Going forward, NEDO and Panasonic plan to continue to improve perovskite layer materials, aiming to achieve high efficiency comparable to that of crystalline silicon solar cells and establish technologies for practical application in new markets.

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Perovskite solar cell

New quality control method could help scale up perovskite solar cells

Researchers from Australia’s ARC Center of Excellence in Exciton Science, Monash University, Wuhan University of Technology and CSIRO Energy have shown how critical imperfections invisible to the naked eye can be detected by shining blue light onto the cells and recording the infrared light that bounces back.

New quality control method could help scale up perovskite solar cellsPerovskite solar cells bathed in blue light, and responding in infrared. Credit: Exciton Science

This “trick of the light” may help detect imperfections in perovskite solar cells, opening the door to improved quality control for commercial production.

When attempting to scale up perovskite cells, performance often deteriorates due to nanoscale surface imperfections resulting from the way the materials are made. As the number of detects grows, the amount of solar power generated per square centimeter drops.

Now,the Australian research team has come up with a possible solution – using a camera. The technique employs a property of solar cells called “photoluminescence”. This is the process by which an electron inside a molecule or semiconductor is briefly powered-up by an incoming photon. When the electron returns to its normal state, a photon is spat back out.

Microscale flaws alter the amount of infrared produced. Analyzing how the extent of the light emitted from the solar cell varies under different operating conditions gives clues to how well the cell is functioning.


“Using this technique, we can rapidly identify a whole range of imperfections,” said Dr. Rietwyk, an Exciton Science researcher based at Monash University and first author of the new paper. “We can then figure out if there are enough of them to cause a problem and, if so, adjust the manufacturing process to fix it. It makes for a very effective quality control method.”

Equivalent checking methods are common in silicon cell manufacture. By employing an innovative light modulation, Dr. Rietwyk and colleagues have designed a new approach that rises to the challenges posed by next-gen cells – opening a pathway to a scalable and potentially commercial device.

Senior author Professor Udo Bach, also of Exciton Science and Monash University, said the team had performed successful test runs on batches of small research cells. The technology, he explained, will be simple to scale up and commercialize.

“This research shows clearly that the performance of perovskite solar cell devices is influenced by the number of small imperfections in the cells themselves,” he said.

“Using light modulation to find these flaws is a quick and robust way to solve the problem – and one that should work on any level of production.”

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Perovskite solar cell

X-rays reveal in situ crystal growth of lead-free perovskite solar panel materials

LayTec’s new InspiRe in-situ tool used for monitoring perovskite formation

Germany-based in-situ metrology system maker LayTec has announced that its new InspiRe system applies high-speed in-situ reflectance measurements for monitoring perovskite thin-film formations during spin-coating and subsequent annealing. In collaboration with professor Norbert Nickel’s group at HZB, LayTec designed the InspiRe in-situ metrology system, which was applied to monitor both spin-coating and annealing. Gathering data at a time resolution on the millisecond scale allows resolving of the kinetics and phase formations during film formation. While spin-coating, the absorption behavior and the thinning of precursor solution is monitored. The absorption edge (i.e. band gap) of the deposited perovskite film is derived directly during annealing. Spectral changes during annealing indicate ‘over-annealing’ after the desired bandgap has been achieved. This methodology allows the systematic study of film formation during two crucial process steps…

University of Groningen scientists are investigating in situ how lead-free perovskite crystals form and how the crystal structure affects the functioning of the solar cells, as part of their quest to find alternatives to lead-based perovskites.

The best results in solar cells have been obtained using perovskites with lead as the central cation. As this metal is toxic, tin-based alternatives have been developed, for example, formamidinium tin iodide (FASnI3). This is a promising material; however, it lacks the stability of some of the lead-based materials. Attempts have been made to mix the 3D FASnI3 crystals with layered materials, containing the organic cation phenylethylammonium (PEA). “My colleague, Professor Maria Loi, and her research team showed that adding a small amount of this PEA produces a more stable and efficient material,” says Assistant Professor Giuseppe Portale. “However, adding a lot of it reduces the photovoltaic efficiency”.

Perovskites have been studied for a long time by Professor of Photophysics and Optoelectronics Maria Loi, while Portale developed an X-ray diffraction technique that allows him to study the rapid formation of thin films in real-time during spin-coating from solution. On a laboratory scale, the perovskite films are generally made by spin coating, a process in which a precursor solution is delivered onto a fast-spinning substrate. Crystals grow as the solvent evaporates. At the beamline BM26B-DUBBLE at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, Portale investigated what happens during the tin-perovskite film formation.

“Our initial idea, which was based on ex situ investigations, was that the oriented crystals grow from the substrate surface upwards”, Portale explains. However, the in situ results showed the opposite: crystals start to grow at the air/solution interface. During his experiments, he used 3D FASnI3 with the addition of different amounts of the 2D PEASnI4. In the pure 3D perovskite, crystals started to form at the surface but also in the bulk of the solution. However, adding a small amount of the 2D material suppressed bulk crystallization and the crystals only grew from the interface.

“PEA molecules play an active role in the precursor solution of the perovskites, stabilizing the growth of oriented 3D-like crystals through coordination at the crystal’s edges. Moreover, PEA molecules prevent nucleation in the bulk phase, so crystal growth only takes place at the air/solvent interface,” Portale explains. The resulting films are composed of aligned 3D-like perovskite crystals and a minimal amount of 2D-like perovskite, located at the bottom of the film. The addition of low concentrations of the 2D material produces a stable and efficient photovoltaic material, while the efficiency drops dramatically at high concentrations of this 2D material.

The experiments by Portale and Loi may explain this observation: “The 2D-like perovskite is located at the substrate/film interface. Increasing the content of the 2D material to above a certain amount causes the formation of an extended 2D-like organic layer that acts as an insulator, with detrimental effect for the device’s efficiency.” The conclusion of the study is that the formation of this insulating layer must be prevented to achieve a highly efficient and stable tin-based perovskite. “The next step is to realize this, for example by playing with solvents, temperature or specific perovskite/substrate interactions that can break up the formation of this thick insulating layer.”


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Arc Melting in Glovebox

Details Quantity: 5 – 20 g per charge Temperature: up to 3500°C, depending on quantity Generator: outside of glovebox Connection: 230 V / 50/60 Hz (different voltage on request) Crucible plate: standard crucible plate or customized crucible plates Options: Special cold crucible (suction casting), Vacuum pump, Turbomulecular pumping system HVT52/G, High vacuum gauge, Water flow control, Recirculating chiller Description For oxygen-sensitive samples to be handled and alloyed in inert gas atmosphere • Melting chamber and movable electrode inside of glovebox • Generator, vacuum pump and operating panel at the outside • Designed for melting samples of approx. 5-20 g up to 3500°C, sufficient for most laboratory purposes • Small melting chamber ensures fast evacuation and low gas consumption • Freely movable, water-cooled electrode • Dismountable, water-cooled copper crucible plate with…

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Perovskite solar cell

Perovskite diodes enable bidirectional optical signal transmission between two identical devices

LayTec’s new InspiRe in-situ tool used for monitoring perovskite formation

Germany-based in-situ metrology system maker LayTec has announced that its new InspiRe system applies high-speed in-situ reflectance measurements for monitoring perovskite thin-film formations during spin-coating and subsequent annealing. In collaboration with professor Norbert Nickel’s group at HZB, LayTec designed the InspiRe in-situ metrology system, which was applied to monitor both spin-coating and annealing. Gathering data at a time resolution on the millisecond scale allows resolving of the kinetics and phase formations during film formation. While spin-coating, the absorption behavior and the thinning of precursor solution is monitored. The absorption edge (i.e. band gap) of the deposited perovskite film is derived directly during annealing. Spectral changes during annealing indicate ‘over-annealing’ after the desired bandgap has been achieved. This methodology allows the systematic study of film formation during two crucial process steps…

Researchers at Linkæžšping University, in collaboration with colleagues in China, have developed a tiny unit that is both an optical transmitter and a receiver. “This is highly significant for the miniaturization of optoelectronic systems,” says LiU professor Feng Gao.

Chunxiong Bao, postdoc at Linkæžšping University, types in a sentence on a computer screen, and the same sentence immediately appears on the neighboring screen, optically transferred from one diode to another. The diode is made from perovskite.

Perovskites have the useful property of both detecting and emitting light. The team has now developed a diode that can be directed in two directions: it can receive optical signals and it can just as easily transmit them. This means that text and photographs can be wirelessly transmitted from one unit to the other and back again, using two identical units. And so rapidly that we experience it as happening in real time.

In the autumn of 2018, Chunxiong Bao discovered the most suitable perovskite to build a photodetector showing higher performance and longer lifetime, and described this in an article. The development of light-emitting diodes from perovskites has also made rapid progress. Weidong Xu, postdoc at Linkæžšping University, developed a perovskite light-emitting diode with an efficiency of 21% last year, which is among the best in the world. What the scientists have now achieved is the development of a perovskite that comprises a light-emitting diode and that at the same time is an excellent photodetector.

All optical communication requires rapid and reliable photodetectors – devices that capture light and convert it into an electrical signal. Current optical communication systems use photodetectors made from materials such as silicon and indium gallium arsenide. These are, however, expensive and they cannot be used in applications that require low weight, flexibility, or large surfaces.

“In order to demonstrate the potential of our diode with double function, we have built a monolithic sensor that detects heart beats in real time, and an optical, bidirectional communication system,” says Chunxiong Bao, researcher in the Division of Biomolecular and Organic Electronics.


This tiny unit that can both receive and transmit optical signals provides a unique opportunity to simplify and shrink the functionality of the current optical systems, in particular given that it can also be integrated with traditional electronic circuits.

“We have managed to integrate optical signal transmission and reception into one circuit, something that makes it possible to transmit optical signals in both directions between two identical circuits. This is valuable in the field of miniaturized and integrated optoelectronics,” says Feng Gao, professor and head of research at the Division of Biomolecular and Organic Electronics.

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Arc Melting in Glovebox

Details Quantity: 5 – 20 g per charge Temperature: up to 3500°C, depending on quantity Generator: outside of glovebox Connection: 230 V / 50/60 Hz (different voltage on request) Crucible plate: standard crucible plate or customized crucible plates Options: Special cold crucible (suction casting), Vacuum pump, Turbomulecular pumping system HVT52/G, High vacuum gauge, Water flow control, Recirculating chiller Description For oxygen-sensitive samples to be handled and alloyed in inert gas atmosphere • Melting chamber and movable electrode inside of glovebox • Generator, vacuum pump and operating panel at the outside • Designed for melting samples of approx. 5-20 g up to 3500°C, sufficient for most laboratory purposes • Small melting chamber ensures fast evacuation and low gas consumption • Freely movable, water-cooled electrode • Dismountable, water-cooled copper crucible plate with…

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Perovskite solar cell

Tackling perovskite solution aging issues could benefit solar cells and promote commercialization

The aging process of the perovskite solution used to fabricate solar cells makes the solution unstable, leading to poor efficiency and poor reproducibility of the devices. Reactants and preparation conditions also contribute to poor quality. To tackle these issues, a research team from the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has studied the aging process of perovskite solution and proposed a way to avoid side reactions.

Tackling perovskite solution aging issues could benefit solar cells and promote commercialization

Prof. PANG Shuping, corresponding author of the paper, said “an in-depth understanding of fundamental solution chemistry had not kept up with rapid efficiency improvements in perovskite solar cells, even though such cells have been studied for 10 years… Normally, we need high temperature and a long time to fully dissolve the reactants, but some side reactions can happen simultaneously,” said Prof. PANG. “Fortunately, we have found a way to inhibit them.”

Achieving a highly stable perovskite solution is especially important in commercializing perovskite solar cells, since it will be easier to make devices with high consistency, said Prof. PANG.

WANG Xiao, an associate professor at QIBEBT and the first author of the paper, said side condensation reactions happen when methylammonium iodide and formamidinium iodide coexist in the solution. They represent the main side reactions in aging perovskite solution, although other side reactions between solute and solvent can occur at very high temperature.

FAN Yingping, a graduate student at the Qingdao University of Science and Technology (QUST) and the co-first author of the paper, studied many methods for stopping unwanted side reactions, but finally found that the stabilizer triethyl borate, with low boiling point, was very effective. FAN also noted that it’s a “clean” stabilizer, because it can be fully removed from the film during the following thermal annealing treatment.


With this new stabilizer, the researchers claim that the reproducibility of the perovskite solar cells has improved greatly. “Now, we don’t need to make fresh solutions every time before we make devices,” said Prof. CUI Guanglei from QIBEBT, who noted that the finding is “very important” for the fabrication of perovskite modules.

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Perovskite solar cell

Efficient tandem solar cell developed using wide bandgap perovskites

An international research team has developed a new type of solar cell that can both withstand environmental hazards and is 26.7% efficient in power conversion.

Efficient tandem solar cell developed using wide bandgap perovskitesStructure and photovoltaic performance for the perovskite-Si tandem device. Image by KAIST

The researchers, led by Byungha Shin, a professor from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST, focused on developing a new class of light-absorbing material, called a wide bandgap perovskite. The material has a highly effective crystal structure that can process the power needs, but it can become problematic when exposed to environmental hazards, such as moisture. Researchers have made some progress increasing the efficiency of solar cells based on perovskite, but the material reportedly has greater potential than what was previously achieved.

To achieve better performance, Shin and his team built a double layer (tandem) solar cell, in which two or more light absorbers are stacked together to better utilize solar energy. To use perovskite in these tandem devices, the scientists modified the material’s optical property, which allows it to absorb a wider range of solar energy. The modification of the optical property of perovskite, however, comes with a price – the material becomes vulnerable to the environment, in particular, to light.

To counteract the wide bandgap perovskite’s delicate nature, the researchers engineered combinations of molecules composing a two-dimensional layer in the perovskite, stabilizing the solar cells.

“We developed a high-quality wide bandgap perovskite material and, in combination with silicon solar cells, achieved world-class perovskite-silicon tandem cells,” Shin said.


The development was only possible due to the engineering method, in which the mixing ratio of the molecules building the two-dimensional layer are carefully controlled. In this case, the perovskite material not only improved efficiency of the resulting solar cell but also gained durability, retaining 80% of its initial power conversion capability even after 1,000 hours of continuous illumination. This is the first time such a high efficiency has been achieved with a wide bandgap perovskite single layer alone, according to Shin.

“Such high-efficiency wide bandgap perovskite is an essential technology for achieving ultra-high efficiency of perovskite-silicon tandem (double layer) solar cells,” Shin said. “The results also show the importance of bandgap matching of upper and lower cells in these tandem solar cells.”

The researchers, having stabilized the wide bandgap perovskite material, are now focused on developing even more efficient tandem solar cells that are expected to have more than 30% of power conversion efficiency.

“Our ultimate goal is to develop ultra-high-efficiency tandem solar cells that contribute to the increase of shared solar energy among all energy sources,” Shin said. “We want to contribute to making the planet healthier.”

This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning, the Ministry of Trade Industry and Energy of Korea, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Other contributors include Daehan Kim, Jekyung Kim, Passarut Boonmongkolras, Seong Ryul Pae and Minkyu Kim, all of whom affiliated with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST. Other authors include Byron W. Larson, Sean P. Dunfield, Chuanxiao Xiao, Jinhui Tong, Fei Zhang, Joseph J. Berry, Kai Zhu and Dong Hoe Kim, all of who are affiliated with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. Dunfield is also affiliated with the Materials Science and Engineering Program at the University of Colorado; Berry is also affiliated with the Department of Physics and the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder; and Kim is also affiliated with the Department of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Engineering at Sejong University. Hee Joon Jung and Vinayak Dravid of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University; Ik Jae Park, Su Geun Ji and Jin Young Kim of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Seoul National University; and Seok Beom Kang of the Department of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Engineering of Sejong University also contributed.

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Perovskite solar cell

LayTec’s new InspiRe in-situ tool used for monitoring perovskite formation

LayTec’s new InspiRe in-situ tool used for monitoring perovskite formation

Germany-based in-situ metrology system maker LayTec has announced that its new InspiRe system applies high-speed in-situ reflectance measurements for monitoring perovskite thin-film formations during spin-coating and subsequent annealing. In collaboration with professor Norbert Nickel’s group at HZB, LayTec designed the InspiRe in-situ metrology system, which was applied to monitor both spin-coating and annealing. Gathering data at a time resolution on the millisecond scale allows resolving of the kinetics and phase formations during film formation. While spin-coating, the absorption behavior and the thinning of precursor solution is monitored. The absorption edge (i.e. band gap) of the deposited perovskite film is derived directly during annealing. Spectral changes during annealing indicate ‘over-annealing’ after the desired bandgap has been achieved. This methodology allows the systematic study of film formation during two crucial process steps…

Germany-based in-situ metrology system maker LayTec has announced that its new InspiRe system applies high-speed in-situ reflectance measurements for monitoring perovskite thin-film formations during spin-coating and subsequent annealing.

LayTec's new InspiRe in-situ tool used for monitoring perovskite formation

In collaboration with professor Norbert Nickel’s group at HZB, LayTec designed the InspiRe in-situ metrology system, which was applied to monitor both spin-coating and annealing. Gathering data at a time resolution on the millisecond scale allows resolving of the kinetics and phase formations during film formation.

While spin-coating, the absorption behavior and the thinning of precursor solution is monitored. The absorption edge (i.e. band gap) of the deposited perovskite film is derived directly during annealing. Spectral changes during annealing indicate ‘over-annealing’ after the desired bandgap has been achieved.

This methodology allows the systematic study of film formation during two crucial process steps for identifying optimization routes and for implementing a rigid quality control scheme for upscaling and industrialization.

semiconductor-todayPerovskite-InfoPerovskite applicationsPerovskite SolarTechnical / research
Above are LayTec’s new InspiRe in-situ tool used for monitoring perovskite formation web publication,Hope can help you.

Arc Melting in Glovebox

Details Quantity: 5 – 20 g per charge Temperature: up to 3500°C, depending on quantity Generator: outside of glovebox Connection: 230 V / 50/60 Hz (different voltage on request) Crucible plate: standard crucible plate or customized crucible plates Options: Special cold crucible (suction casting), Vacuum pump, Turbomulecular pumping system HVT52/G, High vacuum gauge, Water flow control, Recirculating chiller Description For oxygen-sensitive samples to be handled and alloyed in inert gas atmosphere • Melting chamber and movable electrode inside of glovebox • Generator, vacuum pump and operating panel at the outside • Designed for melting samples of approx. 5-20 g up to 3500°C, sufficient for most laboratory purposes • Small melting chamber ensures fast evacuation and low gas consumption • Freely movable, water-cooled electrode • Dismountable, water-cooled copper crucible plate with…

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Perovskites can work together with QDs to improve LED and solar technologies

Researchers from the Universitat Jaume I and the Universitat de València have studied the interaction of two materials, halide perovskite and quantum dots, revealing significant potential for the development of advanced LEDs and more efficient solar cells. The researchers quantified the “exciplex state” resulting from the coupling of halide perovskites and colloidal quantum dots. Both known separately for their optoelectronic properties, but when combined, these materials yield longer wavelengths than can be achieved by either material alone, plus easy tuning properties that together have the potential to introduce important changes in LED and solar technologies. Quantum dots (QDs) are a family of semiconductor materials with very interesting light-emitting properties, including the ability to tune what wavelengths light is emitted at. They are also useful in both LEDs and solar cells.…

Dyesol gets ready to launch a Major Area Demonstration Prototype for its perovskite PV technology

Dyesol, global leader in the development and commercialization of Perovskite Solar Cells (PSC), has announced that it has appointed VDL Enabling Technologies Group to assist in the development of a Major Area Demonstration Prototype. The 1st Phase contract involves a specialist engineering study resulting in the preparation of a Feasibility & Functional Specification for Perovskite Major Area Demonstrator development. This phase will be conducted over a 4 month period commencing immediately. It is expected that upon the successful completion of the initial study, a 2nd Phase of design and development will follow, and the 3rd Phase will be Realization. The 3 phase project is expected to be completed in the 1st half of 2017. Dyesol considers the manufacture of a Major Area Demonstration Prototype as a critical step in the…

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Apple Watch review: Design

For a slightly more opinionated version of the video review above, here’s the male half of the Macworld team arguing (after four months with this device) about whether the Apple Watch is a great or a terrible product:

The Apple Watch is beautifully designed and engineered, with a great look and feel. It’s chunky, rounded body is faintly reminiscent of the original iPhone, yet simultaneously modern-looking and very satisfying to hold. The Apple Watch is also pleasingly comfortable on the wrist.

hermes_largeWe’ve seen lots of fitness trackers over the years, and they’ve typically struck us as pretty formulaic: plasticky wristbands with little fashion appeal. One activity tracker brand tried to convince us that their activity tracker was designed to appeal to a fashion-conscious woman; they even thought that women would wear it around their neck like a necklace. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t jewellery. None of the fitness trackers on the market are.

It’s a similar story with smartwatches. Sure, over the past year they’ve become more and more popular with guys looking for the latest tech gadget, but they don’t appeal to everyone. One major issue is that most smartwatches are designed for men. They wouldn’t sit comfortably on a smaller wrist.

Apple Watch review: Dimensions

There are two sizes of watch: the 38mm model (which actually measures 38.6 by 33.3 mm) and the 42mm model (which measures 42 by 35.9 mm). Both have a thickness of 10.5mm.

  • 38mm model: 38.6 x 33.3 x 10.5mm
  • 42mm model: 42.0 x 35.9 x 10.5mm

Here’s how a 38mm Apple Watch looks on Karen’s wrist:

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Apple Watch review: Build quality

Speaking of the materials the watch is made from, there are three options: aluminium for the Watch Sport, stainless steel for the Watch, and 18-carat gold for the Watch Edition. The Watch and Watch Edition come with sapphire screens, the Sport version with ion-x glass.

pexels-photo-28222We love the look and feel of the Apple Watch. As we mentioned above, it looks a bit like a shrunk-down version of the original iPhone, and it’s reassuringly robust – after almost a year with the Watch, there no scratches on the body or screen, although the brighter of our two Sport Band straps is starting to look a bit grubby.

Apple doesn’t recommend dunking your Apple Watch first-gen in water. While the watch is rated as water-resistant to the IPX7 standard, which should mean it will survive in water up to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes, Apple describes it as “splash- and water-resistant but not waterproof”. So it’s ok to use it in the shower – as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook apparently does – but it’s not to be taken swimming.

Having said that, plenty of reckless reviewers have done exactly that, and we’ve yet to hear anyone complain that their watch was damaged by the experience. We don’t recommend taking the risk, and you obviously won’t have a leg to stand on with Apple if something does go wrong since they’ve been careful to only claim it’s water-resistant. But it appears that yes, the Apple Watch is waterproof.

Apple Watch review: Straps

While we’re on the subject of straps, which one should you pick to go with your beautiful Apple Watch?

compare_large2

There are a wide collection of straps to choose from, including: Link Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle, Milanese Loop and more recently, Nylon band and Hermes straps.

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle, Woven Nylon and Sport Band options are offered in multiple colour choices while the Milanese Loop and Link Bracelet are only available in two colours. The Sport Band comes in 22 different colours including black, white, pink, yellow, blue, grey, lime green, lavender, antique white, stone and midnight blue, for example.

Apple Watch review: Screen

While doing our best to extend the watch’s battery life, we wanted to force-quit some apps and found the method of doing so deeply counterintuitive.

bands_large-copyReturning to the screen, the resolution depends on the watch you choose. The resolution of the screen on the 38mm Apple Watch (which measures 1.32 inches diagonally) is 272×340 while the 42mm model offers 312×390 on a screen that measures 1.5 inches. Both models, therefore, offer a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, or ppi.

In both cases, the Apple Watch screen is officially rated (or perhaps we should say branded) as Retina-quality, and our subjective experience with it has been great. It’s sharp and vividly colourful and we’ve yet to notice any pixellation.

The touchscreen aspects work terrifically too: it’s highly responsive, and we found we tend to fall back on old habits, swiping through screens whenever possible by using the touchscreen even if a scrolling option is available via the Digital Crown. It ought to be as easy to quit apps and glances as it is on the iPhone – but it isn’t. To quit an app you have to press and hold the side button, and then do the same again. Nobody is going to stumble on that by accident.

Apple Watch review: User interface

edition_large

Apple’s design expertise is only a small part of what makes the Apple Watch stand out. Another factor in its favour is the user interface. The problem many current smartwatches have is that the UI is packed onto a tiny display and you need to manipulate those tiny visual elements using your fingers, which are inevitably bigger than the elements you’re trying to touch.

Below we examine Apple’s method for controlling the user interface, and the software you can expect to see on the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch review: Using the Apple Watch screen

One way to use the Watch is via the screen. You can scroll around the screen, tap on items to select them or press harder to get more options – akin to using right click on a mouse. Various gestures bring up other elements of the operating system. For example, Glances are accessed by swiping up on the watch face.

gallery_large-new2

There’s also Apple’s Force Touch technology that determines how hard you are pressing the Watch and will act accordingly. There is a difference between a hard press and a simple tap. (We discuss Force Touch in more detail below.)

Apple Watch review: Speed/performance

One possible weakness of the Apple Watch – depending on how demanding your standards are when it comes to wearable tech – could be its all-around speed. Numerous reviewers have found the interface sluggish in use and noticed a delay before certain actions.

Update 8 September 2016: It should be noted that the below section is based on the original watch and not the Series 1 or 2 which feature a 50 percent faster processor.

As with many aspects of this product, experiences have varied among the team, and it’s likely that day-to-day performance is influenced by factors such as apps and Glances currently running. It’s rare to find an app that’s near-instantaneous to respond, as they’ll open quickly but will often hang, leaving us staring at a black loading screen; and syncing processes with the iPhone, over a Bluetooth connection, can be sluggish.

We’ve also found, as have many users, that third-party apps can sometimes be slow to start up. watchOS 2 looked to speed up third-party apps by allowing them to run natively on the Apple watch, but as we mention in our watchOS 2 section of the review below, we still find apps pretty sluggish and we often give up and end up using our iPhone apps instead.

Apple Watch review: Using the Digital Crown

Apple’s solution to the navigation problem is to use something that has always been a feature of watches in a new way.

The dial on the side of the watch – its proper name is the crown – has been brought into the 21st century and turned into what Apple calls the Digital Crown. This Digital Crown solves the problem of swiping through icons on a minuscule display.

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Below the Digital Crown is another button. This button takes you to the home screen and to the Friends app, from which you can contact your friends (more on that below). This button is also used when you’re paying for things using Apple Pay (more on that below, also).

Apple Watch review: Battery life

Apple claims that on a typical day, with typical usage, you should get 18 hours of battery life from the Apple Watch. In other words, you ought to be able to get through a whole day, but that will be about it: expect to charge it every night. (Which, incidentally, rules out being able to sleep with the watch on – which is likely to be a disappointment to developers of sleep-related apps.)

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In fact, your use may vary. Apple’s ‘typical day’ included a half-hour workout, but if you exercise more than that you may use up the battery quicker – in Apple’s tests, the battery lasted 6.5 hours during a workout (so you should at least be able to run that marathon without running out of battery). If you use the Apple Watch to play music you will also find that to be a bit of a battery hog. Apple got 6.5 hours of audio playback out of the test device before it ran out of power.

Apple Watch review: Apple Watch UK price

Pricing varies depending on the watch and strap you choose. For more information about Watch prices, read our Apple Watch buying advice.

The Apple Watch price starts at £259 in the UK; that’s for the 38mm Apple Watch Sport with a plastic band, and £299 for the 42mm version. The stainless steel Apple Watch starts at £479 and the newer Apple Watch Hermes starts at £1000, while the 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition starts at an eye-watering £8,000.

OUR VERDICT

The Apple Watch isn’t the first ever smartwatch, and it doesn’t really do anything rival products don’t do. But what it does do, it does as well as any smartwatch out there, thanks to Apple’s user interface expertise. It’s a slick device to use, although you should be warned that it isn’t completely intuitive, particularly at first. With use it will become more familiar and user-friendly.