Apollo Wearable Review: Better Sleep Is Possible

By Anshel Sag, Patrick Moorhead - April 29, 2024

When it comes to wearables, unless I’m getting raw data to support the claim, I generally don’t believe that a device has health benefits. There have been so many products on the market that make fake claims about improving a user’s health—without much evidence—that these days I mostly ignore them. However, with the sleep wearable from Apollo Neuro, which promises to improve users’ sleep and mood through precise vibration patterns, I was intrigued because I was about to become a new father—and I knew I would probably be losing a lot of sleep.

At first glance, I thought that the Apollo wearable was just a new age sleep tracker. In some ways, it can be, but fundamentally it’s a device that helps relieve stress during the day and calm the user into a nice slumber using specific vibration frequencies and intensities. The sleep-tracking ability is more about Apollo monitoring your sleep and responding to you waking up or being close to waking up. What really interested me about this wearable was that it is based on fundamental research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and has already undergone seven clinical trials, with another 14 underway. It’s also a bonus that the Apollo is designed and manufactured in the U.S.

Initial Thoughts and Experience

I wanted to try the Apollo to improve my sleep, but the reality is that you still need something to track your sleep while using it because many sleep trackers have a lot more sensors for heart rate, skin temperature and oxygen levels. In my case, smartwatches were too clunky and didn’t do the job for me, and my Google Home Hub was inconsistent when I initially used it to track my sleep in parallel with the Apollo. Ultimately, I bought myself an Oura ring, which did the job.

As a sleep and relaxation assistance device, the Apollo is something that I would use in bed or while meditating in VR. I have never really had issues sleeping but I suspected that my sleep schedule would be destroyed by having a newborn. (Two months in, that seems accurate.) However, I do have a hard time going back to sleep when woken up and I have a hard time sleeping during the day; both of these seemed like ripe opportunities to try the Apollo wearable.

The device itself is a little on the larger side, but it’s also extremely light when worn and I’ve never been bothered by wearing it. This is a first-generation device, so I will give it a passing grade, though I would love to see it get smaller. It’s also worth noting that the device doesn’t have to be attached to the wrist but can also be placed on the chest or on the ankle.

The Apollo wearable next to a Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Anshel Sag

The Apollo also needs to be recharged every few days, which I find to be a problem at times because it isn’t necessarily the easiest to charge. I wish that it had a wireless dock like a smartwatch, using either pins or Qi charging. The choice to use a MicroUSB port, plus the location of that port, makes it difficult to charge the device compared to my other wearables—so much so that this is definitely a major area for improvement. I also wish the wrist strap was a little easier to put on one-handed. I find myself needing two hands to put it on, which is kind of hard when it’s already attached to one of those hands. It’s a little surprising that this part of the user experience is so bad, considering how many examples there are of smartwatch bands that are easy to put on.

On the plus side, the app for the Apollo wearable is genuinely useful and helps you decide if you want to use it to calm down, go to sleep or take a nap, among other settings. I have mostly used it on the sleep and nap settings and have found that I sleep deeper and more restfully with it and that my naps are exactly one hour when I use it. This is great because I get exactly the amount of rest that I need without oversleeping or wasting too much time trying to fall asleep. When I let my wife—the real hero in our newborn experience—try it, she ended up stealing it for a few nights and didn’t want to give it up because her sleep was so much more restful.

Apollo also offers a premium subscription called SmartVibes that enables additional functions, including a feature to help keep you asleep, but the basic things that come with the device will always work without a subscription. That’s way better than many other health wearables, including the Oura, that require subscriptions for fundamental features. Apollo recently launched a feature that allows you to track how much extra sleep you get by using SmartVibes; the company claims that some of its 2,500-plus SmartVibes customers get up to 60 minutes more sleep each night. Apollo charges $99 a year for the iOS version of SmartVibes and $80 for the Android version.

Wrapping Up

The Apollo Wearable has a $349 pricetag, which is by no means cheap, and that’s before the $80–$99 extra per year if you want SmartVibes. But if this device works for you and helps you get better sleep, that’s almost priceless. For someone like me who is unaffected by caffeine, sleep is my only true means of recovery. I think that it’s always difficult to evaluate health tech wearables without the clinical and medical knowledge, but based on my Oura sleep tracking there are noticeable improvements to my sleep quality and my ability to sleep outside my regular schedule since I started using the Apollo wearable.

The Apollo wearable in my preferred location, inside the wrist
Anshel Sag

That said, I do not find myself using the Apollo every night. I do wear it on nights when I need to fall asleep faster or on days when I’m sleep-deprived and need a good nap. The Apollo wearable has demonstrated that it can be both a stress reliever as well as a great sleep aid, and it could be useful for people who are struggling to get regular rest or who have lots of stress or anxiety. While I consider myself lucky to not have any of those struggles, I do have my own issues as a father of a newborn and I think there is a fairly broad market for Apollo’s wearable.

Anshel Sag
VP & Principal Analyst| Website| + posts

Anshel Sag is Moor Insights & Strategy’s in-house millennial with over 15 years of experience in the IT industry. Anshel has had extensive experience working with consumers and enterprises while interfacing with both B2B and B2C relationships, gaining empathy and understanding of what users really want. Some of his earliest experience goes back as far as his childhood when he started PC gaming at the ripe of old age of 5 while building his first PC at 11 and learning his first programming languages at 13.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.