All eyes are on Apple’s Watch, with pre-orders officially beginning April 10, and it’s not hard to understand why. For one, it’s the first new product category for Apple since the iPad, and also the first since Steve Jobs’ death. Apple has clearly sunk a lot of money into this, in an attempt to position the watch as both a gadget and as a fashion item. And with watches starting at $349 and climbing up to $17,000 for certain models, there’s a huge amount of buzz surrounding the company to see what kind of success (or flop) this will turn out to be.
Wondering whether or not to take the plunge and buy one of these bad boys? We’ve rounded up 12 key early reviews to help you decide.
The Wall Street Journal
Geoffrey Fowler of The Wall Street Journal’s bottom line on the watch: “I’ve found the Apple Watch isn’t a replacement for the iPhone, but it’s the right screen for many important things. I only look at it in blips, for rarely more than five seconds. It shows me the weather with one finger swipe. It gets physical, gently tapping my wrist when something important needs my attention and lighting up when I lift my arm to look. It nudges when I’ve been sitting too long. This description may either strike you as helpful or oppressive. It has made me more present. I’m less likely to absent-mindedly reach for my phone, or feel compelled to leave it on the table during supper.”
The New York Times
Rarhad Manjoo of The New York Times wrote: “It took three days—three long, often confusing and frustrating days—for me to fall for the Apple Watch. But once I fell, I fell hard. Similarly, the most exciting thing about the Apple Watch isn’t the device itself, but the new tech vistas that may be opened by the first mainstream wearable computer. On-body devices have obvious uses in health care and payments. As the tech analyst Tim Bajarin has written, Apple also seems to be pushing a vision of the Watch as a general-purpose remote control for the real world, a nearly bionic way to open your hotel room, board a plane, call up an Uber or otherwise have the physical world respond to your desires nearly automatically.”
CNET editor Scott Stein wrote: “The Apple Watch is the most ambitious, well-constructed smartwatch ever seen, but first-gen shortfalls make it feel more like a fashionable toy than a necessary tool.”
Joshua Topolsky of Bloomberg’s take: “So Apple has succeeded in its first big task with its watch. It made something that lives up to the company’s reputation as an innovator and raised the bar for a whole new class of devices. Its second task—making me feel that I need this thing on my wrist every day—well, I’m not quite sure it’s there yet. It’s still another screen, another distraction, another way to disconnect, as much as it is the opposite. The Apple Watch is cool, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful, and it’s easy to use. But it’s not essential. Not yet.”
Nilay Patel of The Verge wasn’t sold: “There’s no question that the Apple Watch is the most capable smartwatch available today. It is one of the most ambitious products I’ve ever seen; it wants to do and change so much about how we interact with technology. But that ambition robs it of focus: it can do tiny bits of everything, instead of a few things extraordinarily well. For all of its technological marvel, the Apple Watch is still a smartwatch, and it’s not clear that anyone’s yet figured out what smartwatches are actually for.”
Lauren Goode of Re/Code’s thoughts: “From a technology standpoint, it is an extension of the iPhone. And just like the smartphone, it starts to change your habits over time. It’s swiping through pictures of family on your wrist, seeing your heart rate spike when you’re watching an exciting game and getting a glimpse of a message when you’re rushing between classes or meetings. It’s trying really, really hard not to look at your wrist when you’re in the middle of a meeting. In our new world of too-many-devices, it somehow becomes the second thing you reach for when you roll out of bed. Smartwatches are still unproven, but Apple has made a pretty strong case for them.”
Lance Ulanoff of Mashable’s bottom line on the watch: “I didn’t expect to like the Apple Watch. But I didn’t expect to dislike it either. I feared my reaction would be meh. That would’ve been a shame because I believe in wearables and have been pulling for a breakout star. The Apple Watch is that breakout star. It’s gorgeous, smart, fun, extensible, expensive (a plus if you want to telegraph luxury and excellence) and an object of true desire. Like any 1.0 product, the Apple Watch isn’t perfect. The S1 chip has pep, but the watch could lag. The hyped Taptic response is useful, but not a game-changer. And I can’t make myself care about the ability to send heartbeats (though I do like to occasionally check my heart rate, especially after vigorous activity)….Is my life better because of it? It’s too soon to tell. But what I do know is that I thoroughly enjoy wearing it.”
Nicole Phelps of Style.com’s take: “In the nine days I’ve worn it, the Apple Watch didn’t replace my iPhone, but I don’t think that’s the intention. Our wrists simply can’t support a device big enough for everything we do on screens these days. I came to think of it as a filter instead, bringing what’s essential or pleasurable to me closer to me and editing out the rest. And what do you know? It also tells time!”
Marissa Stephenson of Men’s Journal wasn’t so pleased: “Now, after a week of testing, I can say that the Watch is useful, fun, inspiring—but it can also be a little frustrating, needy, and redundant with my ever-present iPhone. It certainly demands attention. Every form of information goes straight to my wrist, tempting me to constantly check my activity stats or see what I’ve been missing. And managing the stream of incoming emails, texts, calls, and notifications feels more distracting, more falsely urgent, than a phone you can just stuff in your pocket. But this is Apple. Which means the Watch is a beautifully designed, genius piece of machinery. Every friend asked, “Is that it?” (Follow-up question was invariably, “Has anyone mugged you yet?”) Using it is intuitive and easy. But when it came down to asking, does this feel essential?, I thought about walking out of my apartment and accidentally forgetting it one day. I know I couldn’t function without my phone. But I’d get by fine without the Watch.”
David Pogue of Yahoo! Tech wrote: “The Apple Watch is light-years better than any of the feeble, clunky efforts that have come before it. The screen is nicer, the software is refined and bug-free, the body is real jewelry. First-time technologies await at every turn: magnetic bands, push-to-release straps, wrist-to-wrist drawings or Morse codes, force pressing, credit card payments from the wrist. And the symbiosis with the iPhone is graceful, out of your way, and intelligent. But the true answer to that question is this: You don’t need one. Nobody needs a smartwatch. After all, it’s something else to buy, care for, charge every night. It’s another cable to pack and track. Your phone already serves most of its purposes. With the battery-life situation as it is, technology is just barely in place to make such a device usable at all. In the end, therefore, the Apple Watch is, above all, a satisfying indulgence. It’s a luxury. You might buy it to bring you pleasure — and it will — much the way you might buy a really nice car, some really nice clothes, or a really nice entrée.”
USA Today’s Edward C. Braig wrote: “I used Apple Watch in lieu of a key to open a hotel room door at the W New York Times Square, to pay for items at Whole Foods and McDonald’s, and to arrange an Uber ride. I used it to check my heartbeat, peek at stock prices, and send and receive messages. Despite my inclination to buy, however, the first Apple Watches aren’t perfect.”
Self magazine’s Liz Plosser wrote: “After one week with the Watch, what amazes me even more is how it’s managed to untether me from my iPhone. It looks so cool, I’m more apt to wear it—and use it—all the time. (Even my favorite fitness trackers come off when I attend weddings or other dressy events.) And while I used to walk around with my iPhone in my hand 24-7—an admittedly obnoxious habit at home and at work—now I can discreetly tuck it into my handbag and not think about it unless a notification on the Watch inspires me to, say, respond to an email. I can buy a coffee, route myself somewhere new via a map, summon an Uber, and (soon!) check Instagram from my wrist.”