The first reviews are in and the Apple Watch is, errr, getting a lot of screen time? It’s “the best smartwatch on the market”, “a bulbous, friendly little thing” and “you don’t need one”.
Two days before orders begin and nearly three weeks before its official release, Cupertino’s PR machine has allowed a select few to exercise their wrists in praise of their latest device. Reviewers have pulled out all the stops with videos and interactives worthy of an actual news story but while the coverage is extensive, the results are mixed. While the enthusiastic tech crowd is largely onboard, many have misgivings and point out that the clubby luxury watch world Apple is also courting isn’t as easily enticed.
The watch is “Bliss, but Only After a Steep Learning Curve”, according to the New York Times. “It was only on Day 4 that I began appreciating the ways in which the elegant 0 computer on my wrist was more than just another screen,” writes Farhad Manjoo. The Wall Street Journal is less puffy: “Why can’t the watch’s battery make it past 10 p.m. on days that I exercise?” wonders Joanna Stern.
Many reviews appear tinged with gratitude for having been granted early access to the tech world’s hottest device. “Everything about the Apple Watch whispers craftsmanship,” breathes Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff. The Verge’s Nilay Patel – he of the “ bulbous, friendly little thing” – seems, cautiously, enamoured. But none of the raves are unqualified, a comparative rarity for an Apple product launch.
Even David Pogue, often dinged by skeptics for having too often taken Apple’s side, notes that the gadget is overpriced. “What was Apple thinking with these breath-catchingly high prices?” he writes at Yahoo. “Is it hoping to depict these as exclusive, rarefied, aspirational products? By offering a ,000 model, is it hoping to make the 0 and 0 watches look like bargains?”
The upshot seems to be that the battery life is good, unless you’re using it as a glorified FitBit (which it kind of is), that the application loading times are very long (which Apple has promised to fix in subsequent versions) and that it’s a lovely little device, unless of course you disagree, but it’s slow, not particularly intuitive and it’s probably worth waiting for the inevitable upgrade.
There’s also a fundamentalist split between the haute horologie posse and the tech world: in the former, consumers expect a flawless device for an unspeakable amount of money. In the latter, where inconveniences and flaws are ironed out by simply iterating the product again, a new chunk of tech is often praised for the novelty of what it aspires to do. “Unlike the Cartier I got for college graduation, the original Apple Watch’s beauty will soon fade,” Stern observes.
Apple has tried to please both camps here, and with mixed results. “[I]n an attempt to do everything in the first generation, the Apple Watch still leaves plenty to be desired,” writes Scott Stein at CNET. “Short battery life compared with other watches and higher prices are the biggest flags for now.” Patel also notes that for 0, Apple customers probably deserve a charging stand to put on the dresser at night. You can have one, but only if you shell out ,000 for the gold version.
One of the most serious questions for Apple around the device is what the size of the market for the Apple Watch will ultimately be. For early adopter wearables fans (not a particularly large contingent), the smartwatch isn’t exactly a new invention – cheap versions run less than 0 and chief Apple competitor Samsung’s models start off at about 0 and range up to just under 0. Apple is hoping watch lovers will buy the pricey version (the gold case is the only meaningful difference as the guts are all materially the same). The real reviews will start on 24 April when customers decide whether or not they have the cash, or the wrist space, for the Apple Watch.
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