Apple Watch reviews: world's best smartwatch, but nobody knows what a smartwatch should do
Journalistic luminaries have begun to go public with their views on Apple's new wearable in the days before it goes on sale, and they have generally found it to be a beautiful device that ultimately succumbs to the fact that smartwatches have yet to find their niche.
Writing for Bloomberg, Joshua Topolsky found the Watch's hardware "beautiful in a surgical way," with a design that "wouldn't seem out of place in a futuristic lab or sci-fi movie." He sees the Watch as an "inconspicuous thing" that grows on the wearer, though doesn't approach the level of sophistication of a traditional wristwatch.
Apple's new Taptic Engine produes "strikingly realistic sensations," Topolsky says, and the digital crown makes navigation easy. He found the Watch faces' complications "one of the most useful parts of the watch, offering the kind of information that really does elevate the device beyond a simple timepiece."
"After using it, I had no question that the Apple Watch is the most advanced piece of wearable technology you can buy today," he wrote. He loved the Watch's timekeeping, which is so precise that every Watch in a room will tick at exactly the same time.
Topolsky wasn't thrilled with the responsiveness — Â or lack thereofÂ — of the Watch's automatic display activation, and said that the user interface requires some getting used to. He did like the new Activity app, but found new features like Digital Touch and the new animated emoji to be of limited utility.
In all, Topolsky believes that Apple has "made something that lives up to the company's reputation as an innovator and raised the bar for a whole new class of devices," but has yet to find a way to make the Watch an essential device.
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal's Geoffrey Fowler thinks that the Apple Watch "is a computer built to spend [your time] better," and while he was not impressed with the battery life, apps, or "inevitable obsolence," buyers will be able to "wear the future on [their] wrist."
Fowler does not believe the Watch can replace a phone, but he does find it more useful for some tasks. "It has made me more present," Fowler wrote. "I'm less likely to absent-mindedly reach for my phone, or feel compelled to leave it on the table during supper."
He found the Watch's display to be "adequate" outdoors, though apps like the wrist-worn Maps app was "so slow it makes me want to pull out my paper Rand McNally." Software issues plagued Fowler's testing, and he did not find the Watch's home screen easy to use.
Fowler believes that "the Apple Watch is for pioneers," and says he will be picking up the Sport version when it becomes available. "That's worth paying for a front-row seat for what's next in tech," he added.
The ability to read iMessages and email and browse photos without pulling out an iPhone intrigued Lauren Goode of Re/code, and she echoed Topolsky's admiration for the device's fitness tracking functions. The Apple Watch is also the best looking smartwatch on the marketing, though "Apple Watch strives for high fashion, but it still looks like a techie watch," she wrote.
Goode didn't experience the same issues with Apple's apps as other reviewers, but did note that the third-party app ecosystem remains barren. She found the quality of phone calls made with the Watch's built-in speaker and microphone to be "very good," and said that those on the other end of the phone "couldn't even tell I was calling from a smartwatch."
Apple Pay on the Watch was "pretty cool," and battery life was better than expected. Goode's iPhone often reached critical battery levels before the Watch did.
All together, "Smartwatches are still unproven, but Apple has made a pretty strong case for them," she believes.
At The Verge, Nilay Patel called the watch "an extraordinarily small and personal device," though it is "surprisingly heavy." He found it "kind of slow," though Apple says a forthcoming software update will address those issues.
The display is "simply terrific," but Patel echoed Topolsky's complaints about its responsiveness and enjoyed the display's complications. "If the Apple Watch had no other functionality except for what you can do from the watch face, it woudl still be competitive," he believes.
Patel also found the user interface somewhat confusing, but enjoyed using Apple Pay, calling it his favorite feature on the Watch. Digital Touch "is remarkably small-time," and "a cool demo and not much more."
According to Patel, "if you're going to buy an Apple Watch, I'd recommend buying a Sport model; I wouldn't spend money on how it looks until Apple completes the task of figuring out what it does."