Yes, the verdicts are starting to come in for Apple's first smartwatch. Well, the verdicts from predominantly US journalists who have clearly been given a fair amount of time with their Apple Watches if Mashable's 10-chapter review and the 32-strong cast/credits list for The Verge's take is anything to go on (including four "extras" – on a product review! What a time to be alive).
Ahead of Friday's kick-off of pre-orders ahead of the Apple Watch's April 24th arrival, and while we're still waiting for more than an extended fumble ourselves, here's a helpfully truncated round-up of what everyone else thinks...
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… 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 – 7/10 (Nilay Patel)
I’ve been using the Apple Watch for a week. I’ve worn it on my wrist every day, doing everything possible that I could think of. I’ve tracked walks and measured my heart rate, paid for lunch, listened to albums while exploring parks without my phone, chatted with family, kept up on email, looked for Ubercars, kept up on news, navigated on long car trips for Passover, controlled my Apple TV with it and followed baseball games while I was supposed to be watching my two-year-old… The watch is beautiful and promising — the most ambitious wearable that exists. But in an attempt to do everything in the first generation, the Apple Watch still leaves plenty to be desired. Short battery life compared with other watches and higher prices are the biggest flags for now. But Apple is just setting sail, and it has a long journey ahead - 7.8/10 (Scott Stein)
I’m quite a fan of Android watches. Google Now tells you when to leave so you don’t miss appointments, for instance, and is arguably more useful in many ways than the Apple Watch. But some older Nokias did more than the original iPhone. Because they failed to adequately combine form and function, nobody really cared. So with the Apple Watch, again, existing functions are rethought and combined in a new and uniquely appealing way. That’s not, however, to say that even Apple fans with £299 burning a hole in their pocket should rush out and buy this first generation Watch. It’s beautifully designed and frequently rather useful – but history suggests version two or three will be even better. (Matt Warman)
For now, the dreams are hampered by the harsh realities of a new device. The Watch is not an iPhone on your wrist. It has a different set of input mechanisms… There is no full on-screen keyboard… The Watch also relies heavily on voice dictation and the voice assistant Siri, which is more useful on your wrist than on your phone, but still just as hit-or-miss… What’s most thrilling about the Apple Watch, unlike other smartwatches I’ve tried, is the way it invests a user with a general sense of empowerment. If Google brought all of the world’s digital information to our computers, and the iPhone brought it to us everywhere, the Watch builds the digital world directly into your skin. It takes some time getting used to, but once it clicks, this is a power you can’t live without. (Farhad Manjoo)
Apps have been the biggest disappointment of my Apple Watch experience. Apple says more than 1,000 Watch apps have been submitted, but only about three dozen have been available to test… Still, in these early sketches of an experience, I can already imagine so much more. I’d like for the Apple Watch to be my train ticket and my office key, for starters. For now, the Apple Watch is for pioneers. I won’t pay the $1,000 it would cost for the model I tested, only to see a significant improvement roll in before too long. But I plan to pay $400 for the 42mm Sport version once it’s on sale. That’s worth paying for a front-row seat for what’s next in tech. (Geoffrey A Fowler)
Apple Watch is not a cure-all, and it’s likely not a timepiece you will pass down to your grandkids. It is a well-designed piece of technology that will go through a series of software updates, until one day, years from now, when the lithium ion battery can no longer hold much of a charge and it won’t seem as valuable to you… [But] from a technology standpoint, it is an extension of the iPhone. And just like a smartphone, it starts to change your habits over time. 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. (Lauren Goode)
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. (Joshua Topolsky)
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 and an object of true desire. Like any 1.0 product, it isn’t perfect. The S1 chip has pep, but the watch could lag. The hyped Taptic response is useful, but not a game-changer… Apple Watch does as much, maybe more, than competing smartwatches, but it doesn’t demand that you pay attention to it. It also succeeded in its most important task: getting me to keep my iPhone in my pocket. (Lance Ulanoff)