The Apple Watch is here. Well, not really, but the reviews are in and we’ve gathered the best Apple Watch reviews we could find. Should you get it? Is it the smartwatch we’ve all been waiting for? Read on to find out.
We’ll be updating as more reviews become available.
This is where Apple’s breakthrough Taptic technology comes in. The Watch tapped my wrist when I received a text, when a call was coming in, or when it was time to stand up after an hour spent sitting at my desk. Each tap is subtly different. If it took a while to distinguish between the taps for right and left when the Maps function was giving me directions to our beach house in Tulum this weekend, it nonetheless made an instant relic of the rental car’s GPS. On my way to the airport, I added my editor and a few other key people at the office to my VIP mailbox, which means I got a tap if they sent an e-mail while I was away (I could read it right on my Watch or go check my phone), but I wasn’t notified about the hundreds of other e-mail messages that came in daily. They weren’t crucial, so there was no need to interrupt my beach time reading (or automatically deleting) them.
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.
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.
But in short, my week with the Apple watch has been a week experiencing a different relationship with my forearm. Quite simply it’s not so much a watch, certainly not as we know it, as a new generation of wrist-wear.
You don’t need an Apple Watch. In many ways, it’s a toy: an amazing little do-it-all, a clever invention, a possibly time-saving companion, a wrist-worn assistant. It’s also mostly a phone accessory for now.
In the months and years to come, that may change: with Apple’s assortment of iPads, Macs, Apple TV and who knows what else to come, the watch could end up being a remote and accessory to many things. Maybe it’ll be the key to unlock a world of smart appliances, cars, and connected places. In that type of world, a smartwatch could end up feeling utterly essential.
It was only on Day 4 that I began appreciating the ways in which the elegant $650 computer on my wrist was more than just another screen. By notifying me of digital events as soon as they happened, and letting me act on them instantly, without having to fumble for my phone, the Watch became something like a natural extension of my body — a direct link, in a way that I’ve never felt before, from the digital world to my brain. The effect was so powerful that people who’ve previously commented on my addiction to my smartphone started noticing a change in my behavior; my wife told me that I seemed to be getting lost in my phone less than in the past. She found that a blessing.
After a week, I’m convinced Apple is onto something with this product. It may not be a necessity for most people but it is absolutely complementary to our digital lives. And the best part is the whole thing is going to keep getting better. More apps will come, developers will evolve and create new and compelling software to take advantage of those interactions that are measured in seconds and not minutes. Apple will update the operating system to include more features and functionality. That is the beauty of this being both a hardware and software play. The experience is not static but dynamic and we can look forward to watching and using the Apple Watch as it continues to evolve in meaningful ways.
After more than a week of daily use, Apple Watch has more than alleviated any concerns I had about getting through a day on a single charge. I noted the remaining charge when I went to bed each night. It was usually still in the 30s or 40s. Once it was still over 50 percent charged. Once, it was down to 27. And one day — last Thursday — it was all the way down to 5 percent. But that day was an exception — I used the watch for an extraordinary amount of testing, nothing at all resembling typical usage. I’m surprised the watch had any remaining charge at all that day. I never once charged the watch other than while I slept.
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.
The Apple Watch’s battery life is not nearly as long-lasting as some other wearable devices, but it’s better than I expected.
Apple has promised that the battery will last 18 hours per charge with normal use. It hasn’t yet died on me during the day, or even late at night. My iPhone actually conked out before the Watch did; this happened to Bonnie, too.
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).
And this much is unassailable: 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.
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.