"[The] Apple Watch is, above all, a satisfying indulgence," writes Yahoo Tech's David Pogue. "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."
Overall, reviewers say that the Watch works well, has the battery life it needs and features such as Apple Pay work well. Plus, the Watch just feels nice.
But there are criticisms, and strong ones, about how far the product needs to go to appeal to everyone. At the very least, it certainly is -- to quote the headline on The New York Times' Farhad Manjoo review-- a device that comes into its own after a "steep learning curve."
The gripes, as always, are the most telling part of the reviews. Manjoo, for example, warns that this is not necessarily a simple device to understand. That's contrary to Apple's normal reputation -- the iPhone, for example, is a great smartphone for technophobes because it's so easy to navigate. But that's not the market that should (or probably would) pick up the first generation of the Watch.
"There’s a good chance it will not work perfectly for most consumers right out of the box, because it is best after you fiddle with various software settings to personalize use," Manjoo notes. "Indeed, to a degree unusual for a new Apple device, the Watch is not suited for tech novices. It is designed for people who are inundated with notifications coming in through their phones, and for those who care to think about, and want to try to manage, the way the digital world intrudes on their lives."
Other criticisms range from the fact that the device is a little slow (Nilay Patel, The Verge) to complaints that it's still a little too clunky to be fashionable (Lauren Goode, Re/Code), which could pose a hurdle for wider adoption. Ed Baig at USA Today says that he also doesn't particularly like making phone calls on it -- though that's not going to stop him from buying one of his own.
There are also some greater concerns about smoothly it actually works. Several reviewers said that apps made by companies other than Apple were slow to load and work on the Watch. That will improve over time as software developers get more comfortable with the platform, but is an early hiccup worth noting. It also relies on other Apple software such as the company's Siri voice control software, which Manjoo notes fails to work as often as it's successful. Mashable's Lance Ulanoff says that it's not spectacularly good at working as a fitness tracker, either. That's one of the main draws of the wearable market right now, as products such as Jawbone and Fitbit have shown, and one of the easiest markets for Apple to pick up. The convenience of having a fitness tracker with some phone functions might be enough to win converts, but it seems that, for now, fitness management isn't exactly a killer app for the Watch.
What is the killer app? Across the board, it seems to be some variation on "not having to go into your pocket for your phone all the time." Users will probably want to set the watch up to have fewer notifications than they have even on their phones -- Bloomberg's Joshua Topolsky opens his review with a vignette of notification overload -- but overall it is a good way to stay more engaged with what you're doing without feeling disconnected. That's useful, and could even be seen as glimpse into a healthier technological future. The potential for something great, the reviews say, is there. But the fact that there was also so much talk of untapped potential is also telling.
Joanna Stern at the Wall Street Journal may have explained this sentiment best in saying that she's generally not recommending that her friends buy this generation of the Watch.
“Wait, what?” you ask. “I thought you liked this thing!” I do. But every time I gaze down to admire it, I start seeing how the next one will look better.
So the general consensus seems to be this: Want one? Buy one. The Watch seems to be a good, useful and fun product. You'll be happy, you'll enjoy having a new gadget. And, if you really want one, you're probably the kind of person who is happy to fiddle around with settings to get things the way you want them anyway.
But if you're not quite sure, it's perfectly okay to wait for the next generation. These reviewers (and Apple) clearly think this product is going to be around for the long haul.