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The early word on Apple Watch: It's not a must-have, but you'll want one

Caitlin McGarry | April 9, 2015
Advance reviews of the Apple Watch are here, and they offer insights into how the Watch performs in real life.

That was a common theme in the early Apple Watch reviews. The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern also said the watch's dependence on iPhone can be a killer: "The Apple Watch doesn't have cellular connection, so you'll need a companion iPhone nearby for many of its functions to work. Sometimes, though, that arrangement is painfully slow: The maps app, surely the answer to wandering pedestrians' dreams, is so slow it makes me want to pull out my paper Rand McNally."

The battery
The one thing that could have killed Apple Watch if Apple didn't get it right was the watch's battery life. But the watch does indeed last all day, says Stern: "The battery lives up it its all-day billing, but sometimes just barely. It's often nearly drained at bedtime, especially if I've used the watch for exercise. There's a power-reserve mode that can make it last a few hours longer, but then it only shows the time."

USA Today's Ed Baig ran out of battery, but maybe due to user error: "Add Apple Watch to the list of devices you best charge nightly. Still, Apple's claim of 18 hours between charges seems accurate based on my pretty heavy daily usage. I only ran out of battery once, on my first full day of testing. I'm guessing the watch might not have been properly aligned the night before with the proprietary magnetic charging cable because I've had plenty of daily juice since."

How it stacks up to other smartwatches
The reviews answered some of our other questions, like how seamlessly Apple Pay would work (answer: more seamlessly than on the iPhone) and how the watch's screen would look in glaring sunlight (answer: crystal clear). We also wanted to know how Apple Watch compares to its Android Wear rivals, which were first out of the gate. The answer:

"Of the half-dozen smartwatches I've tested in recent years, I've had the best experience with Apple Watch," said Re/code's Lauren Goode. "If you're an iPhone power user and you're intrigued by the promises of wearable technology, you'll like it, too."

We'll have our own review of Apple Watch very soon, so stay tuned.


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