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Apple Watch Reviews: Cool But Inessential

The Apple Watch, touted by the tech giant as “our most personal device yet,” may appeal to status-conscious consumers hungering to own the latest Apple gadget — but it’s not a must-have for most people, according to reviewers.

“After using it, I had no question that the Apple Watch is the most advanced piece of wearable technology you can buy today,” Bloomberg’s Josh Topolsky wrote. “The Apple Watch is cool, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful and it’s easy to use. But it’s not essential. Not yet.”

One issue is that it’s relatively expensive: The Apple Watch, essentially a companion to the iPhone, is priced starting at $349 for the Watch Sport model up to a breathtaking $17,000 for the 18-karat gold version. The devices are slated to start shipping April 24, with pre-orders starting April 10.

Apple has lined up several partners — including ESPN, CNN, Facebook, Twitter, MLB.com, the New York Times and Fandango — whose apps provide text-based alerts to wearers of the Apple Watch.

But, according to New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo, while he generally liked the Apple Watch after a “steep” learning curve, the third-party apps available for the device are “mostly useless right now.”

“The Uber app didn’t load for me, the Twitter app is confusing and the app for Starwood hotels mysteriously deleted itself and then hung up on loading when I reinstalled it,” he wrote. As Manjoo concluded: “The first Apple Watch may not be for you — but someday soon, it will change your world.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler found the Apple Watch handy for tasks like dictating a text message and using Apple Pay at participating retailers. But, he said, “the Apple Watch isn’t quite the gatekeeper to my digital life that I wanted. Take app alerts — there’s a fine line between being in the know and having your wrist jiggle all day.” Setting up alerts for the smartwatch is a “tedious — and unfortunately ongoing — chore,” he added.

While iPhone power users may like the Apple Watch, “that doesn’t mean Apple Watch is for everyone,” wrote Re/code’s Lauren Goode. “Not everyone wants her wrist pulsing with notifications, finds animated emojis thrilling or needs to control an Apple TV with her wrist. Smartwatches can sometimes feel like a solution in search of a problem.”

USA Today’s Ed Baig, who said he’s eager to buy an Apple Watch, called it an “elegant combination of style and purpose.” Even so, he acknowledged drawbacks, including that it requires an iPhone 5 or later and is initially confusing to operate. “As with most first-time products, it isn’t flawless or essential,” Baig wrote. “But among smartwatches, Apple Watch is second to none. I want one.”

Reviewers found Apple Watch’s estimated 18-hour battery life lived up to the promises. Still, that means users need to regularly recharge it, unlike a conventional wristwatch.

Ultimately, it looks like the Apple Watch — to be fair, like other smartwatches on the market — is a cool-to-have gizmo, not a must-have breakthrough. And for Apple, that indicates that it’s not going to be The Next Big Thing the company is hoping for on the order of its category-busting iPhone and iPad successes.

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