Belfast Telegraph

Apple Watch reviews: battery is disappointing and it’s very expensive — but will it matter?

BY ANDREW GRIFFIN

Early reviews of the Apple Watch have been mixed with many critics citing complaints about battery life, a less slick than expected interface and price.

But it likely doesn’t matter — Apple reviews are almost always bad, and its products almost always sell very well.

One of the problems often cited by reviewers is that the interface, which is different from that in the iPhone, is not as instinctive as that in other, similar watches.

“On first use, the device felt a little confusing and clumsy,” wrote Stephen Pulvirent at Bloomberg. “Sometimes it seemed to do one thing; at other times, just the opposite.

“The display doesn't use the familiar pinch-to-zoom gesture used on the iPhone and it seems like the interplay between tapping, swiping, and turning the crown will take some getting used to.”

Nilay Patel at the Verge called the controls “confusing” and Scott Stein at CNET called the interface “hard to figure out”.

Other reviewers were unsure where the watch will fit into their lives. The watch is something like a watch, but also not, as Farhad Manjoo at the New York Times wrote.

“Apple is doing something unusual here: It is trying to create an electronic device that matches the timeless appeal of a piece of jewelry,” wrote Manjoo. “I’m not quite sure Apple pulled that off in this version.”

All of the first impressions come from Apple’s hands-on, which took place just after the event. During that process, reporters said, Apple staff were still there to instruct users what to do with the watch and how to make it work.

That could be a reminder that the watches only work in strict conditions, and that people have to be guided through them. But as much as anything else it shows that the watches haven’t been used in the wild — that nobody has used them in their actual lives.

And there will probably be a great deal of people using them in the years to come — whatever the reviews say. Analyst Neil Cybart suggested that 50 million to 80 million people will be using the watches within the first 24 month, which would be roughly 10% of people with iPhones.

It is likely that it’s only when people start using the watches that the success can really be judged. Most big Apple products have been derided at launch — the iPad was said to be just a big version of the iPhone, and when the iPhone’s size expanded with the iPhone 6, many said Apple had failed but it in fact sold more of the phone than any other.

With Apple products, there is little correlation between what reviewers say initially and whether they are successful.

And when people start using the watch, they will be able to see what is likely to be the biggest draw, but Apple can’t talk about it. As Josh Dzieza wrote on The Verge, the real selling point of the Apple Watch is that you won’t have to use your phone as much.

Apple’s two biggest selling points, and its likely response to its critics, can’t actually be spoken out loud — it doesn’t want to tell them that they’ll probably end up reducing their use of a phone that Apple has sold to them aggressively for the past eight years. And it can’t tell them that Apple tends to get things more right than reviewers do.

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