Apple Watch review roundup: The best, most expensive smartwatch you don’t need

The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

TORONTO – With just two days to go before consumers can begin pre-ordering the Apple Watch, many are eager to experience Apple’s first wearable device first hand.

Ahead of the official launch date, Apple provided some media outlets with Apple Watch review units, giving them the chance to spend time with the device. On Wednesday, the embargo for those reviews lifted, causing a flood of long-winded review articles to be released at once.

READ MORE: How much will Apple Watch cost and when can I get one?

So what’s the verdict? Overall, the majority of reviews were positive – however, many agree that the Apple Watch is the most expensive piece of tech you don’t really need.

We’ve rounded up some of the reviews to see some of the initial thoughts on the newest edition to Apple’s lineup.

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Apple has earned the title of best smartwatch

“When I started testing the Apple Watch almost a week ago, I insisted on wearing the Pebble on my left wrist while wearing the new device on my right to compare. However, a few days in, I realized I was no longer glancing at the Pebble,” read Mashable’s review, which is titled “Apple Watch review: The best smartwatch on the market.”

“I finally left the Pebble behind, and I don’t miss it. That’s because the Apple Watch is an excellent, elegant, stylish, smart and fundamentally sound device.”

Yahoo Tech writer David Pogue said, “the Apple Watch is light-years better than any of the feeble, clunky efforts that have come before it.”

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Similarly, the Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler said though Apple Watch isn’t an iPhone replacement, “it’s the right screen for many important things.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s a must-have

“The Apple Watch is cool, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful, and it’s easy to use. But it’s not essential. Not yet,” read Bloomberg Business’ review.

“The Watch’s software requires a learning curve that may deter some people. 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,” said New York Times writer Farhad Manjoo.

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“For now, the dreams are hampered by the harsh realities of a new device. The Watch is not an iPhone on your wrist.”

Notifications can be overwhelming

“Isn’t the promise of the Apple Watch to help me stay in the moment, focused on the people around me and undisturbed by the mesmerizing void of my iPhone? So why do I suddenly feel so distracted,” wrote Joshua Topolsky for Bloomberg Business.

“One of the crucial pain points I experienced was this constant, subtle battle with myself over whether to engage a notification on my watch or handle it on my phone.”

Battery life

“By the end of each day, I was hyper-aware of how low the Apple Watch battery had gotten. After one particularly heavy day of use, I hit 10 percent battery at 7pm, triggering a wave of anxiety,” read The Verge’s review.

“Do you want another tiny computer in your life that you have to worry about and charge every day? That’s the real question of the Apple Watch.”

Mixed feelings about fitness tracking features

“In my rigorous 45-minute SoulCycle spinning classes, the watch’s sport band hugged my wrist snugly, enabling a surprisingly accurate heart-rate reading. It stayed within five beats of my trusty Polar chest-strap monitor—still the closest you can get to an EKG, according to my tests,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern.

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Stern added that by the end of her workout, both the Polar and Apple Watch reported a similar average of beats per minute, which she found to be more accurate than her experience with the Fitbit Charge and the Microsoft Band activity tracker.

However, The Verge’s Nilay Patel called the Apple Watch a “barebones” fitness tracker and found the device struggled with monitoring his heart rate.

“I found that the heart rate sensor struggled during my workouts, especially when I was really sweaty; it consistently measured about half my correct heart rate instead of my full 148bpm,” Patel said.

Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff added, “I found that it was a struggle to get the Apple Watch to properly account for my routine. The built-in accelerometer doesn’t know I’m rapidly moving my body up and down because my wrist isn’t moving.”

The biggest takeaway – opt for the cheapest model

“Unlike the Cartier I got for college graduation, the original Apple Watch’s beauty will soon fade. Unless you opt for the cheapest $350 sport version, you should really wait for the future,” wrote Stern.

“If you’re going to buy an Apple Watch, I’d recommend buying a Sport model; I wouldn’t spend money on how it looks until Apple completes the task of figuring out what it does,” echoed Patel.

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Mashable also noted in its review that it would be easy to ding points on the price of the higher end stainless steel Apple Watch, but said Apple makes up for it with the price of the Apple Watch Sport which starts at CAD$449.

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