The first reviews of the new Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE are in, and people are ... less than dazzled. Apple announced the latest model of its wearable gadget earlier this month in a demonstration that involved phoning a person on a paddle board and testimonies from people whose lives have been saved by the heart rate-detecting technology. But when the $399 watch, which comes out on Friday, was put to use by real-world reviewers, many shared common complaints, particularly when it came to the built-in cellular capabilities actually working.
"On more than one occasion, I detached myself from the phone, traveled blocks away from my home or office, and watched the Watch struggle to connect to LTE," wrote Lauren Goode for The Verge. "It would appear to pick up a single bar of some random Wi-Fi signal, and hang on that, rather than switching to LTE."
CNET's Scott Stein shared Goode's frustrations. "If you're pushing the unique features of the Series 3 with cellular, you're going to wipe out your battery quickly," he wrote. "I made a half-hour call to my mom as I walked into town a half mile away to get an iced coffee. A walk there, a walk back, checking email, and listening to music (and using GPS with heart rate for the walks), I ended up at 50 percent battery by 3 p.m. Sure, I was using everything. But isn't that the point?"
"Apple's latest has all the ingredients of the future we were promised," wrote Joanna Stern for The Wall Street Journal, although she added: "Except, after I spent a week testing these new models … the future feels even further away. You're lucky if the battery allows you to roam on cellular for longer than half a day — especially if you're making calls. And only a limited number of third-party apps work without the phone close by. (No Instagram, Twitter, Uber.)"
Not everyone was disappointed. BuzzFeed News' Nicole Nguyen was a fan, although she admitted "the bar is low." Still, "the Apple Watch has gone from being a glorified pager to a decent fitness watch to, now, what a smartwatch is supposed to be: a phone on your wrist."
"I did manage to make one phone call from a surfboard," added Goode. "That was kind of wild."