Apple Watch review roundup: the best smartwatch yet, but not an essential purchase

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Apple has just lifted the embargo on the Apple Watch for reviewers, allowing the technology press the to give their verdict on the device ahead of Watch preorders on the 10th. The device will actually be available to the public on the 24th. The Apple Watch is a huge release for Apple, its first new product category under Tim Cook. The anticipation for Apple Watch has been simply immense. The pricing model alone is a huge step for the company, entering ‘high-end’ luxury for the first time with the Apple Watch Edition … and a price tag in the $10,000 range. These reviews are our first glance at whether Apple succeeded in making the next hit product.

Reviewers got a demo of the entire Apple Watch buying process, from the initial Apple Store try-on experience right through to handling the device for a few days. Reviewers got to choose their watch-band combination, although the Edition was not available for reviewers (although you can see what Pharell thinks about it of course)

Read below for our roundup of the reviews from a handful of publications:

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Opinion: Why iPod nano’s three-week battery life is and isn’t a fair benchmark for Apple Watch longevity

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Over the past month, I spent several weeks testing the battery of an Apple watch. Not the Apple Watch, of course, but the first product Apple released with the option of being worn like one: the sixth-generation iPod nano. Back in 2010, Steve Jobs mentioned during the “instantly wearable” nano’s introduction (video at 26:30) that one of Apple’s directors planned to use it as a watch. That brief aside directly inspired the creation of nano watchband makers Lunatik and Hex, as well as simple, cheap bands from Apple accessory specialists including GriffinIncipio, and SwitchEasy. A year later, Apple updated the nano’s software to expand its watch functionality, adding “16 new digital clock faces and improved built-in fitness features.” The nano-as-watch test was at least somewhat successful; Hex even shared pictures showing Snoop Dogg and Justin Bieber wearing its nano watch bands.

Today, Apple is three weeks away from releasing the “real” Apple Watch — a product that clearly shares the old iPod nano’s DNA, but was thoroughly redesigned from top to bottom. Yet despite including a battery that’s around twice as powerful as the nano’s, the Watch is promising only 18 hours of typical battery life, maxing out at three days if used solely as a watch in a low-power mode. So when I ran a “watch-only” test of my used four-year-old nano and found that it ran for just over three weeks, keeping perfect time without ever touching a charger (or synchronizing with an atomic clock), I was genuinely surprised. It turns out that Apple really optimized the nano to work well as a timepiece without requiring constant recharging. So what happened with the Apple Watch?…

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Apple releases Apple Watch battery results: 42mm model runs longer, 3h phone, 6.5h music, 7h workout

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In addition to making a general claim that the Apple Watch will run for up to 18 hours per charge, Apple has quietly added a new battery test results page to its web site discussing the Apple Watch’s performance across a variety of different tests. According to Apple, the 38mm and 42mm versions of the Watch will have different run times, and the 42mm Apple Watch “typically experiences longer battery life.” The company does not note how much longer the larger Watch will last for, but does disclose the 38mm model’s times for everything from phone calling to music and workouts…  Read more

This $249 battery strap will charge Apple Watch while you wear it

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The possibility of third-party accessories for Apple Watch is still something Apple hasn’t made official, but that isn’t stopping a slew of companies from announcing products before the Apple Watch ships next month. The latest is a band accessory called Reserve Strap that aims to combat any battery life issues with a strap that includes embedded batteries to charge the device while you wear it.

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Results: 60% want Apple to thicken the next iPhone to improve battery life

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A recent poll of over 3,100 9to5Mac readers indicates that most are not satisfied with current-generation iPhone battery life. Over 90% of respondents said that they want to see Apple improve iPhone battery life, versus less than 7% saying that “iPhone battery life and battery cases are good enough as-is.”

The split in responses interestingly suggests that Apple can safely stop prioritizing thinness over superior battery performance. A solid majority of over 60% of respondents said that Apple should thicken the next iPhone to improve its battery life, which is especially noteworthy given that there were other poll options. Over 31% said that Apple should achieve whatever battery improvements it can by improving the iPhone’s chips, while just under 2% said that Apple should instead focus on improving battery cases.

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Apple Retail SVP Angela Ahrendts: Apple Watch launching in “Spring,” after Chinese New Year

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The Apple Watch’s launch is scheduled to occur in the “spring,” according to Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts, later in 2015 than some had originally anticipated. Ahrendts stated the timeframe to retail employees in a video message, a transcript of which was provided by a source. While explaining that employees need to conserve energy for upcoming shopping seasons, Ahrendts stated, “we’re going into the holidays, we’ll go into Chinese New Year, and then we’ve got a new watch launch coming in the spring:”

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Apple reportedly working w/ Intelligent Energy to integrate fuel cell tech in devices

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A report from the Daily Mail over the weekend claimed Apple is working with fuel cell company Intelligent Energy on a project that hopes to embed fuel cells in mobile devices “within a few years.” The Daily Mail doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to accuracy, but the report claimed “senior sources in the US” have confirmed the partnership between the two companies. 

The technology could be rolled out in devices such as laptops and iPads, allowing them to run without being charged for days or even weeks…Intelligent Energy revealed upon floating that it bought a bundle of patents in tandem with a major ‘international electronics company’…It has kept the identity of its partner a closely-guarded secret. But a source, who has knowledge of the partnership, confirmed that Apple is the big name working with the Loughborough-based firm.

The report noted that Intelligent Energy already has ties to Apple with former Apple Computers product specialist Joe O’Sullivan sitting on the company’s board and a new office in San Jose not far from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino.  Read more

Samsung borrows a line from BlackBerry, calls iPhone users ‘Wall Huggers’ in new ad

As Samsung has done with past TV commercials for its flagship Galaxy S5, its latest ad for the device again takes the iPhone head-on. The new ad, titled “Wall Hugger”, focuses on mocking the iPhone’s battery life while showing off the S5’s Ultra Power Saving Mode and removable battery features. And in usual Samsung-fashion, it also borrows a line from comments Blackberry executive John Chen made back in March…  Read more

Apple acquires low-power, micro LED display maker LuxVue Technology

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Update: Apple confirmed the purchase with its usual boilerplate statement to TechCrunch:Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple has acquired LuxVue Technology, a company that develops low-power, microLED-based display technology for consumer tech products, according to a report from TechCrunch.

LuxVue had managed to remain fairly quiet over the past few years, and what we know is that the company develops low-power, micro-LED-based displays for consumer electronics. We’ve heard Apple acquired the company to add to their hardware innovations area.

Apple has not yet confirmed the purchase, but TechCrunch adds that it’s “heard Apple acquired the company to add to their hardware innovations area.”  Read more

Are you seeing the reported hit in battery-life since upgrading to iOS 7.1? [Poll]

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We know you like iOS 7.1, but with a lot of chatter about reduced battery-life, and the only test so far based on a small sample and having results falling within the margin of error, we thought it would be useful to get a sense of how prevalent the issue might be.

We recognize, of course, that there are a huge number of variables involved in battery-life. Even if your phone usage is reasonably consistent, a single extra phone call or a bit longer spent browsing the web can account for the relatively small differences most are reporting. A poll is not going to amount to a scientific study, but a decent sample size should at least give a reasonable indication as to the scale of any issue …  Read more

iOS 7.1 makes everything faster — including your battery drain

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iOS 7.1 may have only been released this week, but it’s already got it’s own “gate”-worthy issue: battery life is abysmal. Reports on Twitter and Apple’s support discussion forums indicate that users are seeing significant drain on their batteries after installing the new update.

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