Apple Watch gets brickbats

CUPERTINO- Apple's "beautiful" and "stylish" smartwatch could make life easier for people on the move, reviewers say, but the gadget gets poor marks for battery life and slow-loading apps.

The watch, the first new product to be launched by Apple under chief executive Tim Cook, will hit stores on April 24 in the United States. Apple's Singapore site indicates the wearable device will be available some time this year.

"For now, the Apple Watch is for pioneers," the Wall Street Journal's Geoffrey Fowler wrote. "I won't pay the US$1,000 (S$1,360) it would cost for the model I tested, only to see a significant improvement roll in before too long."

Reviews published on Wednesday made much of the device's relatively poor battery life - up to 18 hours, according to Apple - and said its apps will need upgrades to load more quickly.

"There's virtually nothing I can't do faster or better with access to a laptop or a phone, except perhaps check the time," said Nilay Patel, who reviewed the watch for

Loading an app required the watch to pull tremendous amounts of data from iPhones, Mr Patel said, adding that Apple had said upcoming software updates would address performance issues.

Mr Fowler said: "The maps app, surely the answer to wandering pedestrians' dreams, is so slow it makes me want to pull out my paper Rand McNally."

Re/Code's Lauren Goode said the watch's battery life was not nearly as long-lasting as some other wearable devices. CNet's Scott Stein said the battery's recharge time was slow.

Paired with an iPhone, the watch allows users to check e-mail, listen to music and make phone calls. It also tracks their health - for instance, by monitoring heartbeats.

But the software is "initially complex" and not suited to tech novices - unusual for an Apple device, said Farhad Manjoo, who reviewed the watch for The New York Times.

Apple is among several companies, including Samsung Electronics and Sony, that hope to jump-start a market for wearable devices.

The Apple Watch Sport will start at US$349, while the high-end Edition will be priced from US$10,000.

"If you can tolerate single-day battery life, half-baked apps and inevitable obsolescence, you can now wear the future on your wrist," Mr Fowler said.

Analysts at Societe Generale said they expected Apple to sell eight million watches this year, contributing about 1.7 per cent or US$4 billion to Apple's total sales.

Apple shares, which were flat on Wednesday, have risen about 24 per cent since the Apple Watch was announced on Sept 9.