Apple Watch Series 3 reviews: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Out, out damned dot.

Credit: Apple

It turns out the third time isn’t the charm for Apple Watch. Early reviews for the Series 3 model with cellular have landed and let’s just say there are some concerns.

Most of the problems result from LTE connectivity issues, the major new feature on Apple Watch. While the woes weren’t universal, enough reviewers had issues that Apple is investigating a fix that will be included in a future software update. In a statement to the Verge, one of the outlets that experienced severe issues, Apple says it has pinpointed an issue where Apple Watch Series 3 joins unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks without adequate connectivity (like a public Wi-Fi hotspot), which in turn prevents the watch from using the cellular connection. With the first wave of shipments due to arrive Friday, here’s hoping that update arrives sooner than later.

The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern (subscription required) also suffered from sporadic LTE connectivity. She used the watch with both AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s networks and experienced several dropped connections.  Her issues with connectivity and battery life were so major, she went so far as to not recommend buying the device at all.

Other reviewers also had issues with battery life when using the cellular connection for extended periods of time, and Stern noted that her watch got warm during lengthy calls. And we couldn’t find anyone who liked the Digital Crown’s red dot.

But not everyone had such a negative experience. Over at Daring Fireball, John Gruber writes:

“Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular networking completely alleviates this anxiety. It is not a replacement for a phone, and is not supposed to be. But it lets you leave your phone at home when you go for a run, or in your locker while you’re at the gym, or in your hotel while you go to the beach, and not worry in the least that you’re out of touch.”

Gruber also praises the audio quality on the watch, a point also made by The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple: “I had the watch about chest high when I was speaking, but he said he could hear me ‘clear as day.’ I could also hear him clearly from the Apple Watch speaker.” And 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall had a similarly pleasant experience, saying, “The built-in speaker … is plenty loud for moderate noise levels, and the person on the other line would never guess you’re calling from your watch.”

Finally, Brian X. Chen at The New York Times was one of the few to praise both the versatility of the cellular chip and the battery life, but he questioned the value of LTE. “AT&T and Verizon Wireless, for example, charge a network access fee of $10 a month to share your phone plan’s texts, minutes and data with an Apple Watch. That’s about the same as a Spotify subscription, but with the exception of avid joggers and gym rats, people may not use the cellular features frequently enough.”

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Michael Simon

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