Apple Watch reviews are positive, with caveats

First-hand look at Apple Watch: Buy or ditch?
First-hand look at Apple Watch: Buy or ditch?
Reviews pour in for the Apple Watch
Reviews pour in for the Apple Watch
Apple Watch nicer than it looks in photos: Jon Fortt
Apple Watch nicer than it looks in photos: Jon Fortt

Users who got early access to the Apple Watch almost universally hailed the company's flagship wearable as a major product release, and a transformative moment in mobile technology.

But does that mean you need to run out and buy one? Maybe not.

"It took three days — three long, often confusing and frustrating days — for me to fall for the Apple Watch. But once I fell, I fell hard," Farhad Manjoo wrote for the New York Times.

Bloomberg's Joshua Topolsky weighed in with similar, albeit qualified, praise.

"So Apple has succeeded in its first big task with its watch. It made something that lives up to the company's reputation as an innovator and raised the bar for a whole new class of devices," he wrote.

But at the same time he had a caveat: "The Apple Watch is cool, it's beautiful, it's powerful, and it's easy to use. But it's not essential. Not yet."

Apple Watch
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

For sure, virtually all praise for the Watch also included some criticism.

Joanna Stern, Wall Street Journal personal technology columnist, who was impressed overall, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" that exercise kills the Watch's battery life. "[D]ays when I went to a 45-minute spinning class, it was dying by 8 or 9 pm," she said.

Still, she was impressed at how well the Watch works on its own, describing how she went out for a morning run without her iPhone, and was able to stop at Whole Foods for coffee and water and paid using only her Watch.

"For me that was one of the breaking points where I said this thing is freeing from the phone," she said.

Edward Baig, USA Today personal technology columnist, told CNBC that the watch isn't an essential item to own, but it is "awfully nice to have."

He used it to hail a ride using the third-party Uber app and although he was a little bit confused by the interface, he did get a ride. He added that Apple Pay on the Watch works better than on his phone because "you are just hitting a couple of buttons, putting it right to the register and it worked very well."

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Re/code's Lauren Goode noted, in an otherwise positive and delighted review, that the company hasn't quite fixed at least one previously revealed flaw.

"I've used Apple Maps for turn-by-turn directions, and like the way the watch buzzes on my wrist ahead of an upcoming turn. Although the Maps app did at one point think I was on a road that was on the other side of a creek. Oh, Apple Maps."

Other complaints? NYT's Manjoo worried that the "new tech vistas" made possible by the Watch "may push us to new heights of collective narcissism." He also noted that Siri—Apple's voice-command function—is hit or miss on the Watch.

Bloomberg's Toplosky said the constant notifications on his wrist were distracting, rather than liberating.

"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?"

CNET senior editor Scott Stein told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" that battery life was a big issue. Charging the watch at night meant that he couldn't use it as a silent alarm or to track his sleep. He was also concerned with how long some apps took to load, but he did say the watch could get better over time.

--Reem Nasr contributed to this report.