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Wearable Tech

Why some Apple Watch owners don't like the device

Research firm Wristly gets a grip on why a sampling of buyers sold or returned Apple's first wearable or simply abandoned it to a drawer.

Some owners of the Apple Watch aren't happy with it and have suggestions for improving it.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Apple Watch may have captivated the wearables market, but not every owner is crazy about the gadget.

The research firm Wristly wanted to know why, so it polled 330 Apple Watch owners in North America, Europe and other regions who had expressed dissatisfaction with Apple's first wearable.

Nine of 10 of respondents cited the rather vague reason of "not enough value" from a device whose pricing starts at $349.

Getting more specific, 80 percent pointed to a limited set of features, while a somewhat smaller proportion thought that the Apple Watch was too slow or that the battery life was weak. Others said they were annoyed that the watch has to be tilted in order for them to see the time.

Cupertino, California-based Apple has sold an estimated 7 million of its smartwatches since they hit the market in April, easily dominating the young market for such devices, according to the Canalys research firm, but still a far cry from smartphone sales numbers. Other contenders include electronics heavyweights such as Samsung Electronics, LG and Motorola, along with more traditional watchmakers including Tag Heuer.

Most of those unhappy with the Apple Watch decided to stop wearing it rather quickly: 17 percent within the first few days and 28 percent within the first two weeks, Wristly said. But that doesn't mean they all got rid of it.

Only 18 percent of those Apple Watch owners and 24 percent of Apple Watch Sport owners sold the device, while a smaller proportion returned their devices to Apple. Nearly two-thirds of Apple Watch owners and exactly half of Apple Watch Sport owners placed the device in a drawer, indicating that they may give it another shot at some point.

Meanwhile, 30 percent of dissatisfied owners said they still wear the Apple Watch almost regularly, while around half of them said they'd consider buying the next version.

What would make these unhappy Apple Watch owners happier? Some of the suggestions captured by Wristly included:

  • Slimmer design with a tougher case. Longer battery life.
  • Improve the battery, make it more affordable, decrease the size.
  • Make it faster, add more sensors, add more watch faces, and better battery life.
  • Always-on watch face, thinner styling, more health sensors. Technology probably isn't there yet.

First-generation tech products are often characterized by notable downsides and limitations. Some initial reactions to Apple's first iPhone and first iPad were also negative. Reports have suggested that Apple is working on a second edition of its watch for release sometime next year. If so, perhaps the company will take into account the current criticisms in an effort to improve the next version.

Apple did not respond to CNET's request for comment.