Apple Watch Ultra Review: Is it 100% Worth $799?
Apple’s Apple Watch Ultra is the most advanced wearable the company has ever made. But it’s not for everyone. Here’s why…
Rumors persisted throughout 2022 that Apple was going to unveil the Apple Watch Pro this September – its first foray into a “Pro” branded Watch. What’s more, those rumors said the Apple Watch Pro could cost as much as $999 or more.
Neither of those things came true. Instead, Apple introduced the Apple Watch Ultra for $799. Far from a “Pro” watch, the Ultra is designed for a limited group of people: endurance athletes, mountaineers, divers, and other adventurous types.
What that means is the Apple Watch Ultra isn’t a Watch for everyone. Still, it’s the most advanced Apple Watch the company has ever made. Here’s why…
A Rugged Design
Before we get into techie things, it’s important to talk about the design of the Apple Watch Ultra. This thing is a BEAST. It’s got a massive 49mm flat Safire crystal simply set inside a rugged Titanium body that is 14.4mm thick – that is almost TWICE as thick as the iPhone 13.
But there’s a reason for this: the Apple Watch Ultra is designed to take hits. That’s not to say it won’t be damaged, but the flat crystal display is set flush with the 14.4mm walls of the Apple Watch Ultra so it’s less prone to cracking if it smacks into something at an angle. And that’s not to mention that the titanium body acts like a shell to keep the watch internals safe.
Given that Apple designed the Apple Watch Ultra to take hits, it’s no wonder the Watch is targeted at mountain climbers, endurance athletes, and scuba divers. They operate in environments where the elements are generally always working against you.
But the thickness and bulkiness of the Apple Watch Ultra also have another point. As Apple Watch Ultra users are more likely to be operating in extreme environments, they are much more likely to be wearing gloves. Thus, the Apple Watch Ultra needed to be bulky so the wearer is better able to operate it through gloved hands.
Specifically, that bulkiness helps the wearer press the Action button easily…
Action Button For The Adventurous
While many of the internals of the Apple Watch Ultra and elements like the Digital Crown are similar to other Apple Watches, the Apple Watch Ultra has a brand new feature – an additional side button called the Action Button.
Apple describes the Action button like this:
The Action button is big and bulky, too, just like the Apple Watch Ultra. It’s also colored a bright orange, which lets the wearer easily see it in the dark. As Apple explains, the Action button has no fixed use. Rather it can be programmed to perform an action the wearer wants – whether that’s launching various apps or even carrying out a pre-programmed Shortcut.
And thanks to its bulkiness, the Action button can be easily pressed even when wearing gloves.
Apple Watch Ultra Battery Life
Another massive improvement to the Apple Watch Ultra over other Apple Watches is that the Apple Watch Ultra has a36 battery life. That’s twice as much as any other Apple Watch.
Apple could achieve this massive battery life thanks to the Apple Watch Ultra’s bulky design – a bigger battery can fit inside the larger enclosure.
And that 36-hour use is NORMAL use – that is, using all the features of the Apple Watch Ultra. But the Apple Watch Ultra can last even longer – put to a whopping 60 hours on a low-power mode that will be coming to the Apple Watch Ultra later this year via a software update.
The Apple Watch Ultra also has murmurous safety features including international emergency calling, Emergency SOS, Fall Detection, and Crash Detection. However, those features are standard on the Apple Watch Series 8 as well.
What is different with the Apple Watch Ultra from a safety perspective is it features a Siren mode, which will emit an 86-decibel siren that can be heard up to 600 feet away. This Siren is designed to attract the attention of others in the case, for example, a climber falls and breaks their leg.
Should You Buy The Apple Watch Ultra?
There’s no doubt about it: the Apple Watch Ultra is by far the best Apple Watch the company has ever made. However…the Apple Watch Ultra probably isn’t the Apple Watch to get for most people.
Despite its better battery life, better display, titanium body, and a versatile Action button, the average user who doesn’t stray far from home, work, or a night out on the town would probably see very few real-world benefits from the Apple Watch Ultra.
On the other hand, the Apple Watch Ultra is – without a doubt – THE Apple Watch to buy if you are into climbing, endurance athletics, or diving. And that’s because Apple made the Apple Watch Ultra specifically with YOU in mind. For everyone else, there’s the Series 8.
Apple Watch Ultra Updates: A Quick Recap…
- Titanium casing
- New, customizable, Action button
- 49mm Always-on display
- GPS + Cellular
- Wayfinder watch face Night Mode
- S8 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor
- Temperature sensor; blood oxygen sensor; electrical heart sensor and third-generation optical heart sensor
- Water resistant 100 meters
- 32GB storage
- Dual speakers and a three-mic array with siren
- International emergency calling, Emergency SOS, and Crash Detection
***Apple Watch Ultra: 1 Month Later Review***
I’ve been trying out the Apple Watch Ultra for a little over a month now. My previous Apple Watch was an Apple Watch Series 6 44mm aluminum model. Here are three things I’ve learned from my time with the Apple Watch Ultra so far…
1. The Apple Watch Ultra Is The BEST Smartwatch Ever Made
Notice I didn’t say the best Apple Watch ever made (though it is that, too). But without a doubt, the Apple Watch Ultra is the king of the smartwatch world. It has so much functionality built into a relatively small size that it is like wearing a smartphone on your wrist.
This is my third Apple Watch and with my previous models (a Series 5 and Series 6) I mainly used the Watch for tracking my fitness and checking notifications from apps on my iPhone. But with the Apple Watch Ultra – mainly thanks to its screen size – I’m now using it for everything from navigating maps; not only checking but composing emails and messages, too; reading the news; checking the weather; taking voice notes; and sleep tracking.
Before I felt like the Apple Watch was an iPhone accessory. But with the Apple Watch Ultra, I feel like it is an independent device that allows for nearly as much functionality as the iPhone.
Not only can no other Apple Watch compete with the Apple Watch Ultra, no other smartwatches come close. The large display of the Apple Watch Ultra combined with the rich operating system of watchOS means the Apple Watch Ultra is years ahead of all other smartwatches on the market.
2. Apple Watch Ultra Battery Life Is INSANE
OK – with my Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6 I was used to having to charge the devices every single night. By the end of the day, I’d at most, usually have 20% battery left on my Series 5 and Series 6.
But the Apple Watch Ultra? Despite the fact that I’m using it much more comprehensively (sending emails and texts, etc) by the time I normally go to bed my Apple Watch Ultra – wait for it – literally has a battery charge of 85% left.
And keep in mind that I am NOT using the Apple Watch Ultra in low power mode and I have not disabled the always-on display.
One time I did not charge my Apple Watch Ultra for four days and by bedtime on the 4th day it still had 14% battery life left! This long battery life I’ve experienced wildly exceeds Apple’s claims of 36 hours of battery life under normal usage and 60 hours in low power mode.
Of course, if you are using the Apple Watch Ultra differently than I am (and we all use our devices differently) you may experience quicker battery drain than I have.
3. The Bulkier Design & Bigger Screen Are A Thing Of Beauty
I’ll admit, when I first saw the Apple Watch Ultra, with its thick body and 49mm display, I assumed it was too big for a watch. I was used to the 44mm display of the much slimmer Apple Watch Series 6 after all.
But now? The size of the Apple Watch Ultra’s body and display are ideal. When I was younger I used to wear chunkier watches and after having the girth of the Apple Watch Ultra strapped to my wrist for the first week, I quickly fell in love with the thick design.
If you like thicker watches, know that the Apple Watch Ultra is the Apple Watch to buy. And not just for that thickness. Its size also enabled Apple to include a 49mm display on the Apple Watch Ultra. It feels MASSIVE compared to the 44mm display I was used to – and its size allows you to use features of the Apple Watch Ultra more easily – it’s easier to read emails and texts on the Apple Watch Ultra and to do things like compose them…all thanks to that HUGE display.
I’m looking forward to my second month with the Apple Watch Ultra and will report back at a later date to update my experience with Apple’s newest watch.
Apple Watch Ultra Reviews
Is The Apple Watch Ultra Worth It?
The Apple Watch Ultra, like the iPhone 14 Pro Max, shows that Apple, when it wants, can seriously innovate. The Apple Watch Ultra has significantly better battery life, myriad useful features, and new-look fitness reports that make Garmin Connect look dated.
Is it perfect? No. The Ultra, despite Apple’s best attempts, still loses ground to Garmin and Polar in the overall usability stakes. The battery life, for one, despite improvements, is still a major issue for Apple’s wearable.
The Apple Watch Ultra is also missing core fitness watch features like on-device mapping which, for many runners, either ultra runners or trail runners, is an essential feature and something that comes as standard on Garmin’s infinitely cheaper watches.
If you’re more of a casual runner or athlete, meaning you keep your training sessions inside a couple of hours, the Apple Watch Ultra is a damn-near perfect fitness tracker, having all the fitness and health metrics you’ll ever need and more than respectable battery life (for an Apple Watch).
Outside the battery issues, Apple’s new rugged Apple Watch is essentially pitch perfect and the current wobbles, of which there are only a few, will be easily fixed with software updates. As first attempts go, Apple has excelled itself with the Apple Watch Ultra and it will almost certainly give brands like Garmin and Polar a massive kick up the ass.
If you can afford the lofty asking price, the Apple Watch Ultra is one of the best “smart” smartwatches on the market now. It delivers huge improvements in battery life and durability over Apple’s current and past Apple Watch models, so for fans of Apple’s market-dominating wearable is an easy recommendation. Personally, I think I’ll probably be holding off until the Apple Watch Ultra 2.