Apple Watch Ultra Review [Is It Worth It?]
Apple Watch Ultra Features : What’s New?
- Display size
- Display brightness
- MIL-STD 810H certification
- 100m water resistance
- Action button
- Bigger battery
- Precision dual-frequency GPS
- + Everything the Series 8 has
What We Love
I’ve been wearing the Apple Watch Ultra for over a month now, and let me tell you, I LOVE it. As an athlete, data junkie, and someone who lives in a rugged terrain, this watch fits my every need.
Coming from the Garmin Instinct Tactical watch, I have to say, the Apple Watch Ultra is far more rugged. It has held up to significant abuse and has yet to show a mere scratch.
The screen brightness makes using my watch outdoors a breeze. I’ve never had to reposition my wrist to see what I’m doing, despite how bright it is outside.
Another feature I love is the new battery life. Apple touts a 36 hour battery life, but I have used it for over 48 hours before it needed a charge
What We Don’t Love
As someone who uses this watch for 120+ minutes of activity per day, ranging from weight lifting, to rowing and calisthenics, the side button has been nothing but a pain.
When doing exercises where my wrist bends backwards, it sets off my siren every single time. I’ve noticed it mostly on exercises such as overhead presses and push ups.
This is a small, yet oddly annoying design feature that I can’t seem to get over. The worst part is, Apple doesn’t allow you to customize the functionality of the side button. So, we are stuck with it, for now.
Anyways, back to the good stuff.
Apple Watch Design and Display
As an average sized man, the larger screen size fits perfectly on my wrist and doesn’t weigh me down during exercise.
In fact, the larger screen makes it incredibly easy to read and navigate while working out. It’s even easy to text on without fat-fingering the wrong letters.
A nit basically refers to how bright a screen is to the human eye. The new Apple Watch Ultra’s 2,000 nits display is 2x the brightness of the Apple Watch Series 8 and SE models, which offer a 1,000 nits display.
Believe me when I say it, this thing is bright
It is rugged.
The new MIL-STD 810H certification means it’s gone through rigorous altitude, high/low temperature, temperature shock, immersion, freeze/thaw, shock, and vibration testing.
For reference, this standard is also the same that you will find on Garmin’s Instinct. So, imagine the toughness of a Garmin watch, now on a sleek, beautiful touch screen of an Apple Watch.
Apple also claims that the Ultra can handle depths of 40m if you’re diving with the watch on. However, be sure to rinse the salt water off the watch to ensure it lasts longer.
While the Ultra is rated for 100m, this doesn’t mean it is fully waterproof, and certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t susceptible to other elements that it would come in contact with in the shower, for example.
All Apple Watches, including the Ultra, are not designed to withstand things such as soap, shampoo, or lotion that you use while showering.
The action button is located flush on the left side of the watch. It is versatile, unlike the right side button and the digital crown.
Ultra watch wearers have the ability to customize the functionality of this button. It can be used to trigger a variety of apps such as: flashlight, workouts, stopwatch, backtrack, etc.
This proves to be an efficient means of starting certain apps for those who frequently use a specific app.
The 86db Siren
While most users won’t every need this feature, it is another layer of safety that is included on top of the SOS feature that the Apple Watch Series 8 and SE have.
This feature can be particular useful for those who spend a lot of time in the woods, or areas with difficult terrain. In the unfortunate even that a person slips and falls or gets lost, and does not have cellular access, they can sound this siren to alert help nearby.
Apple claims the siren can be heard from 180m, or roughly 600ft away. This is just over 1.5 football field lengths.
One limitation of this feature is that those who don’t wear an Ultra Watch may not be familiar with the sound and may not know that help is needed. However, it is odd enough that it likely will attract curious people.
Another limitation is that while the siren can be heard from 600ft, that is in perfect conditions. If someone is in the woods, it is important to consider that trees/foliage and wind may hinder the full potential of the siren.
While Apple claims the Ultra is rated for 36 hours of battery life, it is possible to extend that to around 48 hours with limited GPS, cellular use, and exercise tracking.
In comparison to other watches such as Garmin, the Ultra still struggles to keep up. However, this doesn’t pose to be an issue, as Apple watches offer fast charging capabilities. Simply pop the watch on the charger as you shower and you’ll be wearing it again within an hour.
GPS and Cellular
The Ultra comes out of the box with Cellular capabilities and a new and improved precision dual-frequency GPS.
Compared to the Apple Watch Series 8 and SE models where you can opt into buying the cellular capable model, the Ultra comes with this feature built in. All you have to do is activate it.
On top of the pre-installed cellular feature, there is a new GPS that is exclusive to the Ultra. The intricate workings of GPS may be uninteresting to some, but all you need to know is that instead of one GPS, the Ultra now uses two.
This results in a more accurate reading when navigating outside, whether on hikes, going for a run, or using the backtrack feature. It is no wonder why this feature was added specifically to the Ultra watch, which is tailored for a more active person.
The new 3-way microphone adds a unique wind mitigation feature that allows Ultra wearers to use their watch in high wind environments. This is first-of-its-kind feature in smart watches, and is an incredibly useful one at that.
This feature requires no additional input on the user’s end. Instead, the watch uses ML algorithms to detect which of the three microphones is best suited for receiving the audio input.
From there, the other two microphones are actively engaged and create somewhat of a white noise to muffle any wind that may be interfering with the sound quality. This unique feature allows users to talk on their Ultra Watch in high wind situations with high quality audio.
So, is the Apple Watch Ultra worth it?
If you’re looking for a smaller, more sleek watch, don’t need it to be incredibly durable, or you simply don’t like the price tag, then the Apple Watch Series 8 or SE may be the best choice for you, as they are both great watches.
Overall, I am incredibly content with the Ultra. I would buy it again in a heartbeat. Despite the price, the Apple Watch Ultra has met and exceeded every need of mine.
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Ken is a Data Analyst in the Healthcare industry and the owner and sole contributor to The Wearable Guy.