Apple Watch Ultra reviews: Bigger, better, but not a killer Garmin yet

The Apple Watch Ultra will begin reaching customers and launching in stores on Friday, September 23. Prior to that time, the first reviews of the high-end watch were now shared across select media and YouTube channels.

Inspired by “the most extreme activities” like hiking and diving, the Apple Watch Ultra features a rugged design with a 49mm titanium case, a larger display with a flat sapphire crystal cover, new straps designed for outdoors, 100m water resistance, push-button Customizable bright orange “movement”, up to 60 hours of battery life with an upcoming low power setting, and more.

We’ve compiled written reviews and videos of the Apple Watch Ultra below.

Written reviews

the edgeVictoria Song shared her general impressions:

The Apple Watch Ultra is bulky and a bit chunky, and has features that the average person doesn’t need in their daily lives. And at $799, it’s the most expensive watch in the current Apple Watch lineup (excluding the Hermès edition). After a week of testing, I don’t think it will hit the Garmin, Polar, or Coros watches for the Ironman, hiker, or deep-sea diving crowd, at least not yet. But it’s legitimately good for weekend warriors and intermediate athletes — very tempting for people who crave that status and a lot of people who just want the biggest, worst Apple Watch they can get.

In a week of testing the Apple Watch Ultra, Song said it was “regularly exceeding” the device’s advertised 36 hours of battery life in standard mode:

– Last weekend, I charged the Ultra to 100 percent. Then I walked for 2 hours 15 minutes, used a compass and GPS extensively, and tracked my sleep that night. I woke up the next morning with 50 percent battery left.

Another day, I turned on the GPS for 30 minutes and did another 20 minute rowing exercise. I also got a short call on the watch and ended the day with 84 percent battery.

– Our editor-in-chief Nilay managed 56 hours on a single charge and still had 14 percent left. He was mostly staying at home, so he wasn’t using cellular data or GPS. However, that should give you an idea of ​​what you’ll get if you need a few days off or aren’t interested in the Ultra’s fitness features.

cnetLexy Savvids on pricing for Series 8 and Garmin smartwatches:

Considering that the $749, 45mm stainless steel Apple Watch Series 8 costs about the same, I think the Ultra is a better overall value, since you get additional hardware features like the Action button (which I loved), an emergency siren And additional microphones to enhance call quality.

It’s also priced competitively with other sports watches that have a similar titanium chassis and OLED displays, such as the Garmin Epix 2. priced at $999. The Apple Watch Ultra’s battery doesn’t last as long, and it doesn’t have anywhere near as many navigation features as the Epix 2. But it’s easier to use, and it has cardio features like an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) app, cellular connectivity, and seamless integration with the iPhone.

If you are someone who wants a true hybrid smartwatch and sports watch, the Ultra is the best.

Savvids noted that the Apple Watch Ultra is unable to download offline maps:

This is also something I miss on the Ultra compared to other sports and outdoor watches — the ability to download offline maps to the watch when I’m away from a cellular signal, or have topographic map options without downloading a third-party app.

The Wall Street JournalApple Watch Ultra’s Nicole Nguyen said it’s “exciting”, but “not killer from Garmin” because it lacks features like payback gauges:

So, should you get Ultra? It’s an exciting update for existing Apple Watch users who need more — especially battery life. But it’s not a Garmin killer. Besides navigation, Garmin watches support other features important for serious athletes that are missing from the Apple Watch, such as recovery metrics and the ability to stream your heart rate to exercise equipment via Bluetooth.

CNBCApple Watch’s Sophia Peet said the Apple Watch Ultra’s larger speaker is notable:

Aside from the larger battery, I really appreciate the larger speaker on the Ultra. The watch has two speakers working together, making the Ultra sound 40% louder than the Series 8, according to Apple.

I often use my watch to pick up phone calls, especially while cooking. I could hear the difference when using the Ultra compared to the Series 7. While this feature is really meant to turn up the volume in extreme conditions for the outdoor type, I appreciated it for regular use as well.

tech radarGareth Beavis appreciates the new “Action” button on the Apple Watch Ultra, but wishes it was more customizable:

One of the things we really like is that the action button makes stopping a workout a lot easier — before you scroll the screen (hardly with a sweaty or wet hand) or hit the side button and the Digital Crown together… which might be a bit of a twist.

Now, you can code it so that the action button starts exercising (yes, finally – something that seems very obvious but took that long…) and then pressing the side button on the opposite edge of the Watch Ultra will pause. It is simple, effective and a beautiful natural movement.

We prefer the action button to be more customizable though: you can just set it to unlock workouts, start a dive, unlock [flashlight]Or start a stopwatch or use the compass features – you can use it to start a shortcut (a set of pre-set actions using apps on your iPhone or Watch) but it’s also very limited, as it can be much richer.

men’s magazineMichael Frank said the Apple Watch Ultra’s brighter display with up to 2,000 nits makes reading information easier:

This larger and brightly lit screen can display six lines of data for five while using Apple’s Workout app. But the real key here is clarity. No matter what app you use or the watch face you choose, the condensed screen is much easier to read on the go, whether you’re looking at an incoming text message or trying to analyze your 5K split tendency.

men’s healthBrett Williams when wearing the Apple Watch Ultra:

There are times when I wear the standard Apple Watch and wish there was more oomph to it. I actually like that feeling – it takes me back to slipping on a high-end analog watch made of high-quality materials, built to do some (at most) a job and do it well. At the same time, the Ultra does not feel very heavy; When I was lifting weights or running with them, I didn’t feel like I was fighting extra resistance. However, I can see how difficult wearing the Ultra can be for those with smaller wrists.

Video Reviews

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