Apple Watch Ultra review: Yes, it’s really worth $799

I’ll cut to the chase: The Apple Watch Ultra is the best Apple Watch you can buy right now. In fact, it’s the best smartwatch for anyone willing to splurge, even though it’s oversized, chunky, and significantly more expensive ($799) than all other Apple Watches, except the lavish Hermes edition.

Not only is it a significant improvement in battery life over the Apple Watch Series 7 or even the new $399 Series 8, but it also comes with more accurate GPS and outdoor enthusiast-oriented features like waypoints and an enhanced compass app program. It even promises to replace your dive computer later this fall.

While its lack of workout recovery data won’t challenge the Garmin in the extreme sports enthusiast market, it should draw the attention of its competitors. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon and decided it’s time to get better, or finally want to tackle things like kayaking or scuba diving, the Ultra is for you.

That’s why I think this is the Apple Watch for those on a budget, even if you’re not ready to glide from Mount Everest.

Apple Watch Ultra

If you’re a serious athlete or adventurer — or just willing to pay for a state-of-the-art Apple Watch experience — the Apple Watch Ultra is worth the money. For everyone else, the Apple Watch Series 8 is still a solid choice.

Ultra is huge. However, despite being larger than any other Apple Watch at 49mm and 61.3g, it doesn’t feel like a big, thick watch. (Apple Watch Series 8 is 45mm and 51.5g.) The silver titanium case helps reduce weight, and its graceful curves and flat surface help offset the relative height (14.4mm).

The Apple Watch Ultra may be aimed at adventurers and hardcore athletes, but its real secret, and what I love about it, is that this “extreme” watch doesn’t feel extreme. It’s big, but doesn’t sit seriously on the wrist. Its bright, always-on screen is easy to see at a glance and then disappear. It’s a quiet pro for the Apple Watch.

It’s beautiful, with a muted silver finish that won’t make you look like an asshole with an expensive sports watch on your wrist. Apple was smart to make sure you could use your existing 44mm and 45mm Apple Watch bands instead of just offering a very visible band designed for this watch. Combining a simple strap with the functionality of an Apple Watch Ultra can transform its appearance from a USS Enterprise-like data-intensive display to a simple, stylish California-style watch face, and you’ll have a piece that won’t make you look like a The big, high-end watch sports brother.

Apple Watch Ultra Review Face

Christopher Allbritton/CNN highlights

Speaking of face, it lit up. I had no trouble reading its 2000-nit display in bright midday light, and my aging eyes appreciated its larger font. The blacks are deep and inky, and while I don’t read novels on my watch, it’s a joy to watch the big, bold announcements.

In addition to the regular digital crown and side buttons (raised and reinforced for easier access when wearing gloves), there’s an international orange action button on the other side that can be customized to start and stop a workout or stopwatch, hiking Set waypoints from time to time, help you retrace your steps if you find yourself lost, start a dive (more on that below), turn on your watch’s “torch” or run your pre-programmed shortcut. I find it most useful for starting and stopping my usual outdoor walking workout. During a run, you can use it to mark your intervals or laps.

And, as expected, this one is tough. It’s water resistant to 330 feet (much deeper than any recreational diver should be), IP6X dust resistant, and tested to MIL-STD 810H specifications. Its surface is a flat sapphire crystal that has yet to show any dents or scratches after a month of trekking through Cappadocia, Istanbul and Eastern Europe.

Apple Watch Ultra features a variety of Apple Watch features common on Apple Watch Series 8, including a new body temperature sensor. all is well. But more importantly, it has insanely accurate GPS – dual-band L1 and L5 GPS (Other Apple Watches only use the L1 band.) GPS in these two bands means that even in the depths of skyscraper canyons or in the tallest of trees, an important consideration for marathon runners and hikers who need to send precise coordinates. In my tests, it accurately charted my stroll through the twisty streets of Turkey’s largest city, where previous Apple Watches struggled to lock onto the signal.

This brings the Wayfinder face unique to the Apple Watch Ultra. It’s a super complex face that includes compass navigation, current weather conditions, sunrise and sunset, your activity ring, altitude, longitude and latitude, and your bearing. A lot, but I got used to it quickly. I really appreciate quick access to waypoints and backtracking right from the home screen when out and about in Cappadocia. You can even scroll up on the Digital Crown to turn your entire face red for better visibility at night.

Apple Watch Ultra Review Pathfinder

Christopher Albrighton

During my multi-mile trip in October, I lost a couple of waypoints: a cool bar in Budapest, a nice stream in Turkey, whatever—you can program an action button to do this quickly. The new Compass app on the watch will then show you the directions and distances to all the waypoints so you can navigate back to them. While I mostly use it to test the feature, it’s actually designed for marking campgrounds, trails, or other landmarks, and you don’t want to forget about it when you’re out in the wild.

Building on the waypoint feature is Backtrack, which uses GPS to create a visual path of your path and allows you to retrace your steps if you get lost. Apple was quick to note that this was a feature for remote setups with little Wi-Fi or cellular service, and it would automatically turn on and run in the background if it detected that you were outside a dense area covered by Wi-Fi. Fi.

In addition to this, there are emergency sirens, which are also exclusive to the Ultra. By holding down the action button, you can sound an 86-decibel siren that should draw attention to your location if you need help. I tested it in my apartment, and while it didn’t sound overly loud to me, I could see how it would traverse relatively quiet backcountry areas to serve any first responders.

I haven’t tried the depth gauge, but this new app lets you set it to turn on automatically if you submerge your Apple Watch Ultra more than 3 feet. The display changes to show the current time, depth, your maximum depth, the time you spent underwater and the water temperature.

What I’m really interested in, however, is the upcoming dive computer feature. Later this year, Huish Outdoors says it will release an Oceanic+ app that lets the Apple Watch Ultra work like a full-fledged dive computer. This watch has been certified to a depth of 130 feet and is certified to EN13319, the internationally recognized standard for recreational diving accessories. We’ll have to see how the software stacks up for this new feature.

Finally, to complete the unique hardware capabilities, the Ultra has three built-in microphones that use adaptive beamforming algorithms to improve voice quality and background noise suppression. In my testing, the people I called the watch often didn’t realize I was talking to them on the Dick Tracy two-way wrist radio. Someone said he thought I was using headphones. Voice quality is good.

Battery life is very good for me. Even after climbing up and down hills and streets for hours at a time, tracking my sleep and doing it all over again, my battery life never dropped below 20 percent. At the end of the month, I regularly exceed the 36 hours Apple rates the battery. There’s also a new low-power mode that Apple claims will provide up to 60 hours of battery life, but it’s fair to say that the battery is a significant improvement over the Apple Watch 8 and earlier models.

That said, it’s still no match for Fitbit or Garmin’s offerings, which measure battery in days or weeks rather than hours. While the Apple Watch Ultra will serve you well on all-day hikes, you’ll need some way to charge it when doing multi-day hikes in the backcountry.

This is a glowing review because Apple put a lot of thought into this watch, and it shows. But nothing is perfect, and the Apple Watch Ultra still has room for improvement.

One, it’s huge. While this doesn’t bother me, it could be a deal breaker for people with smaller wrists. A smaller wrist has a smaller area available for the watch’s sensors, so you can easily get inaccurate measurements. The lower limit appears to be a 130mm diameter wrist, as this is the smallest wrist Apple’s Ultra wristband is designed for.

Two, as good as I believe this watch is, it still won’t replace a dedicated fitness watch like the Garmin Fenix ​​7 or Epix 2. For those who use these fitness watches to measure more activity in greater detail, they also offer recovery metrics that the Ultra simply can’t match. In fact, the built-in workout app on the Ultra can barely measure any recovery. The folks in Cupertino obviously don’t take breaks in their fitness routines, but real athletes do.

Dimensions and Weight

49mm x 44mm x 14.4mm, 61.3g

47mm x 47mm x 14.5mm, 56g

47mm x 47mm x 14.5mm, 53g


Flat Sapphire Front Crystal
Ceramic and sapphire crystal case back

Corning Gorilla Glass
Stainless steel
Fiber Reinforced Polymer with Metal Back

Corning Gorilla Glass
Passivated stainless steel
Fiber reinforced polymer with steel back cover


Wi-Fi – 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Bluetooth 5.3
iPhone only




IP6X dustproof
Water resistant to 330 feet
Tested to MIL-STD 810H

Water resistant to 10 atmospheres
Tested to MIL-STD-810

Water resistant to 10 atmospheres
Tested to MIL-STD-810

Global Positioning System

L1 and L5 GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS and BeiDou

GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Satiq technology

GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Satiq technology


410 x 502 pixels – 1185 mm² display area
always-on OLED
2000 nits brightness

260 x 260 pixels – 33.02mm diameter
Sunlight Visible, Transflective Pixel Memory (MIP)

416 x 416 pixels – 33mm diameter
AMOLED (always on)


Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
up to 36 hours
Up to 60 hours in low power mode

Up to 18 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 57 days in power saving mode

Up to 15 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 21 days in power saving mode





If you can afford the higher price, this is the best Apple Watch you can buy. It looks great, it’s durable, and the extra battery life and “extreme” features are worth it.

If you’re an intermediate athlete — or you’re craving better than what you’ve already achieved — the Apple Watch Ultra will give you everything you need, along with more convenient smartwatch features like cellular connectivity. It lasts much longer than before and may just encourage you to eventually get certified scuba or go on a hiking trip.

But if you’re a high-performing athlete, its built-in workout app doesn’t provide all the in-depth data that more dedicated fitness watches do. Third-party workout apps can largely fill that void, but the Apple Watch Ultra remains the Apple Watch at its core. It’s a solid, sporty smartwatch, not a fitness watch with some added “smart” features. On the other hand, if you just want a great smartwatch that keeps notifications on hand and tracks basic fitness metrics, the Apple Watch Series 8 is the best choice for the vast majority of people.

But the Ultra is also the first departure from Apple Watch design since the Series 4, when Apple adopted the current paradigm for the product line. There are already many ideas for this device, the first try, it’s a winner. The next thing might be more interesting.

Source link