The Apple Watch Ultra has arrived, and some users have already been shipped their new heavy-duty Apple Watch if they pre-ordered early enough. But how good is it?
While the Apple Watch 8 is for casual users and the Apple Watch SE 2 is the best cheap Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Ultra is the new premium option for those who want a bigger display, longer battery life, and more features, and it’s all aimed at making it the best wearable for demanding users who need a companion for ultramarathons, diving expeditions and more.
In our hands-on experience with the Apple Watch Ultra, we especially liked the promised extra battery life, customizable wristbands, the new Action button control on the left side, and its security siren to draw attention when you’re in danger. Apart from being a little unsure about the size, we had a very positive impression.
Other media now had more time to deliver their verdict. While we wait to get more of the real Apple Watch Ultra experience, here are some of the best Apple Watch Ultra reviews that get to the bottom of the good and bad qualities of the new top-tier Apple Watch.
Victoria Song applauds Apple’s valiant first attempt at a smartwatch for more demanding users, though she concludes that it’s more for the average wearer than the coolest of the coolest. It highlights the convenience of the Apple Watch Ultra, long battery life, a wide range of security features, a new action button, improved durability over regular Apple Watch, and standard cellular compatibility.
She has mixed feelings about the display, which she likes because it’s so big and easy to read, but admits it’s not great for users with small wrists like hers. She also criticizes the lack of recovery metrics, as well as the lack of offline maps, navigation, or satellite connectivity that Apple has added to the iPhone 14, which may be a concern for the most avid users.
The Apple Watch Ultra gets a particularly rave review from Lexy Savvides, though not without justified criticism. She calls it a great hybrid between a smartwatch and a sports watch, pointing to the new action button, large and bright display, amazing battery life and dual-band GPS. However, she also says that the size may be too big for some, and that there are no offline display options, only limited recovery rates, and that Apple’s promised battery optimization feature hasn’t been enabled since launch.
Our colleague Gareth Beavis calls the Apple Watch Ultra “the best wearable the brand has ever made” because every component is an upgrade from all previous Apple Watch models. He particularly likes the addition of an Action button, which lets you assign custom shortcuts or just start and stop workouts more easily than on a regular Apple Watch. He also mentions the large and easy to read display, as well as the quality of the GPS signal received by the watch.
While Beavis likes the extended battery life, he still doesn’t think it’s good enough to compete with rival smartwatches that can last much longer. That’s a plus that the Ultra is missing some navigational features, like a map when going back, two of its main problems with what it considers to be a great smartwatch, even considering the price.
Kieran Alger endorses the Apple Watch Ultra as a good all-around smartwatch, balancing between a regular watch and a watch designed for extreme athletes. His favorite features are the watch’s great display, longer battery life, and improved reliability, but overall, he notes that it’s much more expensive than previous Apple Watches and that it can take advantage of more navigation options. In addition, battery life still needs to be longer to compete with the best watches from Garmin, the current leader in sports watches.
Nicole Nguyen was most excited about the Apple Watch Ultra’s battery life, with the watch surviving a two-day hike with nearly 20 percent battery life. That, plus the Watch Ultra’s easy-to-use controls and solid third-party app support, are its top features for the new, more rugged Apple Watch.
This last aspect was especially handy for overcoming one of its big problems with the watch, since Apple doesn’t offer built-in support for route planning on topographic maps. That, and the fact that the Watch Ultra is missing some key recovery metrics and can’t broadcast heart rate to other hardware, leads Nguyen to conclude they won’t overturn Garmin’s dominance in the category. In addition, she also mentions that this is definitely a watch for users with large wrists, given the size of the watch case.
Tucker Bow writes in his review of the Apple Watch Ultra that the Ultra isn’t more for extreme sports, but for runners or users looking to take advantage of a larger, brighter display. It also highlights the action button as a great new addition, as well as its very accurate GPS. Bow mentions the cost, size and weight of the watch as disadvantages.
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