Apple Watch Ultra Review: Pros and Cons

Apple Watch Ultra Review: Pros and Cons

There are three Apple Watches launched in September 2022. These include the more affordable Apple Watch SE (2022), the mid-range Apple Watch Series 8, and the more expensive Apple Watch Ultra. Apple positioned the latter as a ruggedized smartwatch for sports-oriented and even outdoor-loving individuals.

Pros of Apple Watch Ultra: Notable Features and Advantages

The Apple Watch Ultra is a hybrid between a sports watch and a smartwatch. This device marks the first time Apple developed and introduced a wearable device aimed at a specific market segment. It also has a slew of differentiating features and functionalities that set it apart from the 8th-generation Watch Series 8 and 2nd-generation Watch SE. Nevertheless, considering its capabilities, this device best suits its intended target users: those who are into physical activity, specific sports, and other outdoor activities

Below are the major features of this smartwatch:

• Premium Build Quality: Its titanium enclosure gives it a perfect balance between design and durability. There is also a flat sapphire crystal that protects the OLED display from edge impacts while providing improved transparency for a clearer display quality and a more immersive user experience.

• Brighter Screen: The larger 1.92-inch Always-On OLED display is also twice as bright as the standard Super Retina displays used in other Apple Watches such as the Series 8. Its brightness peaks at 2000 nits which is similar to the peak brightness of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. It also supports Night Mode and turns the display red to minimize eye strain when used in low-light environments.

• Biometrics Sensors: Note that this smartwatch also has the same sensors as the Series 8. These include sensors for monitoring blood oxygen, heart rate, sleep, electrocardiogram, elevation, and wrist temperature. The new temperature sensor for ovulation tracking and monitoring sleep quality.

• Key Fitness Tracking: Remember that this smartwatch is a physical activity companion. The Workout app records several workouts or exercises such as running, swimming, and cycling, among others. The workouts are also customizable around actual activity and recovery periods. The Heart Rate Zones actively records the heart rate to track workout intensities and heart rates in between activity and rest.

• Dedicated Action Button: The Action button located on the left side of the device can be customized to mark a Compass Waypoint, control or start and pause a particular workout, start Backtrack, begin a diving session, track the different phases of a duathlon or triathlon, and control other applications, among others.

• Crash Detection: Another interesting feature of the Apple Watch Ultra is Crash Detection. It detects vehicular collisions and even accidental hard falls using relevant sensors to prompt an emergency SOS to designated emergency numbers such as emergency responders or activate an emergency siren that can play an 86-decibel distress signal that can be heard up to 600 feet or 180 meters away.

• New Depth Gauge: Another differentiating feature of this device is its new depth gauge. It supports diving-related apps and functionalities such as the Oceanic+ app that turns the Watch Ultra into a full-featured dive computer and the Depth app that tracks water temperature, depth, and underwater duration.

• LTE and Dual-Freq GPS: Note that LTE cellular connectivity is also included by default for the first time in the history of the Apple Watch. What sets the Ultra further apart from other Apple Watches is its dual-frequency GPS based on the L1 and L5 GPS standards for precise tracking of different locations such as dense cities and rural terrains. This is useful for outdoor activities such as running and even diving.

Cons of Apple Watch Ultra: Drawbacks and Major Issues

The Apple Watch Ultra outclasses the Apple Watch Series 8 due to its exclusive set of features and functionalities. However, considering its price tag, it is not for everyone. Furthermore, the overall look and feel are unsuitable for some users. The availability of options within the Apple Watch line itself, as well as from competition such as the Galaxy Watch 5 and dedicated sports watches such as the Garmin Epix 2 and Garmin Forerunner 955, creates a stronger argument for refraining from purchasing this high-end smartwatch.

Below are the noted limitations of this smartwatch:

• Expensive Price Tag: A major disadvantage of the Apple Watch Ultra is its price. Apple products are expensive but this particular device retails for USD 799.00. It is USD 400.00 more expensive than the Series 8. This price tag makes it unsuitable for individuals who would not benefit from its differentiating features and functionalities.

• Bigger and Bulkier: It is too big for some wrists. This is the biggest smartwatch from Apple at 49mm. The larger titanium enclosure makes it unideal for individuals with smaller wrists. It is also too heavy to comfortably wear to bed. The Series 8 is available in 41mm and 45mm case sizes while the SE is available in  40mm and 44mm case sizes. The Ultra also has about 27 percent more screen area than the SE.

• Limited Mapping Features: Another limitation of the Apple Watch Ultra is its limited mapping feature compared to high-end and dedicated sports watch from brands such as Garmin and Polar. Maps cannot be downloaded. There are also no native topographic options or overlaying recorded tracks on a particular map app.

• Average Battery Life: The battery performance is also decent. Apple claims that it can last up to 36 hours on a single charge under normal use and 60 hours when the Low Power Mode is activated. It still has the battery life among the entire Watch line for 2022 and even previous generations of Watches. However, when compared with other top-tier smartwatches, it remains average at its best.

• Limited Health Tracking: Comparing this smartwatch with the Samsung Galaxy 5 and Galaxy 5 Pro would reveal that the smartwatches from Samsung are better for health tracking. These Galaxy devices have the same biometrics sensors on top of dedicated sleep monitoring features and body composition sensors.

• Dependence on the iPhone: Maximizing the full capabilities of the Ultra requires pairing it with an iPhone or an iPad. This is another notable disadvantage for non-Apple users or users of Android smartphones. There are no Android apps and even web apps that can work in tandem with watchOS. Part of the product strategy of Apple is to create products that work together and create an almost closed ecosystem.

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