I’m a firm believer that you can’t pre-empt the review of a product. You can have suspicions and be influenced by the opinions of those who were ahead of you in the queue, but you can’t form a reliable opinion until you’ve got your greasy mitts on it.
I made this mistake with the AirPods Pro 2. I wrote them off, completely (like so many other reviewers did) but as it turns out, they are one of Apple’s best releases of 2022.
I didn’t write off the Apple Watch Ultra. As soon as it was unveiled during the Far Out event last month, I was hooked. I wanted one. I invented reasons for needing one.
However, I didn’t pre-empt the review. Because I had no idea what it would actually be like.
Of all the stuff I’ve reviewed, the Apple Watch Ultra deserves long-term analysis if I’m to give you the best possible buying advice. That’s why I’ll be writing about it a fair bit over the coming months.
Today, I’m going to reveal ten things that only Apple Watch Ultra owners know.
1. You spend most of your time checking the battery life
Strip back all of the cool, unreachable, and totally non-relatable features offered by the Apple Watch Ultra, and there’s one huge elephant in the room.
The battery life.
As soon as you open the box, you’re presented with a stunning, snow-covered Alpine wilderness that begs to be explored by the hardiest of hikers. This begs the answer to a nagging question I’ve always had about the Ultra – will those people really put up with a two-day smartwatch?
Until we get the 60-hour low power mode later this year, that’s what the Apple Watch Ultra is capable of, I’m afraid. It’s still great for an Apple Watch, but it’s not… well, ultra.
2. The Alpine Loop is great – but annoying
I really like the orange Alpine Loop strap I chose for my Apple Watch Ultra. It contrasts beautifully against the aerospace-grade titanium of the device itself and feels ready for any walking adventure you can throw at it.
There are two issues, though. The first has been highlighted by my YouTube mate, Patrick Rambles, who reveals the perils of scratching your Apple Watch Ultra with its own strap.
Secondly, it’s a bit fiddly to strap onto your wrist. The Alpine Loop is super secure once on, but unlike every other Apple Watch strap I’ve used, you cannot put it on in the dark. Which feels rather ironic, given its intended working environment.
3. The Action button is in the wrong place
I’ve thought a lot about this (far too much, really) and I can now confidently say that the Action button is in the wrong place.
I’m always pressing it by mistake when clasping the Apple Watch Ultra with my thumb and forefinger to press the Digital Crown.
I know I could fix this by flipping the orientation of the watch around, but I’d rather Apple placed the action button a bit further up. Sorry, Tim.
4. You can’t stop looking at it
You really can’t. And this is what I mean about the Apple Watch Ultra – it is such a fascinating product from Apple, and a real wonder to behold.
As lovely as the M2 MacBook Air is, I don’t find myself consistently admiring its form. The Apple Watch Ultra always catches my eye, and whenever it does, I really feel like I’m looking at something brand-new from our friends in Cupertino.
We needed this.
5. It should have come with stickers
Come on, Tim.
International Orange Apple stickers.
Where on earth are they?
6. It makes you want to travel
This is the most surprising aspect of owning the Apple Watch Ultra, and I think it stems from the fact that I’m not the target demographic, at all.
I’m aware that this watch can do so much. It’s a dive computer. It has dual-frequency GPS which isn’t phased by tall city buildings. The Knight Rider red mode is clearly designed for more than constantly switching to it because it ‘looks really cool’. The compass promises to “take wrist‑driven orienteering to new heights”. That siren is clearly important.
I want to take the Apple Watch Ultra to all sorts of places. No other piece of tech has made me feel like that before.
7. The siren is REALLY LOUD
When I heard about the 86-decibel siren on the Apple Watch Ultra, I was pretty sure it would be more of a marketing bullet point than a real selling point. But it is one-hundred percent the latter.
It is so loud. Although, it should be if you want to stand a chance of being found halfway up a mountain with only one working leg.
In hindsight, the unnaturally loud performance of the Apple Watch Ultra siren shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is, I’d guess, the work of Apple’s audio division which continues to do physics-defying stuff with its speakers.
8. You’ll only use one watch face
The Wayfinder watch face is only available on the Apple Watch Ultra. That makes it unique, aspirational, and utterly cool.
If you get one of these watches, you won’t switch from the Wayfinder, ever, for the following reasons:
- it’s really cool;
- the compass surrounding the watch hands moves;
- it has Knight Rider mode;
- it’s really cool;
- there’s room for 18,271 complications; and
- none of the other watch faces is as cool.
9. You worry about bashing it
As tough as the Apple Watch Ultra purports to be, I’m constantly worried about bashing it against walls or door frames. More so than the regular Apple Watches I’ve owned, in fact.
There’s probably a fair amount of new toy syndrome going on here, and I’m sure I’ll chill out about it eventually, but I really don’t want to put that lovely titanium out of shape just yet.
I’m sure with a bit of wear and tear I’ll grow to love it even more, but when you become the new owner of an Apple Watch Ultra, you’re acutely aware of its presence on your wrist.
10. You wonder if people notice it
Oh come on, admit it – you do.
I do, anyway. The Apple Watch Ultra is new enough and has generated enough interest outside of Apple circles to attract public attention.
Or maybe it hasn’t. Maybe no one gives two hoots. Regardless, it’s always going through my mind as I run through the streets, bright orange Alpine Loop swinging back and forth.
“Liz, look at that guy. Is he wearing an Apple Watch Ultra? Wow. I guess he must be training for an ultra marathon or something. That’s so impressive. Woah… stop the car! I think I just spotted the International Orange Action Button! I want a closer look!”
That’s exactly the conversation people have when they drive past. I know it.
In two weeks’ time, I’m heading to the Peak District to give the Apple Watch Ultra a full-on battery and performance test during a 10-mile hike.
So, make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel not to miss that. But in the meantime, if you’ve bought an Apple Watch Ultra, let me know your experience so far in the comments section!
Preach, Bro (whatever that means). I’m not the presumed target for the Ultra, either (in fact I couldn’t be further away) but, as you’ve mentioned, I think Apple knew very well that I’d covet it the moment I laid eyes on it.
I’m retired, with appropriately ageing eyesight, and the Ultra is the first Apple Watch that I can glance at and see properly without having to squint. The battery life is amazing (for an Apple Watch) and I’ve only had to charge it once in the last 4 days.
The strap is ultra-fiddly (see what I did there?) but I’ve now worked out how many loops on the strap need to be pulled through for the optimal tightness and how many loops away from the bottom of the watch the titanium hook needs sliding through. Couldn’t do it in the dark, though…
The crown gets tangled in my wrist hair when turning it so I’ve had to shave a small patch 🙂
Really enjoying the Ultra, though, and looking forward to more updates…