Apple Watch Ultra reviews: great screen, battery life, falls a little short of competitors

Apple Watch Ultra reviews are out and almost everyone is praising the new smartwatch for most of its features. Reviewers have loved the beautiful bright display, long battery life, workout features, and more, but almost everyone has pointed out the lack of offline maps, limited recovery metrics, and its bulky size for smaller wrists.

Here is a roundup of the best Apple Watch Ultra reviews to help you decide whether it’s the right watch for you.

Apple Watch Ultra

Apple Watch Ultra reviews

CNET gave the watch an impressive 8.8 out of 10 score and called it the most exciting watch in years. The reviewer praised the action button, display, battery life, and dual-band GPS. The review pointed out the lack of offline maps, missing 60-hours Low Power Mode, bulky size, and limited recovery metrics.

Anyone who considers themselves an endurance athlete or outdoors adventurer is obviously the other huge market. Apple’s done a great job of having a little bit of everything, whether you’re a triathlete, marathon runner or diver. However, we’ll have to wait a little longer until the Oceanic Plus app launches to determine if those dive features are actually helpful.

The Ultra might not match the sports and mapping features on a higher-end Garmin, Coros or Polar watch, but the tight integration with iPhone might be worth more to you. Mobile payments, a wide selection of third-party apps, speaker, microphone and LTE connectivity all make the Ultra capable of doubling as an everyday watch and adventure companion — unless you need a battery that lasts a week or more.

WSJ pointed out how the apple Watch Ultra is not a Garmin killer as it lacks some features that are important to athletes such as recovery metrics and the ability to broadcast heart rate to workout equipment. The review praised the user-friendliness, and how software updates could improve it down the road, specially with third-party developer support. 

It’s an exciting update for current Apple Watch wearers who need more—especially battery life. But it’s no Garmin killer. Besides navigation, Garmin watches support other features important to serious athletes that are missing in the Apple Watch, such as recovery metrics and the ability to broadcast heart rate to workout equipment via Bluetooth. The Apple Watch interface is still far more user-friendly. And Apple plans to let third-party developers tap into the Ultra’s sensors, so Ultra-optimized apps could be on the horizon.

Men’s Health reviewed and praised the Ultra as the best smartwatch for iPhone users. it looks good, and provides a great interface for using functions, compared to competitors like Garmin. The Ultra also undercuts competitors by costing a bit lesser despite providing a better display and software. 

I’ve tested and reviewed multiple Suunto and Garmin devices. They have their charms; I particularly enjoy using Garmin’s Fenix line. But at the end of the day, none of these smartwatches work as well as Apple’s wearables when it comes to the everyday functions that make up the bulk of smartwatch use. That’s why I usually gravitate back toward the current version of Apple’s wearable whenever I’m not testing something else—it’s just the best smartwatch for me as an iPhone user, to wear, and it looks better on my wrist. The Ultra is an Apple Watch. For most people, that will make it the best smartwatch they can get.

Men’s Journal praised the versatility of the Apple Watch Ultra for its features that other athlete-focused watches simply don’t offer at the same level. 

You can’t reply to a text on a Garmin Fenix 7, though you can see them. And you can’t take or make a voice call. Sure, if your paired phone is nearby you can vet the text and decide to respond or not. But that’s going back years in Apple Watch tech terms. Yes, you can play music on a Fenix 7. However, to load tunes onto that timepiece you have to plug your watch into your computer. Again, what decade is this?

You can (and should) argue that these are apples (sorry, couldn’t help myself) and oranges comparisons. The Garmin is definitely the logical choice for extreme-use cases. But just how many of us live in that realm all the time? You’re an athletic person, but are you a professional athlete?

TechRadar gave the Ultra a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. The review calls it the best watch that Apple has ever created, and praised its smart features, safety, and hardware.

The Apple Watch Ultra is easily the best wearable that the brand has ever made, bringing a bright, large screen, a new customizable physical button for making running workouts easier to start or end, and a longer battery life. A clear attempt to take on the likes of Garmin and Polar, Apple has stuck a lot of useful tech and genuinely helpful features that will be of real use in an emergency – for the intermediate fitness enthusiast, or someone that can afford a slightly better Apple Watch, this is an easy buy. The battery life improvements are welcomed, but are nowhere near long enough to stop the ‘range anxiety’ of using an Apple Watch – the question of when to charge (made harder as the overnight health tracking gets better, so the nightstand is no longer an option) remains, and there’s an odd lack of on-device mapping for when you’re out on a hike or run. That aside, the Watch Ultra is arguably the best smartwatch around at the moment, fusing functionality, safety and second-screen smarts in a way that most Apple users will really enjoy.

CNBC called the Apple Watch Ultra worth its price of $799 for serious athletes. The Ultra stands out from its competition like Garmin, as its watches are often focused on individual activity, while Ultra focuses on many of them.

If you are an adventurer, a hiker, a serious runner or a recreational scuba diver and you don’t mind a bulky watch face on your wrist, the Ultra is a great wearable. The Ultra offers features found in a dive computer such as tracking depth, water temperature, dive time and an underwater compass. Getting precise metrics while on a run or having access to emergency services while hiking off the grid could be worth the money.

The Verge calls the Ultra an aspirational debut from Apple in the multisport watch arena. The review gave it a score of just 7 out of 10, and praised the comfortable fit, battery life, safety features, action button, large display, and durability, but called out the lack of recovery metrics, and offline maps.

While Apple is going to sell a ton of these to weekend warriors, tech dads, and aspiring non-couch potatoes, I’d argue the Ultra is best for athletes hovering at the cusp between intermediate and advanced levels. The battery life is best for weekend excursions, and the simpler UI and metrics are preferable if you’ve yet to crave overly complex charts. Hardcore athletes or explorers are more likely to want extra features they’re used to that the Ultra doesn’t have. (Yet.)

All in all, the Ultra is one of the best debuts in a new product category that I’ve seen in a while. A lot of thought was put into the Ultra, and it shows. It’s not enough to make Garmin shake in its boots just yet, but it’s more than enough to pique interest and spark competition. Apple’s officially a viable contender in the rugged watch category — and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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