Almost since the time the Apple Watch became a part of my daily routine in 2015, I’ve found it to be one of the most indispensable gadgets I’ve ever used. More so since I made the switch to the LTE version. It’s allowed me to leave my iPhone behind when I head out to the gym or an outdoor workout. But there’s always been a constant crib – battery life. It got better from the first gen but it has remained a device that needs to be charged every single day. One reason I would leave my Apple Watch behind when I travelled on short 2-3 day trips where my Fitbit smartwatch did much better. Of all the gadgets that Apple unveiled in 2022, nothing has excited us more than the Apple Watch Ultra. It’s quite simply the biggest overhaul of the Apple Watch line ever. But is it the smartwatch for you?
I have small wrists, I have to admit that I was intimated by the size of the Ultra when I first saw it in the launch video. Those apprehensions quickly vanished when I strapped on the Watch for the first time. At 61.3 gm (without the strap) it’s no lightweight but it didn’t feel clunky on my wrists. Apple claims that the Ultra is the most rugged Apple Watch they’ve built.
It’s crafted with aerospace-grade titanium that provides the perfect balance of weight, durability and corrosion resistance. The raised case design also feels less prone to scratches than previous generations of the Apple Watch. It surrounds all edges of the more flatter sapphire front crystal. One of our favourite additions is the Action button in high contrast orange; you can customise it to launch one of many apps including a workout that you’re most likely to do. You get a choice of high-performance bands with the Ultra; you can also use it with your older 44/45mm watch bands.
You get used to the large 49mm display in quick time. To put this display in context, the Apple iPhone 3GS was 3.5-inches and this one’s 1.92-inches. I struggled to go back to the 45mm Apple Watch 7 once I got used to this massive display. It’s not just the size, at 2000 nits it’s twice as bright as any Apple Watch display yet. It’s easy to navigate even with sweaty palms.
If you like playing Dick Tracy and talking into your watch, the Ultra has three built-in microphones to significantly improve sound quality in voice calls during any conditions. Apple has kitted the Ultra with an adaptive beamforming algorithm that uses the microphones to capture voice while reducing ambient background sounds, resulting in remarkable clarity. My callers could hear me even in windy conditions thanks to the Ultra’s advanced wind noise-reduction algorithms.
I got to try the Ultra during a back country camping adventure in Yellowstone National Park. There’s Backtrack that uses GPS data to create a path where I had been. Apple is also touting other adventure features for different focus groups like recreational scuba divers. It is certified to EN 13319, which is an internationally recognised standard for dive accessories, including depth gauges that are relied upon by recreational divers around the world. We haven’t tested this watch under the water yet. Battery life is another big win.
While this depends heavily on usage patterns, I found that the watch typically lasted two days; a big jump by Apple Watch standards. This also included workouts where I used the GPS for about an hour on both days. There are rivals that offer much better battery life. The other area where the Apple Watch still has some catching up to do is recovery stats.
We’ve said this before. The Apple Watch is streets ahead of its rivals. It’s the most sorted smartwatch ecosystem. You will need an iPhone to use one though. You get all the wellness regulars like ECG, sleep tracking, SpO2 tracking that are now available on multiple brands. None of these brands offer the seamless integration and connectivity with the iPhone like the Apple Watch does.
The Ultra should help widen Apple’s appeal to users who currently swear by brands like Garmin. But I think most buyers are unlikely to use the Ultra’s high-performance features. This is likely to be the Apple Watch most buyers who don’t mind the premium price tag are likely to gravitate towards. For them it’s the bragging rights. This is after all not just the best Apple Watch you can buy but is also the smartwatch to beat.
The Apple Watch Ultra costs Rs 89,900
Image credits – Apple, Ashwin Rajagopalan