Is the extreme sports watch worth it?

The Apple Watch Ultra releases this Friday, and it’s the biggest upgrade since the original Apple Watch in 2015. With a bigger battery and better sensors, here’s what reviewers are saying about this $800 wearable and its extreme sports features.

In front of The edgethe battery life is impressive, as they test real-life examples highlighted below without turning on power-saving mode:

  • Last weekend I charged the Ultra to 100 percent. I then walked for two hours and 15 minutes, using the compass and GPS a lot, and kept track of my sleep that night. I woke up the next morning with 50 percent battery left.
  • Another day I went for a 30 minute GPS run and did another 20 minute rowing workout. I also took a short call on the watch and ended the day with 84 percent battery.
  • Nilay, our editor-in-chief, managed to get 56 hours on a single charge and had 14 percent left. He stayed home most of the time, so he didn’t use mobile data or GPS. Still, that should give you an idea of ​​what you’d get if you need a few days of rest or aren’t interested in the Ultra’s fitness features.

CNBC stresses that this Apple Watch is worth it for “serious athletes, but an unnecessary splurge for the rest” of users. The reviewer complained about the Apple Watch Ultra size, which looks and feels too big for those with small wrists:

The 49mm titanium dial looks ridiculously large on my wrist. I realize the large size is the trade-off for a longer battery life, but the Ultra just doesn’t feel like it was made for a woman’s wrist. (…) I don’t use my current Apple Watch Series 7 to track my sleep because it’s uncomfortable and the battery only lasts a maximum of 18 hours. The Ultra has the right battery life to use as a sleep tracker, but it’s way too bulky to carry to bed.

Men’s health gave us a nice look at some of the new bands. In addition, the reviewer gives us a sneak peek at other Apple Watch bands that are compatible with the Ultra model:

Apple has created three new bands especially for Ultra: the Alpine Loop, the Ocean Band and the Trail Loop. I was able to try the first two during my wear test. The Alpine Loop is made in one piece from sturdy nylon with a slight stretch, with a ‘G-hook’ that slides into loops of fabric to adjust the fit. The Ocean Band is a more traditional two piece band, made from “high performance elastomer” and molded with small tubes throughout the band for added flexibility underwater and a titanium buckle and loop to customize the fit. The Ocean Band was comfortable enough to wear during non-water activities, but I preferred the Alpine Loop – it had just the right amount of stretch so I could fit the Ultra snugly on my wrist without getting at narrow.

CNET praises the Apple Watch Ultra, but like The edgethe publication laments the lack of offline map capabilities.

But I wish you could also overlap that path on a map view in, say, Apple Maps, like the similar Track Back feature on the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. That’s something I also miss on the Ultra compared to other sports and outdoor watches – being able to download offline maps on the watch for when I’m out of mobile signal, or have topographic map options without downloading a third-party app.

The Wall Street Journal points to the lack of other key metrics, though the publication thinks the Apple Watch Ultra is more user-friendly than other extreme sports watch options:

It’s an exciting update for current Apple Watch wearers who need more, especially battery life. But it’s not a Garmin killer. In addition to navigation, Garmin watches support other features important to serious athletes that are missing from the Apple Watch, such as recovery stats and the ability to send heart rate to training equipment via Bluetooth. The Apple Watch interface is still much more user-friendly. And Apple plans to let third-party developers use the Ultra’s sensors so that Ultra-optimized apps can appear on the horizon.

The gear loop summarizes very well what it’s like to use the Apple Watch Ultra:

There’s no denying that the Apple Watch Ultra is a phenomenal smartwatch (…) It’s also incredibly accurate in its GPS presentation, and some of the new signage features will help those looking to take their hiking and adventure to more daring levels. However, we can’t help thinking that competing watches, even those that are significantly cheaper, offer a more detailed analysis of post-activity performance, while many also offer full Topo maps for those eager to venture off-grid.

Apple Watch Ultra reviews in video

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