It’s rare that an Apple product comes out that so definitively beats any other device in its class, including Apple’s own offering. But according to the first round of reviews, the Apple Watch Ultra is more than just a bigger Series 8 — it’s “one of the best debuts in a new product category.”
The reviewers all agreed that the Apple Watch Ultra is very large, but not uncomfortable, even on smaller wrists. The Verge’s Victoria Song admitted that the Ultra “dwarfed” her wrist, but it also felt smaller than some of the round watches she’s tried: “The watch is big, but trust me when I say it personally somehow doesn’t feel that big.”
She also appreciated the large screen, which is “great for readability”. CNET’s Lexy Savvides also called it deceptively light to wear. Like Song, she said it will overwhelm smaller wrists, but she was still “able to get a good and comfortable fit.” In Men’s Journal, Michael Frank wrote that the Ultra fits great and “didn’t feel bulky when cycling, lifting or running.”
Song put the Apple Watch Ultra to the test and found that its 36-hour battery life is a conservative estimate. She said the battery life was so good that she never had to turn on the power saving mode. Savvides called battery life “my favorite new hardware feature,” while CNBC’s Sophia Pitt found that the Ultra had “the right amount of battery life to use as a sleep tracker.” In the Wall Street Journal, NicoleNguyen tracked the battery for 13 hours and 20 minutes of GPS tracking for two days and still had about 20 percent left.
Women’s Health’s Liz Plosser appreciated the action button for both fitness (starting a workout immediately) and non-fitness (starting a stopwatch), while Song said the action button is “a much-needed addition” that Apple should bring to other watches.
The reviews had some bickering with the Apple Watch Ultra, but they were minor. While Song praised the redesigned Compass app and Backtrack feature, she lamented the lack of offline topographic maps or turn-by-turn navigation. CNET’s Savvides wants the Ultra to “do more in terms of recovery metrics, like some other sports and endurance watches.” And CNBC’s Pitt said the Ultra “just doesn’t feel like it was made for a woman’s wrist.”
Finally, as a GPS watch enthusiast. Frank summed up the Ultra’s biggest advantage over similar Garmin entries: “Being able to ditch your smartphone and go for a two-hour bike ride, book takeout halfway through to pick up on the ride home, is an ace in the Watch corner that is very hard to top.”