Written by Nick Heer.

The Apple Watch Ultra Is a Good Start, but Falls Short in More Intensive Testing

I have read many reviews of the Apple Watch Ultra and seen a few videos, but I do not think anyone gets as close to testing its capabilities as Ray Maker:

Whether or not the Apple Watch Ultra is for you, depends largely on what you plan to use it for. If you had or wanted an Apple Watch, but were held back by battery life, and perhaps button usability – then the Ultra largely solves that. Similarly, if you wanted more advanced running/workout metrics, then WatchOS 9 on the Apple Watch Ultra also solves that too. And, if you never knew you wanted an emergency siren on your wrist for when you fall off an embankment, then the Ultra is for you too (but seriously, that feature is surprisingly well executed).

However, as good as Ultra is for most existing Apple Watch users (or more mainstream prospective users), it falls short when it comes to features that you would need to complete an actual ‘ultra’ – that is, a long distance running race, or trek, or really any adventure in the backcountry. These gaps fall into a couple of different camps. Sure, there’s the bugs like the openwater swim one, or the disappearing compass backtrack one. I’m less concerned about those at the moment. Instead, it’s the navigational feature gaps, and sensor pairing/broadcasting gaps that are more key for Apple.

I am not in the target market for the Apple Watch Ultra; my most backcountry hikes are still within a couple hours’ drive of a decent espresso. But I have a few friends who do more extreme sports and they have expressed similar questions as Maker about its endurance and navigation capabilities. Its marketing may have oversold it somewhat. I look forward to learning more from real-world users about what it is actually like in the most hardcore circumstances.