My short-term Apple Watch Ultra 2 Review

Week 323 was posted by Charanjit Chana on 2024-01-02.

Having past the 3 month mark with my Apple Watch Ultra 2, I thought it was worth putting some thoughts down as part of a short-term review before recording a longer medium-to-long term review over on the Good Gear Club YouTube channel.

I came up to the Apple Watch Ultra 2 from the Series 2, a 7-year leap. The Series 3 introduced a more powerful processor and managed to handle OS updates for years beyond the Series 2. The Series 4 got an updated form factor with a bigger screen and the Series 5 got the always-on display. In just those 3 revisions there was already a lot that had changed and then in 2022 we got the original Apple Watch Ultra that featured days of battery life in the more rugged style.

Why the Ultra 2 and not the Apple Watch Series 9? Battery life was by far the biggest factor, but the larger size suites my wrist. I had to wait a few months before I got to see and try the Apple Watch Ultra in store. It was hard to gauge from photos if it was big or if it was huge. What actually sealed the deal for me was that I saw it on a ladies wrist in person and it looked big but it did not look huge. If it wasn't huge for her, then it would be fine for me. By then we were half way through the yearly cycle so I waited for September to roll around.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 Pros

The always-on display is the feature I've wanted most. When exercising, you might want to check the time but you can't without a tap taking you out of the flow. I'd prefer if the watch showed you more progress details at a glance, but the time alone is a game changer.

Battery life on my Series 2 was down to sub-12 hours so getting around 6x that is better than it ever was for me on the older Apple Watch. The titanium finish is really nice and very durable. My aluminium Apple Watch and screen lasted well enough, but definitely looks worn. I don't see this watch looking anywhere near as battered any time soon. The flat screen here is much nice for me, the Series 2 had the curved surface and a smaller display area but this feels right.

Double tap isn't as useful as I thought it would be. Watching the keynote, I thought it was going to be something I did daily. I've used it a handful of times as a test but I don't know if I've ever used it intentionally as a convenience. More on charging later.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 Cons

The bands for the Apple Watch Ultra are about double what other bands for the regular watches would cost. The original Ultra had a great black strap with an orange accent, but it's no longer available and it's the one I'd have bought. Not that I didn't like the strap that came with mine (it has a £99 value), but I went and got the more subtle of the Nike Sport Loops from this year's range. It's not as stiff and I think I prefer it to the Ultra's 49mm options. I don't hike, scuba, dive or follow alpine trails so it's secure enough.

The international orange buttons and accents look really orange in photos. The accent on the crown definitely is orange, but the international orange Action Button is light dependent. Rarely does it look orange. It's my favourite colour so a little dissapointing. But I am splitting hairs over a personal preference here!

So on to charging. With a USB-C charging brick and the updated puck, charging is brilliant. About an hour and the larger battery is full. Put it on an older puck and I couldn't tell you how long it takes because I gave up after 30 minutes of watching the charge go from around 20 to 25%. It's ridiculously slow. I don't have to plan as diligently as I did with the Series 2 so it's not a huge issue but I didn't expect the difference to be so stark.

I'll be putting some more thoughts into a video a few months. I'll also be following up with a post about Apple Fitness+ which I have found to be really good for getting me to exercise more effectively.

Tags: apple, apple watch, apple watch ultra

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