Apple Watch Ultra: Go Big, or Go Home – Video

Apple Watch Ultra: Go Big, or Go Home

Apple Watch Ultra: Go Big, or Go Home


Speaker 1: The upper watch ultra practically screams go big or go home. It’s the largest upper watch yet with a 49 millimeter case, rugged new design and the longest battery life in the range. The ultra is clearly geared to athletes and adventurers with features like an action button, a dive app, super bright display and dual frequency GPS. But I reckon that a lot of people who get this watch probably won’t [00:00:30] use it to its full capacity and that’s okay. And it’s hot. This is still an apple watch that does everything you’d expect. And then some, and might be enough to justify that $800 price tag. Even if you don’t consider yourself an adventurer, I’ve linked chapters in the description below. So you can jump right ahead to a specific feature or a particular test plus links to find out more about the ultra. So let’s get into it.

Speaker 1: This is the most exciting apple watch in a really long time. Yes, the design is bold [00:01:00] and it might not appeal to everybody, but the familiar elements are all there. They’re just bigger. The digital crown with chunky ridges has this pleasing haptic feedback when you turn it and don’t worry, you can turn that effect off. If you are not a fan, the side button sits in its own housing. So it’s easier to control if you are wearing something like gloves and that new action button on the left, which we’ll get to in a second is honestly one of my favorites. I really thought that the ultra was gonna be too big on [00:01:30] me, but it is lighter on the wrist than it looks. And the titanium case feels really nice compared to the apple watch series. Everything is easier to see like workout stats or notifications front and center on your wrist.

Speaker 1: And the font size also gets really big too, which is great for accessibility, but there’s no question about it. The ultra will be too big for some people, especially for people with smaller risks than mine. And I really would’ve loved to have seen a smaller case size offered as well. I’m used to wearing big, chunky sports watches [00:02:00] even to track my sleep. But the ultra for me, isn’t really comfortable to wear in bed. The display is super bright, reaching a maximum 2000 minutes. I’ve taken it on my outdoor activities and it’s really easy to see, especially when just glancing down at my workout stats on something like a bike ride. The flat screen is a little more reflective than I’d like in certain situations, but I think this edge protection around it will pay dividends in overall durability. In the long term, new watch bands include Alpine loop, ocean loop and a trail loop.

Speaker 1: [00:02:30] But the best news is you can actually use existing bands from 44 or 45 millimeter apple watches on the ultra and vice versa. I can’t wait for more third party options, especially in a more muted finish in color that will work in different situations, not just for outdoor pursuits. Okay, let’s talk about this new action button. You can’t miss it. You can set this button to do lots of different things like at a wait point, launch the stopwatch or instantly launch a specific workout type you do all the time, which is how [00:03:00] I really enjoyed using it. On previous apple watches. I’ve usually had to set a complication to launch the workout app, but as a button, it’s not only easier, but it’s way more customizable than a complication, and I’m really gonna miss it. If I switch back to other apple watches without one, the function also changes a little bit, depending on context.

Speaker 1: And by that, I mean, if you’re in the workout app and you press the action button again, you can mark a segment, or if you pinch the side and the action button at the same time, it pauses your workout. It makes [00:03:30] me crave using the other two buttons for controlling and navigating the watch. Even more particularly, if you can’t use the touch screen, if you’re wearing gloves or maybe you wanna lock the screen during a workout, like you can on some other sports Watchers and the new Wayfinder watch face is exclusive to the ultra with space for eight complications. It really takes advantage of that larger screen. And I think you’re good at town customizing this to your liking. This watch face also has a night mode when you turn the crown, but it is exclusive to just [00:04:00] the Wayfinder watch face. Not any of the other ones. I do wish that apple gave us more than one exclusive watch face for the ultra, even though you could potentially tailor it to have say one Wayfinder face for hiking, one for diving and one for every day, if those were your main activities. And of course it also supports all the regular watch faces you’re used to and the new ones in watch O S nine.

Speaker 1: So we’re gonna take the ultra on a hike. But the first thing that I wanna do before we set off is to actually set a way [00:04:30] point in the new compass app. So I have it already set up so I can just quickly get to it from the watch face as a complication, I’m gonna tap in. And when I turn the crown, it gives me a couple of different views of the compass. But really the one thing that I wanna focus on is this icon on the bottom left, I’m gonna tap that and it’s gonna set my coordinates away point. I can set the color of the icon, but really I just wanna mark it with that car icon. So I know where my car is parked. So hopefully I can find it when I’m done [00:05:00] with the hike tap done, then I’m gonna start my workout by pressing the action button. I’ve already set that to bring up the workout app automatically scroll down until I find hike. I’m gonna tap in just like a normal workout on the apple watch. And the ultra actually has a brand new icon at the top left. It shows you when the GPS is getting a lock and has finally locked. So you can make sure that, you know, you’re actually tracking everything on your hike button again. And [00:05:30] the workout is started. Let’s head out

Speaker 1: As you’d expect. The ultra has pretty much the same safety features on board. As other apple watches, you might be familiar with including things like emergency SOS, fall detection and the new car crash detection. That’s also on the series eight and new apple watch se the one thing it has that is different from the other apple watches is an [00:06:00] 86 decibel siren. You can hear the siren from about 600 feet away and on my hike, my cameraman cell, so could pretty easily hear it from that distance.

Speaker 2: Cool.

Speaker 1: Something else you might try on something like a hike is backtrack. So this is using GPS to automatically keep an eye on your [00:06:30] location in the background when you’re away from a known location, like say your home or your office. So to access backtrack, we go back into the compass app and then we tap that little feet icon down on the bottom, right? Allow it to access where you are, and then it will show you the path that you came in on. But to actually activate backtrack itself, you tap it again, retrace steps, and now the path will appear in whites. I can also see there’s this kind of shadow. [00:07:00] So it will orient me in the right direction to, to basically go back in on cuz I’m in this like fork in the road. I can go a number of different directions. But when I turn my wrist, it’s clearly showing me that I came in that way, just like you saw. And also if I zoom in and out using the digital crown, I can also see that way point that I set where my car is. So let’s head back

Speaker 1: Backtrack and the new compass app isn’t exclusive to the ultra. As you can also [00:07:30] get this on other apple watches from the series six and later in the updated compass app with watch O S nine. I’d really love it. If it worked more closely with the apple maps interface and overlay on that as well. But that would mean that you’d have to have a signal. And this feature is probably really designed for using when you are off the grid. And that’s one feature I do miss on the ultra compared to other sports and outdoor watches is topographic and fully offline maps. Of course, yes, there are third party apps that you do this, but I think apple could make it even [00:08:00] more seamless. Other workout features are pretty much the same as what you get on any other apple watch that runs watch O S nine, including new running metrics like ground contact time, custom workouts, and a multi-sport mode to automatically switch between different workout types.

Speaker 1: Say if you’re doing something like a triathlon, you can find out more about those in our running feature video linked right up here. The good thing is on the ultra is that you’ll fit up to six lines on one workout screen, which is [00:08:30] really nice. And later in the year, there’s also going to be automatic track detection on the ultra. So it will let you choose the lane you’re running in to get more accurate pace and distance. And of course there’s all the dive specific features like the wr 100 rating. Plus the depth gauge with a temperature sensor. I don’t have my scuba diving certification, so I can’t test this out, but we will be doing more testing soon. So make sure to subscribe if you’re not already. So you don’t miss it. Also new on the ultra three [00:09:00] new microphones to help improve voice calls and a new algorithm to reduce wind noise. So what better place to test it out, man, on a windy walk in San Francisco, as you can hear and see, it’s pretty blustery on the phone. I’ve called to Kevin.

Speaker 3: Kevin, how do I sound? Can you hear the wind around me that I’m getting blown away? What does it sound like from your end?

Speaker 4: Yeah, Lexi. It sounds pretty good. Yeah. I can tell you’re outside, but I, I have no idea that you’re out on a golden gate bridge windy day. Wow.

Speaker 1: [00:09:30] I’m really surprised. And that’s good. Ultra passes. The wind test, the upper watch ultra uses dual band GPS leveraging both L one and L five bands. We’ve been using the L one band for years in all sorts of devices, but it has some limitations, things like tall buildings or even trees can block or weaken the signal. And as a result, your map and distance data can get kind of funky. So L five should give you much better accuracy in these conditions. I wanted to test it in the heart of San Francisco with the ultra on one [00:10:00] wrist and the series seven on the other, both on airplane mode to ensure they weren’t getting any location information from the phone. And I ran around a bit under some bridges and overpasses and right next to some tall buildings, while both watches quickly achieved a GPS lock on their own, the ultra more accurately tracked my path. When I went underneath an overpass and the series seven underestimated my total distance by about a hundred meters at the end of my workout

Speaker 1: For [00:10:30] cardio based workouts. The heart rate sensor accuracy is excellent. Of course, this is gonna depend on a number of different factors like how it sits on your wrist and what sort of arm movements you’re making. But for about a two hour outdoor cycling workout, plotted against a chest strap, the ultra did a great job matching almost beat for beat the same as other apple watches. You can pair some gym equipment with the ultra, say like Peloton, but there’s no native support for high read broadcast or power meter bike pedals, for example, but there are some third [00:11:00] party workarounds available. All the other health features are pretty much the same as these series eight. There’s an ECG high and low heart rate alerts, blood oxygen sensor, and improves sleep tracking in watch OS nine. And of course that new temperature sensor, it takes about five days to start to show your trends in temperature.

Speaker 1: But I actually did find the actual temperature readings in the health settings menu on the watch itself before that five days of sleep tracking was up, I would love to see more in terms of recovery metrics [00:11:30] and tying all of these different data points together, sleep activity, temperature, heart rate, variability. It’s all gathered by this watch, but the onus is really on you to understand and interpret it all. Even something as simple as recovery time on the summary page from the first party workout app would be great. So you potentially don’t overtrain now for the other big part of this big watch battery life. And let’s say it’s a little bit complicated, cuz there are [00:12:00] a few different ways to slice this. So for regular usage, with a GPS workout, always on display notifications and some time checks, apple rates the battery for up to 36 hours.

Speaker 1: I had the watch at a hundred percent at 9:00 AM. I did a hike off the grid for about two hours, some sleep tracking, and then I was able to make it to 6:00 PM the next day before I had to charge. So basically you’re getting almost two full days out of the watch with regular usage. [00:12:30] Then there’s the low power mode that turns off certain features like the always on display, blood oxygen and so on. That should net you a bit longer. And while it’s not really representative of how you’d use the low power mode, I did test it out and had it active from a hundred percent charge. And the battery lasted me around 50 hours with normal use. If you’re using it off the grid with GPS only expect about 12 hours of battery life. And later in the year, a new battery optimization mode can extend the battery up to 60 hours.

Speaker 1: So [00:13:00] that includes about 15 hours of workout time. That’s probably enough for an iron man. That mode is not out yet, but I’ll update my full text review with real world results. Once it’s active plus results from my LTE testing, fast charging, like we saw on the series seven is also supported and you can also go from flat to full in about an hour and a half, but I never really let it get to zero anyway. And I always found that the watch was charged up in less than an hour. So it’s by far and away the best [00:13:30] battery life of any upper watch, but it’s not getting close to the week or weeks long ratings from other sports and endurance watches out there. Even ones that have O led screens like say the garment epics two. But that brings us to the part about what the ultra does really well compared to some other sports and rugged watch options.

Speaker 1: The first is having a cellular option by default, very few of its sports watch competitors from brands like Garin or polar do this, or quite [00:14:00] frankly do it. Well. The galaxy watch five pro is probably the closest comparison point when it comes to LTE and cellular connectivity. But that watch is now Android only unlike earlier wears watches that worked on Android and iOS. And it goes without saying the ultra is iPhone only. And that’s the next point? The tight integration with iPhone, it’s such a seamless experience, just like every other apple watch before it payments third party apps, things like music playback, even tiny things as basic as how it actually syncs with [00:14:30] your phone in the background. Some other watches often you need to open the app and manually sync it or force them to sync by pressing a button just so you can see your stats on the phone. The UI is also much nicer than other sports Watchers in general. Now that’s highly subjective. I know, but the apple watch is easier for me to use in general than some other watches. It also sounds basic, but this watch has a speaker microphone and voice assistant support that several other high end sports Watchers don’t have that cost even more than this watch.

Speaker 1: [00:15:00] So who is the ultra really for? Well, I think it’s as simple as anybody who wants a bigger and tougher apple watch with a battery that lasts twice as long as the other models. And if you’re looking at a 45 millimeter series eight in stainless steel, it’s almost the same cost as the ultra in the USA anyway. So I think the ultra is the better choice. The sports and endurance features are obviously the other huge market. And I think Apple’s done a really great job of having a little bit of everything for a [00:15:30] lot of different applications. And there’s a lot of promise for what’s to come. Now, if apple can connect all the dots with all of these data points that this watch collects to paint a broader picture of your health and fitness, this very well could be the watch to beat. Unless of course you need a battery that lasts a week or more, thanks for watching and make sure to subscribe. If you’re not already for lots more ultra tests, including some dive specific videos, durability tests and what the ultra is like to use in an endurance [00:16:00] race. I’ll see you later.

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