From 9to5mac.com

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

For The Verge, the battery life is impressive, as they test real-life examples highlighted below without low-power mode on:

  • This past weekend, I charged the Ultra to 100 percent. I then hiked for two hours and 15 minutes, used the compass and GPS extensively, and tracked 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 still had 14 percent left. He was mostly staying at home, so he wasn’t using cellular data or GPS. Still, that should give you an idea of what you’d get if you need a few rest days or aren’t interested in the Ultra’s fitness features.

CNBC highlights 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 on people with small wrists:

The 49mm titanium watch face looks ridiculously large on my wrist. I realize the big size is the tradeoff for a longer-lasting battery, but the Ultra just doesn’t feel like it was created for a woman’s wrist. (…) I don’t use my current Apple Watch Series 7 to track my sleep because it’s uncomfortable and because the battery only lasts 18 hours max. The Ultra has the right amount of battery life to use as a sleep tracker, but it’s far too bulky to wear to bed.

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

Apple made three new bands specifically for Ultra: the Alpine Loop, the Ocean Band, and the Trail Loop. I was able to try out the former two during my wear test. The Alpine Loop is one piece made out of a tough 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 of “high performance elastomer” and molded with tiny tubes throughout the band for extra flexibility underwater and a titanium buckle and loop to adjust the fit. The Ocean Band was comfortable enough to wear during non-aquatic activities, but I preferred the Alpine Loop—it had just the right amount of stretch so that I could make the Ultra sit right on my wrist without being too tight.

Apple Watch Ultra hands on

CNET praises the Apple Watch Ultra, but just like The Verge, the publication complains about the lack of offline map capabilities.

But I wish you could also overlay that path onto 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 away from cellular signal, or have topographic map options without downloading a third-party app.

The Wall Street Journal flags the lack of other important metric features, although 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 no Garmin killer. Besides navigation, Garmin watches support other features important to serious athletes that are missing in the Apple Watch, such as recovery metrics and the ability to broadcast heart rate to workout equipment via Bluetooth. The Apple Watch interface is still far more user-friendly. And Apple plans to let third-party developers tap into the Ultra’s sensors, so Ultra-optimized apps could be on the horizon.

The Gear Loop sums up very well what it’s like using the Apple Watch Ultra:

There’s no denying the Apple Watch Ultra is a phenomenal smartwatch (…) It’s also incredibly accurate in its GPS presentation and some of the new wayfinding features will assist those wanting to push their hiking and adventuring to more audacious levels. However, we can’t help thinking that rival watches, even those that come in considerably cheaper, provide more detailed analysis of performance post-activity, while many also offer full-on Topo maps for those that really like to venture off grid. 

Apple Watch Ultra reviews in video

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