Apple Watch Ultra Review
Apple Watch Ultra Review

Apple Watch Ultra Review: Is It Really A Watch For Sports?

The Apple Watch Ultra is one of this year’s most intriguing new smartwatches. Even though it’s a very lovely smartwatch, it doesn’t have as many useful features as most high-end sports watches. Apple seems to be taking fitness more seriously for the very first time.

The new OS9 update added a lot more fitness and sports features, such as the ability to make your custom workouts, new metrics like heart rate zones and power output, customizable workout display screens, and, of course, an updated compass app that looks cool and helps you find your way.

Plus, the new Apple Watch Ultra is the only device with all of these new fitness features and the hardware that fitness fans and athletes need to use. This includes upgrades found on the Apple Watch Ultra, such as:

  • Additional button for precision starts
  • Dual GPS for improved accuracy
  • The larger, brighter screen makes it easier to see metrics while working out.
  • Improved mic and louder speakers for easier calls and better audio while on the go or in bad weather
  • Siren to help call out and get attention in the case of an emergency
  • Battery life is at least double that of the regular Apple Watch – easily the essential upgrade.

Even though all of that is great and makes it my favorite Apple Watch, it is still a smartwatch at its core. It’s not made to be a sports watch, and it’s missing many essential features that, even for casual athletes, make it a much worse choice than Garmin or other dedicated sports GPS watches.

Is The Apple Watch Ultra Actually Ultra?

I like Apple products a lot. I have an iPhone, use an iPad, do all my work on an iMac, and wear AirPods. I’m a big part of their world. But I have never been a big fan of the Apple Watch because it has never been made well for sports.

So, when I heard that the Apple Watch Ultra was made for outdoor athletes, I was excited to try it. I like it, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say it’s for outdoor athletes, especially since it doesn’t have any sports-specific features yet (or, more accurately, lack thereof).

If you love your Apple Watch and want the biggest and best version but don’t care much about the fitness features, you should get the Apple Watch Ultra. What I say next won’t really help you decide.

But if you’re only thinking about the Apple Watch Ultra as your main outdoor sports GPS watch, I’ve put together a list of six things you need to know about the Apple Watch Ultra.

Apple Watch Ultra Navigation

Watch OS9 adds a compass app. It lets you add waypoints and retrace your steps if you get lost. While these capabilities are an upgrade, it lacks offline maps and navigation. You must start the fitness app and backtrack separately to use the compass. Then, switch between the two apps. Backtracking without seeing your stats is impractical.

This is a poor and outdated method for most sports. It is using a compass while trail-running or mountain biking is cumbersome. Compared to modern route navigation, it feels outdated.

Most sport GPS watches show a breadcrumb on a map and tell you when you’re off track. Garmin gives you approaching fork notifications that steer you in the right direction. It’s a significant dealbreaker and one of the main reasons it’s hard to take the Apple Watch Ultra seriously as a sports watch.

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Interface Of The Workout Screen On The Apple Watch Ultra

The workout screen interface is another issue. It’s bigger and easier to see. The precision starts action button is a fantastic bonus.

I think the interface is poorly designed. It doesn’t let you see what you want on the fly. It’s hard to discern which number is when all the stats are stacked. Few sports watches display these metrics. Other watches divide into divisions with more precise size and positioning distinctions.

Although the available stats are restricted, you can finally modify several Apple Watch Ultra workout panels. Many layouts aren’t editable.

Apple Watch Ultra Review

Apple Watch Workout Metrics

Apple has also made some changes to workout metrics with the new OS9. For example, the running metrics include vertical oscillation, ground contact time, and power output.

Those are great, and I love seeing the power output the most. If you’ve ever run up a hill, you know that your pace alone isn’t the best way to measure how well you’re doing.

But it seems strange that the power metric goes to zero when you start walking. That’s not a big deal, but if you’re climbing a steep hill, it makes sense to have a power value to help you keep going.

Even with the new features, there are still a lot of different workout tracking metrics that aren’t here. One of my favorites, adjusted pace, is on this list. This is available on watches from Garmin, Coros, and others, and it helps me figure out how hard I’m working on runs with hills.

Change The Workouts And Workout Plans On Your Apple Watch

Custom workouts are another area where Apple has made changes. Users can now make their workout plans. But the workout creator is effortless and only has a small number of tools.

The Apple Watch Ultra still doesn’t feel like a sports watch because you can’t upload routes, few to no strength workout options, and you can’t plan or share workout programs.

Apple Watch Ultra Battery Life

Last, battery life. Apple Watch Ultra’s battery life is much better. It’s the main reason people want the Apple Watch Ultra. With a two-to-three-day battery life (outside of low power mode), it’s shorter than most “sports” watches.

Yes, the Apple Watch Ultra can last an ultramarathon, but you’ll still worry about the battery. Most hikers will choose a longer-lasting watch for a weekend excursion. If you have a Garmin, Coros, or other quality sports watch, you might charge it once a month. Unusually, a low battery requires charging.

Final Lines

Again, as a smartwatch, I love the Apple Watch Ultra. It has everything I could want in a smartwatch and more. But because it’s missing so many essential parts of a modern sports watch, I can’t recommend it to someone who likes to work out.

Apple is getting better, but it still needs to do a lot of work to make the Apple Watch Ultra as good as the best sport watches.

I’ll keep putting my Apple Watch Ultra through its paces, testing it, and hoping that future updates will change my mind. For now, though, if you want sports to watch, this one doesn’t quite cut it.

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About Sam Houston 1811 Articles
Hello, I'm Sam Houston, and I'm proud to be a part of the team as a content writer. My journey into journalism has been quite an exciting ride, and it all began with a background in content creation. My roots as a content writer have equipped me with the essential skills needed to craft engaging narratives and convey information effectively. This background proved invaluable when I decided to make the transition into journalism. The transition allowed me to channel my storytelling abilities into producing news articles that not only inform but also captivate our readers.

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