The Apple Watch Ultra is a very good smartwatch. It has tons of features, a very long battery life, a titanium shell and a distinctive design. You can read how good it is in my colleague Victoria Song’s review from earlier this fall. Be sure to check out the in-depth video review we recently published that takes a closer look at Apple’s unique claims for the Ultra.
But as good as the Apple Watch Ultra is, it’s not the Apple Watch for me. I’m not an adventurous athlete and have no aspirations to be one, but I’m both a smartwatch enthusiast and an appreciator of fine mechanical watches (which, let’s face it, I’ll never be able to afford). The Ultra should appeal to me on those merits – after all, no one dives with a Rolex Submariner on their wrist, despite the fact that it’s considered a “dive” watch in the mechanical world. The Ultra’s premium status, larger-than-normal design, and larger-than-life capabilities speak to many of the same factors that make big, flashy dive watches popular.
I got the chance to do a lengthy demo of the Ultra this fall, and while there are certain things I definitely like about it, a month on my wrist wasn’t enough to convince me to buy it. What it did convince me is find a second-hand Series 7 Edition and buy it instead. This is why.
There were three factors about the Ultra that I really liked: the large screen, the titanium frame, and the long battery life. During my time wearing the watch, I could easily go two and a half days between charges, even wearing it at night due to the silent alarm feature to wake me up. The screen is large, bright and easy to read; the larger, more heavily knurled digital crown is fun to twist and click, and I had no issues accidentally pressing the other buttons when bending my wrist, as I know others have encountered. The titanium frame’s matte finish looks better than the glossy finish on Apple’s stainless steel models and feels nicer and more solid than the aluminum on the standard Apple Watch. It’s a nice balance between the two other metals Apple uses.
What I didn’t like about the Ultra was how big it was on my wrist. You can’t hide this watch: it’s big, it’s thick and it stands out. While it wears lighter than I thought, it’s not the kind of watch I can put on and forget I’m wearing it half the time. I can’t easily fit it under the cuffs of a shirt or jacket, and I’m constantly worried about bumping it into door frames and the like when I’m wearing it. The Ultra is also impossible to dress up – no matter if I’ve outfitted it with a leather strap or a metal bracelet, it still looks like a rugged action sports watch.
There’s no disguising the size or appearance of the Ultra
I’m not a big fan of the flat screen either. It’s not as pleasant to swipe and work with as the curved glass on standard Apple Watches, and the way it sits on top of the watch makes it seem detached from the rest of the design.
The Ultra’s other features also fell short in my day-to-day use. It’s great to have another button on the side of the watch to do things with; it’s a shame how little I can actually do with it. (As my colleague Vjeran Pavic pointed out in our Ultra review video, it would be great if this watch changed its function based on focus modes, much like how the watch face can change automatically.) I don’t take calls from my wrist, so the louder speaker didn’t come into play either.
So the Apple Watch Ultra didn’t work for me. But it inspired me to find something that does, and I found it with the 45mm Series 7 Edition. This watch has a screen nearly the same size as the Ultra’s, but retains the curved sides that are easier to swipe and look nicer on my wrist. It has a titanium frame that, while not exactly like the Ultra’s blasted finish, is close enough to my eyes. It’s smaller, slimmer and more comfortable to wear than the Ultra, and I can easily dress it up for different outfits.
The main thing I’ve given up on is the Ultra’s battery life – the Series 7 is a daily charging device no matter what. But my personal routines have adjusted to the point that it’s not really a problem for me: I charge it for an hour or so every night until it’s full before I go to bed, then put it back on the charger when I wake up and shower to finish it off for the day. I haven’t encountered an issue where the S7’s battery was low before I was ready to charge it.
You may wonder why I’m referring here to the Series 7 model, the watch Apple released over a year ago, and not the newer Series 8, which has the same design and features. Well, the problem is Apple discontinued the Edition version of the Series models when it launched the Ultra, so I can’t get a Series 8 in the titanium I like. The upside to this is that to get a Series 7 Edition I had to buy one secondhand, and I was able to get my hands on one in great condition for less than half the price of an Ultra (and half the price of what the Edition was then). new ones).
Please bring back the Edition models
After wearing the Series 7 instead of the Ultra for about a month, I’m pretty happy with where I landed. I have a “nice” Apple Watch with many of the same features that the Ultra offers, without the drawbacks that come with it.
I think I need more than 1000 words to say bring back the Edition watches, Apple.