I have been an Apple Watch user since day one in 2015. I have had three – AW1, AW3 and AWSE1. I now own Apple Watch Insane.
Apple Watch has great appeal to me. I hate carrying things around. I go for the lighter Apple products – I have an iPhone 12 mini and the most recent iPad mini. All of my watches have been linked to mobile or cellular phone networks since they could be.
I’m also a power user. Telling the time is not the main reason I wear the watch. I wear it to listen to streamed or downloaded music, podcasts, books or radio stations, to pay, track physical activity, message, remind and diary. I don’t use it much for phone calls, although I do receive them.
While I loved the watch, I found that two hours of measured exercise, streamed music, and a phone call would nearly kill the battery. I then couldn’t rely on it to be available for messages or payment. Often, an afternoon charge would be required. Headphones were also an issue. AirPods and AirPods Pro had a battery life of only five hours, less when phone calls were involved.
Earlier this year, I switched to PowerBeats Pro with nine hours of battery life. Problem solved. The only remaining issue was the watch.
I was immediately curious but not committed when Apple announced the Apple Watch Ultra. I had no use for its “adventure” features. The price was also daunting. It was only AUD100 (USD65) cheaper than the base model iPhone 14. I was, however, drawn by the battery life, the bigger screen and the design and build. It claimed 36 hours of battery life compared to the new AW8, with 18 hours. That turned me from curious to committed. I was also drawn by the fact that the screen isn’t exposed – it was a wall of titanium around it as a part of the overall chassis. So, it is built for a klutz like me who is always banging into things. Finally, any screen that is a little bigger is excellent for someone like me who has ageing eyes. Sold.
I got the Ultra on a three-year interest-free plan through my phone company (Optus) for AUD36 (USD24) a month plus the mobile/cell connectivity. I got it with the black trail loop. My rule of thumb for electronics is “a dollar a day” because if it is something I will use every day and averages around a dollar a day over its life, then it is affordable and good value.
I have used it for a month for everything I outlined earlier. Yes, it is large, but after a few hours, you forget about the additional size and weight. It looks damn cool. It’s stylish and has some bling with the orange trim. What I do love is the trail loop texture. It is unlike any Apple Watch band I have had before. The watch is a fashion piece without it trying to be.
I can now leave the house for prolonged periods without my iPhone and any worries of running out of battery. The mobile connectivity is much better. To go out with just the watch and AirPods or PowerBeats is absolute freedom. It goes back on the charger each night.
I have it paired with my AirPods, AirPods Pro, Powerbeats Pro, car audio system (for calls) and a Bose micro speaker attached to my golf bag or bum bag (fanny pack).
A few other noteworthy things are:
- The screen can be used as light – in a typical fashion, blinking or red mode.
- The ECG and Blood Oxygen are new features for me and valuable.
- Siri dictation seems way better and works well with headphones.
- There’s also a keyboard for messages and email where you can peck or swipe.
- I love the big yellow button on the left, which I have assigned to start a workout.
- I’ve also loaded it with other apps. I didn’t load these on previous models to preserve the battery.
- It also comes with 32 GB of memory which is more than I have had before. This means I can have loads of downloaded music, podcasts and books, reducing the drain on the battery via streaming (Apple Watch 3 had only 8 GB of storage).
All in all, Apple Watch Ultra is the perfect companion for a day. It brings you freedom from the phone and worries about running out of power. If you forget the phone at home, it is no big deal. It looks fantastic, feels great, and the build quality is something else. I give the watch 10 out of 10. They should have called it Apple Watch Insane.
PS: I was pleased to be asked by Apple for my feedback.