I finally caved. Six months too late, in hindsight. The combination of recent episodes of Connected and AppStories and my recent trip to U.S. meant I could no longer hold back.
What did I do?
Some background first:
When the Apple Watch Ultra was originally unveiled, I was instantly intrigued. But I just figured I couldn’t pull it off, that it wasn’t for me. I insta-loved the looks. But I figured it was too big for my small wrists. I have TINY wrists. Like, properly tiny.
For reference, I use the smallest solo loop size (size 4). And on the (spoiler, but the photo above probably gave it away) stainless steel link band, I have removed all the links except 2 on one side and 1 on the other.
Plus, I thought that it really only was for extreme sports people. And while I stay active, I am very, very far away from an extreme sports person.
So, I quickly disregarded it as not for me. And there is where I sat for 6 months. Note also, that I had never seen it in person at this point.
Then I did my first international trip since forever. I went through four U.S. airports and layovers (I live in Sweden) during the trip and sat in multiple lounges and so on. And I went from never having seen the Apple Watch Ultra to seeing it over 20 times in the airport and especially the lounges (more time to people observe) - it is very popular among I suppose the kind of person that sits in an airport lounge. (I travelled for my work, I am not a fancy person)
I started to re-think things. Then I arrived at a work campus which was the destination of my trip, and I must have seen at least 100+ Apple Watch Ultras across my 3 days onsite at this place! I saw it on all kinds of people of all shapes, sizes, ages and sexes.
And I started to re-think everything. It realised it looked great on EVERYBODY. Adding to all this, I was also listening to the hosts of podcasts like Connected and AppStories talk about their purchases of Apple Watch Ultras and their reasoning but especially their experience of using it I finally realised I had it all wrong - it’s not an Apple Watch just for extreme sports people, it’s just the best Apple Watch.
Let’s review what makes the Apple Watch Ultra actually different from all the other Apple Watches:
- Largest display
- Literally double the battery life (36 vs 18 hours)
- Literally twice the screen brightness (2000 vs 1000 nits)
- Precision dual-frequency GPS
- Depth gauge with water temperature sensor
- 86-decibel siren audible up to 600 feet
- Made in titanium ("Made with aerospace-grade titanium for the perfect balance between weight, ruggedness, and corrosion resistance. Case designed with raised edges to protect the flat sapphire front crystal from edge impacts. Super rugged to withstand the elements.")
- Dual speakers and three-mic array with beamforming
- Configurable Action button
So! If the photo above or all that text didn’t already give it away - I bought an Apple Watch Ultra! And I didn’t stop there, I bought the band I have been craving ever since the original Apple Watch introduction in 20141, the stainless steel link band. And I couldn’t be happier.
And of those Apple Watch Ultra-unique features, here’s what I am finding I really appreciate so far:
- The display. I am enjoying this even more than I thought, the additional screen estate is supremely useful, and I am saying that even as a user of the 45mm (large models) of previous Apple Watches. The difference really is noticeable and very nice
- The battery life - this changes how I use the watch. And it lasts way longer than 36 hours! I wear the watch 24/7 including sleep tracking, and I do between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours of tracked exercise every day and I get at least 50 hours of battery life. This means that charging habits doesn’t really matter anymore, especially since I never have to charge to 100%. If I throw it on a charger it’s enough to leave it there for 15 mins or so to last me another 2-3 days. It’s really great.
- The dual-frequency GPS is nice - living in a city it’s always nice to get faster and more accurate GPS measurements
- I am not going to go diving, but I do appreciate the water temperature sensor and already used it to measure my kids bath water, goes faster than bringing out the manual temperature sensor as I am always wearing the watch and I just have to put my hand down and it notices it has gone submerged and instantly I have a temperature reading. It’s great.
- The Action button - I use it to quick-start walking workouts since I go on at least a long walk a day. This can be configured in a lot of different ways, but this is what I use it for now.
- The increased screen brightness - have been outside on some very sunny days recently and it is night and day difference in readability
Most surprising is that I really don’t think it looks very large on me, even with my tiny wrists. It just looks good.
Sharing the primary watch faces I am using.
What do I do with Apple Watch
This section is not finished and intended for linking to various non-tech people in my life, to explain why I even wear an Apple Watch at all.
Close my rings
These certainly still, 8 years in, keep me motivated. Remind me to stand, push me to close out my Move goal. It works.
Goes without saying but I just love all the features around workout tracking.
Measure my health
I let it silently watch over me.
I have had a friend have Car Crash Detection actually triggered. She was in a taxi that hit another car due to slippery road. It immediately offered to call 911. Everybody was fine in the accident, but this reminded me that this is something that happens to people and could actually be a life saver.
I wear it every night. It provides insights into sleep phases (awake, REM, base, deep), my breathing frequency, heart rate and of course total time slept.
Apple Pay and Wallet
I never use Apple Pay on my iPhone. I use it on my Apple Watch daily if not multiple times a day. I carry one credit card in my MagSafe Wallet but I can’t remember last time I actually had to pull it out of there. The Apple Watch pays for me everywhere. And with Wallet, I can also do things like start a self-scanning section as our local supermarket.
Timers mostly but also for sending text messsages, initating calls, and home automation commands.
Unlock my Macs
When wearing the Apple Watch and it’s unlocked and I open up my laptop or my work computer, it helpfully automatically (and instantly) unlocks it.
Remote control for taking iPhone photos
I use this in social settings all the time.
Explanation of the MIL-STD-810 certification that the Apple Watch Ultra has:
MIL-STD-810, U S Department of Defense Test Method Standard, Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests, is a United States Military Standard that emphasizes tailoring an equipment’s environmental design and test limits to the conditions that it will experience throughout its service life, and establishing chamber test methods that replicate the effects of environments on the equipment rather than imitating the environments themselves. Although prepared specifically for U.S. military applications, the standard is often applied for commercial products as well. The standard’s guidance and test methods are intended to:
define environmental stress sequences, durations, and levels of equipment life cycles;
be used to develop analysis and test criteria tailored to the equipment and its environmental life cycle;
evaluate equipment’s performance when exposed to a life cycle of environmental stresses
identify deficiencies, shortcomings, and defects in equipment design, materials, manufacturing processes, packaging techniques, and maintenance methods; and
demonstrate compliance with contractual requirements.
Ok so that was the very first introduction to the Apple Watch (starting at the 55 minute mark). The band itself was actually presented at the later March 2015 event (the particular band around 1 hour 25 minutes). ↩︎