When the Apple Watch first came out, I was pretty skeptical of its value that it had. I was already using a smartwatch called Pebble (R.I.P. Pebble), and that cost a fraction of the price of the Apple Watch. Back then, I was a little more skeptical of products when Apple released them and didn't immediately get excited about them. I still bought them nonetheless, but I was more skeptical and weary of spending my money on them. I just didn't understand what the watch would do that would benefit my life.
Fast forward almost a decade later and I have purchased an Apple Watch that cost almost twice the price as the original and didn't blink an eye or question. My how times have changed.
When the rumors of the Apple Watch Ultra started to come up, I wasn't sure what they were going to make it to give it the Ultra name. Then they actually announced this watch and all its features and I pretty much thought to myself, "Yeah, they did it."
The Ultra name definitely fits the description of the watch compared to the regular model, however, it is really meant for those active people. The three main modes were hiking, amateur scuba diving, and runners (runners more than the amateur ones, I'm talking marathon runners). Between the Wayfinder, the improved compass & the new scuba diving application, the Apple Watch really catered to these people. MKBHD and the team talked to people who fit these descriptions on their podcast (WVFRM) and had a really good discussion with them. I'll link the podcast episode below and highly recommend you check it out. Since I don't fit any of those descriptions, I can't fully comment on those experiences.
What I can comment on is how I use this device every day as an average fitness person. For starters, the build quality of this device has definitely improved. It is now built with a titanium case that is sporting a 49mm FLAT display. I absolutely love the flat display and have been wanting it for years. They definitely upped the design from the previous version. I have always opted for a bigger watch so if you like a bigger watch, I don't think that it is too massive on your wrist.
Another change that they have made is they added a new button on the watch, the action button. You can customize this button to do different control over workout functions. This is such a great addition. You won't believe how many times I wish I could customize some of the other buttons for this kind of functionality. I don't find the workout layout on the watch to be super confusing, but I think it could have some improvements and this button is a very welcome change.
The battery life has definitely been an improvement to the previous watch. It will last me about a day and a half with promises of 60 hours of battery life in a later watch update. This is super helpful especially when you sleep with your watch. With the quality of this screen and the features of this device, the battery should be getting destroyed. But with the new changes they have made, I am very impressed with the watch's battery life.
Things to Improve
There are some things that I would like to improve even though I do find the watch to be great.
I've been having this issue since Day 1 on my Apple Watch, but since now the watch has doubled in price, I personally feel like this shouldn't still be an issue. This is mostly software, but there are times when the watch just doesn’t sync the information correctly, specifically the messages application. Multiple times I will interact with my messages application on my phone and hours later will notice that the messages application on my watch did not sync properly. It will have messages still unread that I have already read and have responded to as well. I'm not sure why this is happening, but this issue has followed me on multiple watches.
Another thing is that they did add another watch face on this, but I would love some more customization for the Apple Watch. I know they are just starting to allow customization for the Apple Watch, but it would be nice if they could allow even more customization.
This is completely a personal preference, but I am a fan of wearing all black and have all-black devices (S/O MKBHD). For the previous Apple Watch, I would get the black version (or whatever is closest that they offer). This version is only offered in the one Titanium build. It would be nice if they could still offer different colors for this device. Again, this is totally a personal preference, but it is a preference nonetheless.
Overall, this new watch is great. Apple did an amazing job and right now, it is definitely my favorite watch. At the time of writing this, I did just stop using a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and switched over to a Pixel Watch on my other wrist (yes, I wear two watches every day haha) so maybe my stance will change (stay tuned for the Pixel Watch Review).
If you do not care about any of these features, I would stick with the regular Apple Watch Series 8 (or even the new SE). However, if you end up purchasing this device, you will love it. You can see the time and effort Apple put into this product and I am enjoying it thoroughly. I am interested in how they will one-up the device in the future.
Links Mentioned Above
WVFRM Podcast w/ Apple Watch Ultra Interviews - youtu.be/vGlbCM2coDU?t=2762
*Update November 7th, 7:00 AM ET: Fixed spelling error and incorrect measure of Apple Watch Ultra from 49inch to 49mm.*