We tested the Apple Watch Ultra, the connected watch to not put it on all wrists

We tested the Apple Watch Ultra, the connected watch to not put it on all wrists

Designed for athletes and daredevils, the new Apple Watch Ultra is officially intended for anyone looking for a high-end connected watch. After several minutes on our wrist, it seems obvious to us that it is not made for all audiences.

Is the new Apple Watch Ultra too big? During his presentation during the iPhone 14 keynote, this is clearly the question that came to mind the most. In all the promotional videos released by the brand, the 999 euro connected watch seemed huge and incompatible with most wrists. We had the opportunity to test it for a few minutes in Cupertino. Here’s our first take on the Apple Watch Ultra, as we await our test in the coming days.

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The authentic Apple Watch Sport

Remember, when Apple launched its first connected watch in 2015, the brand launched a “Sport” range with an aluminum face. Soon enough, the Apple Watch Sport disappeared and became simply the Apple Watch, in aluminum or steel, depending on the preferences (and budget) of its owners. Apple, which for a time had thought of declining its watch in several iterations, had concluded that it was better to offer a simple range.

Seven years later, the situation has changed. Now No. 1 in the connected watch market, Apple can afford to target specific segments. The Apple Watch Ultra is the first real version of the Apple Watch since its creation, aimed at the most extreme athletes.

See Ultra Perched
Here is the Apple Watch Ultra and its new design. // Source: Number

To adapt to them and harm companies specialized in the field, such as Garmin, Apple is betting on a padded design with stronger titanium edges, a non-curved sapphire screen and a new physical button dedicated to activities. Why a button? Because under water or with gloves, it is not possible to interact with the touch screen. Apple explained to us that this was a recurring request from its customers, which it decided to listen to. This button is quite large, sinks in well, and can actually be handy for starting a sports session or ending a stopwatch.

ultra button watch
The Apple Watch Ultra has an “Action” button on its left side. // Source: Number

To make all these changes possible, the Apple Watch Ultra sports a truly special design, designed to be strong and packed with maximum features. The Apple Watch Ultra is also entitled to a higher-capacity battery and a larger dial (49 millimeters), so its screen can display more information simultaneously. There too so athletes can see everything at a glance.

Is the Apple Watch Ultra really as good as a Garmin? At the moment, we have only been able to test very few functions, such as the possibility of reversing on a road thanks to a mode that takes advantage of its dual-frequency GPS. It works well, but it will take several days of testing to really know how efficient the Apple Watch Ultra is compared to a Series 7 or Series 8. Still, on paper, the watch looks well equipped. Everything will also depend on the work of third-party developers to add features not offered natively by Apple, such as preset uploads or others. Apple seems to have designed a lot of experiences just for the watch, without thinking that we might want a bigger screen to prepare activities.

A product designed for a specific category

Contrary to what we might have imagined at first glance, the Apple Watch Ultra is not that big. Despite its unique 49mm face (Apple explains that it couldn’t have made it any smaller given the built-in technologies), the watch doesn’t seem huge to us compared to a 45mm Apple Watch, the kind we’ve been wearing daily for several years. months. Of course, not everyone can say the same. On small wrists, the Apple Watch Ultra may often not be suitable. There are new wristbands designed to keep it in place, but is a product that protrudes from the wrist bearable by everyone? This is already the first problem with this Apple Watch Ultra, which no longer comes in various sizes like other models, and therefore inadvertently excludes certain people.

watch ultra watch 45
Next to a 45mm watch, the 49mm Watch Ultra looks pretty average. But it is much thicker. // Source: Number

Then, if we weren’t surprised by the size of the watch, we can’t say the same about its thickness. Aesthetically, it is not easy to get used to. Next to the sublime, curved and slim Series 8, the Apple Watch Ultra looks really overweight. Some will see it as a quality due to its robustness and greater autonomy, others will necessarily see it as a reason not to opt for this product. Even if Apple imagines its goal will be much higher than sports watches (and it’s probably right given its aura), the design of the Apple Watch Ultra will inevitably divide. It’s rare to see Apple tackle such a specific category, when the brand is used to targeting as broadly as possible.

Apple Watch Ultra // Source: Numerama Screenshot

How to explain certain design choices, such as “Crown Guard” Where are the rotating crown and the side button protruding? It is above all about improving the user experience when it is active. Thanks to this slight bump, the Digital Crown is easy to operate, even with wet fingers. The entire design of the Apple Watch Ultra was made with the idea of ​​making it more practical than beautiful.

Apple Watch Ultra Crown
The rotating crown is in a special place, which makes it easy to operate. // Source: Number

The Apple Watch Ultra isn’t for everyone and is likely to be more divisive than most other Apple products. We’re looking forward to testing it to see if its ultra-sporty features allow us to forget about its more divisive design and whether, despite our first impressions, it might be intended for someone who doesn’t go hiking every weekend.

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