Apple Watch Ultra is a very good smartwatch. It has loads of features, very long battery life, titanium housing, and premium design. You can read all about how good it is in my colleague Victoria Song’s review from earlier this fall. Be sure to check out our recently published feature-length video review that digs deeper into Apple’s unique claims for the Ultra.
But as good as the Apple Watch Ultra is, it’s not an Apple Watch for me. I’m not an adventure athlete and have no aspirations to be one, but at the same time I’m a fan of smartwatches and appreciate beautiful mechanical watches (let’s be real, I would never be able to afford them). Ultra should My liking is based on these 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. Its Ultra-of-the-Range case, larger-than-normal design, and life-beyond capabilities speak to many of the same factors that explain why large and flashy dive watches are so popular.
I had the opportunity to give a long-term demo of the Ultra this fall, and while there are some things I definitely like, a month on my wrist just wasn’t enough to convince me to buy it. What he convinced me to do was find a used Series 7 and buy it instead. Here’s why.
There were three factors I really liked about the Ultra: the large screen, titanium frame, and long battery life. During my time wearing the watch, I could easily go two and a half days between charging it, even when I wore it all night for the silent alarm function to wake me up. The screen is large, bright and easy to read. The larger, more knurled Digital Crown is a pleasure to turn and click, and I didn’t have issues hitting the other buttons by accident when I flexed my wrist, as I know others have. The matte finish on the titanium case looks better than the glossy finish on Apple’s stainless steel models and feels nicer and more durable than the aluminum on the standard Apple Watch. It’s a nice balance between the two other metals that Apple uses.
What I didn’t like about the Ultra was how big it sat on my wrist. There’s no hiding this watch: it’s big, thick, and it stands out. Even though it wears lighter than I expected, it’s not the kind that I can wear and forget I’m wearing half the time. I can’t easily put it under a shirt or jacket, and I’m always worried about hitting it in door frames and such when I put it on. It’s also impossible to wear the Ultra—no matter if you outfit it with a leather strap or a metal bracelet, it still feels like a solid sports watch.
There is no camouflage to Ultra’s size or appearance
I’m also not a huge fan of the flat screen. It’s not pleasant to swipe and interact with the curved glass on standard Apple Watches, and the way the plateaus appear on top of the watch makes it appear separate from the rest of the design.
The Ultra’s other features fell short in my daily use, too. It’s great to have another button on the side of the watch to do things; It’s a shame there’s so little I can do with it. (As my colleague Vjeran Pavic noted in our Ultra review video, it would be nice if this watch changed its function based on focus modes, much like how the watch face changes automatically.) I don’t take calls from my wrist, so the loudspeaker didn’t turn on either. .
So the Apple Watch Ultra didn’t work for me. But it inspired me to find something, and I found it with the 45mm Series 7 Edition. This watch has a screen almost as big as the Ultra’s but keeps the curved sides that are easy to scroll and looks nicer on my wrist. It has a titanium frame that, while not quite the same as the Ultra’s bead-brushed finish, is close enough to my eyes. It’s smaller, sleeker, and more comfortable to wear than the Ultra, and I can easily dress it up for different outfits.
The main thing I’m given up on is the Ultra’s battery life — the Series 7 is an everyday charge, no matter what. But my personal routines have adapted in a way that’s not really a problem for me: I charge it for an hour or so until it’s full each night before I go to bed, then put it back on the charger when I wake up and shower to top it off for the day. I’ve yet to have an issue with my S7 running out of battery before I was ready to charge it.
You might be wondering why I’m referring to the Series 7 model here, the watch Apple launched over a year ago, and not the more recent Series 8, which shares its 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 the Series 8 in titanium that I love. The upside to this is that to get the Series 7 version I had to buy a used one, and I was able to get one in perfect condition for less than half the price of the Ultra (and half the price of what the version was when new).
Please return the release forms
After a month or so of wearing the Series 7 instead of the Ultra, I’m very happy with where I landed. I have a “nice” Apple Watch with many of the same features as the Ultra, without the flaws that come with it.
I think I’d say more than 1,000 words is: Bring Back Edition Watches, Apple.
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