The Apple Watch Ultra: A Big, All-in-One Smartwatch That’s Ready for Adventure

It’s durable, accurate, and packed with powerful fitness tracking features

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Apple Watch Ultra

Apple Watch Ultra

Verywell Fit / Courtesy of Donna Freydkin

What We Like
  • Big, bright screen

  • Improved battery life

  • Accurate GPS and tracking

  • Extremely durable

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

  • Limited recovery metrics

  • May be too big and heavy for some

  • May have too much functionality for some

The Bottom Line

With an improved battery life and accurate tracking capabilities, the Apple Watch Ultra is a splurge-worthy smartwatch—but it may be too oversized and complicated for casual users. 


Apple Watch Ultra

Apple Watch Ultra

Verywell Fit / Courtesy of Donna Freydkin

Before even strapping the Apple Watch Ultra on, it’s obvious that it’s not a simple upgrade from previous models. The Ultra is a big, chunky, departure from the sleek, streamlined Apple Watch Series 8, It’s also significantly more expensive—but it boasts a larger display, a more durable design, and a range of new features.

So, is the Ultra worth the added cost? To find out, we tested Apple’s latest smartwatch for a month, evaluating its comfort, ease of use, and health tracking features. We wanted to see how it counted steps, held up to daily workouts, and more. After a month of testing, here’s what we found:

Who It’s For

With a rugged design and advanced tracking features, the Apple Watch Ultra is ideal for endurance athletes, outdoor adventurers, and water sport enthusiasts. Even those who aren’t fitness-obsessed will appreciate the long battery life, better speaker and microphone, large, clear display, and accurate GPS tracking.

However, the Ultra’s tough, bold design won’t appeal to everyone. The watch is significantly bigger than previous models and can’t really be worn discreetly. But if you don’t mind the oversized look and love pushing your fitness limits, this might be the watch for you.

Ease of Setup: Simple, but not without issues

Like most Apple products, the Ultra is straightforward to set up: Just pair it with your iPhone and follow the prompts. We think if you’ve used Apple technology in the past, you’ll find that the process is simple. However, our tester did have to download multiple updates before they could actually use the watch. This created some frustrating delays and earned the Ultra a 3.9 out of 5 for ease of setup. 

Ease of Use: Straightforward and user-friendly

Experienced Apple product users will also find the Ultra very familiar and intuitive. Plus, some of the design changes make the Ultra even more user-friendly. For example, the deeper ridges in the digital crown make it so you can use the watch even while wearing gloves. 

The bigger, brighter display also makes navigating the watch and reading text much easier, earning the watch a 4.7 out of 5 for ease of use. Our tester was able to track their workouts easily and appreciated the data they saw, which went beyond what they could track using other apps.

Fitness Tracking: Robust and accurate

Whether you want a smartwatch for tracking your daily activities or hard-core training sessions, the Ultra provides in-depth, accurate stats. It features heart-rate zone tracking and enhanced custom workouts. The watch makes it easier to assess such activities as core training on balance boards. It can also detect certain forms of exercise automatically, including walking, running, and cycling.

In multisport mode, it automatically switches between different workouts, making it a nice choice for triathletes. And avid runners will appreciate new running metrics, like stride length, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation. Our tester enjoyed digesting the metrics they got from their workouts, noting that the information encouraged them to keep reaching for new personal goals.

Apple Watch Ultra

Verywell Fit / Courtesy of Donna Freydkin

Comfort: Large and bulky

We found that the larger size of the Ultra definitely takes some getting used to, especially for those who are accustomed to the sleek look and feel of the Series 8. Our tester has an average-sized wrist, and the Ultra felt like wearing a wrist weight. 

At the end of the day, our tester's wrist hurt from wearing it, and the watch itself kept hitting things when they moved their hand—it's that big. The watch just felt awkward, and they never forgot they were wearing it. As a result, I scored the Ultra a 3.8 out of 5 for comfort.

While those with smaller wrists may find it unwieldy, the watch is made with titanium, so it’s still relatively lightweight (given its display size and robust functionality).

The watch can be worn with one of three new wristband options: the Alpine Loop, the Trail Loop, and the Ocean Band. Each strap is designed for specific activities, but their rugged look and feel may add to the watch’s bulkiness. I swapped out the included band for an elastic one, and found it to be more comfortable for everyday wear.

Design: Big, bright, and durable

While the Ultra has all the familiar elements of previous models, it’s bigger, bolder, and tougher. Made of flat sapphire crystal, the durable face is scratch-resistant and gets extra protection from the screen’s raised edges. It’s also water-resistant to 100m and can withstand recreational diving to 40m, making it a great pick for water sports enthusiasts.

It's hard to imagine going back to smaller models after using this one.

The side button is contained in its own housing and the digital crown has deep ridges, making it easier to use when you’re sweaty or wearing gloves. A new Action button on the opposite side can be customized to perform functions like starting and stopping workouts, marking intervals during speed workouts, or marking locations while hiking.

The Ultra’s always-on retina display makes it easy to see everything from notifications to workout stats. We found that the screen was clear in all light conditions, from darkness to bright sunlight. The larger screen makes the watch that much easier to navigate, and we think it would be hard to go back to smaller models after using this one.

Features: Almost too capable

Like the Series 8, the Ultra can track your daily activities, sleep quality, blood oxygen, heart rate, and body temperature. But the Ultra takes it up a notch with new safety features, like a built-in compass, a siren that can be heard up to 600 feet away, and crash and fall detection.

Another big upgrade is the dual-frequency GPS system, which can accurately calculate distance, pace, and route maps. Swimmers and divers will also appreciate the depth gauge, which activates automatically when you submerge, and the water temperature sensor.

The Ultra also comes with cellular connectivity, so you can call, text, listen to music, or get directions from your wrist, even without Wi-Fi connection. And it’s equipped with two speakers and three microphones, for better performance and clarity when taking calls or listening to music. Our tester especially noticed a huge improvement with the microphone, which was much better than the ones in older models.

That being said, the robust features may be too much for the average user. Our tester explained that they didn't need to know if they were in danger of falling, and they didn't need access to a compass. We think they’re nice features, but not something the average urban dweller needs.

Battery Life: Much longer than earlier models

The Ultra’s 36 hours of battery life is a dramatic improvement over the Series 8 and older models. That’s especially useful for people who need their watch to keep up with them during weekend hikes, camping trips, and other outdoor adventures. And we found that Apple’s claim is true—the watch’s battery really did last for a full 36 hours. 

The low-power mode for workouts extends the battery life even further, up to 60 hours. With that said, it still doesn’t compare to Fitbit or Garmin devices, which typically last at least a week on a single charge.

Accuracy: Precise fitness tracking and GPS

The Ultra’s health tracking, fitness tracking, and GPS were all spot-on, earning it a 4.8 out of 5 for accuracy. While the heart rate sensor is the same as the one on the Series 8, the Ultra’s GPS is a major upgrade. 

It’s based on L1 and L5 frequencies, compared to the L1-only GPS on previous models. Two bands of GPS reduce the likelihood that your signal gets dropped when you’re surrounded by tall buildings or trees, so the tracking is much more reliable.

Apple Watch Ultra

Verywell Fit / Courtesy of Donna Freydkin

Dimensions and Weight: Heavy and oversized

Measuring 49 millimeters and weighing 61.3 grams (or about 0.14 pounds), the Ultra is undoubtedly large. Although the flat screen somewhat offsets its 14.4-millimeter height, it’s worth noting that the watch is significantly larger than the Series 8. In comparison, the older model is 45 millimeters long, 10.7 millimeters high, and weighs 51.5 grams.

The Ultra’s bulky size may be too cumbersome and annoying for everyday wear, especially for those with small wrists. Our tester found it a bit uncomfortable to wear to bed—a huge negative for those who like to track their sleep. We'd love to see a smaller, sleeker size that’s more lightweight.

How We Tested

To thoroughly evaluate the Apple Watch Ultra, our tester used it for a month to track their daily activity and workouts. They wore the watch all day to test overall comfort and used different workout modes to try out various features. For certain functionalities, like step counting, they performed simple tests to check the watch’s accuracy.

To assess the Ultra’s battery life, our tester used the watch until the battery died and then noted how long it had lasted. This process was repeated numerous times over the month-long testing period, noting how the battery life was affected based on which features they used.


The Apple Watch Ultra usually costs about $800, which is basically twice the price of the Series 8. It’s also much more expensive than other popular smartwatch/fitness tracker hybrids, such as the Fitbit Sense 2 or the Fitbit Versa 4, which are typically in the $200-$300 range.

However, given the Ultra’s impressive durability, accurate tracking, cellular connectivity, and improved battery life, it’s not overpriced. We think it's an excellent value for those who want a big smartwatch with impressive capabilities.

The Competition

Garmin Epix 2: The Garmin Epix 2 offers robust tracking and navigation that’s comparable to the Ultra’s, making it a popular pick among endurance athletes. Unlike the Ultra, the Epix 2 offers recovery metrics, which are especially useful for determining when to take rest days or crank up the intensity. It also boasts a longer battery life of about two weeks, so it’s a better option for continuous health and fitness tracking.

Pricewise, the Ultra is less expensive than the Epix 2, which usually runs about $1,000. The Ultra is also easier to use and integrates seamlessly with the iPhone. This means you can use it for things like mobile payments, taking calls, using apps, and listening to music. Athletes who love to dig into their stats and appreciate the Ultra’s convenience may prefer the Ultra over a high-end Garmin device like the Epix 2.

Apple Watch Series 8: Like the Ultra, the Apple Watch Series 8 works seamlessly with other Apple products. It’s easy to set up and intuitive to use. One of the biggest complaints about the Series 8 (and older models) is that it requires frequent charging, with a shorter battery life of up to 18 hours. But for people who want a sleek, comfortable smartwatch to track basic fitness metrics and stay on top of notifications, it’s a solid choice that gets the job done. It’s also half the price of the Ultra, at about $400.

If you’re willing to pay a lot more for a bigger, more robust option, the Ultra is a dramatic improvement in terms of features, battery life, and display size and clarity.

Final Verdict

If you’re already a fan of Apple products and can afford the high price, this is the best Apple Watch available. However, it’s oversized and clunky, so it may be too overwhelming for users with small wrists. And while endurance athletes and outdoor adventurers will appreciate the Ultra’s new features and precise accuracy, the watch may have too much functionality for casual users.

The price may also be a huge deterrent for some people. The included cellular connectivity is a big reason for the added cost—so if this isn’t important to you, you may want to reconsider. But for those looking for a durable, rugged smartwatch with good battery life and a wide range of fitness features, the Ultra is a smart investment.


  • Product Name Apple Watch Ultra
  • Product Brand Apple
  • Price $799.00
  • Weight 14.4 oz.
  • Color Silver case; multiple band styles/colors
  • Product Dimensions 49mm x 44m x 14.4mm
  • Material Titanium, flat sapphire front crystal, ceramic and sapphire crystal back
  • Battery Life Up to 36 hours of normal use
  • Connectivity (or Compatibility) LTE and UMTS8; Wi-Fi - 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz; Bluetooth 5.3; iPhone only
  • Water-Resistant Yes to 100m; Swim-proof and recreational diving up to 40m
  • Heart Rate Tracking Yes
  • Warranty One-year limited warranty
  • What’s Included Watch; Band; 1m Magnetic Charging Cable