Sharing hands-on experience with the Apple Watch Ultra: strong enough, smart enough, but not sporty enough

In this year’s 2022 fall conference, Apple launched the Apple Watch Ultra, the ultimate sports watch for outdoor enthusiasts for the first time; we just got the first batch of Apple Watch Ultra arriving in the past few days, so let’s share with you the actual hands-on experience.

How Apple Watch Ultra looks and feels

Meticulous workmanship and strong character, fully conveying the Ultra product positioning concept

The Apple Watch Ultra is designed in a hard-line and masculine style, which will give people a very strong, durable, and professional image; it is in line with the idea of ​​Ultra’s product positioning.

But on the contrary, there is less “fashion sense”, so if it is a daily outing, I think the ordinary Apple Watch will be more suitable.

The 49mm titanium body is very delicate in workmanship and rich in details. With the full-plane sapphire crystal glass surface, it can fully show the excellent and advanced texture of Apple products as always.

Compared with the Apple Watch Series 7 45mm, the Apple Watch Ultra is significantly larger and thicker, so the wearing ratio of users with smaller wrists may be a bit strange.

The proportions may look a bit odd for users with smaller wrists

Here I will also show you the proportions and overall appearance of my wrists wearing the Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch Ultra respectively.

44mm, 45mm, 49mm straps are all common

Although the case of Apple Watch Ultra is enlarged to 49mm, it actually shares the same strap specification with the three case sizes of 44mm, 45mm and 49mm.

That is to say, the 49mm strap designed for Apple Watch Ultra can be used for 44mm and 45mm general Apple Watch; the strap used for 44mm and 45mm general Apple Watch can also be used for Apple Watch Ultra.

I myself use Apple’s original 45mm sports watch ring (I didn’t use the marine watch strap that comes with it because it’s not easy to wear, and I usually don’t use it when I go out). The shape is also good-looking, and I highly recommend everyone to try this strap that can be adjusted indefinitely.

Bigger, thicker, heavier, but easy to get used to

In the past, I was an Apple Watch Series 7 45mm user, and when I actually put on the Apple Watch Ultra, I could clearly feel its full weight, and it really felt like a heavy hand when I first put it on. But it didn’t feel uncomfortable, and I got used to the weight pretty quickly.

There is just one place that you may have to get used to, because the Apple Watch Ultra is larger and thicker, so it is easy to get stuck on the bag strap during daily use, and it will feel a little stuck when wearing long-sleeved clothes, and put your hand into your pocket. It’s also easier to get stuck when holding things.

And the probability of accidental knocking is quite high (because the body has become larger). Although the Apple Watch Ultra is very sturdy, accidental knocking will also be quite heart-wrenching. The above usage scenarios require users to slowly get used to it.

Apple Watch Ultra screen and body buttons experience

Large display area + higher brightness +  full flat design = clearer and better operation

Next, let’s talk about the main interactive core “screen” of Apple Watch Ultra. Compared with the Apple Watch Series 7 45mm, the Apple Watch Ultra has a slightly larger screen, and the display area has also increased by about 3.6%, from 1143mm² to 1185mm².

Looking at any App icons, buttons, and information on Apple Watch Ultra will be a little bigger (but really a little) than Apple Watch Series 7 45mm, and I think the visual effect is relatively clear.

In terms of brightness, the maximum brightness has also been increased to 2000 nits, which is 2 times that of the Apple Watch Series 7 45mm. It can keep the screen clearly displayed in strong light environments, and because the Apple Watch Ultra will not be significantly hot like the iPhone, so It can be maintained at 2000 nits for a long time, and the phenomenon of brightness reduction is unlikely to occur.

Another advantage brought by the ultra-high brightness of 2000 nits is that it will become super bright when using the flashlight function. It is actually quite practical to temporarily do simple lighting in a low-light environment.

Compared with the Apple Watch Series 7 45mm on the edge of the curved screen, the full-flat screen of the Apple Watch Ultra also brings operational advantages. Clicking options and buttons on the edge of the screen will be more precise, and the swipe operation will be a little easier.

Newly designed body buttons: easy to use, but 2 places to get used to

Apple Watch Ultra also has a distinctive feature: the enlarged and raised digital crown and side buttons, the main purpose is to make it easy for users to wear gloves when conducting outdoor activities.

The first place I need to get used to is the “digital crown”. The digital crown on the Apple Watch Ultra has greater resistance to rotation, and there is a case covering around it, which means that the range of rotation can be limited if operated with one hand. The digital crown cannot be turned as much with one hand as the traditional Apple Watch.

As for the newly added action button, it brings more diverse operation methods to the Apple Watch Ultra. You can customize 7 functions, and long press to activate the “siren” function:

  • Physical Training
  • stopwatch
  • waypoint
  • backtracking
  • diving
  • flashlight
  • shortcut

The second thing that needs to be adapted is the accidental touch of the action button. Because the action button is located on the left side of the fuselage, when operating the digital crown and the side button, you will subconsciously “pinch both sides together”, and then it is easy to accidentally touch the action button. It really takes a bit of getting used to, like I now control the pressing force, or dodge the action buttons on purpose.

Five key features of Apple Watch Ultra

After talking about the appearance and operation, let’s introduce the 5 key functions of Apple Watch Ultra, among which the marked (exclusive) representatives are the exclusive functions of Apple Watch Ultra, which are:

  • Pathfinder Surface (Exclusive)
  • backtracking
  • waypoint
  • Siren (Exclusive)
  • Diving-related functions (exclusive)

Pathfinder watch face: The most versatile Apple Watch watch face ever

The Pathfinder watch face is an exclusive watch face preset for Apple Watch Ultra, and it is also the most versatile Apple Watch watch face in history, making the whole watch look really Ultra!

There are a total of 9 blocks on the surface of the Pathfinder that can be customized, including the circular outer frame of the disk, the periphery of the disk, and the inside of the circular frame in the center of the disk. You can freely set the information and functions you want to access.

When using the Pathfinder Surface, if you turn the digital crown clockwise, the Pathfinder Surface’s unique night mode will be turned on. In night mode, all elements on the surface will be displayed in bright red; as to why it is bright red, YouTube Netizen “One Seed” explained:

“Red light” is a kind of light that is often used in the dark outdoors. Compared with other colors of light, the “red light” is less dazzling to the eyes. Therefore, “red light” can effectively protect dark vision. When you are in a mountain house or tent, you can reduce the impact on others. On the other hand, “red light” is the color light with the longest wavelength and has better penetrating power, which is especially useful in haze and rainy conditions.

After the above description, it is not difficult to understand why the wayfinder surface of Apple Watch Ultra has a special night mode. In night mode, rotating the digital crown counterclockwise can return to the original color display.

I am also accustomed to using the Pathfinder Surface for daily wear. In addition to making the Apple Watch Ultra look more professional, it can also make full use of the large screen to display more useful information. It is a unique surface with both appearance and practicality.

Backtracking function: no longer afraid of getting lost and lost

First of all, backtracking is a small function in the Compass App. It can be used on Apple Watch Series 8, SE 2nd generation, and Series 7 equipped with watchOS 9, but it is not sure how many generations of Apple Watches can be supported down. It’s just “backtracking” ” function on the Apple Watch Ultra, because of the dual-frequency GPS of L1 + L5, the positioning can be more accurate.

What does backtracking mean? Simply put, after the backtracking function is turned on, Apple Watch Ultra will completely record your walking route. When you reach the destination and press to start backtracking, Apple Watch Ultra will take you back to the starting point. Here’s the actual test for you:

Suppose I park my car, enable the backtracking feature where I parked, and walk to a nearby restaurant to eat, then I will see the Apple Watch Ultra record my route to the restaurant with an orange line.

When I arrive at the restaurant and press to start backtracking, the original orange route will turn white, the white dot in the center of the screen will have a fan-shaped area, which is the direction you are facing, and there will be a small white arrow on the edge of the map. Point to the starting point bearing, so you can use bearing + path indication to get back to where you stopped.

However, after actual use, it is found that the current backtracking function has several features and needs to be improved:

  1. The movement path cannot be accurately captured in the indoor environment and complex floors, and the retrospective function in the outdoor environment can work normally.
  2. The backtracking function cannot capture the Z-axis path, which means that moving up and down the stairs will not be recognized as a path.
  3. When capturing a path and tracing a path backwards, sometimes the route on the screen is not fully displayed.
  4. Even if the watch is facing straight ahead, the pointing direction on the screen may still deviate.
  5. When tracing the path in reverse, there is a chance that the path may not be aligned with the center point, or the original path may be deviated.

I guess it may be because I use it in an urban area, the signal interference is complex, and the impact backtracking function cannot work accurately. Apple officials also specifically stated:

Backtracking works well in distant environments, far from familiar places like home or work, and in less densely populated areas without Wi-Fi.

So if you are really in areas such as mountains, camps, wilderness, etc., it will be a very practical function.

Of course, it may also be because this is the first new feature of watchOS 9, and there are still a lot of system bugs waiting to be fixed, resulting in various unstable problems. Users are also welcome to share with us the status of using the backtracking function.

Waypoint function: mark key areas to create your personal map

Another new feature of the watchOS 9 Compass App is “waypoints”. The waypoints function is also available on other Apple Watches with watchOS 9, but it is also uncertain to be backward compatible to the first generation of Apple Watches.

When using the “waypoint” function, you can mark the current position as a waypoint; after marking and creating multiple waypoints, you can view the approximate location of these waypoints through the compass app.

Click on the created waypoint, and the system will display the direction and distance of the waypoint, so that you can reach the correct location of these waypoints.

In what situations does the waypoint function apply? For example, “camping” and “climbing activities” are very suitable for using the waypoint function. Assuming that after arriving at the camp, you can set up a waypoint in the tent area, a waypoint by the river, and a waypoint in the forest area; so that no matter where you are, you can quickly grasp the approximate locations of these three areas. , like a small map that is your own.

Siren: an artifact for help, can be heard as far as 180 meters

The siren function to be introduced next is the exclusive function of the Apple Watch Ultra. The siren function can be activated through the side button or the action button; when the siren is turned on, the Apple Watch Ultra will emit a series of irregular rhythms, siren-like harsh sounds.

When the siren is in use, the volume of at least 100 decibels is measured around the watch. The actual sound is really loud and very noisy; Apple officially stated that the sound can be heard as far as 180 meters or 600 feet. Although there is no actual test, I believe that the harsh alarm sound of this volume can play a role in the field call for help.

New “diving” motion detection

Apple Watch Ultra supports diving detection because it is equipped with a depth gauge and a water temperature sensor for the first time. The original “Water Depth” app can be automatically activated during recreational underwater activities such as snorkeling and can display the time, dive depth, water temperature, dive time, and the maximum depth reached.

The other “Oceanic+” is a subscription app designed by Apple and the well-known diving equipment brand Huish Outdoors. It can use the Apple Watch Ultra as a small diving computer. When users perform scuba, diving and other activities, they can assist in providing Related diving information.

However, these two functions have not had the opportunity to test in a short period of time. Users who have already taken the Apple Watch Ultra into the water are welcome to share with you!

Apple Watch Ultra is tough enough, smart enough, but not sporty enough

Finally, let’s share the experience of using the Apple Watch Ultra in the past few days. To be honest, when I watched the presentation, I really thought that the Apple Watch Ultra was an ultra-professional and super-powerful ultimate sports watch; but in fact, I felt that if the Apple Watch Ultra was to be used as a professional sports watch, there was still room for improvement.

I feel that Apple really wants to create a sports watch that is convenient for outdoor activities, and is slowly expanding the functions of Apple Watch to various sports fields. Unfortunately, the Apple Watch Ultra at this stage has everything, but everything is not good. .

Apple Watch Ultra is sturdy enough, smart enough, but not sporty enough. Compared with watches that focus on professional sports (such as Garmin), Apple Watch Ultra is stronger in user experience, smart functions, ecosystem linkage, etc.; while professional sports watches are Strong in motion detection, motion analysis, battery life, etc.

Apple Watch Ultra is Apple’s first step into the professional sports field, and I hope that Apple can continue to move forward in this field in the future and make an Apple Watch that combines professional sports and smart functions.

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Title: Sharing hands-on experience with the Apple Watch Ultra: strong enough, smart enough, but not sporty enough