The Apple presentation for new Apple Watch models and new iPhones just concluded and I have to say – I am disappointed in the new Apple Watch Ultra 2. Here is what it offers and why I am disappointed.
The New Apple Watch Ultra 2 – An Ultra Disappointment
A lot of people were excited when the Apple Watch Ultra was revealed last year. I mean, Apple knew who to talk to to help them sell this new device marketed mostly at people that were into endurance type activities. They had adventure runner Ray Zahab (who was one of the three runners to run the Sahara Desert) and Scott Jurek, an ultra runner who won the Boston Marathons of ultras, the Western States 100, a stunning 8 times.
There were many things about the new Apple Watch Ultra that did lure some more runners over to the Apple Watch system and I even gave it a try for a while to compare to Garmin. At the conclusion, I sold the Apple Watch Ultra since the Garmin devices deliver on many more points, including the very long battery life and the all-in-one software approach (whereas the Apple Watch Ultra would need like 4 different 3rd party apps to deliver the same app and wrist-based experience for activities).
While I think most people were not expecting a huge upgrade this year, since it has been only a year, there were still some expectations that Apple may come out with some things to address issues that could make it more appealing to a larger group. Those could have been a black titanium model (I would have loved that!) and maybe squeezing some more battery life out of it for ultra marathon/adventure use. Also, it would have been nice to see less bezel.
Why is the New Apple Watch Ultra 2 a Disappointment?
So, what did we get with Apple Watch Ultra 2? None of those things and not much else! True, there is a cool new double tap feature where you use the hand the watch is strapped to to just double tap your forefinger and thumb to use the primary action in the app you are in or do things like answer phone calls, take a photo, etc. This could be helpful for runs since I hate the dual press of the crown and action button just to pause a run. Double tapping would be cool if it works on that.
Apple also increased the brightness from 2000 nits to 3000 nits which should definitely help in daytime viewing. They also gave a new Ultra watch face that uses more of the display to give more complication views. But, they didn’t actually shrink those bezels. And, from the presentation at least, the battery life was not improved. Given the fact that they went with a new chip that should be more efficient, they could have likely squeezed out some more battery life but they didn’t choose to do that.
Instead, they did an almost weird break between the Apple Watch Series 9 reveal and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 to address their progression towards their 2030 carbon neutral goal. And, depending on the band you choose, you can have an Apple Watch that is totally carbon neutral. I just thought it was a weird spot to drop that in between watch models (unless it was to draw more of the attention to the Ultra since many ultra runners/trail runners would be more likely to desire a watch that is carbon neutral).
And, there was no new titanium color – just the same original titanium. With rumors pointing to a redesign for next year, I would have thought that making a black titanium version would have been a simple way to grab even current Apple Watch Ultra owners to the new model. But, instead, Apple didn’t give a reason for probably 99% of current Apple Watch Ultra model owners to upgrade. In fact, there is nothing here that Garmin or Coros needs to fear either.
I wish they had pushed things a bit – I probably would have had it reside on my primary wrist for a while longer this time. But, my Garmin Epix Pro is safe right where it is. 🙂 In reality, I definitely prefer Garmin but there are some things with the Apple Watch that I do love – cellular connectivity, more 2 way interaction with apps, tighter integration with my iPhone, Audible for my audiobooks – but they didn’t give us a thing to draw me away for even a short time. Might I try it out? Maybe, but it will be returned or sold after.
The biggest winners? Those who can find the original Apple Watch Ultra at steeper discounts because you will likely not miss the difference between it and the new Ultra 2. Yes, a brighter screen is nice, Siri onboard is nice, and the new watch face is nice but I think they still missed giving people more reasons to upgrade/switch.