Sat. May 18th, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • The Apple Watch Ultra is overkill for most people, with unnecessary features and limited practical use.
  • Regular watches with Bluetooth offer basic fitness tracking without the need for a smartwatch.
  • Constant charging, notification overload, and missing essential features made the Ultra frustrating, prompting a switch to a Casio watch.

My wife’s as much a tech geek as I am, and she was instantly sold on the Apple Watch Ultra when she first laid eyes on it. However, just over a year later, she ditched the Ultra (and all smartwatches) for a classic Casio watch instead. I tried to understand why, and she had some pretty interesting reasoning.

The Ultra Is True Overkill

At the time she decided she wanted the Watch Ultra, we were both rocking Apple Watch 6 models, but Apple’s marketing was pretty convincing. While I decided that I had no use for the Ultra’s over-engineered design, my wife is something of an outdoors(wo)man and actually does stuff like hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and so on. The Ultra seemed perfect for that sort of thing and her Series 6 had a little bit of wear and tear, so the appeal of the smartwatch equivalent of a tank seemed great.

Apple Watch Ultra underwater

In the end, it turns out that even the humble mainstream Apple Watch would have been good enough, and the Watch Ultra was never really put to the test. While I’m sure that there are plenty of extreme athletes out there who really need an Ultra, for most people it’s probably like having an SUV in the suburbs, never seeing anything steeper than a curb.

Fitness Features Don’t Need a Smartwatch Anymore

One of the main reasons we started using smartwatches in the first place was to track our daily steps and ensure that we were getting enough exercise. The thing is, you don’t actually need a “smart” watch to do that anymore. At least when it comes to tracking steps. Watchmakers like Casio now offer regular watches with Bluetooth that still lets you connect to an app and collect basic fitness data. Likely enough for the average person who isn’t specifically a fitness nut, but just wants to know if they got their 10K steps in for the day.

Constant Charging Is an Utter Pain

Apple Watch Ultra box contents spread out on table

Bill Loguidice / Review Geek

Ironically, one of the reasons she wanted the Ultra was thanks to the battery life improvements over the standard watch. The Ultra model boasts up to eighteen hours of battery life, and, indeed, that’s what we got. However, adding 50% more battery life didn’t really make the short battery life of smartwatches less annoying. A typical Casio G-Shock will give you up to six years of battery life. Even the fitness Bluetooth models promise up to two years of battery life.

You Can’t Escape Notifications (Or Deal With Them)

Showing a Apple Watch Ultra 2 on a wrist
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

While this has more to do with overall smartwatch fatigue than the Ultra in particular, one major reason for my significant other reaching the end of her rope and changing to a Casio “dumb” watch is that there’s no hiding from your phone notifications. This wouldn’t be so bad if you could deal with those notifications on the watch itself. However, in most cases she’d have to pull out her iPhone anyway to reply, see a picture, watch a video, or whatever else the notification was about. So the watch wasn’t even cutting down on her phone time, it was just putting a superfluous step in front of pulling the phone out one way or another.

The Ultra Keeps Waking Her Up at Night

Since that longer battery life doesn’t mean she didn’t have to charge the watch overnight anyway, it brought up another annoying issue. We invested in one of those triple-charger stands that holds an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods at the same time. However, the Watch Ultra would light up randomly during the night, waking her up. She even tried turning the watch off completely before putting it on charge, but it would eventually turn itself on while charging. Sure, you could just shove it in a drawer, but that defeats the

Obvious Features Are Still Missing From the Ultra

The last point she raised ties some of what I’ve already mentioned above together. Basically, the Watch Ultra is simply not the advancement she was expecting. It’s closer to a wrist-worn smartphone, except when you try to use it without a smartphone, it’s far less capable. Despite having a cellular model, you can’t just leave your house without your iPhone. At least not if you want more than the most rudimentary functionality. No watching videos, no mobile web browsing, not even basic versions of popular apps.

If the Ultra actually let her leave that iPhone behind or eventually completely replace it, then it might still be on her wrist. Instead, her iPhone 14 Pro will stay in her bag or pocket, and that Casio G-Shock will be doing its one simple job for years without any effort on her part.

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By John P.

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