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28 Oct, 2023
8 min time to read

Minimal changes, maximum impressions. That's how I summarize my emotions from the second version of the most " highly customized" Apple Watch.

Walking around Emirates Mall on a hot Dubai day, I walked into the Apple Store with a friend. My friend was buying himself a new version of Apple Watch Ultra 2, and with a smile on my face, I thought that this was probably one of the strangest purchases of his life. But as you may have realized from the title, I later got caught up with the company myself and bought an Apple Watch Ultra 2.

You can read about why I did it and why I don't regret it below.

Attractive price combined with trade-in and the magic of the Apple Store

Before we start discussing the device itself, I think it's important to talk about the process of buying it. Because without some of Apple's tricks and techniques, I probably wouldn't have bought the watch and passed it by.

Apple Store is an ingenious structure where you don't just buy another gadget or subscription. Here you get acquainted with the world of technologies of the Apple company, find a consultant to your liking and communicate with him/her about anything you want. They will help you or at least try to help you with any questions.

When I came in to look at the new watch, I didn't even think about buying it. But the atmosphere around me - the openness of the shelves, the sociable consultants, and trade-in - did their job. Don't you ever feel that you like everything, but you wish the price could be slightly reduced to an attractive one? That's exactly what happened to me. Trying on the watch, I started to catch the idea that I should buy it, but the high price (3200 dirhams) discouraged me.

However, a friendly staff member offered me to value my old Apple Watch Series 7 and trade it in. I didn't get much for them, but it was at that moment that a small discount of 420 dirhams convinced me to make the purchase and leave the store with a brand new watch.

By the way, the trade-in process is extremely swift. You simply take the watch off your hand, an assistant assesses it and resets it to factory settings. The whole process takes maximum 5 minutes. And here you are standing in the store with a bright-white bag, an empty purse and a smile on your face.

Overall impressions and thoughts

In reviews of the Ultra series, you can often find the opinion that they are very large and do not look good on a small wrist. I thought so too, until I tried the watch on. Even on my thin wrist the device looks organic. No matter how you look at it, Apple designers have thought about the size, weight, and dimensions to make the device versatile.

Due to its light weight, which was achieved through the use of titanium, the watch is comfortable to wear. It's even comfortable to wear while sleeping, and you can't injure someone with an accidental movement if you want to. At the same time, the design of the watch still looks "alive" and not outdated. A flat display flush with the case, an additional button for separate functions - you've heard it all before.

It is surprising that in the second version of the ultimatum watch Apple did not offer a variety of colors, which are available, say, in the iPhone with the same titanium case. If you don't know the details, you won't be able to distinguish between the first and second versions at a glance. The devices are absolutely identical, but the devil is in the details. We'll talk about them later.

In my opinion, such Ultra will be relevant for a few more years, which is likely to help make Apple a good profit with low development costs. The company is very conservative in updating watch design, according to rumors, even next year, the year of the 10th anniversary of the Apple Watch, we should not expect something breakthrough in this regard.

With all that said, the watch is a success, it bypasses the weaknesses found in the regular Apple Watch with a fresh look and improved battery life. Let me put it this way: a watch that doesn't need to be charged every day is much more enjoyable to wear.

In my case with workouts and activity tracking, I have to put the watch on charge every 2-4 days, depending on the intensity of the measurements. Of course, they are far from the autonomy of a Garmin or Amazfit T-Rex, but still much more pleasant than charging a regular Apple Watch every day.

Only five differences from the first gen

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is essentially last year's device. The company has only added a few changes. Let's go through them.

  • Apple's new S9 processor. Sure, it's more powerful and power efficient than the last generation, but even switching from the Series 7 I didn't feel any incredible difference. Let's hope it's being held back for future updates.
  • The new screen has increased brightness to 3000 nits. Overall the peak brightness is felt, the screen is really easy to read on a bright sunny day. And on top of that you get a much brighter flashlight on your wrist.
  • New dials with night mode. While I'm not a fan of complicated dials, I liked the new one on the Ultra. Especially coupled with the night mode, which makes the watch red at night so it doesn't blind your eyes.
  • Siri works without the internet and iPhone. But only English Siri for now, other languages are supported online only.
  • Double Tap gesture. We will talk about it in detail below.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 also comes with new straps made of eco-friendly materials. I chose the Trail Loop, which is made from 100% recycled nylon, 100% recycled polyester, and 100% recycled spandex. It feels amazing to the touch, you can barely feel the watch on your hand with this strap. You can do sports, sleep without any problems, but in terms of practicality - not the best solution.

In some places, the strap is already frayed and lighter in color, even though the watch is not even a month old. In the race for ecology, we somehow come to overconsumption: straps, covers and other accessories will now have to be bought and replaced more often. It's hard to know if this was Apple's plan or if the new materials are just not fully tested. Oh well, we'll be watching for future updates and improvements to the durability of these eco-friendly materials.

Let's get back to the watch itself. Of course, all the functionality of the first version is also supported: diver mode, siren, advanced compass, where you can mark your location points, and so on.

Double Tap: if not magic, then very close

The technology that was laughed at by the entire technological community after Apple's presentation surprised and delighted me on the contrary. It seemed like a useless innovation, but in fact it turned out to be super convenient in everyday life. For Double Tap to work, you need to update to the latest version of the system (watchOS 10.1 and above), after which the gesture will be active by default.

The technology itself works quickly and intuitively. You only need to connect your index finger and thumb twice for the watch to read the gesture and perform an action.

So far, Double Tap does not work with all applications. Moreover, if the application does not support such a gesture, an animation with a hand will appear on the display.

One more important nuance: Double Tap will only work if the watch is active, i.e. you have raised the wrist and are looking at the dial.

So, in which applications does the new feature work? So far I have found it working only in built-in applications:

  • Stopwatch, timer, alarm clock;
  • Call Answer;
  • Quick reply in messages (allows you to quickly select a tab and record a reply);
  • Scrolling through the widget menu on the Home screen;
  • Camera app;
  • Recording in the Voice Recorder app;
  • Start and stop tracks.

Resetting the timer during a workout, answering a call while driving and not using your other hand in any way is very convenient. I think there are other scenarios where you don't want to use your other hand at all.

The only surprising thing is that owners of the new Apple Watch Ultra 2 didn't get this feature "out of the box," but waited for over a month. And even now it feels raw, as most of the built-in apps don't support it yet. Although Double Tap integration would come in handy in the Fitness app and many others. Besides, we are waiting for third-party developers to get access to it. And naturally, we get the feeling that somewhere Apple is cheating us by not adding this feature to the previous models.

Conclusions

Do I recommend the Apple Watch Ultra 2 to everyone? No. This is a watch specifically for fans of the Apple ecosystem and philosophy. If you are active in sports or maybe looking for some incredible designs, you will surely find a better replacement in the world of smart watches.

It's a rapidly changing market, and Apple might have taken a niche in professional devices, but the Ultra series is about something else. I've been talking a lot lately with people who exercise on a regular basis. People who have been through Iron Man more than once and have significant achievements in working on their bodies. They all choose other watches to monitor their performance. For them, the Apple Watch is more like a nice toy to wear when they go out. I have found better solutions in terms of fitness too, and I will definitely talk about one of them in one of my next reviews.

In the meantime, summarizing my review, I will say that I am generally satisfied with the purchase and do not take the watch off my wrist. Apple has finalized its basic watch and in the end we got exactly what we wanted. In my subjective opinion, the Ultra series is more like the basic version of the watch, and I would like to get more out of the Ultra.

More autonomy, more resilience and more unique features just for professionals.

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