Apple Watch Ultra Review

My first Apple Watch was a Series 5. The always on display was just the killer feature I had been waiting for to make the leap. When watchOS 7 arrived a year later with Sleep Tracking, I was excited to give it a try. But I never found a charging routine that worked well for me. If I put it on the charger in the morning — perhaps while making coffee — I would inevitably forget about the watch and sometimes go all day without wearing it. So Sleep Tracking on Apple Watch was a bust for me, which is unfortunate because it undermines the value proposition.

The Apple Watch Ultra is just the right amount of chunky. But that's not what this review is about.
The Apple Watch Ultra is just the right amount of chunky. But that’s not what this review is about.

I started with this background because it helps explain my number one question about the Apple Watch Ultra. It wasn’t about the size or the bands or any of the details you can find in just about any of the serious reviewers’ analysis to date. It wasn’t even about the battery life per se. It was about the charging routine.

My number one question about the Apple Watch Ultra was regarding the charging routine.

A two-day battery is uncanny valley territory for a smart watch. It’s not enough to create a real change in your charging routine. If I only have to charge every other day I’m going to do one of two things: charge it every day (no benefit) or forget to charge it on the second day (fail). So it was with eager anticipation that I finally plunked down some cash for an Apple Watch Ultra and set about to find out if I could more or less wear the watch all day everyday without worrying about battery life.

I’m happy to report that the answer is yes.

After living with the Apple Watch Ultra for a full month, I have found that merely charging it for 15-20 minutes each day while I shower and get dressed is enough to keep the battery charged all week long with always-on display enabled, 4-5 workouts a week, and daily sleep tracking. On most days this is enough to reach 95-100% charge. However, I have noticed that on weeks when I’m doing more than the usual amount of fitness tracking, by the 7th or 8th day the daily shower charge routine will only get me back to 75-80%. That’s still more than enough to get me through 1.5-2 days of use (if for some reason I got stuck somewhere with no charger).

That’s an incredible improvement over my Series 5. Instead of thinking about battery life on a daily basis, I generally only have to think about it once a week. This kind of charging routine feels indistinguishable from wearing the watch 24/7 without ever thinking about battery life. That’s exactly what I was hoping for and worth the price of admission.