Short before Christmas I started to get somehow interested in what the new Apple Watch Ultra had to offer and after a few weeks where the advertising network around my interest started to build up seriously to convince me of buying one of these technological pieces of art, they got me and I found me standing in the Apple shop in Vienna.
After a few minutes within the long line of customers I was able to purchase one. I tried a few of the bands and coming from a more sporty background (regarding watches ;-)) I opted for the trail loop because you do not have a metal closure on the bottom so I will not scratch my notebook (which is made of alloy) when typing on it having the watch on my wrist.
At home I started the setup process which was as expected straight forward and added some apps also to my phone like the watch and the fitness app.
Regarding the handling of the watch I found the navigation really comfortable, the touch interface worked perfect, I would not expect anything else from Apple, the buttons also worked fine but in comparison to the slightly more offset buttons on the garmin (compared to my Enduro) in a lot of situations I activated the buttons facing my hand quite often when crossing my arms or bending my wrist. So the buttons are a little too sensitive in my opinion.
Also locking the screen during a workout should automatically happen when the activity is started. This has to be done manually and it took me a little bit to find it by associating the water drop with the lock (this is used to lock out the water and this also locks the screen). Maybe I have done it wrong but it was not really intuitive.
Else the watch did fine during workouts I could not complain. GPS tracking was very precise, the automatic start and stop very accurate and fast, so having it with you during workouts was completely fine. A big plus for the Apple Watch Ultra (or LTE model) is the fact that you can leave your phone at home and are still reachable or have a matter of communication with you in case of an emergency.
First thing I was looking for was something comparable to the bodybattery garmin is offering because this was one of the features on the garmin I really rely on because it simply works and tells you when you have your best time to conduct a workout or when you should take a rest. This feature was not present by default within the Apple Watch but you can install the app Training Today which was able to produce a similar information like the body battery but from a reliability standpoint i was a little sceptical. In comparison the app told me way more often beeing ready for a workout than the garmin did.
I also was not very satisfied with the training app there is a lot to do for Apple but thankfully there is also an alternative called WorkOutdoors. This is an extremely good configureable workout app that completely satisfied my needs and I could ditch the built in activities app with ease. Apple you have work to do there!
I liked the overall haptics and thought Apple as always has brought to the product. They also definitely tackled a little bit of the battery anxiety a lot of Garmin users do have but here they did not really deliver. During my testing period of 14 days I had to charge the Apple Watch Ultra approx. 7 times while my Garmin had 10 days left where I started with 24 so somewhat around 30% which is not really a fair comparison because I did no workout recordings but you get the idea. The Enduro has to be charged so seldom that I forget about it and I am surprised when I have to what is a very good thing for me. Battery life is way not where it should be.
Regarding the buttons this is a mixed bag for me. On the one hand they are working fine are tactile but the placement is not optimal for bending wrist movements, sports where you have gloves on (too sensitive there, eg. nordic skiing…).
Overall handling regarding starting, stopping trainings, moving around the settings asf. compared to Garmin it more to fiddle around and less straight. I like the comparability with other Apple products but still it is too much scrolling swiping tapping for me.
Coming from Garmin, doing a lot of cycling, running, hiking and other sports activities I am tracking I could not really enjoy the Apple Watch Ultra as a daily driver. There is too much you have to take care about e.g. additional apps you need to get basic functionality, taking care of your battery usage asf. Imho Apple is on it’s way into the right direction but they are not there yet at least not for me to permanently swap my Garmin.