In brief: At $800, the Apple Watch Ultra is around the same price as a high-end phone or graphics card. Cupertino positions it as a rugged wearable for outdoors types, but just how true is that claim, and how easy is it to repair the device? iFixit has performed one of its teardowns on the Apple Watch Ultra to find some answers.
iFixit's teardown of the Apple Watch Ultra is a bit of a mixed bag. The device is praised for being the first Apple Watch to come with screws that are accessible on the back. Unfortunately, removing the ceramic backplate destroys a waterproofing gasket that acts as a glue, and replacing it to restore the 100m water resistance won't be easy. Moreover, removing the back doesn't even grant access to the battery.
Trying to access the internals through the front of the watch is going to cause even more problems, especially without specialist tools. iFixit broke the screen when they removed it. The video also notes that the raised lip is an "oversold feature." It might protect against side impacts, but anything knocking into the watch from the front, such as a jagged rock, will probably require a screen replacement.
One of the Apple Watch Ultra features Apple likes to promote is the Siren, which is meant to alert people nearby if the wearer finds themselves in an emergency. iFixit is less than impressed by noise it makes, noting that throwing the wearable at someone might do a better job of grabbing their attention. The good news is that the large speaker should help with calls and when using apps with audio.
iFixit did confirm the noticeably larger battery (2.1 Wh), which is twice the capacity of the Apple Watch Series 8. But with 32 internal screws, it seems that repairability isn't the Apple Watch Ultra's strong suit. However, being able to open the watch from the front and back, even though it doesn't help much, could pave the way for improved repairability in future smartwatches.