Apple Watch Ultra teardown: A much bigger battery, but repairs are difficult

The rugged Apple Watch Ultra has a large battery, but repairs are probably best left to Apple.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Apple

Gadget repair experts at iFixit have taken apart the Apple Watch Ultra, a wearable device for extreme sports fans, and confirmed that the battery is almost twice as large as the Watch Series 8's battery.

The Watch Ultra's ceramic backplate is secured with screws, making it fairly simple to remove with the right tool, but prising it off destroys a gasket that protects it from water and acts as a glue. Replacing the gasket to restore the device's 100m depth water resistance rating would be difficult. Also, removing the backplate doesn't give access to the device's battery.

iFixit criticized the Watch Ultra's raised lip as an "oversold feature" because it only protects against knocks from the side. If you're a rock climber, for example, coming into contact with a rock front-on could require a screen replacement.

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ZDNET's mobile reviewer Mathew Miller took his Watch Ultra for a spin on the Tough Mudder 15K endurance event. A section of the course involved crawling over rocks, in mud, and through water. His Watch Ultra was scratched on the frame, but not on the actual screen, which remained flawless. So, in Miller's case, the raised lip did protect the screen. The Watch Series 8 and other models have a curved, more exposed edge.

Accessing the battery required heating the Watch Ultra's screen and using a custom tool to pry it off. iFixit broke the screen in the process. The screen's flex cable is buried under the battery, while the battery and Taptic engine components are held in place with more screws and brackets. 

In total, Apple used 32 screws to secure internal components, including the depth sensor and microphone.

The Apple Watch Ultra's larger battery has a capacity of 2.1 Watt-hours (Wh), almost twice the capacity of the 1.19Wh battery in the Apple Watch Series 8, iFixit found.       

The speakers in the Apple Watch Ultra are also larger than the standard Watch's speakers. iFixit found the emergency siren sound of the Ultra was not sufficiently loud to be useful, but thinks the larger speakers could help when taking calls in noisy environments. 

The Apple Watch Ultra starts at $799, offering a large 49mm display that's also brighter than all other Watch models. The case is constructed out of titanium with a flat sapphire crystal glass display and ceramic back cover.

Overall, the device does not look easy to repair for anyone but professionals or Apple service staff. However, as with the iPhone 14, repairers can access internals from the screen and the backplate.

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