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One year of using an Apple Watch Ultra as a phone replacement

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the author's experience of using an Apple Watch Ultra as a full-time phone replacement for over a year. It covers the motivations, setup, pros and cons, and detailed notes on the various apps and features used on the watch.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Background

1. What was the author's motivation for using an Apple Watch Ultra as a phone replacement?

  • The author became uncomfortable with how their phone was quickly filling their spare time with mindless scrolling on sites like Reddit or YouTube. They wanted to find a solution to curb this internet addiction.
  • Deleting specific apps did not work effectively, as the author would just look for a different app to fill the time.
  • The author's goal was to keep the utility of a smartphone without the addictive features.

2. Why did the author choose the Apple Watch Ultra as the solution?

  • The Apple Watch Ultra offered features that seemed tailor-made for the author's use case as a phone replacement, such as multi-day battery life, high-quality GPS and phone calls, and the ability to work untethered from a phone.
  • Previous smartwatch options did not have good enough battery life to work as a full-time phone replacement.

[02] The Setup

1. How does the author's setup work?

  • The author has a 1st generation Apple Watch Ultra paired with a hand-me-down iPhone 11.
  • The iPhone is kept at home under the author's desk 99% of the time, and is only used when needed for certain features.
  • The author wears the Apple Watch all day and charges it every night.
  • When at home, the author uses their laptop for internet-related tasks, with the ability to answer texts and calls from the laptop.
  • When out of the house, the watch switches to cellular mode, allowing the author to make calls, send messages, use maps, and access other features without the phone.

2. What are the advantages of this setup compared to using a smartphone?

  • The laptop is optimized for creation rather than consumption, reducing the temptation for mindless scrolling.
  • The watch's small form factor and lack of a touch-based interface makes it less prone to attention-stealing behavior compared to a smartphone.
  • The multi-day battery life of the watch means the author never has to worry about running out of battery.

[03] Potential Dealbreakers

1. What are some of the limitations or missing features of using the Apple Watch Ultra as a phone replacement?

  • Lack of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, which the author workarounds by taking the phone when needed.
  • No camera, which can be an issue for photography and scanning QR codes.
  • Certain apps like Slack don't have a full watchOS app, limiting functionality.

2. How does the author address these limitations?

  • For ride-sharing, the author takes the phone when needed or uses alternative options like calling a taxi.
  • For photography, the author carries a separate camera device.
  • For apps without full watchOS support, the author uses workarounds like voice dictation or relying on notifications.

[04] The Result

1. What has been the author's overall experience and outcome of using the Apple Watch Ultra as a phone replacement?

  • The author has been living without a phone for over a year and has no intentions of going back.
  • It has solved the problem of mindless scrolling and allowed the author to be more present and creative.
  • The author still uses the phone in specific circumstances, but treats it as a tool rather than an entertainment device.

2. What advice does the author have for others considering a similar setup?

  • The setup works best for those already deep in the Apple ecosystem, and the potential dealbreakers may not be issues for everyone.
  • There are alternative approaches, such as using an Android smartwatch or a "dumb phone" for messaging and calls.
  • The key is finding a solution that addresses your specific needs and habits around internet addiction and attention management.


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