As Apple’s largest and most enduring smartwatch, the $ 799 (AU $ 1,299) Apple Watch Ultra promises the ultimate companion for any kind of adventure. In addition to a particularly durable design, the Apple Watch Ultra offers an additional action button, a more substantial digital crown, a safety siren and a special selection of watch bands. Part of the experience is supported by a redesigned compass app, also available for Apple Watch 8.
So make no mistake – the Apple Watch Ultra is still an Apple Watch. It works with watchOS 9, has all kinds of health monitoring and can be used to communicate. But if you want to know how Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra compare, this handy Apple Watch Ultra examines the key differences.
Apple Watch Ultra price and availability
The Apple Watch Ultra costs $ 799 (AU $ 1,299). It is a unique model, equipped with a cell phone holder. In other words, cellular connectivity isn’t as optional as it is for the Apple Watch 8, which starts at $ 399 (AU $ 649) for the GPS-only version.
As for availability, the Apple Watch Ultra can be pre-ordered now before the September 23 release. You probably won’t find Apple Watch deals on this new smartwatch, but if you know how to trade in your Apple Watch, you may be able to get credit on an older device and assign it to the Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple Watch Ultra practical: design
The Apple Watch Ultra design is something we’ve never seen from Apple before, sorry I’m repetitive, but it’s really like an imaginative rendering comes to life. The dimensions of the device are obviously surprising, debuting with a 49mm titanium case. It felt substantial on my wrist during a short demo, dwarfing the 45mm Apple Watch Series 7 I used the year I worked.
I don’t know if I would be able to get comfortable with something this big tied to my wrist at all times. I struggled with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro for this reason. However, size is an undeniable plus for seeing metrics mid-workout, plus it makes room for the battery. More on that below.
The Apple Watch Ultra’s sapphire crystal screen is flat and flush with the edge of the frame – another significant change. The display is supposedly twice as bright as any previous Apple Watch display, which isn’t something I could rate on the spot but will be interesting to see in direct sunlight.
The digital crown has grown and received deeper grooves, merged with the side button into a protruding ledge on the right side of the device. This supposedly makes the buttons easier to use while wearing gloves.
There is an additional action button on the left side of the Apple Watch Ultra, which can be programmed as a quick launch for an assigned purpose. A speaker grille is visible above the new button, which serves two purposes: 1) it improves the sound quality of phone calls, even in windy conditions and 2) it sounds an 86 decibel emergency siren, making your alert heard up to 180 meters away. The siren would give me some peace of mind, and not just in remote places.
The last thing to note with the Apple Watch Ultra design is the special watch straps. Unlike the best Apple Watch bands, the Ultra offers a choice of three bands to suit your favorite outdoor activity.
The Alpine Loop features a G-hook that fits into the reinforced top loops. The Ocean Band has a tubular geometry and is designed to fit a wetsuit while staying safe during high speed water sports. The Trail Loop, meanwhile, is the thinnest strap ever for the Apple Watch, promising greater stretch and a handy pull tab for making quick adjustments without taking off the watch.
Apple Watch Ultra practical: functionality
The amazing features of the Apple Watch Ultra should definitely be tested in the situations they are intended for, not in an air-conditioned demo area, but I’ll review them regardless.
First, looking at the revamped compass app, the Apple Watch Ultra becomes a more capable navigation accessory. It allows you to save specific waypoints or markers when you are somewhere you want to mark. There’s also a tracking feature that helps you retrace your steps, let’s say, if you got lost.
The Apple Watch Ultra’s GPS is supercharged with the latest L5 frequency, which should result in the most accurate GPS system of any Apple Watch. The Apple Watch’s standard GPS has always been good, but not quite as accurate as many of the best Garmin watches serving a similar audience to the Apple Watch Ultra.
Along with all the features of watchOS 9 coming to watchOS 9 supported devices, the Apple Watch Ultra has a unique Wayfinder watch face that packs all the complications adjacent to outdoor sports into a single watch face. When I turned the crown, a red light-like interface optimized the display for evening conditions.
One last thing I haven’t gotten to test (and probably never will, in truth) is the immersion capabilities of the Apple Watch Ultra. The watch has a new depth app that can automatically measure your dive as you swim and you can go into the water twice as much as you can with the standard Apple Watch (rating = WR100).
Apple is partnering with Huish Outdoors to turn the Apple Watch Ultra into a wrist dive computer. This is an extremely niche area that Apple can dive into (sorry), but I’m interested to see how it turns out. Any diver want to work with me on some anecdotes for a full review?
Practical Apple Watch Ultra: Battery Life
Apple Watch’s 18-hour battery life is something I’ve been complaining about for a long time, even though I’ve gotten used to it. So the Apple Watch Ultra’s nominal 36-hour battery life looks pretty spectacular. Apparently the Apple Watch Ultra can last up to 60 hours, taking advantage of a new Apple Watch low-power mode coming to Apple Watch Series 4 and later, including the new Apple Watch SE (2022).
Power Saving Mode disables battery drain features like the always-on display and automatic work tracking, extending the Apple Watch’s endurance until you can reach a charger.
I have to note that even at 60 hours, the Apple Watch Ultra’s battery life pales compared to the 80 hours promised by the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and the one-week (or more) lifespan of Garmin watches. For example, the Garmin Fenix 7 lasts 38 days with normal use.
Apple Watch Ultra Practical: Outlook
The Apple Watch Ultra upsets what I know about the Apple Watch and I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, the large display, added button, safety siren, and battery life are things I would probably shell out $ 799 for. On the other hand, the watch has several features that will only benefit those who call themselves adventurers. .
I am known for dabbling in outdoor sports to test devices like the Apple Watch Ultra. I hope I can put this watch to the test where it should be taken and see if it’s a successful step for Apple into a new market.