Home Science & Technology Apple Watch Ultra: Everything you need to know

Apple Watch Ultra: Everything you need to know

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The new premium Apple Watch is larger and more durable than the standard Apple Watch Series 8, which was also announced at the event, with features designed for scuba divers, adventurers and endurance athletes such as marathoners and triathletes. Unlike Apple’s past watches, which have solid fitness features but are primarily “lifestyle” watches for a wide variety of people, the Apple Watch Ultra is a more niche “outdoor” watch for people who need specialized support . And with a significantly higher price tag of $799 versus $399 for the GPS-enabled Series 8, it’s a piece of equipment you should learn a little more about before you pick it up. We’ll get a full review of the Apple Watch Ultra eventually, but here’s a first look at the advanced technology inside.

Bigger and stronger

The Apple Watch Ultra is larger and sturdier than the Apple Watch Series 8. an apple

The Apple Watch Ultra is large. While the difference between the Watch Series 8’s 45mm chassis and the Watch Ultra’s 49mm may seem minor, it should feel huge to the average Apple Watch user. Keep in mind: Apple increased the case size by 1mm with the watch 7 seriesand it made a very noticeable difference.

It will also have a much thicker chassis to accommodate new components, including a larger, louder speaker and three microphones to improve voice clarity during calls on the watch in less-than-ideal conditions. The Watch Ultra only comes in one hardware configuration that includes cellular connectivity, so it’s expected that people will want to use the Watch Ultra to make calls at all times.

Apparently, the larger body also allowed Apple to pack a bigger battery into the Watch Ultra, which is estimated to last up to 36 hours on a single charge, or up to 60 hours with Low Power (available later this fall).

Everything you need to know about the Apple Watch Ultra
The Apple Watch Ultra features a new Action button and redesigned digital crown. an apple

The watch with a modernized design will also feature some design tricks for durability and usability in extreme conditions. The titanium case extends upwards, covering the edges of the sapphire crystal display to minimize edge cracking. The Ultra watch is designed to work on the wrist in temperatures from minus 4 degrees F or up to 131 F. It is also IPX6 and MIL-STD-810H certified is a military-grade durability rating used on many “rugged” technical products that indicates it is ready for certain conditions, including rain, humidity, immersion in sand and dust, freezing, shock and vibration, among others.

Buttons – yes, plural – are also getting an overhaul. The Digital Crown is larger and has grooves to make it easier to manipulate with a gloved hand. There’s also a second input: a large customizable Action button that will let you start tracking your workouts and quickly perform other functions. For example, triathletes can switch from running to cycling and swimming with the push of a button.

Last but not least, Apple has created three new Apple Watch Ultra bands for specific activities—the seamless Alpine Loop Band with a hook and loop fastener, the wetsuit-ready rubber Ocean Band, and the ultralight elastic Trail Loop.

Built for survival

Apple Watch Ultra
The new compass app lets you set waypoints to help you find your way back to camp or your car. an apple

The Apple Watch Ultra offers some special features, many of which appear to be designed with safety and survival in mind for hikers and mountaineers. It uses more accurate “dual frequency” GPS tracking, which allows the watch to maintain tracking when you’re surrounded by tall buildings or mountains.

As part of watchOS 9, the Watch Ultra will have a redesigned compass app that lets you set waypoints, like your home, your campsite, or your car, and lets you navigate to those locations. It will also be able to use a feature called Backtrack, which can use GPS to create a path that retraces your steps in real time. If you find yourself completely lost or injured, the larger speaker can now play a super-loud 86-decibel siren that sends out a distinctive SOS signal (audible up to 600 feet away).

During the day, the display is brighter, up to 2000 nits, which should make it easier to see regardless of glare. It also has a night mode that turns the entire interface red, making it easier to see without interfering with your own night vision.

Diver’s pleasure

The Apple Watch Ultra also seems like a particularly useful tool for divers. It is water resistant to 100 meters (WR100) and has EN13319 depth gauge certification for diving accessories. With the new depth app, you’ll be able to see your depth, underwater time, and maximum depth. Paired with the upcoming Oceanic+ app, the Watch Ultra will reportedly work as an efficient dive computer, allowing you to plan and share dive routes and ensure safe stops.

Plus the best of Apple Watch Series 8 and watchOS 9

In addition to all its exclusive changes, the Apple Watch Ultra will have all the upgrades of the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8. In particular, this means new motion sensors that can determine if you have been involved in a car accident and automatically call for help. They include a gyroscope and a highly sensitive accelerometer. Even the Watch Ultra’s built-in barometer plays a role in crash detection by detecting pressure changes that would normally be associated with airbag deployment. There’s also a temperature sensor that improves menstrual cycle tracking and allows you to track ovulation through the Health app (information that Apple stressed is encrypted on the watch and only accessible with a user passcode/Touch ID/Face ID).

Since the Watch Ultra is a sports watch, it’s also worth noting that watchOS 9 will offer improved run tracking, including stride length and vertical oscillation, as well as more advanced views of your workout data. (These were announced earlier this year and will be available for all watches compatible with watchOS 9.)

What does it all mean?

Apple Watch Ultra
Apple will sell three activity-focused bands for the Apple Watch Ultra: The Trail Loop, the Alpine Loop, and the Ocean Band. an apple

The Apple Watch Ultra will have many new features that the Apple Watch Series 8 will not have. Some of these features will be useful to most people, such as a larger battery, a brighter screen, and dual GPS. However, many of them are very specific and are really made for people who are very dedicated to intense fitness training and fairly advanced outdoor activities such as hiking, scuba diving and rock climbing. Will the Apple Watch Ultra be Apple’s best and most versatile watch? Quite possibly, yes. And, at twice the price of the GPS-only 8 Series, it might be too niche for the average person.

At first glance, the people who should be most excited are fans of iPhone smartphones and smartwatches from brands like Garmin and Suunto. Those brands already make watches with many of these features, but their flagship watches cost even more than the $799 Apple Watch Ultra and don’t offer the same level of connectivity and convenience as the Apple Watch and iPhone that work in sync.

The question remains: Should you buy the Apple Watch Ultra? We’re hoping to get our hands on the Apple Watch Ultra in the coming weeks, so we’ll have a full review with our thoughts on whether it’s worth that higher price. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Ultra is available for pre-order today Apple.com and will be available in Apple stores and retail networks on September 23.

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