The Apple Watch lineup has long offered something for everyone, from the entry-level Apple Watch SE to the high-end Apple Watch Series 8. However, with the introduction of the Apple Watch Ultra, Apple has created a new category aimed explicitly at outdoor enthusiasts, endurance athletes, and those seeking a genuinely rugged smartwatch.
Boasting a more extensive and stricter design than previous Apple Watch models, enhanced GPS capabilities, more excellent water resistance, and improved battery life, the Apple Watch Ultra is Apple’s most feature-packed wearable to date.
Design and Display
At first glance, it is immediately apparent that the Apple Watch Ultra is a very different beast than the standard Apple Watch. Measuring 49mm in size, its case is more prominent than even the most significant 45mm Apple Watch Series 8. This extra real estate allows for a bigger and brighter display.
The Apple Watch Ultra sports a 1.92-inch liquid retina display with a 410 x 502 pixels resolution. This provides a significantly higher pixel density than the Apple Watch Series 8, making text and images appear sharper. Apple has also boosted the maximum brightness to an impressive 2,000 nits, which means the display remains highly visible even in direct sunlight.
In addition to being more extensive, the Apple Watch Ultra is also built to be more challenging. Its case is constructed from aerospace-grade titanium, providing exceptional durability. The front crystal is flat sapphire crystal, unlike curved glass on other Apple Watch models. This flat design is more resistant to cracks and chips. The sapphire crystal’s edges also extend above the display, offering additional protection against impacts.
Buttons and Controls
Another area where the Apple Watch Ultra differentiates itself is its buttons and controls. Firstly, its Digital Crown is significantly larger than other Apple Watch models. Its grooved texture also makes it easier to operate while wearing gloves.
The Apple Watch Ultra also introduces a new side button dubbed the “Action Button.” This button can be customized to perform various functions with a single press, such as starting a workout, measuring with the built-in compass, or activating the new siren feature. Quickly triggering essential tasks with your finger is advantageous for athletes and adventurers.
Lastly, the Side Button, commonly used for waking the display and accessing the power menu, now has a raised rim around it. This makes it even more tactile and easy to distinguish from the other buttons by feeling alone. Collectively, these button upgrades mean the Apple Watch Ultra can be operated more seamlessly during intense activities or in less-than-ideal conditions.
Apple Watch Ultra Bands and Colors
While standard Apple Watch bands can be used on the Apple Watch Ultra, Apple also designed three dedicated bands for its rugged smartwatch – each suited for different outdoor pursuits and conditions.
Alpine Loop band
The Alpine Loop band is made from a durable woven textile material with a G-hook closure. Its breathable design and adjustable fit make it well-suited for hiking, climbing, and cold-weather activities.
The Ocean Band is constructed from a soft, durable rubber material ideal for water sports like swimming and surfing. Its secure closure system helps keep it firmly in place even in wet and salty environments.
Last is the Trail Loop, the lightest of the three bands. Crafted from a breathable, stretchy fabric, it is incredibly comfortable and sweat-resistant. The fully adjustable velcro closure allows a perfect personalized fit during running or trail adventures.
Regarding color options, the Apple Watch Ultra only comes in one shade – a striking dark gray titanium finish with matching bands. While some may prefer more vibrant colors, the understated look is ideal for blending into any natural environment. Its stealthy style certainly gives off tool watch vibes over fashion watch ones.
Display and Performance
Powering the expansive display of the Apple Watch Ultra is the new S8 SiP chip, the same processor found in the Apple Watch Series 8. This ensures fluid responsiveness when launching apps, scrolling through menus, and more. Real-world usage feels indistinguishable in speed and snappiness from the latest Apple Watch models.
Where the Apple Watch Ultra differentiates is through its larger screen. Everything is spread more, making text easier to read and interactive elements such as buttons less cramped. The higher resolution also means images and graphics appear sharper and more detailed.
Its peak 2000 nit brightness setting is a real standout, keeping the display fully visible even in direct sunlight. The extra luminance makes checking notifications or using maps on a hike through bright forest trails effortless. It’s always-on mode ensures you can glance at the relevant watch face complications or workout stats without raising or tapping the screen.
Battery life is another area where the Apple Watch Ultra excels compared to other Apple Watches. Apple rates it at delivering up to 36 hours of regular usage on a full charge. But it also introduces a new low-power mode, extending this to a stellar 60 hours – enough juice to last a multi-day backpacking trip without needing to charge.
Critical Features for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Enhanced GPS Performance
The Apple Watch Ultra’s enhanced GPS capabilities are a significant highlight for outdoor enthusiasts. Leveraging both L1 and L5 frequency bands, it provides the most accurate GPS tracking of any Apple Watch. This dual-frequency setup ensures reliable location services even under dense tree canopies or tall urban structures that could otherwise block satellite signals.
Location data powers essential features for outdoor athletes, like real-time pace and distance tracking during runs or rides. It also enables the new Backtrack function, which uses recorded GPS points to retrace your steps if you lose your way on a hike or ride, bringing peace of mind to navigation.
Water Sports Tracking
With 100 meters of water resistance, the Apple Watch Ultra can join you for various water activities. It is ideal for tracking snorkeling, surfing, and even recreational scuba diving down to specified depth limits. A new Oceanic+ app turns it into a full-fledged dive computer, recording metrics like depth and duration of ocean dives.
An 86-decibel siren activated by the Action Button allows the Apple Watch Ultra to emit an alarm that is much louder than typical smartwatches. This makes it helpful in attracting attention if lost, injured, or separated from your group in remote outdoor areas. The siren will carry for great distances through thick forests or open waters.
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Fitness and Health Tracking
The Apple Watch Ultra elevates sports tracking with its expanded display and rugged design. During workouts, you can view more real-time metrics like pace, distance, heart rate zones, and eleva to gain. This data proves invaluable for analyzing trends over time as a runner, cyclist, or triathlete.
High-intensity interval training is fully supported with pre-programmed tabata, hill repeat, and other popular formats to guide challenging speed and recovery bursts. Switching intervals is effortless, thanks to the Action Button.
Swimmers track pool or open water swims with dedicated modes showing stroke type, pace, and more. The latest software update adds valuable metrics for swimmers, like average tempo and drill logging. Divers can record ocean dive stats, too, through the Oceanic+ app.
The Apple Watch Ultra monitors all-day health with heart rate, ECG, blood oxygen, and sleep tracking features. Family Setup allows pairing for non-iPhone users.
The Apple Watch Ultra Represents Apple’s most feature-packed wearable to date. With its rugged titanium casing, extra-large display, enhanced GPS, and improved battery life, it is designed specifically for outdoor enthusiasts, endurance athletes, and those seeking a durable smartwatch. The Ultra packs in best-in-class fitness and health tracking tools and key features like dual-frequency GPS, Backtrack navigation assistance, and an 86dB siren for safety in remote environments. Its three specialized bands and water resistance up to 100 meters make it ideal for various water sports.