After more than a year of rumors, Apple has finally announced the Apple Watch Ultra – a rugged, high-end smartwatch that now sits at the top of Apple’s smartwatch lineup. The watch features a new design with a larger screen as well as a new design for exploration and outdoor activities.
There’s a new button guard on the side, with a 49mm titanium case, a redesigned digital crown, and a new Action button. The Action button can be customized for a variety of purposes, including workouts, compass waypoints, and a new backtrack feature. The screen has a sapphire crystal as well as a brightness of 2,000 nits. The buttons and crowns are also designed to work with gloves, which is a big concern for outdoor athletes. There are three built-in microphones to improve sound quality and reduce ambient noise like wind.
The Ultra watch has cellular capability and should last up to 36 hours on a single charge. It also has an extended battery life of 60 hours when using a new low power setting. This mode still allows you to measure heart rate and GPS. Apple says the Ultra has enough battery life for most users to complete a long-duration triathlon, which involves a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26-mile full marathon. 2 miles.
The Ultra also features improved multiband GPS, which includes the new L5 frequency. It’s something you only see on fitness watches like Garmins and Coros these days. It also has a backlink feature, which helps you retrace your steps in case you accidentally go off the grid. There’s a new Compass app in watchOS 9, which adds Compass Waypoints so you can mark points of interest on a map. Meanwhile, for triathletes, the Action button also allows you to step from one stage of a run to the next (i.e. go from swimming to running). There will also be automatic detection when athletes hit the tracks later this year. And it has an 86 decibel siren to help others locate you.
For water sports, it can handle kitesurfing and has WR 100 water resistance. It automatically launches a new depth app when you’re underwater to show time, depth, and temperature. It is also EN 13319 certified for scuba divers, with a diving depth of up to 40m. It also has a new Oceanic Plus app for recreational divers and divers.
There are also three new groups: Alpine, Trail and Ocean. They adapt to different environments and are meant to withstand “long runs, hard drops and rippling currents”. The Trail Buckle is designed for runners and is made of a lightweight textile with a pull tab for easy adjustment. The Alpine Loop has two layers of high tensile yarn to provide adjustability and security via a G-hook closure. Meanwhile, the Ocean Band is designed for water sports as it stretches and uses tubular geometry for a better fit.
The Apple Watch Ultra marks a new chapter in Apple’s smartwatch journey. Until now, Apple Watches have been more general-purpose devices with great connectivity, smart features, and advanced health alerts. But the Ultra is an explicitly fitness-focused device that’s meant to rival Garmin and Polar.
It also comes at a time when the Android landscape is changing – Google is launching its first-ever smartwatch, Samsung too just released a pro watch, and some Wear OS 2 watches are expected to upgrade to Wear OS 3 this fall. When you consider that, it feels like Apple is getting into something new in the wearable space as well. now.
The Apple Watch Ultra will be available from September 23 for $799.
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