Apple Watch Ultra review: the super-charged smartwatch ๐Ÿ‘‹

The newly announced Apple Watch Ultra is Apple’s most rugged and feature-packed smartwatch yet. With a completely redesigned case, upgraded sensors, longer battery life, and specialized features for athletes and adventurers, the Ultra seems poised to take on Garmin and other sports watch makers. This Apple Watch Ultra review will take a comprehensive look at the super-charged smartwatch to see if it can live up to the hype.

Design and Display ๐Ÿชถ

The Apple Watch Ultra introduces an entirely new design for Apple’s smartwatch lineup. The titanium case measures in at a hefty 49mm, making it much larger than the standard Apple Watch models. This size increase accommodates the biggest display ever on an Apple Watch – a 1.92 inch always-on Retina display with up to 2000 nits of brightness.

The new Action button in neon orange adds a pop of color and can be customized to quickly access different features. While the size may be too oversized for some wrists, the Ultra watch certainly looks the part for extreme sports and outdoor adventures. Overall, the Ultra retains a premium fit and finish that we’ve come to expect from Apple Watch.

Durability and Water Resistance โ›ต๏ธ

Ruggedness stands out as one of the Apple Watch Ultra’s major selling points. The titanium case meets military standard MIL-STD-810H for shock resistance, while the new Oceanic+ model is water-resistant to depths of up to 130 feet. For comparison, the Series 8 Aluminum can only go up to 50 meters.

The sapphire crystal protecting the display is virtually scratch-proof, providing durability during rough activities. New compression seals around the buttons prevent ingress of water or dust. With its tank-like build, the Ultra should withstand adventures ranging from trail runs to scuba diving. Only time will tell how it holds up to abuse in the real world.

Health Sensors and Features ๐Ÿซ€

The Apple Watch Ultra incorporates all the existing health and fitness sensors we’ve come to expect: heart rate sensor, ECG, blood oxygen, gyroscope, GPS, always-on altimeter, and more.

New additions include dual-frequency GPS for more accurate tracking in remote areas as well as a 86dB siren in case you get lost in the wilderness. There’s also a temperature sensor which should provide insights into ovulation cycles. Overall, the Ultra provides the most comprehensive health metrics and safety features ever packed into an Apple Watch.

Battery Life ๐Ÿ”‹

One common complaint of Apple Watches is short battery life, often lasting just a day or two. The Ultra bucks this trend with an estimated 36 hour battery in normal usage or 60 hours in new low power mode. This comes courtesy of the larger battery inside the bigger chassis.

While still not multi-day battery life like some Garmin watches, the boost allows the Ultra to last through overnight adventures while tracking activity and sleep. Charging to 80% takes about an hour with the new fast charger. For expeditions off the grid, the improved battery should provide welcome peace of mind.

Designed for Action โšก๏ธ

The “Ultra” name says it all – this watch is built for extreme activities. The new Wayfinder watch face displays key metrics like elevation, incline, compass heading, and latitude/longitude overlays.

There are also three new strap options tailored to different adventures: Trail Loop, Alpine Loop, and Ocean Band. The Action button provides quick access to relevant functions like waypoints and backtrack for outdoor trips. Extra microphone cutouts improve sound quality for voice calls in windy mountain tops or crashing waves. Everything about the Ultra seems optimized for athletes and explorers tackling rugged environments.

Apple Watch Ultra Specific Features ๐Ÿ”๏ธ

Beyond the basics, the Apple Watch Ultra introduces some unique capabilities tailored to hardcore users:

  • Wayfinder watch face for at-a-glance metrics
  • Dual-frequency GPS for accuracy in remote areas
  • Depth app for tracking underwater dives down to 130 ft
  • Oceanic+ model meets EN13319 dive computer standard
  • 86dB siren can be activated if lost or injured
  • Three new ruggedized bands for various activities

These special features really differentiate the Ultra model and allow it to compete against dedicated outdoor watches from Garmin, Suunto, and others. The depth tracking and siren literally add safety features that could save your life during high risk activities.

Activity Tracking ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ

As an Apple Watch, the Ultra includes all the expected fitness tracking capabilities: steps, calories, heart rate zones, etc. The larger screen makes it easier to view activity metrics and heart rate at a glance.

GPS waypoints recorded during outdoor workouts can be overlaid as breadcrumbs on the map for easy navigation. For triathletes, the Ultra automatically detects when you transition from swimming to biking to running and tracks each segment. Whether you’re running your first 5K or training for an Ironman, the Ultra has all the tracking and motivation needed.

Smartwatch Connectivity ๐Ÿ“ฑ

Don’t let the rugged design fool you – the Apple Watch Ultra retains all the smart connectivity Apple Watches are known for. You get the same apps, notifications, messaging, music controls, Apple Pay, Find My integration, and syncing with iPhone or cellular connectivity.

The watch runs watchOS 9 and pairs seamlessly with iOS. While the Ultra is purpose-built for athletes and adventurers, it can certainly handle daily duties as a productivity tool and communication device. Think of it as a super durable, super connected outdoor adventure watch that also works great for everyday smartwatch use.

Price and Availability ๐Ÿ’ฐ

The Apple Watch Ultra is available to order now, with deliveries and in-store availability beginning September 23. It comes in a single titanium case with three different bands:

  • Trail Loop – $799
  • Alpine Loop – $799
  • Ocean Band – $749

Keep in mind – all those special features and rugged credentials lead to a hefty price tag, even by Apple Watch standards. The Ultra is priced from $100 to $150 more than the stainless steel Apple Watch models. However, it arguably delivers enough extra utility and battery life to justify the premium for hardcore users.

Should You Buy It? ๐Ÿค”

So who exactly is the Apple Watch Ultra for? This is overkill for casual users who just want a basic smartwatch. The price alone puts it out of reach for many buyers.

But for extreme athletes, adventurers, divers, and outdoor explorers, the Apple Watch Ultra offers features and durability not found in any other Apple Watch. If you want the ultimate Apple Watch to accompany your active lifestyle, the Ultra will not disappoint.

Just be prepared to pay a premium. For most buyers, the standard Apple Watch Series 8 or SE models will more than suffice. But power users now have an enticing option in the rugged Apple Watch Ultra, which stands alone as the ideal outdoor adventure smartwatch.

Verdict ๐Ÿ†

The Apple Watch Ultra cements itself as the most durable and feature-packed Apple Watch money can buy. It brings game-changing improvements in ruggedness, battery life, navigation, and specialty features for athletes and adventurers.

While the high price limits the target audience, the Ultra succeeds as a purpose-built outdoor sports and adventure watch. For explorers who venture off the grid, the safety additions like dual-frequency GPS, siren, and enhanced waterproofing could literally be lifesavers.

In the smartwatch world, the Apple Watch Ultra earns top marks for its ambition, innovation, and uncompromising build. It sets a new high bar for Apple Watch capabilities in a super-sized titanium case. For hardcore users who need an Apple Watch as tough as they are, the Ultra is in a class of its own.