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The Apple Watch Ultra (available for $749.00 on Amazon) is Apple’s finest smartwatch to date: a wearable that maintains Apple’s reputation as one of the best—if not the best—smartwatch manufacturers in the world. However, you’ll be happier with a less expensive option, such as our favourite smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 8. Why not go all-in on the best? Simply put, most people will not use the Ultra’s best features. The Ultra is a purpose-built device that is designed to withstand extreme conditions for days at a time. In addition to all of the capabilities of Apple’s 2022 wearables, the Ultra has a number of features built in to help adventurers navigate their way through complex technical terrain, plumb the ocean’s depths, and push their bodies to their limits. It accomplishes this through the use of a robust set of tools, which drives its price well above what you’d expect to pay for one of Apple’s other wearables.

Despite its high price, the Ultra suffers from the same issues that plagued previous iterations of the Apple Watch. Long-term Apple Watch owners may be able to ignore these issues—more on that later. Others considering swapping their Garmin or Suunto-branded wrist candy for something designed in Cupertino may find the Ultra’s comparatively short battery life and occasionally befuddling user interface to be deal breakers.

Concerning the Apple Watch Ultra

Display type: LTPO OLED Retina (410 x 502 pixels; 1185 sq mm display area)
Apple S8 SiP with a 64-bit dual-core processor
Bluetooth 5.3, LTE, UMTS, 802.11b/g/n, NFC only for Apple Pay
Navigation systems include GPS (L1 and L5), BeiDou, Galileo, GLOSNASS, QZSS, and a compass.
Sensors include an accelerometer, an altimeter, an ambient light sensor, a barometer, blood oxygen sensors, a gyroscope, an optical heart sensor, a temperature sensor, and a water temperature sensor. The depth gauge
Water/Dust Resistance: 100 metres (WR100), dust resistance IP6X
Three microphones and dual speakers are used for audio.
Battery life of up to 36 hours (60 hours in Low Power mode)
Storage capacity: 32 GB
Warranty: One-year limited warranty; $99 for two years of AppleCare+ or $4.99 per month in perpetuity + $79 accidental damage fee

Designed for Adventure

When it comes to durability, the Apple Watch Series 8 is no slouch. It can withstand the bumps and bangs of everyday life, a dip in the pool, or, if luck is on your side, getting smacked against the ground if you slip on the ice on your way to work. The Ultra takes durability to the next level. The Ultra should survive for clumsy iOS users (like me) or those who occasionally do fun, inadvisable things in dangerous environments (yeah, that’s me too), where most smartwatches die. Its case is made entirely of titanium and features a raised lip to protect the flat, sapphire crystal front from edge strikes.

I was surprised by how light the Ultra felt when I first strapped it on, despite its husky 1.93 x 1.73 x 0.57-inch dimensions and 2.16-ounce weight. The largest eighth-generation Apple Watch, by comparison, measures 1.77 x 1.50 x 0.42 inches and weighs 1.48 ounces. After a few hours of wearing the Ultra, I forgot it was there until it notified me of a new notification with its powerful haptic motor and loud audio prompt.

When strapped to the arm of someone with slim wrists, the Ultra may appear almost comically large. Serious outdoor enthusiasts, on the other hand, will tell you that when it comes to tools that can help you stay alive, fashion should always come second. The Ultra’s dimensions allow it to house a large display capable of providing its wearer with a wide range of metrics all at once. For example, the device’s new Wayfinder watch face includes a compass, elevation and terrain incline data, latitude and longitude data, and eight customizable complication zones. If you don’t require all of that information, the rest of the watch faces introduced by Apple over the years are also available to instal and use.

Whatever information you require from the Ultra, you will be able to see it thanks to its 2,000 nit always-on Retina Display. This is twice as bright as the Apple Watch Series 8 and ensures that you can access the information you need even in direct sunlight.

Button of Action

The Apple Watch Ultra was designed with extreme athletes in mind, such as endurance runners, mountain climbers, scuba divers, and others. While their interests are diverse, what do all of these people have in common? Because of their sports, tapping, swiping, and scrolling their way around the interface of a traditional Apple Watch is either impossible or undesirable. The addition of a second physical button—the Action Button—on the Ultra helps to eliminate this issue.

Waterproof, plus some

The previous generations of Apple Watch were waterproof—but only to a depth of 50 metres. As a result, they make excellent companions for shallow water sports such as swimming laps or snorkelling. Owners of the Apple Watch Ultra, on the other hand, can submerge their device to a depth of 100 metres: scuba diving territory.

Apple’s PR claims that by downloading the Oceanic+ app, the Ultra can even be used as a dive computer, tracking your dive location, surface time, equipment used, and the depth and temperature of the water you’ve fallen off a boat or walked into to explore. However, a hands-on review by our own PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Rebecca Boniface, revealed that, while Ultra is an interesting companion device, it cannot replace a traditional dive computer or compete with other dive-centric smartwatches like Garmin’s Descent Mk 2i in its current state. We’re hoping that software updates and tank telemetry hardware will improve the Ultra’s utility as a dive computer.

If you own a pair of flippers or a drysuit, make sure to return to this page soon. It will include a link to Rebecca’s full review of the Apple Watch Ultra and the Oceanic+ app from the perspective of a professional diver.

A Request for Assistance

As I previously stated, Apple has crammed a slew of features into the Ultra to keep you safe—or, at the very least, able to call for help—when things go wrong. The Ultra is intelligent enough to distinguish between falling off your bike, face-planting after tripping over your feet, and being in a car accident. If any of these bad things happen, the wearable’s operating system will dial 911 and provide the location of the incident…as long as you’re within cellular coverage.

Is there no cell signal? The Ultra has one more trick up its sleeve that can assist emergency responders in locating you when you are most in need: The watch has the ability to emit an 86-decimal siren, which is as loud as a subway blasting out of its tunnel and past your platform during your morning commute.

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