Apple in September 2022 introduced the Apple Watch Ultra, a high-end version of the Apple Watch that's been in development for years now. Designed to compete with more expensive fitness-focused smart watches from companies like Garmin, the Apple Watch Ultra is aimed at sports enthusiasts and athletes that need more battery life and more sport-specific performance from of their devices.
Apple says the Apple Watch Ultra was built for endurance, exploration, and adventure, and it is the largest Apple Watch to date at 49mm, which is 5mm larger than the 45mm Apple Watch Series 8 that it's being sold alongside.
The Apple Watch Ultra features the first redesign we've seen in years with a lightweight aerospace-grade titanium body, flat sapphire crystal face, a larger diameter and deeper grooved Digital Crown, a housing for the side button and an extra physical button on the left side called the Action button.
At up to 2000 nits, the Apple Watch Ultra is the brightest Apple Watch to date, so it is easy to see in sunlight. The Action button is designed in international orange to make it noticeable in the dark and under water, and it's customizable so it can activate Workouts, mark segments, set Compass Waypoints, and more.
There are three built-in microphones to improve sound quality, and a beamforming algorithm captures voice while reducing ambient background sounds even when it's noisy outdoors. There is an 86-decibel siren available for drawing help if needed, with two SOS patterns.
With the larger 49mm casing, Apple was able to include a larger battery. The Apple Watch Ultra lasts for up to 36 hours on a single charge, and with a new low-power setting, battery life can last for up to 60 hours for multi-day adventuring. The battery lasts long enough for users to complete a long-course triathlon that includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a full 26.2-mile marathon.
The Apple Watch Ultra features dual-frequency GPS, integrating both the L1 and L5 frequencies, plus it has new positioning algorithms It provides the most accurate GPS of any Apple Watch, which means it also offers precise distance, pace, and route data for training and competing.
To accommodate more extreme environments, the Apple Watch Ultra can withstand a wider temperature range. It works in conditions as cold as -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20° C) to as hot as 131 degrees Fahrenheit (55° C). The watch is certified to MIL-STD-810H, a metric used for military equipment and by rugged equipment manufacturers.
For water sports, the Apple Watch Ultra can hold up to kitesurfing, wakeboarding, and recreational scuba diving, activities not recommended for the standard Apple Watch models. The Apple Watch Ultra is certified to WR100 and EN 13319, an internationally recognized standard for diving accessories. When used for diving, the Apple Watch Ultra has a depth gauge and a dedicated Depth app that displays current depth, water temperature (using the new temperature sensor), duration under water, and max depth reached.
Apple designed a special Wayfinder watch face for the Apple Watch Ultra, with a built-in compass and space for up to eight complications. The watch face can be customized for the mountain, ocean, or trail, and it turns red at night for better visibility. The Apple Watch Ultra supports Compass Waypoints for marking a location or point of interest, and a Backtrack feature uses GPS to create a path showing where the user has been, helpful for retracing steps when lost.
In addition to features designed for exploring and adventuring, the Apple Watch Ultra has all of the functionality available in the Apple Watch Series 8. It monitors heart rate, tracks sleep, can take ECG readings, monitors blood oxygen, and offers all of the same fitness tracking options. All Apple Watch Ultra models feature cellular connectivity, with a cellular plan needed to access all functions.
The Apple Watch Ultra has the same temperature sensor that's in the Series 8, which measures water temperature but is also used for fertility planning for women. It improves cycle tracking and can give retrospective ovulation estimates.
There are motion sensors in the Apple Watch Ultra that enable Crash Detection, alerting emergency services if you are in a severe car crash. When a crash is detected, the Apple Watch checks in with the user and then dials emergency services automatically if there's no response after a 10 second countdown.
There are three new sport-focused bands available for the Apple Watch Ultra, including the Trail Loop, Alpine Loop, and Ocean Band, plus older bands designed for 44 and 45mm Apple Watches fit the new model. The Trail Loop band is the thinnest Apple Watch band to date, while the Alpine Loop features high-strength yarn and a woven design made for durability. The Ocean Band is for extreme water sports and features a flexible fluoroelastomer that can stretch to fit over a wetsuit.