The Apple Watch Ultra is big, a lil’ chunky, and goes hard connected features that the mean joe won’t request successful their mundane life. And astatine $799, it’s the astir costly ticker successful the existent Apple Watch lineup (Hermès variation excluded). After a week of testing, I don’t deliberation it’s going to bump Garmin, Polar, oregon Coros watches for the Ironman, thru-hiker, oregon deep-sea diving crowds, astatine slightest not yet. But it’s legitimately bully for play warriors and intermediate athletes — and precise tempting for folks who aspire to that presumption and a full batch of radical who conscionable privation the biggest, baddest Apple Watch they tin get.
Back earlier Apple announced the Ultra (and we thought it’d beryllium called the “Apple Watch Pro”), I wrote astir the features it would request to succeed: amended durability and carnal controls, improved artillery life, and much betterment metrics.
First attempts astatine caller signifier factors are a mixed container — promising features with a dash of annoying omissions oregon kinks that’ll get worked retired down the line. This is existent of the Ultra, but Apple proved it’s astatine slightest done its homework by adding the Action button, beefing up durability including multiband GPS, and improving artillery beingness to the constituent wherever you don’t person to complaint daily. It falls abbreviated for Garmin loyalists, but I do deliberation it’s capable to marque a fewer of them curious.
I similar large screens and I cannot lie
I don’t usually emotion large smartwatches. I person petite wrists, and thing implicit 45mm is mostly excessively uncomfortable for all-day wear, looks ridiculous connected my arm, and leads to enactment tracking inaccuracies. But I’ve recovered that immoderate watches “wear small” — the Polar Grit X Pro, Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, and Suunto 7 each consciousness smaller than they look. To my surprise, the 49mm Apple Watch Ultra is 1 of them.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge and Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge
This is 1 of those things that’s hard to convey done pictures alone. In photos, the Watch Ultra dwarfs my wrist. In person, it feels smaller than immoderate of the 45mm to 47mm circular watches I’ve tested. I was opening to deliberation I’d been Ultra-pilled, truthful I bought integer calipers truthful I could corroborate the size for myself. It is, indeed, 49mm tall, 44mm wide, and a small implicit 14mm heavy — implicit 3mm thicker than the Series 8. The other thickness isn’t a occupation successful the summer, but it does get caught connected the cuffs of my leather jacket. With the Alpine Loop strap installed, it’s astir 57mm lug to lug. That is legitimately wider than my wrist, which measures 46mm across. The ticker is large, but judge maine erstwhile I accidental it someway doesn’t consciousness that large successful person.
On the 1 hand, the larger surface is large for readability. I’ve got atrocious eyesight, and a large surface means I tin crank up the font size truthful it’s easier to read. (Though with a surface this big, nosy friends mightiness beryllium capable to work your texts from a decent region away.) It besides makes texting via the wrist truthful overmuch easier, particularly compared to the typo metropolis I’m utilized to with swipe to benignant connected the 41mm Apple Watch I typically wear. If those are meaningful features for you oregon if you similar the look of an oversized watch, past the Ultra volition beryllium close up your alley.
For radical with extremely petite wrists (under 130mm around), the Ultra conscionable whitethorn not beryllium physically imaginable — and adjacent immoderate folks with larger wrists don’t privation a huge, honking watch.
My contented with large smartwatches has ever been comfort. Many are simply excessively dense for me, truthful erstwhile I got a demo of the Ultra aft Apple’s motorboat event, I was pleasantly amazed however airy it felt for its size. Now that I’ve worn it for a afloat week, it’s solidified my mentation that a 49mm rectangular ticker wears similar a 50–51mm circular watch. Thanks to its titanium body, it weighs 61.3 grams without the strap, which isn’t excessively acold disconnected from the 61g of the 51mm Fenix 7X. I bash announcement the value erstwhile I’m moving compared to the Series 8, but similar the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, it’s not egregious, and the lighter than expected value helps offset the large dimensions.
Specced retired for performance
The Series 8 is simply a large watch. It’s accelerated capable and durable capable for astir everyone. The Ultra says, “Hold my beer.”
Like the Series 8, the Ultra has an S8 chip, caller somesthesia sensors, the caller high-g accelerometer, and an improved gyroscope for Crash Detection. The Ultra takes it a measurement further by adding a h2o somesthesia sensor for swimmers and divers and cranks the maximum brightness of the always-on show up to 2,000 nits for amended visibility successful nonstop sunlight. It’s got a three-microphone array for amended dependable telephone prime successful the elements and a 2nd talker that tin dependable disconnected an exigency siren and increases the measurement of telephone calls and Siri responses.
Meanwhile, the different broadside has the Action button, speakers, and much microphones.
The backmost of the ticker is made of ceramic and has the aforesaid sensors arsenic the Series 8.
It won’t regenerate a dive ticker for superior divers, but the Ultra has WR100 h2o absorption and EN13319 certification truthful you tin spell scuba diving (down to an Apple-recommended 40 meters) and partake successful high-speed h2o sports. The artillery is besides 76 percent larger than the 45mm Series 8’s, with an estimated 36 hours of mean usage connected a azygous charge. You tin propulsion that to 60 hours with low-power artillery settings. Lastly, Apple besides added multiband GPS for amended accuracy successful challenging environments.
Several plan tweaks marque the Ultra visually chiseled from the Series 8 and SE. The integer crown is larger, with deeper grooves that marque it easier to crook midworkout and a raised defender to forestall accidental presses. It’s besides got an further carnal power successful the signifier of the customizable Action button. Like the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, the Ultra has a raised articulator to support the surface — though it’s overmuch shallower than the Samsung’s. Unlike each different Apple Watch, the Ultra’s look surface is wholly flat, making it little apt to get dinged if you smack it against something. (It besides makes the Ultra really look similar a mini iPhone connected your wrist.)
The archetypal Apple Watch with multiday artillery (if 2 is “multi”)
Apple has ever been blimpish with artillery beingness estimates for the Watch, sticking with a claimed 18 hours of artillery beingness for the past fewer years — adjacent if you’re apt to get a spot much successful practice. The Ultra’s 36-hour artillery estimation is besides a spot conservative; if you’re not partaking successful a triathlon, you’re apt going to get person to 48 hours. And that’s without low-power mode enabled.
Here are immoderate real-life examples, each without low-power mode turned on:
- This past weekend, I charged the Ultra to 100 percent. I past hiked for 2 hours and 15 minutes, utilized the compass and GPS extensively, and tracked my slumber that night. I woke up the adjacent greeting with 50 percent artillery left.
- Another day, I went for a 30-minute GPS tally and did different 20-minute rowing workout. I besides took a abbreviated telephone connected the ticker and ended the time with 84 percent battery.
- Nilay, our editor-in-chief, managed to get 56 hours connected a azygous complaint and inactive had 14 percent left. He was mostly staying astatine home, truthful helium wasn’t utilizing cellular information oregon GPS. Still, that should springiness you an thought of what you’d get if you request a fewer remainder days oregon aren’t funny successful the Ultra’s fittingness features.
It’s inactive lone been a week, but I’ve been regularly blowing past the 36-hour estimate. And with it’s accelerated charging ability, the Ultra is decidedly the champion Apple Watch for slumber tracking. I ne'er felt similar I needed to crook connected the low-power mode with my regular grooming schedule.
Low-power mode turns disconnected the always-on show and inheritance wellness sensors and limits Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, pausing astir propulsion notifications. Heart complaint and GPS stay on. Apple says that utilizing this mode, you should beryllium capable to get done a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile motorcycle race, and a afloat 26.2-mile marathon successful 1 spell — an Ironman triathlon. The Ironman takes astir 14 hours, depending connected your idiosyncratic speed, truthful that’s astir what you tin expect. There’s besides an further artillery optimization mounting coming aboriginal this twelvemonth that volition widen artillery savings adjacent further.
Not each endurance jock volition request the Ultra’s artillery life. I ran a half-marathon with a Series 7 and inactive had 50 percent artillery left, with nary battery-saving options enabled. If you tally astir a five-hour marathon, the regular Series 8 volition beryllium conscionable fine. The Ultra’s longer artillery beingness is much of a neat perk if you privation to slumber way oregon enactment successful agelong events.
The Ultra volition grip a play trip, but it’s not going to outlast a Garmin oregon Polar if you privation to spell connected a weeklong backpacking trip. Of course, you don’t request to warrant wanting amended artillery life. It’s simply thing to origin successful erstwhile you’re deciding which ticker to get.
Every Apple Watch should person the Action button
The Action fastener — a ample carnal fastener connected the other broadside of the integer crown — is simply a much-needed addition. Physical buttons are simply much reliable erstwhile you privation to flip done workout views midexercise. They’re besides immune to sweaty fingers and gloves. It not lone improves accessibility but it’s besides programmable. Apple should enactment it connected each Apple Watch, not conscionable the Ultra.
You’ll beryllium prompted to programme the Action fastener during setup, though you tin besides bash it from the Settings menu. Your options are Workout, Stopwatch, Waypoint, Backtrack, Dive, Flashlight, and Shortcuts. Depending connected which 1 you select, you’ll either unfastened up the associated app oregon spot a database of gestures. For example, if you acceptable it to Workout, you tin determine whether a azygous property volition unfastened the Workout app oregon alteration the Precision Start feature. The second volition motorboat close into the workout of your prime without the accepted 3-2-1 countdown. There are besides secondary actions erstwhile you’re wrong an app. Triathletes tin besides usage the Action fastener to manually power from 1 limb of the contention to the next, portion runners tin usage it to people segments. Holding the Action fastener for 5 seconds volition besides trigger the siren.
But 1 happening I truly emotion is however it gives you a much intuitive mode to intermission workouts utilizing carnal controls. On different Apple Watches, you tin intermission by pressing the integer crown and broadside fastener astatine the aforesaid time. Depending connected however you orient the watch, it whitethorn not beryllium comfy (e.g., wearing it connected your close wrist with the crown and broadside fastener connected the right.) Now that the Action fastener is here, you tin conscionable property immoderate 2 of these 3 buttons to pause. It’s subtle, but it ensures that you tin easy intermission careless of which mode you’ve oriented the watch.
Apple should adhd the Action fastener to the Series 9, too
While the bulk of Action fastener shortcuts are fitness-related, you tin besides acceptable it to trigger a Shortcut, which opens up a lot of possibilities. For instance, you could alert attendees astatine your adjacent gathering that you’re moving precocious — though if you request a dedicated fastener for that, you mightiness person larger clip absorption issues — oregon queue up a apical 25 playlist. You tin besides prime the “what’s a shortcut?” action, which gives you a amended thought of what the Action fastener could do. Right now, your choices are limited, and Shortcuts are clunky to programme — but if you’ve got the willpower to tinker with this, much powerfulness to you.
This is the archetypal iteration of the Action button, and I tin spot Apple and developers getting originative with it down the line. (Psst, I’d emotion to spot it commencement timers.) I get wherefore the Action fastener is getting its debut connected the Ultra, but Apple should adhd it to the Series 9, too.
Sirens, compasses, and multiband GPS — ohio my!
The siren is different Ultra exclusive that’s meant to gully attraction if you find yourself injured oregon lost. For that to work, it has to beryllium beauteous dang loud. Apple says it’s 86db and has a scope of up to 600 feet, but it mightiness look quieter oregon louder successful practice. It starts disconnected debased earlier gradually expanding successful volume. It besides alternates betwixt 2 dependable patterns that mimic distress and SOS signals. It was blisteringly large indoors, but my acquisition varied erstwhile outdoors. In a hilly park, a workfellow mistook it for a vertebrate — though the Canadian geese adjacent were wholly unperturbed by the sound. Another time, I was hiking successful a reasonably unfastened country with my friends disconnected successful the distance. According to them, it was “freaking loud.”
You’ll spot however overmuch artillery you person near connected the siren screen.
It’s besides disposable successful the caller exigency surface on with Compass Backtrack.
I lone utilized the siren for a abbreviated clip due to the fact that I didn’t privation strangers to deliberation I was successful existent distress. However, if you’ve got a batch of artillery left, the siren tin past hours — which is large if you’re injured successful a distant area. You’ll besides spot your artillery percent connected the screen. I besides deliberation it’d beryllium utile successful mundane life. It mightiness beryllium a placebo, but I consciousness safer moving successful my vicinity knowing I tin gully attraction to myself if I request help. I anticipation to spot different companies transcript this thought connected aboriginal smartwatches.
Meanwhile, the caller compass features successful watchOS 9 upgrade the hiking acquisition connected the Ultra (as good arsenic the Series 6, some SE generations, Series 7, and Series 8). I tested the Waypoints and Backtrack diagnostic connected a two-hour hike successful the mountains wherever I hardly had immoderate compartment signal. Waypoints are virtual markers you tin driblet astatine your existent determination arsenic you spot fit. For example, I dropped Waypoints successful the country wherever we parked, the authorities parkland visitant center, and respective restrooms, and the Compass app showed the region and absorption backmost to each. This came successful clutch erstwhile my friends and I couldn’t load Google Maps to prevention our lives.
I mostly didn’t request Backtrack — which helps you retrace your nonstop way — but I was blessed to person it erstwhile we concisely got lost. One of the gates we’d passed done closed early, meaning we had to find different way to our destination. The signs connected this peculiar way were tiny and not that visible, and for a blistery second, we were flustered. In this instance, I was relieved that a operation of Waypoints and our Backtrack way helped america cognize we were connected the close way portion figuring retired an alternate route. At nary constituent were we successful immoderate danger, but it took a load disconnected knowing we didn’t person to trust connected a azygous barroom of intermittent LTE to assistance america out.
Another neat feature: if the Ultra detects you’re nary longer successful a Wi-Fi affluent area, it’ll automatically commencement the Backtrack diagnostic successful the inheritance successful lawsuit you request it. It’s akin to however the Apple Watch’s auto-detect workout diagnostic volition grounds walks oregon runs for 10 minutes earlier prompting you to commencement a workout.
While we’re connected the taxable of GPS-powered features, multiband GPS utilizing some L1 and L5 frequencies is simply a large deal. Consumer GPS devices usage the L1 frequency, but a fistful of different rugged smartwatches similar the Ultra, Coros Vertix 2, and the Garmin Fenix 7 lineup person besides added the L5 frequency. There’s some neat subject down it, but the bottommost enactment is that you’ll get amended GPS accuracy successful challenging environments similar cities oregon successful dense histrion cover. One quality with the Ultra is that you don’t person to prime multiband GPS successful the settings. It conscionable ever uses it.
On immoderate of my moving routes, I person to trek up 4 flights of stairs successful bid to transverse a bridge. This usually leads to immoderate hilarious GPS maps owed to each the interference. While I excavation these routes, I’m occasionally discouraged from moving them due to the fact that I cognize it’s going to messiness up my wide region tracking. Multiband GPS connected the Ultra didn’t wholly hole this, but it’s a batch much accurate, arsenic you tin spot successful my screenshots.
The stairs of GPS doom connected the Ultra.
And the aforesaid stairs from the aforesaid tally connected the Runkeeper app without multiband GPS...
Not a dive watch, but you tin aquatics with it
As for swimming, I indispensable confess: I americium nary Katie Ledecky. I’m large astatine destroying kids successful h2o weapon fights, but my swimming for workout days ended aft precocious school. We’ll yet get my workfellow Thomas Ricker’s instrumentality connected the Ultra’s quality to grip h2o sports, but for now, you’ll person to settee for my experiences splish-splashing successful my section pool.
Apple says the Ultra tin grip swimming and scuba diving astatine depths of up to 40 meters, and it includes a caller Depth app that tin way assorted diving-related metrics similar depth, h2o temperature, and clip nether water. To commencement it, you request to afloat submerge the Ultra. My section excavation is beauteous shallow astatine 4 ft 9 inches, which the Ultra was capable to confirm. When I resurfaced, I could spot it reporting successful existent clip and correctly identified zero feet erstwhile I was lasting successful the shallow extremity oregon leaning implicit the excavation edge.
Apple is besides moving with Huish Outdoors to merchandise the Ocean Plus app aboriginal this fall. The accuracy volition beryllium the aforesaid arsenic with the autochthonal extent app, but successful summation to the existent depth, h2o temperature, and time, the Ocean Plus app volition see decompression limits and different information guidance for divers. Basically, it’ll relation arsenic a wrist-worn dive computer.
watchOS 9 and a privation database for the Ultra 2
The Ultra has the aforesaid wellness and fittingness bundle arsenic the Series 8, and you tin work much astir somesthesia tracking, Crash Detection, caller moving metrics, and workout views in that review. The main happening that watchOS 9 adds for the Ultra is an exclusive Wayfinder watchface. I similar it. The look makes it casual to driblet Waypoints, and if you scroll the integer crown, everything volition crook reddish for amended readability astatine night. New York City has a batch of airy pollution, truthful I didn’t get to trial the nighttime mode successful a pitch-black setting. But it looked chill erstwhile I turned disconnected the lights and sat successful my acheronian closet.
But portion the Ultra went beyond my expectations successful galore areas, determination are inactive a fewer things it needs to amended to truly compete.
For starters, betterment metrics are inactive astir nonexistent connected the Apple Watch platform. While Garmin has Body Battery and Polar lets you presumption your grooming load, Apple doesn’t contextualize betterment for you extracurricular of slumber consistency — adjacent though it tracks the applicable metrics similar bosom complaint variability. Rest and betterment are captious to immoderate superior athlete’s training, and that’s reflected successful fitness-focused wearables. Whoop 4.0 and the Oura Ring are beloved by nonrecreational athletes precisely due to the fact that they springiness penetration into however overmuch carnal strain you tin instrumentality on. Even Fitbit’s gotten connected the readiness bid with its Daily Readiness Score. Meanwhile, Apple continues to push you to bash more and maintain streaks. There’s nary mode to deed a intermission fastener if you’re sick oregon injured.
Apple doesn’t contextualize betterment for you extracurricular of slumber consistency
Another happening is outer connectivity. While this is thing Apple added to the iPhone 14, it’s absent from the Ultra. That’s apt owed to size limitations — there’s a crushed outer phones are gigantic. But if Apple tin shrink a outer vigor to acceptable successful a slim iPhone, there’s crushed to judge this mightiness yet marque its mode to the Ultra. If so, that would beryllium an unthinkable information diagnostic for adventurers that would destruct the request to transportation a bulky InReach device oregon a sat phone.
Lastly, the Ultra 2 would payment from expanded navigation features. Don’t get maine incorrect — the redesigned Compass app and Backtrack are great. But it’s not the aforesaid happening arsenic an offline topographical representation oregon turn-by-turn navigation. Those are fashionable with way runners and hikers for a reason.
A sportier Apple Watch, not a Garmin replacement
While the Apple Watch Ultra is simply a large archetypal effort astatine a rugged smartwatch, it’s a sporty Apple Watch. It’s overmuch amended astatine being a smartwatch than immoderate of the multisport fittingness watches, but it won’t regenerate a multisport fittingness ticker for superior athletes, astatine slightest not yet.
Rugged multisport watches volition get you much in-depth grooming metrics and programs. WatchOS 9 added bosom complaint zones and elevation, among different things, but Garmin lets you spot your stamina deplete successful existent time. Fitness watches person overmuch amended mapping features, including offline topographical maps and turn-by-turn way navigation. The Ultra does person Backtrack, but not the remainder — though third-party apps whitethorn look that assistance adjacent the gap. Battery beingness connected these watches is besides measured successful weeks and months, not days. As for surface brightness, the Ultra is agleam and amended successful indoor settings — but it’s hard to bushed transflective displays erstwhile the sun’s beating down connected you.
The Ultra, however, runs circles astir fittingness watches successful presumption of connectivity and simplicity. Notifications are better, the UI is much intuitive, and if you don’t person your phone, it doesn’t hobble the Ultra’s information features. If you’re disquieted astir nasty falls oregon crashes, oregon privation a siren for help, the Ultra condenses each of this into a azygous device. And let’s not hide euphony streaming. Working retired to tunes is easier connected the Ultra and you person galore much options acknowledgment to a amended third-party app ecosystem. You tin besides watercourse implicit cellular, portion different rugged watches trust connected offline playlists. When you’re not connected the trails, you tin besides usage the Ultra to power your astute home, oregon bash thing other you tin bash connected an Apple Watch.
The Ultra is reasonably priced for this category. It’s costly astatine $799, but not erstwhile you’re comparing it to the Garmin Fenix 7 lineup, which starts astatine $699. The Garmin Epix 2 has an OLED screen, 7-day artillery life, and starts astatine $899. That said, Garmin, Polar, and Coros besides person much affordable options successful the $400-$600 scope that tin play shot with the Ultra connected the fittingness front. One happening the Ultra has that these don’t? Cellular. You person to wage an other interest with your bearer to activate it, but each Ultra exemplary has cellular capability.
Which level you take is simply a substance of priorities. The Ultra is the amended stake if you privation a ticker that’s arsenic fantabulous indoors successful mundane beingness arsenic it is outdoors. But if you don’t attraction arsenic overmuch astir astute features, oregon artillery beingness is your fig 1 must-have, instrumentality with your Garmin (or Polar oregon Coros.) If you privation each conceivable chart, map, and graph nether the sun, the Ultra isn’t going to scratch that itch.
While Apple is going to merchantability a ton of these to play warriors, tech dads, and aspiring non-couch-potatoes, I’d reason the Ultra is champion for athletes hovering astatine the cusp betwixt intermediate and precocious levels. The artillery beingness is champion for play excursions, and the simpler UI and metrics are preferable if you’ve yet to crave overly analyzable charts. Hardcore athletes oregon explorers are much apt to privation other features they’re utilized to that the Ultra doesn’t have. (Yet.)
All-in-all, the Ultra is 1 of the champion debuts successful a caller merchandise class that I’ve seen successful a while. A batch of thought was enactment into the Ultra and it shows. It’s not capable to marque Garmin shingle successful its boots conscionable yet, but it’s much than capable to pique involvement and spark competition. Apple’s officially a viable contender successful the rugged ticker class — and I can’t hold to spot what comes next.
Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge
Agree to Continue: Apple Watch Ultra
Every astute instrumentality present requires you to hold to a bid of presumption and conditions earlier you tin usage it — contracts that nary 1 really reads. It’s intolerable for america to work and analyse each azygous 1 of these agreements. But we started counting precisely however galore times you person to deed “agree” to usage devices erstwhile we reappraisal them since these are agreements astir radical don’t work and decidedly can’t negotiate.
You tin lone usage the Apple Watch Ultra with an iPhone. That means you’ll person already agreed to the iPhone’s presumption of work and privateness agreements. Using optional services, similar Apple Pay, Apple Music, oregon Fitness Plus, with your Ultra volition besides travel with their ain agreements. Using the Health app besides comes with its ain terms and conditions.
If you take to alteration cellular service, you’ll besides person to hold to your carrier’s terms. I activated cellular connected T-Mobile and was asked to hold to 1 mandatory agreement. If you download the Huish Ocean Plus app, that volition necessitate much optional agreements.
If you adhd immoderate third-party apps oregon integrations, you indispensable besides hold to those idiosyncratic presumption and privateness policies.
Specific to the Apple Watch, you indispensable hold to the following:
Some features, similar EKG, whitethorn besides necessitate you to disclose your determination data, arsenic it depends connected section regulatory clearances.
Final tally: 1 mandatory statement positive immoderate mandatory agreements for your iPhone. Several, respective optional agreements.