The Apple Watch Ultra is Apple‘s newest and most advanced smartwatch, designed specifically for intense sports and outdoor activities. This rugged and durable watch comes packed with brand new features not found on any previous Apple Watch models.
In this in-depth guide, we will walk through the top 10 new features that make the Apple Watch Ultra stand out:
1. Larger and Brighter Display
The Apple Watch Ultra has a noticeably larger display than previous models, with a 1.92 inch screen and 502 x 410 pixel resolution. This adds up to a 49mm display size, making it much easier to view metrics and maps during activities.
Moreover, the display is incredibly bright at up to 2000 nits – 2x brighter than the Apple Watch Series 8. This allows for excellent visibility even in direct sunlight. The boost in brightness is a must for using the built-in compass and maps when hiking or trail running.
2. Rugged Titanium Case
Apple constructed the Watch Ultra‘s case out of lightweight yet robust titanium. This makes the watch much more impact and scratch resistant compared to aluminum or stainless steel models.
The titanium build ensures the watch can withstand intense activities and environments without getting damaged. And at just 61 grams, it‘s lighter than stainless steel so you won‘t even notice it on your wrist during exercise.
3. Action Button for Quick Access
The Apple Watch Ultra introduces an all-new Action button on the left side of the case. This customizable button provides quick access to frequently used features with just a press.
For example, you can set it to start/stop workouts, begin a dive, mark segments of a race, access compass waypoints, start a stopwatch, and much more. It‘s especially handy when on the move or wearing gloves.
4. Enhanced Water Resistance to 330 Feet
While previous Apple Watch models were somewhat water resistant, the Ultra is built for water sports and diving. It achieves an industry-leading water resistance rating of WR100 – sufficient for depths up to 330 feet.
This allows the watch to accompany you for activities like swimming, surfing, water skiing, and snorkeling without issue. There‘s also a new Depth app that shows current depth, water temperature, and more.
5. Dual-Frequency GPS for Accuracy
The Apple Watch Ultra introduces a dual-frequency GPS, utilizing both L1 and L5 frequencies. This enables more accurate distance, pace, and route mapping – especially near tall buildings and trees.
Single frequency GPS found on most watches can struggle in dense urban environments. But the Ultra‘s dual GPS overcomes this via L5, providing reliable tracking regardless of location.
6. Waypoints and Backtrack for Navigation
Thanks to the built-in compass and GPS, the Apple Watch Ultra excels at outdoor navigation for hiking and trail running. The updated Compass app allows you to drop waypoints manually along your route.
You can then view the direction and distance back to each waypoint. And the Backtrack feature uses GPS to automatically track your steps, making it easy to retrace your route if lost or injured.
7. Robust Safety Features
Apple packed useful safety features into the Watch Ultra for times you get into trouble outdoors. It has an 86dB siren to signal your location over long distances. You can also ping your location to emergency contacts using the side button.
And if you sustain a hard fall, the watch will automatically contact emergency services thanks to built-in fall detection. For adventurers, the peace of mind is invaluable.
8. Extra-long Battery Life
While most Apple Watches last just a day per charge, the Ultra provides substantially longer runtime. Normal use gets you around 36 hours, while enabling the new low power setting extends it to 60 hours.
This ensures you have ample juice for long workouts, hikes, and outdoor excursions spanning multiple days. The bigger battery allows the watch to accompany you on lengthy trips off the grid.
9. Precision Finding for Coordination
The Apple Watch Ultra introduces a new Precision Finding feature that leverages compass, GPS, and networking to guide you to nearby people or items. You can mark a lost device or friend as a target.
As you get closer, the watch provides granular directional guidance via haptics and audio to pinpoint the precise location. It makes meeting up incredibly simple without cell service.
10. Robust Activity Tracking
Like all Apple Watches, the Ultra provides detailed tracking across a huge range of workouts and activities. It captures key metrics like pace, distance, elevation, splits, and more to optimize your training.
And the larger screen makes it easier to view real-time workout stats at a glance. Whether you‘re running, cycling, hiking, or swimming, the Ultra has you covered.
The Apple Watch Ultra flaunts an entirely new design tailored specifically for extreme environments and sports. From the choice of materials to the shape, every element boosts durability and performance.
Rugged Titanium Casing
As mentioned above, Apple constructed the Watch Ultra casing from aerospace-grade titanium. At just 61 grams, titanium offers the best strength-to-weight ratio to make the watch incredibly lightweight yet durable.
The material is highly resistant to dents, scratches, and corrosion – perfect for withstanding intense activities. And the natural silver coloring maintains a premium, stylish aesthetic.
Larger 49mm Size
To accommodate the bigger, brighter display and larger battery, Apple increased the Ultra‘s case size to 49mm. This is noticeably larger than the previous 45mm and 41mm sizes.
The chunkier shape provides room for the advanced sensors, bigger battery, and action button. But clever engineering keeps the weight low despite the size increase.
New Action Button
The all-new Action button on the left side of the casing provides quick access to key functions. It is highly customizable to your most used apps and features.
The prominent button is easy to press even when on the move or wearing gloves. And Apple designed the tactile feel to be easily distinguishable from the digital crown.
New Watch Bands
The Apple Watch Ultra introduces three brand new soft and breathable watch bands intended for exercise:
Trail Loop – Lightweight nylon ideal for running and hiking
Alpine Loop – Durable and stretchable for extreme activities
Ocean Band – Highly supple elastomer perfect for water sports
Each uses high-quality materials specialized for active lifestyles. And they provide a secure fit to keep the watch firmly in place during intense movement.
Beyond the materials and buttons, Apple optimized the Ultra‘s entire design for fitness and adventure use. The curved edges improve ergonomics and watch-to-skin contact for more accurate wrist-based tracking.
The microphone has also been repositioned to reduce wind noise during outdoor workouts. And the redesigned speaker maximizes volume for alerts when in noisy environments.
The Apple Watch Ultra incorporates all of the same advanced health sensors found on the Series 8. This includes blood oxygen monitoring, ECG, sleep tracking, women‘s health tracking, and more.
But the Ultra also introduces some new safety features to protect you during extreme activities.
Robust Fall Detection
All Apple Watch models feature fall detection that can automatically contact emergency services if you sustain a hard fall and remain immobile. But the Ultra builds on this with a new algorithm optimized for intense activities.
The improved system can better distinguish dangerous falls from active movements like boxing, skiing, and snowboarding. This reduces false alarms while maintaining crash protection.
Emergency SOS Siren
As mentioned previously, the Watch Ultra integrates an 86dB siren to signal your location in an emergency. At this volume, the siren can be heard from up to 600 feet away – very useful if injured on a remote trail.
You can activate the siren manually by holding down the Action button. And doing so also shares your location with designated emergency contacts for rescue coordination.
Dive Safety Features
For water sports, the Ultra‘s new Depth app provides key safety insights including current depth, water temperature, and maximum depth obtained. Tracking this data allows you to better monitor decompression time.
And Apple is releasing an Oceanic+ app in 2023 that will add more advanced dive computer functions. This will transform the Ultra into an ideal dive watch for recreational scuba diving.
While designed for adventurers, the Apple Watch Ultra maintains the same best-in-class workout tracking and coaching features found on all Apple Watch models. The key capabilities include:
Detailed Metrics Monitoring
During exercises, the watch captures all key performance indicators including pace, distance, heart rate zones, splits, elevation, and more. You can view these metrics in real time or analyze them post-workout.
In the Workout app, you can build custom workouts comprised of multiple different exercises performed sequentially or in intervals. The Ultra will automatically track and switch between each activity.
For selected workouts, the watch provides real-time guidance and coaching to help optimize performance and technique. Cues include pacing alerts, form corrections, and when to switch intervals.
After tough workouts, the Watch Ultra assesses your recovery time and provides guidance on suggested rest based on heart rate, fitness level, and other factors. This allows you to train safely.
The Ultra makes it easy to track entire triathlons or competitions that involve multiple sports. Just press the Action button at each transition, and the watch will automatically switch to tracking the new activity.
Unlike the aluminum Apple Watch models focused on style over ruggedness, the Ultra prioritizes intense durability and resilience:
As discussed earlier, the titanium casing offers incredible scratch resistance and durability compared to aluminum or stainless steel. It holds up well to significant impacts.
Sapphire Crystal Display
Previous Apple Watch displays used Ion-X strengthened glass. But the Ultra utilizes much more robust sapphire crystal for the display covering – virtually scratch proof.
WR100 Water Resistance
The Ultra‘s 100m water resistance rating means you can swim or dive down to 330 feet without issues. No need to worry when surfing, diving, or falling into the water during triathlons.
Apple certified the Watch Ultra to the EN13319 diving and water sport standard. This validates it can withstand depths of up to 130 feet – sufficient for recreational scuba diving.
Mil-STD 810H Rating
The Ultra meets the MIL-STD 810H standard used to test military equipment resilience. It survived challenging testing scenarios including extreme hot/cold, shock, water submersion, and more.
The Apple Watch Ultra incorporates a much larger battery than previous models, providing substantially longer runtime between charges:
36 Hours Normal Use
During normal daily use with notifications, workouts, and sleep tracking, the Ultra lasts around 36 hours on a full charge. This gets most users through 1.5 days before needing to recharge.
60 Hours with Low Power Mode
Turning on the built-in Low Power mode disables select power-hungry features to extend battery life up to 60 hours – 2.5 days of use. This is perfect for long trips off the grid.
15 Hours Training Battery
For athletes in training, the Ultra lasts up to 15 hours during continuous workout usage before it needs recharging. This covers ultra-marathons, triathlons, and hiking expeditions.
Fast Charging Capable
When you do need to top up, the Ultra supports fast charging that can take it from 0 to 80% in about an hour. This minimizes downtime between outdoor adventures.
The Apple Watch Ultra comes with WiFi, Bluetooth, U1, and LTE connectivity across all models:
Every Ultra model includes LTE cellular connectivity at no extra cost. This means you can receive calls, texts, notifications, and stream music without your paired iPhone nearby.
The Ultra includes both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands for more reliable connections, especially in crowded environments. This improves syncing speed when transferring large activity files.
Bluetooth 5.3 ensures rock-solid connections to wireless headphones and fitness equipment like heart rate straps. It improves bandwidth too for music streaming.
Ultra Wideband Chip
The built-in U1 chip powers new spatial awareness features for the AirPods Pro 2 like Precision Finding. It taps into ultra wideband frequencies for positioning.
As mentioned previously, the dual L1 and L5 GPS enables much better signal lock in urban areas or dense foliage compared to single-frequency watches.
While suitable for daily wear, the Apple Watch Ultra really shines for intense outdoor sports and adventures including:
- Hiking and backpacking
- Trail running
- Open water and pool swimming
- Triathlons and obstacle course races
- Scuba diving and water sports
- Climbing and mountaineering
- Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding
- Endurance events like marathons or Iron Man
Basically, any activity that pushes your limits physically and takes you off the grid will benefit most from the Ultra‘s durability, navigation, power, and safety capabilities.
It‘s complete overkill for basic gym workouts and walks. But it‘s built expressly for athletes, adventurers, and those in extreme environments.
The Apple Watch Ultra sits well above the Series 8, SE, and older models in pricing at $799. Here‘s how it compares:
As you can see, the Ultra justifies its premium pricing with:
- Larger, brighter display
- Rugged titanium casing
- Far longer battery life
- Dual-frequency GPS
- Emergency safety features
- Enhanced waterproofing
Casual users are better off with the SE or Series 8. But for hardcore athletes and outdoor activities, the Ultra provides advanced capabilities the others simply lack.
The Apple Watch Ultra is an excellent choice if:
- You want maximum ruggedness and durability
- All-day battery life is important to you
- Advanced navigation features are beneficial
- You participate in intense outdoor sports and training
- You require dive computer functionality
- Safety features provide peace of mind
However, at $799 it is quite an investment. More casual users are likely better off with the Apple Watch SE, Series 8, or even Series 7.
But for hardcore athletes, adventurers, and those who spend significant time in extreme environments, the Apple Watch Ultra provides powerful capabilities other smartwatches simply can‘t match.