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 4mm 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 appthat 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 features the first notable design update to the Apple Watch that we’ve seen since its 2015 launch. It still uses the same rounded rectangular shape, but the casing design has been overhauled. The case has been extended to the edges of a new flat front crystal display to offer additional protection, and the Digital Crown and side button are now in a raised area on the case.
Apple redesigned the Digital Crown to give it a larger diameter and coarser grooves for easier access even when using gloves, and the side button is also able to be used with gloves on.
At 49mm, the Apple Watch Ultra is the biggest Apple Watch to date, and it is 4mm larger than the 45mm Apple Watch Series 8, the second largest Apple Watch available for purchase. The Apple Watch Ultra measures in at 49mm by 44mm by 14.4mm, and it weighs 61.3 grams, making it heavier than even the 45mm stainless steel Apple Watch Series 8.
Apple designed the Apple Watch Ultra for extreme water sports. Unlike standard Apple Watch models, it can be used for kitesurfing, wakeboarding, and recreational scuba diving to 40 meters deep. It is water resistant to a total of 100m, making it more water resistant than other Apple Watch models.
The Apple Watch Ultra is also certified to WR100 and EN13319, a standard for dive accessories such as depth gauges.
The Apple Watch Ultra features an updated Retina display with a resolution of 410 by 502, and it offers up to 2000 nits of brightness, making it twice as bright as any prior Apple Watch display. It has an 1164 sq mm display area, larger than the 1143 sq mm display area of the 45mm Apple Watch Series 8.
It features always-on display technology enabled by an OLED ultra low power temperature poly-silicon and oxide display (LTPO). With always-on, the watch face and complications remain continually visible and the screen does not dim and go black when the Apple Watch is not in use. The display dims when the wrist is down in order to preserve battery life, but key features like watch hands remain illuminated all the time.
According to Apple, the Apple Watch Ultra features an S8 chip with a 64-bit dual-core processor. Little has been said about the S8 because it is functionally identical to both the S6 and S7 chips that preceded it. The Apple Watch chip has not received a meaningful update since the Apple Watch Series 6.
The Apple Watch Ultra has 32GB of storage like other Apple Watch models.
Updated motion sensors and an advanced sensor-fusion algorithm allow the Apple Watch Ultra to detect a severe car crash and alert emergency services. After a crash is detected, the Apple Watch will check in with the user and then dial emergency services after a 10-second period with no response. It will also alert emergency contacts.
WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS
The Apple Watch Ultra includes dual-frequency GPS that integrates the L1 frequency and the L5 frequency for better GPS accuracy, plus it has new positioning algorithms.
According to Apple, the Apple Watch Ultra provides the most accurate GPS of any Apple Watch to date for more precise distance, pace, and route data for training and competing purposes.
The L5 frequency is able to work better in urban environments where there are a lot of trees and other obstacles to deal with. Apple uses the GPS function with Apple Maps for more accurate road, bike, and trail routes.
There is an 86-decibel emergency siren available on the Apple Watch Ultra that can be used in emergency situations to draw attention to a location. The sound uses two alternating patterns, including a distress pattern and a second that matches the universally recognized SOS pattern.
Apple says the siren can be heard up to 600 feet or 180 meters away. The siren can be activated by pressing and holding on the Action button or the Side button.