It’s the official launch day for Apple’s latest and greatest product, the Apple Watch Ultra. We picked up one of the new watches to check out its features and compared it to the Apple Watch Series 8 to see if it’s worth the upgrade.
The Apple Watch Ultra is Apple’s largest watch to date, measuring 49mm, a full 4mm above the 45mm Apple Watch Series 8. It may look large depending on your wrist size, and it’s thicker than you’d expect. If you can comfortably wear a 45mm Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Ultra might not feel too much bigger, but it sits higher.
It’s heavier than the 45mm Apple Watch Series 8, but not so much that it’s super noticeable. Coming from a 41mm Apple Watch, it may feel too big, but it comes down to personal preference. Apple says the Ultra fits wrists up to 130mm.
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Apple designed rugged bands for the Apple Watch Ultra and we picked up the Alpine Loop and the Ocean Band. The Alpine Loop is similar to the Sport Loop, but has two layers and a texture similar to the now-discontinued Woven Bands. The Ocean Loop is a kind of ribbed sports band with some stretch.
As for the feature set, Apple designed the Apple Watch Ultra for “adventurers and explorers”, so it has some semi-niche options that the average user may never need, such as a Depth app for diving. The new Compass app has a more universal appeal with the option to set Waypoints and use Backtrack if you’re in danger of getting lost, which is useful even for casual walks. The built-in siren exclusive to the Ultra is surprisingly loud and has the potential to be useful even in urban areas.
The WayFinder watch face of the Apple Watch Ultra offers a ton of information with room for eight complications, and the dark mode that shows the face in red is an option we wish were available for more watch faces.
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Apple has added a large orange button to the side of the Apple Watch Ultra called the action button, and you can assign it to various Ultra functions for quick access, even when wearing gloves. It can start workouts, set waypoints in the Compass app, activate shortcuts, turn on the flashlight and more.
The Digital Crown has also been made more accessible with larger ridges that make handling easier when wearing gloves, and speaker quality has been improved with the addition of additional speakers.
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For the features it offers, the Apple Watch Ultra is surprisingly affordable, especially when rumored to have pushed its expected cost to nearly $1,000. Even if you don’t regularly go on an adventure, the Apple Watch Ultra has options that are nice to have just in case, so it may be worth picking up if it fits your wrist and your lifestyle.
Do you have an Apple Watch Ultra? Let us know what you think in the comments.