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Apple Watch Ultra, a sport-specific Watch


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As every September, Apple has just unveiled its new Watch Series 8. But this year we have a surprise that has been rumored for some time, a model focused specifically for sport with a larger size and better autonomy.

It was obvious after the presentation of Watch OS 9, with a multitude of functions focused on sports. Specifically these are the things we will find in the new firmware version of the Apple Watch:

  • Running power
  • Detection of automatic transitions in triathlons
  • Estimation of vertical oscillation, stride length, and ground contact time.
  • Heart rate zones
  • Advanced training

But let's go back to the hardware, and specifically to the Apple Watch Ultra, which is the model intended for sports.


Apple Watch Ultra, details

Apple Watch Ultra

Before we get into the details, let me give you a rundown of what's new and what features the new Apple Watch Ultra has to offer.

  • 49mm wide, instead of the 45mm width of the Apple Watches we had until now
  • Obviously, larger screen size (Apple's largest so far)
  • Titanium housing
  • Flat sapphire crystal, not curved as in earlier models
  • Multiband GNSS chipset
  • New additional button, customizable for various functions
  • Larger crown size
  • 2 loudspeakers instead of 1, and 3 microphones
  • Up to 36 hours of battery life, with an extended battery mode to provide up to 60 hours at a later date
  • New sport-specific leashes: Alpine, Trail and Ocean
  • No WiFi-only version, all Apple Watch Ultra have cellular connection
  • Price: 999€.


Apple Watch Ultra, much larger size

The first thing that 1TP7We should note is that the new Apple Watch Ultra is much larger. At 49mm wide, the screen is noticeably larger than the usual screen on previous Apple Watches. According to Apple, not only is it their largest display yet, it's also their brightest. This oversized display will allow you to set up to 6 data on screen.

This screen is protected by a sapphire crystal. Likewise, the case is made of titanium for greater durability and less weight.

The 49mm size offers space for a larger capacity battery. They do not provide mAh data, but hours of use. According to Apple, "up to 36 hours" of continuous use. And later there will be an extended battery mode offering "up to 60 hours of battery life".


This autonomy that Apple talks about is probably in reference to generic use (because they have not specified), not making use of GPS. And speaking of GPS...

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Dual band satellite reception on Apple Watch Ultra

Another important change that has been presented today is that the Apple Watch Ultra debuts multiband satellite reception. It thus follows the path first opened by COROS with the VERTIX 2, which was soon joined by Huawei or Garmin.

It is an important and welcome addition, but we will have to see what happens to the battery if we activate the dual-band mode. If in the case of Garmin we are talking about reducing the autonomy by almost half, it can be a carnage in the case of the Apple Watch.

I remind you that the 36 hours of autonomy are not in sports use, but in "daily use connected to an iPhone". It may offer enough autonomy for a marathon, but I would not dare to use it for long trips in the mountains.

Apple does not provide exact data on how long the battery will last, but it does talk about it being "enough to complete a long-distance triathlon for most athletes". Considering that the maximum time to cover the Ironman distance is 17 hours, we know how far it will go.

If we consider that the average time in the Ironman is about 14 hours, 1TP7We can establish there the autonomy with GPS use. And if we use the goodness of multiband reception then we are going to stay at 7-8 hours.

Is it enough? It may be, but it is not an "Ultra" autonomy.


Additional button for sport

Another difference the Apple Watch Ultra has is an additional large button. The crown has also grown, both of which are large enough, according to Apple, to be used with gloves.

This additional button can be configured for different functions. Start workouts or move to a new phase of a workout, or mark a transition manually (although Watch OS9 can do it automatically).

Apple Watch Ultra


Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE 2

With respect to the Apple Watch Series 8 and a new Apple Watch SE, there are also some new features (though fewer, obviously).

The Apple Watch Series 8 has new sensors. Two thermometers that will be used during the night to track body temperature, mainly oriented to track ovulation in women.

Apple Watch Series 8 - Temperature

The Apple Watch is capable of taking temperature every 5 seconds to detect changes throughout the night.

Apple Watch Series 8 - Temperature

A new gyroscope and accelerometer, along with microphone data, will enable car accident detection. This joins the fall detection function that were already present in the past.

Apple Watch Series 8 - Sensors

The battery life is 18 hours, although there will be an extended battery life mode that will allow you to wear it for up to 36 hours by deactivating functions such as the always-on display or automatic sport detection.

Apple Watch Series 8


Apple Watch Ultra review

This is an initial opinion based on the information released today, which is not too extensive. But it's what you came for... so here goes.

Apple continues to take steps towards a sports-focused watch. So far they were mainly oriented towards health and general users, a potential customer base much broader than sports. With this new model (and Watch OS9) Apple veers slightly and looks at athletes as well. It is undoubtedly the most capable Apple Watch so far, not only in sport but in general.

Is it enough to stand up to classic sports watches? I think not yet. There are still a few steps to go, more sensor support natively (potentiometers for example), more sport metrics and, above all, more autonomy. Those 14 hours I estimated are insufficient by today's standards.

But as I say, these are just early opinions after watching Apple's presentation today. They always paint it very nice, "our best Apple Watch, our best iPhone, etc". But then you have to face reality, which will come later.

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Hello Eduardo, first correct you a small mistake (the screen we had so far are 45 mm of the last Apple WATCH 7 not 44mm as you indicate). Second we must not forget all the things that makes an Apple Watch and does not make a sports watch. Third, speaking as a multi-sport watch, it also serves as a dive computer watch as well (which are not exactly cheap, and also comes in the same "package" as the Apple Watch Ultra. As far as I know Garmin has no watch that serves for running, cycling, and other "normal" sports and also serves as a DIVE COMPUTER up to 40 meters !!! that's nothing, all recreational diving, plus phone (because everything includes real LTE (even phone calls or send Washtapp without having to carry the phone on you, even the keys to your house, etc.) !!! !!!

    Then in the presentation they have said something very curious, and they have to be very sure of that, so that Garmin and other brands do not come down on him judicially ... they have literally said that its Algorithm plus its dual frequency GPS is the most accurate market, so it will offer the best metrics of pace and distance.

    Then as you rightly said, they have stated that most Iroman runners have enough battery to complete it without problems. So, I would bet that it is able to last 15 hours with GPS DUAL BAND activated, I don't even think it can be deactivated unless you activate the ULTRA mode of 60 hours.

    That is, if the majority of sports enthusiasts (90 percent I would say) at most runs the Marathon distance, if you are already able to withstand an Iroman, they will stay with the 95% of serious athletes, and they are only going to leave a 5% for sportsmen who are going to discard it because of the battery issue when running races of more than 15 hours, and not even that, because podrian activate the 60 hours saving mode that surely allows you to run more hours and distances without so much precision (as the Garmin also do). In short, for battery issue, you will only have a 5% left!

    The big problem I see right now with respect to Garmin, is that they do not have a platform as powerful as Garmin Connect and perhaps what you said connectivity with sensors (although the issue of not poderle connect external sensors natively will have to see it with more deteniendo). For me, right now the big problem is not the battery but the great platform that Garmin has with Garmin Connect.

    But if I were Garmin, Polar, etc. I would be literally trembling, because I am sure that sooner or later they will make their own at the height of Garmin Connect or Polar, or even reach powerful agreements with Strava (or even with the economic poderío of Apple who tells you that does not buy Strava directly and makes it super native with its ecosystem and gives already the finishing touch to Garmin, Polar, etc.).

    That said, if it were me, the other brands would be pretty screwed. In fact in my plans was to buy a Fenix 7 and I discarded it because I told myself that I didn't spend that money on a watch that didn't have LTE and would still force me to carry my cell phone. And Apple has done exactly that, include in ALL ULTRAS LTE. So, you can forget about your phone at home for workouts.

    Best regards Eduardo. And this watch, of course deserves to be analyzed from the first day of release (but you already know that xD).

    1. True about the former, I was still living in the past... corrected! Garmin has the Descent, which are basically Instinct 2 or Fenix 7 with specific diving software, but keeping the rest of the features of the models from which it starts. But I don't know the particularities of one or the other, so I don't know what level each one will reach. As it is a sport that I do not practice I have not wanted to go too much into it for not messing up (I would mess up for sure).

      The whole Ironman endurance thing is with a new low-power sport mode, possibly making use of GPS only and disabling the always-on display.

      About the test, of course it would be interesting, but so far Apple has given zero facilities and I don't know if with the Ultra something will change.

    2. Good morning Salomon100,
      I think you are right in much of what you say if we think of people who practice sport sporadically, but for the most demanding users who can train 5 or 6 days a week I think it will still fall short. It's not that it won't hold up to a marathon, it's that if I train every day I have to be charging the watch day in and day out, and that's a hassle. Not to mention the weekends when you do a long run of 4 or 5 hours. If you forget to charge the watch the night before, you will probably not make it to the end of the activity because you have already accumulated 24 hours of normal use before going out for a run. Today's sports watches have brutal autonomies to avoid having to constantly charge and minimize the risk of being left stranded for not having charged the day before. Few people run for 36 hours straight. Who has not ever gone for a "meda" race and suffer because you forgot to charge the watch and you have a measly 12% left?
      Then there is the issue of price in the apple universe... 1000 eurazos for a smart watch for sporadic sport (1 or 2 weekly sessions) seems to me too much. For half the price you have a 955 and for much less a chorus apex pro.

    3. Solomon 100 , first excuse what I will say because without being my intention maybe it feels bad to you but it gives a complete impression that you are Apple forumpho to pincho: with your iPad(is it spelled like that?) The airpods, the iPhone.....excuse me but today I do not see any real sense to leave aside a Garmin , suunto or polar(eye, these too) to buy the Apple watch.
      I understand that in the future and if you decide to enter seriously maybe Apple podría try to take over the market but today is far away in real terms of what you need an athlete for endurance sports, at least in terms of battery longevity in the long term, tracking history, creating complex workouts .....this from a very normal athlete but who has been doing it for more than twenty years, I think poder say that for someone who instead of 3 days a week trains harder this watch as a smart watch I do not see sense beyond that you want it and that's it (which is very respectable).
      For primarily sport use; I don't see it.
      I repeat, no offense intended, just imagine you there with the whole pack and it made me good vibes.

  2. Hello, I have tested the Apple Watch series 7 LTE and Garmin 955 Solar the 2 at the same time in swimming in pools 25 and 50 meters and I must say that the Apple Watch as soon as it gets wet the touch screen does not respond well, and the Garmin to have the option of buttons instead of touch (to choose) for sport responds perfectly, not depending on whether it is wet or not....

  3. Hello.
    An Apple Watch series 8 aluminum with LTE + Stryd starts at 929 Euros. An Apple Watch Ultra starts at 999 Euros.

    It is worth the Ultra which has better GPS, case and screen. And now WatchOS also has Power (W).

    It would be nice to have a comparison to see how accurate the Ultra is versus Stryd.


    1. In either case it is an estimated power, there is no economic way to know the real power and compare. In the end the important thing is that it is something that is repeated in different and similar conditions so that it is useful information.

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