The Apple Watch Ultra sounds very impressive, but it won't be for everyone

That doesn't mean you won't seriously want one

Apple Watch Ultra
(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch Ultra was announced at today's Apple Event, bringing with it a new bold design and a wide range of features built for endurance, exploration, and adventure.

What makes it perfect for such extreme usage? Let's take a look…

Starting off with the design, the Apple Watch Ultra features a completely redesigned 49mm titanium case that protects a flat sapphire front crystal. It's much chunkier and more robust than before and houses the biggest and brightest Apple Watch display yet. This should make it easier to read in challenging environments.

The Ultra also features a customisable Action button which offers instant access to a wide range of useful features, including Workouts, Compass Waypoints, Backtrack, and more.

In terms of hardware, the Apple Watch Ultra has three built-in microphones to significantly improve sound quality as well as louder speakers, which, combined, make voice calls clearer in windy or extreme conditions. 

For the first time ever in an Apple Watch, the precision dual-frequency GPS integrates both L1 and the latest frequency, L5, plus new positioning algorithms to deliver the most accurate GPS of any Apple Watch to date. This provides more precise distance, pace, and route data for training and competing in marathons and endurance races.

Apple Watch Ultra

(Image credit: Apple)

The on-wrist operating temperature was designed to help explore the most extreme and remote locations, from freezing cold mountains at -20° C to the blazing desert heat at 55° C.

To support your underwater adventures, Apple Watch Ultra is certified to WR100. Apple Watch Ultra is also certified to EN13319, which is an internationally recognised standard for dive accessories, including depth gauges that are relied upon by recreational divers around the world.

The Apple Watch Ultra is certified to the relevant aspects of MIL-STD-810H, used for military equipment and popular among rugged equipment manufacturers. IKt has been tested in altitude, high temperature, low temperature, temperature shock, contamination by fluids, rain, humidity, immersion, sand and dust, freeze/thaw, ice/freezing rain, shock, vibration, and more. So if you do find a way to damage it… well done.

Just like the Apple Watch 8, the Apple Watch Ultra is powered by watchOS 9, which includes all of the connectivity, activity, and health features that have made the Apple Watch T3's best smartwatch for years running.

There are, though, specific applications designed for the Ultra.

For explorers and adventurers, the completely redesigned Compass app surfaces more in-depth information and three distinct views. The app displays a new hybrid view that simultaneously shows both an analogue compass dial and a digital view. Turning the Digital Crown reveals an additional view that includes latitude, longitude, elevation, and incline, as well as an orienteering view showing Compass Waypoints and Backtrack.

Apple Watch Ultra

(Image credit: Apple)

Backtrack uses GPS data to create a path showing where the user has been, which is useful if they get lost or disoriented and need help retracing their steps. It can also turn on automatically in the background when off the grid. 

One feature that I particularly like is that to optimise for low-light conditions, turning the Digital Crown makes the interface red for better visibility in the dark.

Utilising a new depth gauge, Apple Watch Ultra features a Depth app designed with an intuitive user interface. With just a glance, the Depth app displays time, current depth, water temperature, duration underwater, and max depth reached.

In fact, the new Oceanic+ app turns Apple Watch Ultra into a capable dive computer.

New for the Apple Watch Ultra are three bands designed for the great outdoors, including the Trail Loop, which is the thinnest Apple Watch band to date designed for endurance athletes and runners; the Apline Loop which is strong and durable designed for explorers; and the Ocean Band, which is a rubber strap which is designed specifically for extreme water sports and recreational diving.

Apple Watch Ultra

(Image credit: Apple)

In terms of battery life, the Apple Watch Ultra has enough battery life for most users to complete a long-course triathlon, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and full marathon at 26.2 miles, or for a multi-day backpacking trip, battery life can be extended to reach up to 60 hours using Low Power Mode plus an additional low-power setting that reduces the frequency of GPS and heart rate readings.

The Apple Watch Ultra is priced at £849 / $799 / AUD$1,299 and will be available in stores beginning Friday, September 23.

Of course, that price tag is rather high for a new Apple Watch, and if it sounds too high for you, don't worry – if you don't need all of these extreme sports features (and let's face it, not many of us do need those features) then the new Apple Watch Series 8 or updated Apple Watch SE will likely be more suited to you.

Apple Watch Ultra

(Image credit: Apple)
Spencer Hart
Style and Travel Editor

As the Style and Travel Editor at T3, Spencer covers everything from clothes to cars and watches to hotels. Everything that's cool, stylish, and interesting, basically. He's been a part of T3 for over seven years, and in that time covered every industry event known to man, from CES and MWC to the Geneva Motorshow and Baselworld. When he's driving up and down the country in search of the greatest driving roads, he can be found messing around on an electric scooter, playing with luxury watches, or testing the latest fragrances.