October 1, 2022
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Apple Watch Ultra Review: The Most Exciting Watch in Years

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Even if you happen to’re not an endurance athlete, there’s nonetheless loads of causes you may want the $799 (£849, AU$1,299) Apple Watch Extremely. It has a much bigger battery, extra sturdy titanium casing and display that is twice as shiny because the Apple Watch Series 8. Just like the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple has reserved some key options for the Extremely that set it other than the remainder of the Apple Watch vary. There is a dual-frequency GPS for extra correct monitoring, additional microphones for improved voice calls and a customizable Motion button to rapidly begin actions, or transition from one leg of a triathlon to a different.  

Like

  • Motion button is incredible
  • Vibrant, massive display
  • Greatest battery lifetime of any Apple Watch
  • Twin-band GPS is extra correct than earlier watches

Do not Like

  • Too massive for some wrists
  • 60-hour battery runtime optimization not accessible but
  • No native offline mapping capabilities
  • Restricted restoration metrics

For the primary time on an Apple Watch, LTE connectivity is included by default. That instantly units it other than many different sports activities and health watches that do not have any mobile possibility. The Extremely solely is available in one 49mm case dimension, which is likely to be too massive for some to put on comfortably. 

Then there’s the hefty worth, which is $400 greater than the 41mm GPS Apple Watch Series 8 and will have you ever questioning whether or not the Extremely actually is value that rather more. Even if you happen to do not contemplate your self an adventurer, there is likely to be sufficient right here to justify the price — particularly if you’d like a more-durable watch with elevated water resistance and battery life that is no less than twice so long as different Apple Watch fashions.

Contemplating the $749 45mm Apple Watch Collection 8 in stainless-steel prices nearly as a lot, I believe the Extremely is a greater general worth, given that you just get further {hardware} options just like the Motion button (which I’ve come to like), an emergency siren and additional microphones to spice up name high quality.

It is also priced competitively with different sports activities watches which have an identical titanium development and OLED screens, just like the $999 Garmin Epix 2. The Apple Watch Extremely’s battery would not final as lengthy, and it would not have anyplace close to as many navigation options because the Epix 2. Nevertheless it’s simpler to make use of, has coronary heart options like an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) app, mobile connectivity and seamless integration with the iPhone.

For those who’re somebody who needs a real hybrid smartwatch and sports activities watch, the Extremely is the one to beat.

Apple Watch Extremely design is massive and daring

The Extremely is a souped-up Apple Watch in each respect. All of the acquainted components are right here, simply greater and bolder than earlier fashions. The facet button has its personal housing that protrudes from the case and the digital crown has deeper ridges, making each simpler to manage in case your fingers are sweaty, dusty or sporting gloves.

When taking the Extremely out of the box for the first time, I believed it was going to be too giant and heavy for my wrist. Nevertheless it’s deceptively mild to put on, due to its titanium development. Even with the smallest watch strap that most closely fits my wrist dimension, I can get a comfortable and comfy match through the day.

Apple Watch Ultra

James Martin/CNET

This is not a one-size-fits-all design, although. The Apple Watch Extremely will doubtless overwhelm smaller wrists. I’d have cherished to see a smaller case possibility, even on the expense of battery life. For instance, I am a facet sleeper who rests my hand underneath my pillow, so the Extremely is not essentially the most comfy watch to put on for sleep monitoring; I can really feel each fringe of the watch at evening.

The 49mm case makes this the most important Apple Watch so far, although the lively space on the show itself is barely a hair greater than the 45mm Collection 8. So slightly than a much bigger display, you are actually selecting the Extremely over the Collection 8 for the additional safety you get from the titanium casing’s raised edges. The display additionally has flat edges, which some would possibly want over the marginally curved display on Apple’s different watches. 

The Apple Watch Extremely can be twice as shiny because the Collection 8 and is straightforward to see on a sunny day with a most 2,000 nits. I’ve taken the Extremely on lengthy hikes, an outside bike experience and my on a regular basis walks and runs. It is readable in all of those conditions, particularly when simply glancing all the way down to see stats on the always-on show. The flat sapphire glass cowl is extra reflective than I would like, however the edge safety round it’s going to pay dividends in long-term sturdiness.

Coming from a 41mm Apple Watch Collection 7, all the things is less complicated to see, from exercise stats on the always-on show to notifications. The font dimension is adjustable and might get massive, which is nice for readability, just like the 45mm Collection 8. And it sounds easy, however I like how the Extremely has room on its display for as much as six strains of exercise stats. I now not should scroll down to a different web page simply to see a specific metric, which makes all of the distinction.

Over the previous week, I’ve gotten used to the scale of the Extremely, although there are occasions after I missed the sleeker really feel of the common Apple Watch on my wrist. That is very true for the Collection 7 and Collection 8, with their curved screens and contoured circumstances that make on a regular basis put on extra fulfilling.

Apple Watch Extremely’s Motion button has loads of makes use of

You possibly can’t miss the intense orange Motion button on the left of the Apple Watch Extremely. It sits flush with the case and has an indentation that helps you are feeling it underneath your thumb. Subsequent to the bigger capability battery, that is my favourite new {hardware} function on the Extremely. It may be exhausting to return to an Apple Watch Collection with out one.

Apple Watch Ultra draped over a jagged rock surface

James Martin/CNET

You possibly can customise the button from the Settings menu to do issues like add a waypoint, launch the stopwatch, open the flashlight app or immediately begin considered one of your common exercises and skip the “3, 2, 1” countdown.

On earlier Apple Watches, I set a complication to launch the exercise app, then choose the exercise sort utilizing the touchscreen. It is not solely simpler to do that with the Extremely’s Motion button, nevertheless it’s way more customizable as a result of the button additionally adjustments relying on context.

For those who’re on an outside run and press the Motion button once more, you may mark a section. You may also pause a exercise by pinching the facet button and Motion button collectively. The identical pinch combo resumes your exercise, so there is not any have to swipe to the suitable on the display to cease and begin (though you continue to have to swipe to finish a exercise). The button may also transition from one leg of the race to a different if you happen to’re collaborating in a duathlon or triathlon.

Apple Watch Ultra on a user's wrist

Beginning a exercise with the Motion button


James Martin/CNET

I want that the opposite two buttons might be used for controlling and navigating the watch (significantly if you cannot use the touchscreen with gloves), or locking the display throughout a exercise like you may on another sports activities watches. As with different Apple Watch fashions, you may solely lock the Extremely’s touchscreen if you happen to’re doing an underwater exercise comparable to swimming or diving.

I would wish to see Apple add a few of these customization options into different Apple Watches, so you might swap out the multitasking operate of the facet button to launch a exercise as a substitute, for instance. Different sports activities and outside watches have comparable methods to customise buttons, comparable to the new keys on Garmin watches. However Apple’s implementation is arguably simpler to make use of, and I hope to see much more customization choices added in future software program updates. You will additionally be capable of use the Motion button to launch Shortcuts, however I wasn’t in a position to set that function on the Extremely but.

Apple Watch Extremely bands additionally work with older Apple Watches

At launch, the Apple Watch Extremely will include a selection of three new watch bands: a textile Alpine Loop, an elastomer Ocean Band and a nylon Path Loop. The excellent news is you should utilize current bands from 44mm and 45mm Apple Watches with the Extremely, or use any of the three new Extremely bands on the identical sizes of Apple Watch. It will not be a precise match, nevertheless it’s nonetheless good to have some backward-compatibility.

I actually just like the Ocean Band, which is designed for water sports activities and diving because it’s in a position to stretch over a wetsuit, as a result of it feels essentially the most just like a daily watch strap. Nevertheless it’s slightly chunky for on a regular basis use.

Apple Watch Ultra

The Alpine Loop on the wrist.


James Martin/CNET

Throughout my testing, I primarily used the Alpine Loop, which is extra suited to path adventures. This has a titanium hook fastener however is usually a little fiddly to get on. It looks as if it’s going to take a number of extra weeks to fully break within the cloth. The Trail Loop with pull tab appears essentially the most sensible for on a regular basis use as a result of it is barely elasticized. I can not look ahead to extra choices with extra muted colours and designs that may work all over the place from the workplace to the path.

Wayfinder is the brand new Apple Watch Extremely face

The Apple Watch Extremely comes with one unique watch face known as Wayfinder. It has room for as much as eight issues, so you may closely customise the feel and appear of this face to no matter exercise you select. It additionally features a compass that signifies the north level while you rotate your wrist, and you can even view elevation knowledge. There’s a evening mode that turns all the weather pink and is triggered by rotating the crown. Nevertheless it’s solely accessible with the Wayfinder watch face.

I want Apple had greater than only one unique face for the Extremely, regardless that you might doubtlessly tailor Wayfinder to have one for mountaineering, one for diving and one for on a regular basis use, for instance. The Apple Watch Extremely additionally helps all of the common watch faces you are used to and new ones in WatchOS 9 together with Metropolitan and Astronomy.

Apple Watch Ultra with Wayfinder face

The brand new Wayfinder watch face.


James Martin/CNET

Apple Watch Extremely is for marathons, hikes, dives and on a regular basis exercises

Do not be fooled by its rugged exterior and adventurous positioning. The Apple Watch Extremely is simply as appropriate for a daily run as it could be for an endurance race. Similar to every other Apple Watch that makes use of WatchOS 9, together with the brand new SE and Collection 8, the Extremely has:

  • A multisport mode to robotically change between completely different exercise varieties
  • Running metrics like floor contact time, energy and vertical oscillation
  • Coronary heart-rate zones
  • Enhanced customized exercises

The Apple Watch Extremely may also monitor the identical exercise varieties as every other WatchOS 9 system, plus it could possibly autodetect actions like strolling, working and biking. Later within the yr, computerized monitor detection can even come to the Extremely. When the watch detects you are on a 400m monitor, it helps you to select the lane you are working in to get extra correct tempo and distance outcomes. 

Apple Watch Ultra on a hike with hillside and trees

Utilizing the Extremely on a hike.


Lexy Savvides/CNET

However there is not any hiding the truth that the Apple Watch Extremely is additionally tailor-made to endurance athletes and adventurers. Its WR100 ranking means the Extremely is waterproof as much as 100m (328 ft.) and as much as 40m for diving. There’s a new Depth app that is unique to the Extremely and may be began manually, or launched robotically when the watch is submerged 1m (3 ft.) underwater. The app exhibits a depth gauge, water temperature sensor and time spent underwater. There’s additionally a brand new Oceanic Plus app that turns the watch into its personal dive pc. That app is not accessible but and can come out later within the fall. We plan to do extra particular dive and underwater testing with the Apple Watch Extremely.

For cardio-based exercises away from the water, the Apple Watch Extremely’s heart-rate sensor accuracy is superb in comparison towards a chest strap. Outcomes differ relying on components like the way it sits in your wrist and your arm actions. However for a 3-hour outside biking exercise, the Extremely is without doubt one of the closest and most correct smartwatches I’ve ever used for heart-rate monitoring. It matched the strap nearly beat-for-beat. It is also the identical sensor on the Apple Watch Collection 8, so meaning you won’t essentially have to pay the premium for the Extremely if coronary heart fee accuracy in exercises is your important precedence.

Apple Watch Ultra heart rate

Plotting the Apple Watch Extremely’s heart-rate sensor knowledge (blue line) towards a chest strap (purple line). As you may see, it is strikingly correct.


Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET

Similar to different Apple Watches, you may pair some gymnasium tools with the Extremely, such because the Peloton Bike. There isn’t any native help for heart-rate broadcasting that may allow you to see your coronary heart fee on a tool like a biking pc. You can also’t pair the watch with energy meter bike pedals, however there are third-party workarounds. Nonetheless, contemplating the price of the Extremely, it would be good to see Apple contemplate broader compatibility to speak with different supported health tools. The Extremely does sync with GymKit tools like ellipticals and treadmills, however these are usually for indoor use solely.

Backtrack and mapping choices on the Apple Watch Extremely

The Apple Watch Extremely has a brand new compass app in WatchOS 9, the identical that is discovered on different Apple Watches from the Collection 6 onward. It exhibits three completely different views while you rotate the digital crown: a hybrid display with an analog and digital compass; a technical display with coordinates and elevation; and an orienteering view the place you may see any waypoints you have added. This display additionally exhibits Backtrack, which makes use of GPS that will help you retrace your steps and navigate again to your place to begin.

I loved utilizing it on my hike after I was off the grid so I may get again to my automotive, and located it simple to comply with the trail proven on display. However I want you might additionally overlay that path onto a map view in, say, Apple Maps, like the same Monitor Again function on the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.

That is one thing I additionally miss on the Extremely in comparison with different sports activities and outside watches — having the ability to obtain offline maps on the look ahead to after I’m away from mobile sign, or have topographic map choices with out downloading a third-party app.

Apple Watch Ultra backtrack

Celso Bulgatti/CNET

Apple Watch Extremely’s dual-frequency GPS

The Apple Watch Extremely makes use of twin GPS bands, L1 and L5. We have been utilizing the L1 band for years, nevertheless it has limitations — particularly while you’re surrounded by tall buildings and even timber that may block the sign. I examined the Extremely within the coronary heart of downtown San Francisco and in contrast it to a Collection 7. Whereas each watches rapidly achieved a GPS lock on their very own, the Extremely extra precisely tracked my path after I went beneath an overpass, whereas the Collection 7 under-calculated my complete distance by about 100m on the finish of my exercise.

It is now additionally simpler to inform while you get a GPS lock on the Apple Watch Extremely in comparison with different fashions. An arrow icon seems on the high left within the exercise app while you begin an outside exercise. As soon as it will get a lock, the icon turns blue.

Apple Watch Ultra amid skyscrapers in downtown SF

James Martin/CNET

There is a new emergency siren on the Extremely, too. It is 86 decibels, which does not sound significantly loud on paper. However in follow, it emits two distinct sound patterns together with the common SOS sample to assist entice consideration. Apple says it may be heard as much as 600 toes away (182 meters), and naturally I needed to attempt it out.

I trekked out that approximate distance from my mountaineering companion whereas on a path in Purisima Creek Redwoods Protect in Northern California, and he may clearly hear the siren. You possibly can pull up the siren by a long-press of the Motion button, deciding on Siren from the app checklist, or by urgent and holding the facet button. It seems as the highest possibility on the emergency pane, from which you’ll swipe throughout the display to activate the alarm.

I additionally recognize the extra microphones on the Apple Watch Extremely that assist isolate your voice and scale back wind noise, due to new algorithms. I used the watch to name a colleague in 18 mph winds, and the caller on the opposite finish remarked how little wind he may hear. You possibly can hear the complete audio within the video on this web page.

Apple Watch Extremely: Automobile-crash detection, ECG, temperature sensor

All the opposite well being options are the identical because the Collection 8. The Apple Watch Extremely has an ECG, excessive and low heart-rate alerts, fall detection, emergency SOS, worldwide emergency calling, car-crash detection, a blood oxygen sensor, sleep stage monitoring and a brand new temperature sensor. It takes 5 days to calculate a baseline and show developments within the Well being app on iPhone. However I did discover the precise pores and skin temperature readings within the well being settings menu on the watch itself if you wish to take a peek on the uncooked numbers.

As my colleague Scott Stein wrote in his Apple Watch Series 8 review, it is troublesome to guage the temperature sensor’s usefulness proper now. Apple is not integrating the temperature knowledge into broader options like a readiness rating, just like Oura and Fitbit.  However it is possible for you to to make use of it for ovulation monitoring proper off the bat. Apple says all well being knowledge collected by the watch is encrypted in your account and in iCloud, so if two-factor authentication is on, nobody else can entry it.

The Apple Watch Extremely may undoubtedly go one step additional by way of tying all these completely different knowledge factors collectively. Proper now, the watch can monitor your sleep, pores and skin temperature in a single day, heart-rate variability, blood oxygen ranges and, in fact, your general exercise ranges, together with measurements like VO2 Max. I’d like to see the Extremely do extra by way of restoration metrics, like another sports activities and endurance watches.

Garmin has the Physique Battery that provides you a superb indication of how your physique is coping together with your coaching routine, whereas Polar has cardio and muscle load that exhibits up after a exercise. Each may be actually useful instruments that will help you from overtraining, or to provide the nudge to maintain up your exercises by displaying progress over time.

All the weather are gathered on the Apple Watch, however the onus is on you to interpret all of it. Some third-party watch apps like Training Time offer you a visible rating and indicator displaying your readiness to coach, however I would additionally like to see Apple’s tackle pulling collectively all this knowledge.

Apple Watch Extremely battery life

Inside that massive body can be the most important battery on any Apple Watch. Even when the sports activities and open air options do not attraction to you, the scale and battery lifetime of this watch would possibly justify its almost $800 price ticket. 

For normal utilization with a GPS exercise, the always-on show turned on, notifications and time checks, Apple charges the Apple Watch Extremely battery as much as 36 hours. I wasn’t fairly in a position to meet that quantity, although I did handle 33 hours of runtime with rigorous use together with a 2-hour hike, always-on show and sleep monitoring. You will get nearly two full days out of the watch, nevertheless it’s clear that heavy use of exercise and GPS options will drain your battery sooner.  

Low-power mode turns off sure options just like the always-on show and blood oxygen readings. With low-power mode turned on underneath comparable utilization patterns, I received about 50 hours. Realistically, you in all probability will not use low-power mode on a totally charged watch, as a substitute turning it on as wanted to stretch the battery, particularly if you’re contemplating taking it on a weekend hike or backcountry expedition.

Apple Watch Ultra

James Martin/CNET

For those who’re utilizing it off the grid with GPS solely, Apple quotes about 12 hours complete battery. I’ve but to do my very own endurance battery check underneath these situations, however keep tuned for outcomes. I am going to even be testing out battery life with LTE connectivity away from the telephone to see how that impacts runtime.

Later within the yr, a brand new battery optimization can lengthen the battery even additional to as much as 60 hours, together with 15 hours of exercise time, by decreasing the variety of heart-rate and GPS readings. Theoretically, that is sufficient time for one thing like an Ironman. This function is not lively but, however I am going to even be testing this out as soon as launched.

Quick charging, like we first noticed on the Apple Watch Collection 7, can be supported. You possibly can go from flat to full in about an hour and a half, however I by no means actually let the Extremely get to 0% and all the time discovered it was charged up in lower than an hour. The Extremely comes with the identical USB-C magnetic charging puck as different, newer Apple Watches, nevertheless it has a pleasant braided cable as a substitute of a plastic casing. The 20W charging brick wanted to get these quick cost speeds is offered individually.

By far and away, that is the very best battery on any Apple Watch. Nevertheless it would not but get near the week — or weeks-long — battery life from different sports activities and endurance watches, even ones which have comparable OLED screens just like the Garmin Epix 2.

Who’s the Apple Watch Extremely actually for?

I really feel there are two varieties of people that will probably be drawn to the Apple Watch Extremely. The primary is anybody who needs a much bigger, harder Apple Watch with a battery that lasts twice so long as the opposite fashions. And if you happen to’re a 45mm Collection 8 in stainless-steel, it is nearly the identical price because the Extremely — within the US anyway — so I believe the Extremely is the higher general selection.

Anybody who considers themselves an endurance athlete or open air adventurer is clearly the opposite big market. Apple’s carried out an incredible job of getting slightly little bit of all the things, whether or not you are a triathlete, marathon runner or diver. Nonetheless, we’ll have to attend slightly longer till the Oceanic Plus app launches to find out if these dive options are literally useful. 

The Extremely won’t match the sports activities and mapping options on a higher-end Garmin, Coros or Polar watch, however the tight integration with iPhone is likely to be value extra to you. Cellular funds, a wide array of third-party apps, speaker, microphone and LTE connectivity all make the Extremely able to doubling as an on a regular basis watch and journey companion — except you want a battery that lasts every week or extra.

The following step is for Apple to attach all of the dots with all these knowledge factors it is amassing to color a broader image of your well being and health. This is hoping that is simply across the nook.

Apple Watch Extremely vs. Collection 8 vs. SE

Apple Watch Extremely Apple Watch Collection 8 Apple Watch SE (2022)
Beginning worth $799 (£849, AU$1,299) $399 (£419, AU$629) $249 (£259, AU$399)
Dimension 49mm 41mm/45mm 40mm/44mm
Show All the time-on retina OLED, 2000 nits peak, almost 27% extra display space than SE All the time-on retina OLED, almost 20% extra display space than SE Retina OLED
Show decision 410×502 352×430 (41mm), 396×484 (45mm) 324×394 (40mm); 368×448 (44mm)
Sturdiness Diving (40m), water resistance (100m), MIL-STD 810H7, IP6X mud resistance Water resistance (50m) Water resistance (50m)
Sensors Depth, temperature, blood oxygen, electrical coronary heart, optical coronary heart, compass, always-on altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS/GNSS, ambient mild Temperature, blood oxygen, electrical coronary heart, optical coronary heart, compass, always-on altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS/GNSS, ambient mild Optical coronary heart, compass, always-on altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS/GNSS, ambient mild
Security options 80-decibel siren, crash detection, fall detection, noise monitoring, emergency SOS, worldwide emergency calling Crash detection, fall detection, noise monitoring, emergency SOS, worldwide emergency calling Crash detection, fall detection, noise monitoring, emergency SOS, worldwide emergency calling
Processor Apple S8 system-on-a-chip Apple S8 system-on-a-chip Apple S8 system-on-a-chip
Colours Pure titanium Aluminum: midnight, starlight, silver, pink; stainless-steel: silver, graphite, gold; titanium: pure, area black Aluminum: midnight, starlight, silver
Battery Life As much as 36 hours (60 hours in low energy mode) As much as 18 hours (36 hours in low energy mode) As much as 18 hours
Storage 32GB 32GB 32GB
Connectivity LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, W3 wi-fi chip, U1 chip Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, W3 wi-fi chip, U1 chip, non-compulsory LTE Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, W3 wi-fi chip, non-compulsory LTE

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