It’s official launch day for Apple’s newest and greatest product, the Apple Watch Ultra. We picked up one of the new watches to check out the features and compared it to the Apple Watch Series 8 to see if it was worth upgrading.
The Apple Watch Ultra is Apple’s largest watch to date, measuring 49mm, a full 4mm over the Apple Watch Series 8 45mm. It can look bulky depending on your wrist size, plus it’s thicker than you might expect. If you can wear your 45mm Apple Watch comfortably, the Apple Watch Ultra might not feel too bulky, but the stand is taller.
It’s heavier than the Apple Watch Series 8 45mm, but not too flashy. Coming from a 41mm Apple Watch, it might feel too big, but that depends on personal preference. Apple says the Ultra will fit wrists as small as 130mm.
Apple designed a rugged band 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 similar texture to the now discontinued Woven Bands. The Ocean Loop is sort of a jagged Sport Band that has 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 casual users might not need access to like the Depth app for diving. The new Compass app has 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 hikes. The built-in siren exclusive to the Ultra is extremely loud and potentially useful even in urban areas.
The Apple Watch Ultra WayFinder face offers a wealth of information with room for eight complications, and a dark mode that shows the face in red is an option we wish was available for more watch faces.
Apple added a large orange button on the side of the Apple Watch Ultra called the Action button, and you can map it to various Ultra features for quick access even when you’re wearing gloves. It can launch workouts, set waypoints in the Compass app, enable Shortcuts, turn on flashlights, and more.
The Digital Crown is also made more accessible with a larger protrusion that makes it easier to use when you’re wearing gloves, and speaker quality has been improved with the addition of extra speakers.
For the range of features it offers, the Apple Watch Ultra is surprisingly affordable, especially when rumors put the prospective cost closer to $1,000. Even if you don’t go out on adventures regularly, the Apple Watch Ultra has a great option just in case, so it might be worth picking up if it fits your wrist and lifestyle.
Have an Apple Watch Ultra? Let us know what you think in the comments.