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 the features and compare 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 and measures 49 mm, a full 4 mm over the 45 mm Apple Watch Series 8. It can look big depending on your wrist size, plus it’s thicker than you might expect. If you can comfortably wear a 45mm Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Ultra may 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 as small as 130mm.
Apple designed rugged bands for the Apple Watch Ultra and we sourced 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. Ocean Loop is a kind of grooved sports band that has a certain stretch.
As for feature sets, Apple designed the Apple Watch Ultra for “adventurers and explorers,” so it has some semi-niche capabilities that the average user may never need to access like a Depth app for diving. The new Compass app has more universal appeal with the ability to set Waypoints and use Backtrack if you’re in danger of getting lost, which is handy even for casual hikes. The built-in siren, exclusive to the Ultra, is surprisingly loud and has the potential to be handy even when in urban areas.
The Apple Watch Ultra’s WayFinder dial offers a wealth of information with room for eight complications, and the dark mode that shows the face in red is an option we wish was available for more watch faces.
Apple added a big orange button on the side of the Apple Watch Ultra called the Action button, and you can map it to different Ultra features for quick access even when wearing gloves. It can start training, set waypoints in the Compass app, activate shortcuts, turn on the flashlight and much more.
The Digital Crown was also made more accessible with larger ridges that make it easier to use when wearing gloves, and speaker quality has been boosted with the addition of extra speakers.
For the feature set it offers, the Apple Watch Ultra is surprisingly affordable, especially when rumors had pegged the potential price at close to $1,000. Even if you’re not out on adventures on a regular basis, the Apple Watch Ultra has options that are good to have just in case, so it might be worth picking up if it fits your wrist and lifestyle.
Do you have an Apple Watch Ultra? Let us know what you think in the comments.