Meet the Apple Watch Ultra, built for athletes

Apple entered the adventure chat. In addition to launching the updated Apple Watch Series 8 this month, the tech giant is also releasing a new watch that pushes the boundaries. It’s not just a fitness tracker: Apple Watch Ultra is a tool that can handle extreme environments, altitudes and temperatures – and appeals to anyone whose lifestyle is just as intense.

When I reached out to Apple to test one, it gently steered me toward the original Apple Watch series. Ultra is not something you wear to “close your rings”. It’s for divers, triathletes, mountain climbers and skiers. It is for the niche of performance-seeking, endurance-loving sports enthusiasts who act as modern explorers in their fitness pursuits.

For those ready to level up, the Ultra looks tough as hell and ready for any adventure you throw at it. The Apple Watch Ultra ($799) is available for pre-order today; it will start shipping and go on sale in stores from Friday, September 23rd. Read more about the unique features to come.

More detailed training statistics

The Ultra offers more advanced training data on a larger display that lets you see up to six metrics at once, offering a wealth of insights on your wrist, even as you exercise.

  • Heart Rate Zones: training zones are automatically calculated and customized using your health data, or you can create them manually so you can quickly see your intensity level.
  • Current form: add stride length, ground contact time and vertical oscillation to your views to understand how efficiently you run.
  • Track detection: Ultra will know when you arrive at a track using Apple Maps and GPS and can provide more accurate pace, distance and route data.
  • Register segments and intervals: customize a workout, mark a segment or skip to your next interval with the action button.

Better navigation and safety features

Traditional GPS, which is used in the regular Apple Watch series, can have problems with satellites blocked by tall buildings or dense foliage. The Ultra’s GPS, with a more advanced antenna, works to give a more consistent signal with greater range, regardless of the environment.

  • Wayfinder: redesigned compass that now includes altitude, slope, longitude and latitude and you can easily mark your location.
  • Reverse: now you can track your steps with GPS data that will automatically create a path of where you’ve been (even when you’re offline).
  • Cheese: press and hold the action button to activate the siren, which emits an 86-decibel sound pattern to call for help that can be heard up to 600 feet away.
  • Custom Action Button: you can program this button to mark a compass point, start Backtrack, control a workout, start a dive, and more.
  • Side button: press and hold to access safety features such as making an emergency call or retrieving your medical certificate.
  • Depth gauge: provides real-time underwater depth measurement up to 40 meters.

Stronger against the elements

In an effort to balance weight and corrosion resistance, Apple chose to surround the watch face with a titanium case to protect it from scratches. The “Digital Crown,” as Apple calls it, is larger with a side button raised from the case, so you can access it even with gloves. It is waterproof to a depth of 100 meters and dustproof, and can withstand extreme temperatures from -4°F to 131°F.

The Apple Watch Ultra is sold with one of three new bands, each designed for a specific purpose:

  • Alpine Tour: Designed for outdoor activities, this band is lightweight and durable and is made of two textile layers seamlessly woven together. Corrosion-resistant titanium G-hook slides smoothly into reinforced loops for a secure fit.
  • Trail Loop: Designed for endurance athletes, this band is designed to be light, thin and flexible. Features a seamless loop closure for quick adjustments during workouts.
  • Ocean Band: Molded from fluoroelastomer rubber, this band – designed for water activities – is light and flexible. It has a titanium buckle and a titanium adjustable spring loop that fastens through the tubes for a secure fit, even during high-speed water sports. An attachable strap extension allows you to wear it over a thick wetsuit while diving or surfing.

Longer lasting, brighter and stronger

With the biggest and brightest display of any Apple Watch yet, there’s more room for metrics. Also, the always-on retina display means that direct sunlight is no longer a problem, making it easy to view at any time of the day. In the dark, the screen also has a special night mode for the compass.

And since it’s rarely quiet outdoors, the Ultra gets an advanced microphone and audio system that cares about the environment. For example, in a windy environment, an adaptive algorithm selects the best of three microphones for audio. Machine learning also filters out noise for optimal voice clarity. A second speaker also improves volume for calls and Siri.

The Ultra also has a longer battery life — 36 hours of normal use, compared to 18 hours on a regular Apple Watch and 60 hours on the low power setting — so you don’t have to worry about being left with a dead watch. Apple says this feature is for the second day of a backpacking trip, the last leg of a triathlon, or diving off a coral reef—all activities where both you and your watch need power, but charging just isn’t an option.

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