Apple Watch Ultra: Not just for top athletes

Apple Watch Ultra

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The case of the Apple Watch Ultra has become more angular and bulky. © Bernd Diekjobst/dpa-tmn

For the first time in eight years, the Apple Watch is also being offered in a completely new design – for adventurers and athletes. But others also benefit from the advantages of the Apple Watch Ultra.

Berlin – The design of the Apple Watch has changed almost nothing since 2014: an elegant, rectangular case, perfectly rounded off with a borderless, slightly curved display. With the Series 7, the display got a little bigger, otherwise not much has changed, not even with the current model, the Apple Watch Series 8.

With the new Apple Watch Ultra, the company now wants to win the hearts of athletes who want to test their performance limits in harsh environments. The designers have also completely redesigned the titanium case of the new top model.

The Apple Watch Ultra has become more angular and bulky – a good half centimeter longer and wider than the previous models. It has also increased in height, by 3.7 millimeters to be precise. On the wrist, however, it feels surprisingly compact and light. A look at the scales shows: At a good 61 grams, the Ultra is just under 10 grams heavier than the stainless steel version of the Apple Watch 8.

Two overnight stays without a charging cable

The Ultra’s larger body also accommodates a larger battery. In the test, the Ultra exceeded Apple’s specified runtime of 36 hours by half a day. In the Apple universe, these are outstanding values, especially since the display is up to 2000 nits twice as bright as the display of the Series 7 and 8.

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With the Ultra you can take a short two-night trip without a charging cable. This runtime doubles again with a power-saving mode that, among other things, only activates the always-on screen when required.

However, the Ultra cannot keep up with the best special smartwatches for athletes. The Garmin Epix 2 comes with an always-on display for six days and even 16 days with activated power saving mode. However, the Garmin watch does not offer as many functions as the Apple Watch Ultra.

Apple Watch Ultra
How will be the weather? The new Apple Watch Ultra knows it. © Bernd Diekjobst/dpa-tmn

In contrast to the previous models, the display no longer flows smoothly into the outer edge of the housing, but is surrounded by a stable titanium frame. This means that the Ultra can also withstand strong blows, also because the crown and function button are protected by their own angular frame. The crown itself is larger than before so that it can also be operated with gloves.

Freely available action button

A new feature on the opposite side of the case is an orange action button that can be used, for example, to call up the stopwatch or certain training functions. Unfortunately, the action button cannot be linked to just any app.

A long press on the “action button” opens a menu with which you can, among other things, make an emergency call or start the built-in siren. The siren reaches a volume of 86 decibels, loud enough to alert people to an emergency situation from a distance of up to 200 meters in a quiet environment.

Not only in emergency situations does it pay off that the Apple Watch Ultra now receives the signals of the GPS positioning system on two frequencies instead of just one. This enables a more precise position determination not only in high mountains, but also between high-rise buildings or in narrow streets.

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No threat to other specialty watches

Not only because of the better GPS reception, it is no exaggeration to say that the Ultra is the best Apple Watch ever, especially because of the longer battery life. However, it will not wipe out special sports watches from manufacturers such as Pulsar and Garmin from the market. It also lacks features that competitive athletes swear by, such as recording recovery data or the ability to transmit heart rate data to exercise equipment via Bluetooth.

Apple Watch Ultra
Activity measurement with the new Apple Watch Ultra. © Bernd Diekjobst/dpa-tmn

Of course, whether the Apple Watch Ultra is the right smartwatch also depends on your budget. It costs 999 euros in Germany. You also get mobile phone connectivity, which costs up to 120 euros extra for conventional Apple Watches. A current Series 8 with LTE mobile communications in a stainless steel housing costs 899 euros. That’s not much of a difference compared to the price of the Ultra.

Series 8 improved on one point

The Series 8 has actually only been significantly improved in one respect compared to its predecessor, the Series 7. Like the Ultra, it has two temperature sensors for the first time, with which the course of the body temperature can be monitored. dpa