Reporting live from Apple Park, Cupertino, we got our first look at the all-new Apple Watch Ultra, bred for adventure, accuracy and freedom. Here’s what we think.
The guys at Cupertino did end up pulling out quite a sweet surprise from their sleeve, at the annual September event. In the lineup of products that Apple announced at the Steve Jobs Theatre, the Apple Watch Ultra made quite a splash. After much speculation about Apple releasing a ‘pro’ version along with the Apple Watch Series 8, specifically designed for athletes and adventure enthusiasts, they did just that and named it the Apple Watch Ultra. We got a first hand experience with the new device and safe to say that it is a very, very impressive piece of technology. Here’s what I loved on first glance
Apple Watch Ultra: Prices, Release Date, Specs, WatchOS9
A bold new design
I can’t seem to get my eyes off it. This is an extremely good looking watch, with a resolutely new design, bold lines and boasting a distinct personality on the wrist. And quite a departure from the understated minimalism of the standard Apple Watch. In terms of size here’s what I felt, I’ve never worn a 49mm on my wrist before. It sat quite well on my average-sized wrist without being too chunky. It is also surprisingly light and is built with aerospace-grade titanium. I love how the redesigned bezel shrouds the crown and side button, in addition to the new Action button (more on that in a bit). Like pilot’s and diver’s analogue watches, the buttons and crown are designed for use with gloves, during outdoor activities. The three new bands – the Trail Loop, the Alpine Loop and the Ocean Band – got me instantly raving.
The Action Button
While the two buttons to the right of the dial are still there, a significant addition is a third button to the left – the Action button – in bright orange. The idea of this Action button is to give you one-touch access to a feature that you can customize in settings i.e. you can use this button to access features like Compass or Workout.
This aptly named new watch face is optimized for use on this larger sapphire crystal display. I tinkered around with the compass built into the dial and learnt that I can add a bunch of complications to the watch face, based on the kind of outdoor activity I am doing. As a runner, I could easily customize the Wayfinder complications to music, activity tracker, temperature and stopwatch. Turning the crown instantly puts the display into night mode so that it’s easier to see at night. The compass feature is also highly practical and by turning the crown the compass shows different displays.
More battery life
In what is easily one of the most well received features, the Apple Watch Ultra boasts the best battery life of any Apple Watch. It promises up to 36 hours in normal use, while the new low-power setting can extend battery life for up to 60 hours. This is ideal for those who go on multi-day expeditions.
Fitness and adventure goals
I love that fitness and health is at the very core of any Apple Watch experience and the Ultra takes it up a notch with its new running metrics (stride length, ground contact time etc.) and prolonged battery life for long marathons/triathlons. The watch is designed to withstand temperature extremes -20 degrees to 50 degrees Celsius. One app that I see myself using is Depth, for use in water, which displays current depth, duration under water and water temperature.
Now here’s the most important question? Would I buy the Apple Watch Ultra? Quite frankly, given its completely new design language and nifty spec upgrade, I see a lot of people including myself – city slickers with no penchant for athletics or outdoor adventures – upgrading to this watch. Albeit designed to withstand extreme conditions, it is a stunner on the wrist and could well become a daily wear staple for many, including myself. At HK$6,399 the Apple Watch Ultra might appeal to a certain affluent demographic. If you ask me, I anticipate a major success story here.