It’s been a couple of weeks since Apple unveiled its latest lineup of iPhone and Apple Watch models. Both the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 have been available since last Friday, but the Apple Watch Ultra isn’t slated to be released until this coming Friday (September 23). And while we’re still waiting for our own Apple Watch Ultra to arrive, some tech and fitness publications have already received units early, giving us a closer look at what this new smartwatch has to offer.
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“All-in-all, the Ultra is one of the best debuts in a new product category that I’ve seen in a while. A lot of thought was put into the Ultra and it shows. It’s not enough to make Garmin shake in its boots just yet, but it’s more than enough to pique interest and spark competition. Apple’s officially a viable contender in the rugged watch category — and I can’t wait to see what comes next.”
“The Ultra might not match the sports and mapping features on a higher-end Garmin, Coros or Polar watch, but the tight integration with iPhone might be worth more to you. Mobile payments, a wide selection of third-party apps, speaker, microphone and LTE connectivity all make the Ultra capable of doubling as an everyday watch and adventure companion — unless you need a battery that lasts a week or more.”
“Unless you are a scuba diver or a very serious hiker, this is a splurge with way more bells and whistles than you need. But if you’re already committed to investing in a new watch, I would find it hard to say no to Ultra’s awesomeness. Because…maybe you’ll climb Denali someday? This watch will make you want to.”
“Putting all of these features in one watch makes Apple stand out from its main competition in this extreme sports market: Garmin. Many of Garmin’s extreme sports wearables are tailored to an individual activity, such as the Garmin Descent, which is specifically designed for scuba divers. It’s a pretty astounding technical feat to pack all of these sports features alongside all the regular features of the Apple Watch — notifications, movement tracking — in one small package. Most exciting, as we’ve seen Apple do before, the innovations in the Ultra could be passed down to the regular watch in future models.”
“The Apple Watch Ultra is easily the best wearable that the brand has ever made, bringing a bright, large screen, a new customizable physical button for making running workouts easier to start or end, and a longer battery life. A clear attempt to take on the likes of Garmin and Polar, Apple has stuck a lot of useful tech and genuinely helpful features that will be of real use in an emergency – for the intermediate fitness enthusiast, or someone that can afford a slightly better Apple Watch, this is an easy buy.”
The Wall Street Journal
“The marketing suggests the Apple Watch Ultra is for people who compete in desert marathons, summit mountain peaks and regularly scuba dive. I think it’s great for the active—but not the most extreme—athletes. Sure, it’s nice on a long hike, but it can also unlock your Mac. The Ultra is for the person who wants a smartwatch to do both. Large wrists a plus.”
“This is precisely why Apple has made so many inroads in the smartwatch space. They’re not aiming at the edge of the market. They’re aiming at the fat middle. Here, with the Ultra, they’re making their very first play for a different sort of customer. If they don’t hook you now, don’t worry. Like with the iPhone, they’ve proven they’re just going to keep making a better mousetrap.”
“I’ve tested and reviewed multiple Suunto and Garmin devices. They have their charms; I particularly enjoy using Garmin’s Fenix line. But at the end of the day, none of these smartwatches work as well as Apple’s wearables when it comes to the everyday functions that make up the bulk of smartwatch use. That’s why I usually gravitate back toward the current version of Apple’s wearable whenever I’m not testing something else—it’s just the best smartwatch for me as an iPhone user, to wear, and it looks better on my wrist. The Ultra is an Apple Watch. For most people, that will make it the best smartwatch they can get.”
“With the new GPS accuracy, longer battery life, and performance metrics for runners in the Workouts app, the Apple Watch Ultra will do everything that about 95 percent of runners will ever really need. It’s the one do-it-all watch that runners can confidently strap to their wrists.”
The Gear Loop
“There’s no denying the Apple Watch Ultra is a phenomenal smartwatch and the new titanium casing, rugged Digital Crown and bespoke activity bands will appeal to those wanting a little more robustness from their Series 8.. It’s also incredibly accurate in its GPS presentation and some of the new wayfinding features will assist those wanting to push their hiking and adventuring to more audacious levels. However, we can’t help thinking that rival watches, even those that come in considerably cheaper, provide more detailed analysis of performance post-activity, while many also offer full-on Topo maps for those that really like to venture off grid.”
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Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.