Apple Watch Ultra Review | hypebeast

When Apple first announced the Apple Watch in 2014, the news divided many. There were those who couldn’t wait to see how the product would expand the ecosystem of Apple products to suit their lifestyle, and there were those who couldn’t understand why you’d need a digital watch. when you have your phone with you pretty much every time of the day. However, in just a few short years, the Apple Watch has become the most popular watch in the world, and now you’d be hard-pressed not to spot someone in any city wearing one. Iterations along the way have seen the use of new materials such as ceramic, 100% recycled aluminum and titanium, while performance capabilities such as cellular support, always-on displays and numerous functions of healthcare helped pave the way for the widespread adoption of the Apple Watch. Collaborations with Nike and Hermès have also helped attract new audiences in the fashion and fitness industries. Even the most avid mechanical watch enthusiast would now admit that there is a place for an Apple Watch in their collections with the trend of wearing a regular watch on one wrist and the digital device on the other growing in popularity.

Apple fans will tell you that each year brings thoughtful yet subtle product improvements. When the Cupertino-based brand announced the Apple Watch Ultra (priced at $799), it was a big surprise for everyone. The information released introduced us to a major addition to the lineup and introduced a watch that targets the outdoor exploration market with its redesigned aerospace-grade titanium case with a new action button, size 49mm (a significant increase over the next larger Apple Watch 8 series measuring 45mm) and 100m water resistance / 40m dive capability (EN13119 certified). Additional features include an 86 decibel siren that can be heard up to 180m away, up to 60 hours of battery life, and the ability to withstand temperatures from -20°C to 55°C. Besides the rugged capabilities, Apple has upgraded GPS. tracking system to improve accuracy using a dual signal link so you have an accurate location whether you are in a city full of tall buildings or in a remote location. Crucial innovations in navigation, water resistance and endurance create a compelling package. When Apple invited us to test the Ultra, we were interested to see how these new features held up under the conditions they were designed for.


The testing location took us to Hawaii’s Kona Island, which was the perfect environment to test out what the new Apple Watch Ultra was designed for, with its abundance of scenic hiking trails, dive sites, and race tracks. Our first test focused on the exploration component of the device and after a quick setup to calibrate the watch face, enter our destination coordinates and attach the new alpine loop, we set off on a trek through the Kohala Forest Reserve. One of the most crucial pieces of kit for anyone navigating is a compass and the completely redesigned watch compass allows users to mark waypoints for positions or points of interest while a back-to-back function back allows you to go back in case of loss. Apple representatives pointed out that the rollback feature is actually automatically enabled so users don’t have to worry about not remembering to enable the feature.

Like all Apple apps, the compass was intuitive to use with its hybrid nature to display different information and it guided us precisely to the final destination. Once we got to our final point, Apple took the opportunity to launch the previously announced Emergency SOS via Satellite feature on the new iPhone 14. With the latest iOS 16, users in the US and Canada can route calls from emergency via satellite toll-free (free for two years from the date of activation of a new iPhone) and describe the nature of their emergency through a series of simple steps. Emergency SOS can be activated by dialing an emergency number or through safety features such as collision detection and fall detection in the latest Apple products. After launching the feature, users are then prompted to point their phone at the nearest satellite marked on an animation to show where it is and once connected, the nearest public safety department will respond.

To round things out, we used the backtrack feature to retrace our steps back to where we started, following the directions and path shown on screen.


The next component of our testing revolved around water activities, specifically diving. It was also the unveiling of the Oceanic+ app developed in conjunction with Huish Outdoors and we had the pleasure of Mike Huish (CEO of Huish Outdoors) and Nadia Aly describing the process, as well as sharing their personal experiences of a myriad of diving adventures. An Apple Watch Ultra using the Oceanic+ app can effectively replace traditional dive computers for shorter dives with its capabilities for depth tracking, over-rapid ascent rate notification, decompression metrics, and entry tracking / dive trips via GPS. By pairing it with the new iPhone app, you can plan your pre and post dive adventure as it will additionally provide information such as the time elapsed since your last dive and how long you have to wait until you take a flight or climb to higher altitudes.

We set out from Keauhou Bay to check out two dive sites and the first thing you’ll notice once you enter the water and reach a few feet is that the Oceanic+ app automatically turns on if you set it as the default when submerged. The display on the Apple Watch Ultra screen changes to show key information such as depth, dive time and temperature, while preset alarms for target dive time or target depths give a noticeable haptic alert if it is reached. There was no problem viewing any of these stats underwater thanks to the largest, brightest screen Apple has ever created for its line of watches and the rubber band of the Ocean straps the device securely to your wrist, whether you’re wearing a wetsuit or not.

For those who have not completed a diving certificate, the Oceanic+ app also supports measurements for freediving in the same tactile way.


Our final part of the test experience looked at the Ultra’s endurance capabilities and how Apple’s watchOS 9 has upgraded the Workouts app to provide much more granular feedback, as well as customization options. These customization options include the ability to create a custom workout or a multisport workout if you switch between activities like swimming, biking, or running. Led by Josh Crosby of the Apple Fitness+ team, we ventured north of the island to Kamuela to embark on a short trail run along the coast. As the watch features the new action button on the left side of the case, users can customize what the button does for that particular activity it has been configured to open the Workouts app. A precision start option where you can press the action button again to start your workout has also been enabled to allow for a much more precise start of activity compared to the traditional countdown timer that users of Apple Watch are used to.

After a brief warm-up, we hit the trail and were told to take note of the information generated by the device so that tracking heart rate zones, pacing and splits could be easily integrated into the coaching. The customizable nature of the app let us know when we needed to make adjustments, for example, if our heart rate zone was too low we could pick up the pace or if it was too high we could relax. At the end of this run, we were taken to review the stats generated and newly introduced metrics such as vertical oscillation, stride lengths, ground contact time, etc., helped illustrate our performance .


It’s not hard to see why the Apple Watch has become so popular over the years in the way it integrates the most important communication aspects of our phones with the fitness elements of our lives. Products in the competitive smartwatch market like Garmin and Fitbit have focused primarily on tracking aspects of health and exercise, but don’t include the full package found in Apple’s product, let alone more seamless integration with an iPhone. Over the years, we’ve seen many key upgrades to the Apple Watch – cellular connectivity, integrating your wallet with the device, increased battery capacity, and more. – to the point that you could leave your home without taking your phone with you.

With the Apple Watch Ultra, the brand has taken a giant step towards carving out a new market share and will undoubtedly encourage more people to go on an adventure testing its capabilities. Future iterations of this line will also be eagerly awaited and it will be interesting to see the next generations of the device, whether pushing the limits to an even more extreme level or enabling new functions that would make exploration a lot easier.

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