In addition to the debut of the Watch Series 8, Apple had another wearable on deck for today’s iPhone 14 event. True to the rumors, the company has built a version of its wrist-worn device that’s larger and more durable with longer battery life than the standard models. Aimed solely at folks who are either very active or spend loads of time outdoors, the Apple Watch Ultra offers a host of premium upgrades over the rest of series 8. But all of those extras come with a higher asking price.
The most obvious difference between the new Ultra model and the rest of the Series 8 lineup is size. The 49mm Watch Ultra is noticeably larger with a bigger screen, which means it might not be ideal for people with smaller wrists. That extra display real estate is meant to enable users to view more health and activity data than the smaller versions of the wearable. And of course, the Ultra will have its own watch faces specifically designed for the larger screen, like the new wayfinder option. The wayfinder face, for example, not only shows a compass, but it also has room for up to eight more complications. The display is twice as bright as any Apple Watch so far, up to 2,000 nits.
The Apple Watch Ultra is more rugged, which the company says will make the device more durable for all sorts of activities. The aerospace-grade titanium casing is built to withstand edge impacts. There’s also a new action button that’s customizable for a range of controls like starting a workout or dropping a wayfinding pin. Improved speakers insure yon can hear and be heard even when outside. An 86-decibel siren should help keep you safe, a tone Apple says can be heard up to 600 feet away.
The Apple Watch Ultra is more waterproof as well, meaning you can take it in deeper waters, including while scuba diving. The GPS has also been upgraded so you have the most accurate stats available at all times and the compass app now offers a backtracking tool that drops pins along your path. Apple says the Ultra offers the most accurate GPS of any Watch so far, thanks to its dual-frequency setup and new positioning algorithms.
Inside, the Watch Ultra is equipped with a temperature sensor that can alert you to a host of health data. The new sensor will also provide information to fertility and cycle-tracking apps to notify you when you might be ovulating. Apple has also improved crash detection thanks to updates to the accelerometer and barometer across the Series 8 line. All of that is in addition to existing features like heart-rate tracking, emergency SOS and fall detection.
A larger wearable also means a bigger battery. Apple says the Watch Ultra can last 36 hours on a charge. Thanks to a new low-power mode across watchOS 9, the device can run more efficiently to stretch out wear time up to 60 hours. A night mode will block blue light to reduce eye strain in the dark. What's more, there are a host of activity specific upgrades to watchOS for running, hiking, diving and other activities, expanding the abilities of the Watch Ultra well beyond the rest of the Series 8 lineup.
As you might expect, all of these upgrades come with a significant price increase. The Apple Watch Ultra will cost $799 when it arrives September 23rd, but pre-orders start today. That price tag matches the current Apple Watch edition which starts at $799 for the Series 7. Apple also has new bands: Trail Loop for runners, Alpine Loop for hikers/explorers and the Ocean Band for water sports and diving.
Follow all of the news from Apple’s iPhone event right here.