Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

More durable Apple Watch Ultra focuses on athletes, extreme sports

The Apple Watch range expands in 2022, as a bigger model with more features, better durability, and a heftier price emerged in the Apple Watch Ultra.

There’s long been an expensive Apple Watch, because ever since its maker debuted its premium wearable, it has offered a pricey version.

Whether or not you looked into the ceramic or titanium equivalents in the past, or maybe eyed the Hermès edition — which was practically identical save for a different strap and some unique watch faces — Apple has offered an expensive version for folks who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the cost of an expensive watch. After all, watches can go for a lot, lot more than what smartwatches cost, commanding a premium for the best of everything.

Then there’s the sports watch, or more specifically, the watch made for runners, athletes, and those engaging in extreme sports, such as snowboarding and the like. Watches made for this area tend to be built like a tank and arrive with GPS connectivity made to be more accurate than what goes in the standard consumer smartwatch. These can command a hefty price tag, too, and it’s an area Apple wants in on.

And with the latest Watch variant, it appears Apple is going in full steam.

Alongside the launch of the Series 8 Apple Watch and new model SE, Apple has another model made to be bigger and more impressive, as it shows off the “Ultra”.

Bigger again, this model comes in one size — 49mm — distinct from the 41mm and 45mm of the Series 8, and basically being the biggest Apple Watch yet. The 49mm screen isn’t just bigger, but comes with a bigger resolution, sized to 410×502 versus the 396×484 used on the 45mm regular Apple Watch and 352×430 on the 41mm model.

A larger screen comes with a larger body, and a shift in the design, with the curved screen of the regular model become flat, as Apple looks to protect the display from breaks at the sides and corner, while also bringing in the sapphire crystal you can find on the premium Series 8 Apple Watch, and indeed the other premium models before it. Aluminium Apple Watch models come with strengthened glass (that doesn’t always survive a drop), while Stainless Steel models offer the stronger sapphire glass, and indeed Titanium, too, which is the material Apple is using in the Ultra.

This combination of materials has been built to impressive standards, certified to the military specification of MIL-STD-810H, which means it’s water resistant, dust resistant, ice resistant, shock resistant, and deals with rain, humidity, and temperatures ranging from as cold as -20 degrees Celsius to high heat in 55 C.

The durable design protects much the same template as the rest of the Series 8 Apple Watch, offering heart-rate tracking, SpO2 blood oxygen, ECG, crash detection, the new temperature sensor, plus the S8 chip inside, plus some new gear specific to the Watch Ultra.

Those include a more precise GPS system, a depth gauge and water temperature sensor, two speakers that can play sound louder and emit loud noises if you’re ever lost, and an extra button that you can customise to map functions from to trigger from the watch itself. It also sports a big battery, with as much as 36 hours of regular use, what ostensibly translates to double that of the regular Apple Watch, which may not last the full day.

“Inspired by explorers and athletes from around the world, we created an entirely new category of Apple Watch designed for new and extreme environments — it’s the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet,” said Jeff Williams, Chief Operating Officer at Apple.

“Apple Watch Ultra is a versatile tool that empowers users to push their boundaries with adventure, endurance and exploration,” he said.

However, it’s also a tool that won’t be cheap, arriving in Australia for $1299. There are also new bands, though interestingly, owners of 44mm and 45mm Apple Watch models may have bands that are compatible with the 49mm Apple Watch Ultra. From what we’re seeing, the Apple Watch Ultra 49mm bands are compatible with 44mm and 45mm Watch units, so they should work the other way, too.

You’ll still need to pay a pretty hefty price to jump on the Apple Watch Ultra train when it lands from September 23 in Australia, but if you have some watch bands already from an older large Apple Watch, you might be able to save on the selection of new straps ever so slightly.

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