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Apple Watch Ultra review: An adventure watch

The Apple watch Ultra is a seriously exceptional sports and adventure watch.

The Apple Watch Ultra is Apple’s first real run-through with an adventure watch. It has a tough design, a great 49-millimeter display, an Action Button, and a host of outdoor sports features to make the watch feel at home on the wrist of a runner or hiker. With 60 hours of battery life, it also has the ability to keep up — something that’s been missing from the best Apple Watches for the past few years.

Design and display:

Turns out standard things don’t just come in small packages. The first thing we noticed about the Apple Watch Ultra is the size — it’s huge on the wrist, and measures 49mm. It’s much bigger than the 41mm and the 45mm displays of the Apple Watch Series 8, and regardless of whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your preferences.
The display has a brightness of 2,000 nits, which is doubly as bright as the screen on the Apple Watch Series 8. It looks attractive and is easy to read, even in direct sunlight. Plus, in workout modes, the bigger screen allows for seven data fields, rather than six.

Features:

Apple Watch Ultra has a skin temperature sensor and crash detection, but there are a lot of other features designed to make the watch more suitable for adventure.
Let’s start with the revamped compass app, which makes the Watch a more capable navigation accessory. It lets you save waypoints, or specific markers when you’re somewhere you want a flag. There’s also a trackback feature that assists you to retrace your steps if you’re off-track.

Apple Watch Ultra review: An adventure watch

The watch also has smart features like Precision Start, which lets you bypass the 3…2…1 countdown order when starting an activity, and wait until the watch has found Global Positioning System (GPS) signal. During testing, we were impressed with this feature — it’s nothing new in the world of Garmin watches, but it makes the Apple Watch Ultra a more genuine watch to have on your wrist on a race day.

GPS:

Apple has added dual-frequency Global Positioning System (GPS) to the watch ultra, integrating L1 and L5 methods. Apple says this permits the Ultra to “bring the most precise Global Positioning System (GPS) of any Apple Watch to date,” according to the company. During our testing, we compared the GPS on the Apple Watch Ultra to the Garmin Fenix 7 and discovered them to be pretty spot-on.

Health and sleep tracking:

From a health point of view, the Apple Watch Ultra has a skin temperature sensor that informs two areas of Apple’s health suite: sleep and cycle tracking. Using two sensors, the Apple Watch Ultra will read the temperature of the skin every five seconds throughout the whole night.

Apple Watch Ultra review: An adventure watch

Battery life:

With everything on, the Ultra has a battery life of 12 hours. In Apple’s new low-power mode, the Ultra still has the same GPS and heart rate capabilities, and a battery life of 15/16 hours. In a new update coming to the watch this fall, this will be extended to 60 hours, as the setting will have the option to reduce the frequency of GPS and heart rate readings.

Verdict:

The Apple Watch Ultra doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but Apple has made its best sports watch yet. Features like the Action Button and the better battery life make this a contender for athletes in a way Apple has never been before. However, the Ultra might be too big for petite wrists and it’s expensive.

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