Apple Watch Ultra – We tested two of Apple’s three new watches. One has been completely renewed, while for the other the differences are limited.
Apple is releasing no less than three new Apple Watches this fall. In addition to an affordable Watch SE and the mainstream Watch Series 8, there is a completely new model for the first time: the Apple Watch Ultra. In this review, we look at two of those three models: the Series 8 and the Ultra.
The Series 8 measures your temperature
The Series 8 is outwardly identical to its predecessor, with exactly the same screen and the same battery life. The Series 8 is equipped with a new chip, which although not faster, has a number of new and improved sensors built in. This has allowed Apple to add crash detection and body temperature measurement.
Apple only uses this temperature data to provide insight into menstrual cycles and fertile periods in women, without showing the underlying, exact body temperature. As a user, you only get to see whether your night temperature is below or above your base value.
Apple Watch Ultra in particular does a lot of new things
The crash detection recognizes when the wearer of the watch is involved in an accident. If the watch suddenly detects a blow, the 4G version can independently call the emergency services or the watches can use a Bluetooth-connected iPhone for this.
Furthermore, there is little new to report about the Series 8. We had hoped that the battery life would have improved, but that turns out not to be the case in practice. We achieved with the Series 8 in normal daily use with the screen in always-on mode and an hour of sports with GPS about 30 hours.
Big changes are in the Watch Ultra
The Watch Ultra is considerably larger than all Watches so far. Fortunately, that is not only an outward display, because Apple has equipped the clock with a larger battery, with which the Ultra lasts much longer than its smaller brothers.
This watch has all the features of the Series 8. In addition, it has a number of extras that other Apple Watches do not have or that work better on the Ultra. For example, the watch has not one but three microphones. In practice, we do hear that the Ultra’s sounds better than the Series 8’s, but it’s no difference from day to night.
The same goes for the larger speakers. Apple claims that these are 40 percent louder than the speaker in the normal Apple Watch. That difference is audible, but it is not big. It is still a lot less loud than speakers in modern smartphones. In a room with a lot of ambient noise, hands-free calling is therefore difficult.
Apple Watch as a dive computer can only be used later
If the Depth Gauge of the Ultra recognizes water, the new Dive app will automatically launch. This shows the current depth and is of limited use to avid divers. Apple has announced that in partnership with Huish Outdoors, it will release an app that turns the Watch Ultra into a real dive computer.
Unique to apple watch ultra is the signpost watch face. It consists of an analog clock with a white ring on which the minutes are displayed or which serves as a compass. Switching between the two functions can be done by simply tapping on the ring.
The extra button on the left is nice in practice, which we mainly used during workouts. Starting the Workout app immediately is a nice feature, but much nicer is the ability to quickly move to the next phase during interval training, for example. That works a lot better than via the touchscreen, especially if you run with heart rate 170 and sweaty fingers.
Then the battery: in practice we achieved between 50 and 54 hours, using GPS on a daily basis. It means that the watch no longer needs to be charged daily, but once every two days.
The Apple Watch Series 8 is outwardly unchanged from last year, with the new features of crash detection and a temperature sensor. Apple only uses that temperature measurement for tracking the menstrual cycle in women.
Another story is the all-new Watch Ultra: Apple focuses on the fairly specific target group of adventurers and ultra athletes. Whether those people flock to the store for this watch is doubtful. Garmin is and remains lord and master in this segment even after the arrival of the Apple Watch.
As an all-round smartwatch, the Watch Ultra is the best watch you can buy right now. WatchOS is at a lonely height in terms of overall functionality, ease of use and range of apps. But it also costs 999 euros. That’s a lot of money, double the Series 8.
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Apple Watch Ultra