Does the Apple Watch Ultra have what it takes to become the queen of outdoor multisport watches?

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Apple inaugurates a new segment in its range of connected watches with the Watch Ultra, an outdoor multisport watch prepared for extreme sports. A segment, however, long occupied by various competitors…

apple watch ultra

Launch price €799


apple watch ultra

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How the pricing table works

Although the world of sports is no stranger to Apple, the Californian manufacturer’s connected watches have so far been more aimed at fitness and running than trail running and other outdoor sports, especially since until Series 7, the Apple Watch they were not known for their robustness. . A deficiency that the firm Apple has decided to fill with its new Apple Watch Ultra model, a reinforced high-end watch, with a titanium case and sapphire crystal, aimed at lovers of extreme sports. In doing so, Apple is up against already well-established competition.

A versatile watch built to withstand anything

With its Watch Ultra, Apple is not satisfied with declining its Watch Series 8 in a sports version, it has designed a new case to meet the most demanding practices, in particular outdoor sports, both on land and water. The trail, mountaineering and even diving are thus the objectives of Apple, which provides its Watch Ultra with greater resistance to shocks and scratches, the watch having obtained the MIL-STD-810H military certification.

Apple Watch Ultra is also designed for diving.

Apple Watch Ultra is also designed for diving.

© apple

On the sealing side, the Ultra meets the WR100 standard, which means it can operate down to a depth of 100m; enough to indulge in scuba diving and not just apneas, unlike a Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro that highlights this practice, for example.

Garmin Enduro 2

Introductory price €1,099.99


Garmin Enduro 2

In the absence of offers discover


Such attributes are not new in a watch and several sports watch manufacturers (Garmin, Suunto, Polar, Coros, etc.) have models adapted to committed practices. The difference here is that the Apple Watch Ultra brings together in a single watch different practices and in particular diving, where manufacturers like Garmin multiply specialized models: Fēnix for trail running, Enduro for ultra trail running, Descent for diving… Of course, a Garmin Descent takes up the functions available in a Fēnix to be used in the same way for running and you can swim or even dive with a Fēnix thanks to its resistance of 10 ATM (100 m), but each model retains specific functions.

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Salvation through apps?

However, in the Apple Watch Ultra, one wonders precisely about the watch’s ability to provide features as advanced as in dedicated sports watches. Like its diving functions, which will go through the Oceanic+ application, the rest of the watch’s specific functions can, however, be added through applications, a great strength of the Apple Watch compared to its competitors whose catalog of third-party applications is much more limited.

The same goes for specific training programs, especially running, as well as sports tracking features, which have so far been quite limited on Apple Watches. Currently, fairly high-end dedicated sports watches have the advantage of compiling training data with sleep and heart rate monitoring data to provide recommendations for recovery and proper exercises. We also think of effort management functions, such as Garmin Stamina, or even the training load that we find in other watches such as the Polar Grit X Pro and Suunto 9 Peak, for example. Points on which Apple has not insisted for the moment in its communication.

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The arrival of the watchOS 9 operating system will certainly bring more advanced features for running and swimming, as well as better sleep tracking, but sports features and performance tracking still have a lot of room for improvement.

Cool features for the Apple Watch Ultra

Cool features for the Apple Watch Ultra

© apple

So the Apple Watch Ultra may well offer individually interesting features for trail running, mountaineering or even diving, but it probably still has a long way to go to reach the level of specialty watch functionality that industry experts They have been retouching. during years. Bringing it to a target often used to a sports ecosystem remains a challenge for Apple, especially as rival sports watches also work with accessories like heart-rate monitors, stride sensors, power sensors, pressure sensors and so on. Will the Apple Watch Ultra really be able to provide all the functionality of these additional sensors?

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An exclusive template

With its large AMOLED display and Apple Watch Series 8 features, the Apple Watch Ultra could also appeal to an audience that isn’t necessarily very sporty, but wants to wear Apple’s most luxurious watch on their wrist. A desire not necessarily so strong when we talk about its competitors that rarely ship such beautiful screens (most have transflective LCD technology, very readable in direct sunlight, but unflattering) and struggle in terms of purely connected functions. Its closest rival in terms of display is undoubtedly the Garmin Epix Gen 2 with its round Amoled display and titanium bezel, which is quite sleek yet decidedly sporty in design.

Garmin Epix Gen2

Introductory price €799.99

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    762.56

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    775.20

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How the pricing table works

However, the main obstacle to this desire to use the Apple Watch Ultra on a daily basis instead of an Apple Watch Series 8 will come from its imposing size. With its unique 49mm format, it will fill the width of many wrists and even outgrow some. By comparison, the Garmin Fēnix 7 and Epix Gen 2 are in 47mm format, while a Suunto 9 Peak is content with 43mm. The Apple Watch is not, however, the largest outdoor connected watch on the market, with the Coros Vertix 2 going up to 50mm, while the Fēnix 7X goes up to 51mm due in particular to its flashlight function.

The edges of the Apple Watch Ultra, with the orange action button

The edges of the Apple Watch Ultra, with the orange action button

© apple

Still, Apple probably hasn’t found a way to turn down its watch in a more compact format. It will be enough for this first generation of Watch Ultra.

An autonomy that is still counted in hours

A more compact Apple Watch Ultra would have suffered from less autonomy. However, the other workhorse of sports watch manufacturers remains autonomy. Having a watch full of functions, but having to recharge it regularly is no longer an option for many practitioners who are now used to sports watches that exceed a week of autonomy and 20 hours of use with active GPS -the most greedy due to high consumption power of the GPS chips. Opposite, Apple proudly announces 36 hours of autonomy and up to 60 hours in energy saving mode. It is certainly double that of a classic Apple Watch, but it falls far short of the autonomy of an Epix Gen 2, for example.

The Apple Watch Ultra therefore reaches a particular and quite competitive market. Seducing an audience of demanding athletes with a connected watch will not be an easy task. Apple, however, seems confident in its product and does not risk much by adding a segment to its catalog of watches. Despite a leading position in the connected watch market and a certain power of seduction, it will have to prove itself in this specific market of outdoor sports watches. For our part, we can only hope that this Watch Ultra delivers on its promises, because it would be an interesting proposition, combining advanced, connected health features with advanced sports features. Answer in our next full test.

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