Apple Watch Ultra in the test: is it worth buying?

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Apple Watch Ultra* is the new premium smartwatch from Apple, specially developed for outdoor and competitive athletes.

Due to its extra features, it is also suitable for “normal” users. Its special features include the robust, large design, its longer battery life and the new action button.

The Ultra is the best Apple Watch, but for most customers its extra features should not justify the high price of 999.00 euros – especially since the significantly cheaper Apple Watch Series 8* and Apple Watch SE* are very good alternatives for everyday use.

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Buy Apple Watch

Apple Watch Ultra – from 917.50 euros*

Apple Watch Series 8 – from 472.86 euros*

Apple Watch SE – from 284.99 euros*

a message: Price and availability in store may vary

Apple Watch Ultra is specially developed for outdoor and competitive athletes. But there are also many reasons why “normal” users buy the watch. These include the long battery life, the robust titanium body, extra features, the large display and the action button.

Priced at €999.00 (RRP), however, the Apple Watch Ultra is almost twice as expensive as the Apple Watch Series 8 on which it is based. Although the Apple Watch Series 8 is cheaper, it meets all the requirements of a smartwatch. Despite its high price, the Apple Watch Ultra can still be worth investing in, as our test showed.

The Apple Watch Ultra offers these additional features

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

In terms of specifications and basic features, the Apple Watch Ultra is similar to the Series 8. It is also equipped with the S8 chip. Both models have the new safety functions emergency call SOS and fall detection. There are also health features such as temperature detection or the cycle log with ovulation estimates. Apart from the battery life, the two smartwatches are almost identical in everyday use.

However, the Ultra is not a clone of the Series 8. Instead, it represents one of the biggest developments in the history of the Apple Watch. It owes it, for example, to its corrosion-resistant titanium case and its durable sapphire crystal. This not only makes them more robust and unbreakable, but also allows you to dive to a depth of up to 40 meters. Additional security is provided by an 86 decibel siren to alert yourself in an emergency, as well as the more accurate dual frequency GPS.

If you can do without these extra features, you can also do without the Apple Watch Ultra. However, that doesn’t mean the Ultra is a bad choice – especially for its intended target audience. Still, the Apple Watch Series 8 and even the new Apple Watch SE should more than satisfy most customers. However, there are three features of the Apple Watch Ultra that will appeal to the masses and perhaps justify the upgrade: its large display design, the action button, and its excellent battery life.

The design of the Apple Watch Ultra is one of its greatest assets

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

The main feature of the Apple Watch Ultra is its size. Larger smartwatches are more practical because more information can be perceived faster – especially on the bright, always-on screen. However, the larger design also has a downside: it can feel bulky on some wrists. In addition, there is no option for a smaller size.

With its 49 millimeter display, the Apple Watch Ultra looks significantly larger than the 45 millimeter Apple Watch Series 8. This is mainly due to its flat glass, which offers more screen area than the rounded edges of the Series 8. According to Apple, the Digital Crown is also slightly larger , which makes it easier to use, even when wearing gloves.

Its titanium case and sapphire crystal display also make the Apple Watch Ultra more robust without compromising on design. This makes the Ultra also suitable for everyday use. Of course, the large selection of compatible wristbands doesn’t hurt either. The only downside to the design is its weight. At about 62 grams, it is about ten grams heavier than the largest Apple Watch Series 8. Nevertheless, the Ultra is not heavy, and even when you sleep, it does not bother you.

The Action button is a revolution for the Apple Watch

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

In addition to the Digital Crown and the button on the side, which we already know from other Apple Watches, the Ultra is also equipped with the new Action Button. Placed on the other side of the case, it is a real revolution. Various functions can be individually adjusted and activated via the action button, which means that tasks can be solved faster. This can be useful during exercise or outdoor activities.

Example from the test: The flashlight can be switched on with the action button without first having to swipe up on the display and activate the light. It’s even faster than setting the flashlight on your phone.

We hope that all Apple Watches in the future will have the action button because it is so useful. However, it still needs a lot of further development, as it does not yet offer so many different options for shortcuts. It would also be desirable to have additional shortcuts such as the weather app or heart rate monitoring pre-installed. However, all this may also change with the next software update.

The Apple Watch Ultra has excellent battery life

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

According to Apple, the Apple Watch Ultra has a runtime of 36 hours. In the everyday test, however, we managed to get three days and two nights with one battery charge in normal use. So that’s a whole day more compared to the Apple Watch series. With its running time, the Apple Watch Ultra is also suitable for fitness tracking in endurance sports such as long-distance running or triathlons, where the battery in a conventional Apple Watch is often not sufficient.

With the new power-saving settings, the driving time can even be extended. This extends the operating time by up to 24 hours. Even with power-saving settings, some tracking features may continue to run. This is especially useful when there is no access to a charger (eg when camping or hiking).

However, the power-saving settings are not a function for daily use, as the basic functions are therefore too limited. For example, the always-on display, heart rate measurement in the background and notifications are turned off when the iPhone is not nearby.

Comparison: Apple Watch Ultra versus Apple Watch Series 8 versus Apple Watch SE

Ultrasound series 8 SEE
Price from 999.00 euros from 499.00 euros from 299.00 euros
battery life 36 hours 18 hours 18 hours
Housing 49 millimeters 41 or 45 millimeters 40 or 44 millimeters
Always on display Yes Yes none
chip S8 S8 S8
storage capacity 32 gigabytes 32 gigabytes 32 gigabytes
action button Yes none none
health functions Alarms for high and low heart rate and irregular heart rhythm, EKG app Alarms for high and low heart rate and irregular heart rhythm, EKG app Warns of high and low heart rate and irregular heart rhythm
safety features Emergency call, SOS, fall detection, accident detection Emergency call, SOS, fall detection, accident detection Emergency call, SOS, fall detection, accident detection
fitness features Temperature detection, blood oxygen app, ECG app, heart sensor (3rd generation) Temperature detection, blood oxygen app, ECG app, heart sensor (3rd generation) Heart sensor (2nd generation)
water protection up to 100 meters up to 50 meters up to 50 meters
special functions Dual frequency GPS, depth gauge, Oceanic+ app, dive computer, 86 decibel siren none none

Conclusion of the Apple Watch Ultra test: is it worth buying?

The Apple Watch Ultra is an excellent smartwatch, but is it really worth $999? The significantly cheaper Apple Watch Series 8 and even the Apple Watch SE are already very good watches. It is therefore difficult for us to make a purchase recommendation. Only those who really can’t do without special features like the rugged, larger design, action button, and longer battery life (and have the necessary change) should pay the premium for the Ultra. Instead, we recommend the Apple Watch Series 8, which is identical to the Apple Watch Ultra in everyday use. The only difference is that it needs to be loaded more often. But given their much more affordable price, it should be manageable.

*Disclaimer: We are looking for products and services for you that we think you would like. The committee is subjective, but editorially independent. We have affiliate partnerships, which means that if you make a purchase through a link marked with an asterisk, we will receive a small commission. Our partners also include the price comparison portal Idealo, which, like Business Insider GmbH, is a subsidiary of Axel Springer SE. Our recommendations and selection of products are not affected by this. You can read more about that here: Insider selection at Business Insider – who we are, what we do and how we test products. The content is independent of our advertising marketing. You can find our guidelines for journalistic independence here: www.axelspringer.com/de/guidelines-of-journalistic-independence

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