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Apple Watch Ultra Hands-On: Everything you need to know!

Today, Apple has announced the biggest shift to their Apple Watch product lineup since launch, by announcing the new Apple Watch Ultra, which is targeted at the endurance athlete. This new watch has increased battery life, an added button, larger digital crown, dual-frequency GPS, redesigned compass, night mode, dive computer mode, and plenty more. It’s Apple’s first go at competing with companies like Garmin and others in the endurance sports watch market.

However, that’s not the only watch Apple announced today. They also announced a revamped Apple Watch Series 8, which adds in a temperature sensor for improved cycle/ovulation tracking. Plus, added crash detection for vehicular driving (it already has sports-focused crash detection). Further, this watch has a new Low Power Mode which doubles the battery life.

And finally, there’s a slightly updated Apple Watch SE (now 2nd gen), that updates the internal chipsets and adds in crash detection, all while reducing the price.

With that, let’s dive into the Ultra model first in this post, with the Apple Watch Series 8 and SE coming in two more posts momentarily.

Apple Watch Ultra Specs:

P1066449

This is Apple’s newest product line, which carries the Apple Watch Ultra name, and is specifically designed for the endurance athlete and adventure crowd. I’ll walk through the watch below, but first up, a quick hit list of key differences:

– Increased case size to 49mm
– New titanium case with sapphire glass display
– Added a new button, called the Action button, designed for glove usage
– Increased size of the rotating digital crown for glove usage
– Increased water resistance to WR100 (100m) for dive usage
– Added an extra speaker for louder outside volume
– Now has three microphones for wind-cancellation audio
– Added an 80db alarm siren, for emergency usage/attention
– Cellular is built into every Apple Watch Ultra
– Increased standby battery life to 36 hours, or up to 60 hours in Low Power Mode
– Added Low Power Workout Mode, which Apple says can handle an Ironman race (with GPS).
– Increased Display Brightness to 2,000 Nits
– Added temperature sensor for improved cycle tracking (also on Watch 8)
– Added revamped compass app with track back option
– Added new dive computer mode, along with a partnership for a dedicated dive computer app
– Added vehicular crash detection (also on Watch 8/Watch SE 2nd Gen)
– Price is $799USD, shipping on Sept 23rd

This is all in addition to all the existing Apple Watch related features.

Apple Watch Ultra Hands-On:

So, let’s dive through all these things individually. First up is that titanium case, with a front sapphire glass crystal (similar to most high-end watches), with a new larger 49mm display – the largest Apple Watch to date. Here it is compared to an Apple Watch Series 8 (45mm).

P1066500

New added button, the so-called Action Button, while the digital crown has been increased, with both designed for glove usage. You can use the action button to precisely start the run (versus the 3-second countdown), as well as change sports in a triathlon, or to mark laps.

IMG_5759 P1066436

Later in 2022, Apple will add Track Running mode, to ensure that laps are accurately recorded. This sounds similar to what we’ve seen from COROS/Garmin/Wahoo in recent years.

Next, they’ve added an extra speaker for louder volume, while having three concurrent mics for better audio quality (mic quality) by using those mics to do wind cancelation. This is similar to what most action cams on the market do.

P1066436

Additionally, as part of this new speaker arrangement, there’s a new 80db emergency siren in case you need to alert people nearby (such as falling off the trail).

Cellular is built into every Apple Watch Ultra, with 36 hours of battery life on a single charge, or up to 60 hours of battery life with a new battery setting that’ll launch later this fall. There’s a new low-power workout mode too, which they claimed will (specifically) be able to do an Ironman event on a single Apple Watch charge. However, there’s no details yet on exactly what is reduced in that low-power workout mode (in other words, what sacrifices you have to make), more on that soon.

Apple Watch Ultra includes a new multi-band/dual-frequency GPS chipset, across both L1 and L5. Multi-band is potentially useful in deep city environments, as well as cliffs and other satellite blocking scenarios. In doing so, they’ve joined the COROS/Garmin/Huawei camp when it comes to higher GPS track accuracy. Of course, this is something I’m keen to put to the test in the coming weeks. As we’ve seen with other multi-band implementations, accuracy can range from astounding to meh.

There’s a new watch face called “Way Finder”, which has a built-in compass.

vlcsnap-2022-09-07-15h43m25s046

However, the bigger deal here is actually the revamped compass app. That app does more than just be a compass, it also includes the ability to save waypoints, navigate back with a Back Track, and otherwise keep track of where you’ve been using GPS when outside doing a hike/walk. I can tap to save any point I want, give it a name and label color, and then refer/navigate back to it later.

vlcsnap-2022-09-07-15h43m48s916 vlcsnap-2022-09-07-15h43m29s696

For scuba divers, they’ve added a WR100 rating, including a new depth gauge app showing water temp, underwater time, and current depth. It’s been certified to EN13319 for dive computers.  However, they’ve also partnered with Huish Outdoors to create a dive computer app, called Ocean+ dive app, for recreation diving, down to depths of 120ft:

vlcsnap-2022-09-07-15h46m55s998

This includes a full dive app that covers the most common dive features that you’d find on most recreation-focused dive apps. It includes decomp limits, ascent/descent rates, and a safety stop. The app is designed to use the new button and digital crown with gloves, so you won’t have to worry about the whole touchscreen mess underwater. That app will come later this fall.

Finally, each of the three Apple Watch Ultra editions comes with one of three different Loop watch bands. These are Ocean Loop (left), Trail Loop (middle), and Alpine Loop (right). I show them extensively in the video above, along with the different colors they have for each.

P1066497

In trying on these watches pretty extensively for the better part of 2 hours, my hands-down favorite is the Trail Loop. The Ocean Band is good too. I’m not a fan of the Alpine Loop though. More specifically, I’m not a fan of taking it on and off. I think it looks brilliant by itself, or once on my wrist, but it’s a solid PITA to take on/off. Perhaps that gets better over a longer duration of usage.

Apple Watch Ultra is priced at $799 (just one model, but different bands), and available starting September 23rd (ordering today).

Wrap-Up:

P1066452

Apple Watch Ultra makes clear that Apple is getting into that outdoors/ultra/adventure realm. The hardware features they’ve added around ease of use in tough conditions, such as snow/rain/underwater, will set them on a course to clearly start making gains in this realm.

One has to keep in mind that the outdoors/ultra/adventure realm is massive, not just in market, but more specifically, in application. Meaning, there’s countless use cases here, and Apple appears to be lightly dipping into many of them. Take for example the triathlon or ultra running scenarios. Here, they provide the foundations for those sports and the ability for you to use Apple Watch Ultra to complete those activities successfully. However, Apple stops short of the depth of sport analytics and deeper fitness software features that you’d find in endurance-sports focused watches.

The assumption of course being that the Apple App ecosystem can build some of that out, which is definitely true. Yet in other areas, Apple seems keen to do that themselves, even for ostensibly niche things like running power and running efficiency metrics. Obviously, this is just the start of Apple’s interest in deeper outdoors-focused sport adventures, so they have to start somewhere on that massive list, and Apple Watch Ultra seems well poised to begin that journey.

Stay tuned for a full in-depth review down the road!

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303 Comments

  1. skyrun

    i waited 8 watch generations i guess for apple to finally release this lol. bought one immediately. we’ll see what the drawbacks will be, but unless you’re out there for days at a time, this will be a tough watch to beat. and scuba diving?! way awesome.

    • Francis

      have you ever seen Garmin Epix II?

    • ag

      yes. i use other watches for mountain running and running in general but not a garnin fan.

    • Dave

      They’re somewhat different propositions. The music, payment and user experience in general are aeons behind Apple (I’m wearing a Fenix 7X as I write this, btw) and the addition of cellular make the Ultra a verrrry nice “good enough” for a very large number of people. A few years from now we will be looking at quite a different market, I suspect. I’ve seen it referred to as Garmin’s “Nokia moment” and I broadly expect that to be the case.

    • Frank

      I’m returning my Epix II for the Apple Watch Ultra, Garmin should have included cellular into the Epix II.

    • GH

      If you’re a mountain runner / general runner, what exactly is it you don’t like about garmin?

    • ag

      suunto user here for some time but there a couple major things that i dislike about garmin: the software (in)stability and an incoherent product lineup which screams quantity instead of quality. garmin connect user interface is also not for me.

    • Charles

      I had the Fenix 3 back in 2016 and over 4 years I had it replaced by Garmin 4 times. The Altimeter failed in each case after about 1 year which meant that stairs and altidude changes were not tracked. Bloody nuisance since I hike a lot.

      I got fed-up and changed to a more simple but new Garmin Vivoactive and it’s altimeter failed too after 1 year (probably the same glitch and sensor as the Fenix).

      5 Garmin watches in 5 years!!!……Kudos to Garmin after sales service but replacing watches doesn’t sound like a good business model.

      …and innumerable issues with Garmin Connect for iOS, most were solved in the end but the frustration was real.

      So I sold my Vivoactive after it was replaced due to failure 5 and moved to an Apple series 6. AW battery life is lousy and sports tracking mediocre (I’m a swimmer, and it’s basic) but it just…. works. Zero issues in 2 years (vs 2 Garmin replacements in the same amount of time).

      In short.

      -The Garmins had better, even great, battery life and better sports tracking stats but were very unreliable.

      – AW 6 is reliable (so far) but with weak(=crap) battery life and so-so sports tracking for swimmers (even with 3P apps).

      The Ultra may be the game changer for me as it will reduce the battery life gripe (mostly) and hopefully address some of the sports tracking (swimming) gripes that I have. I’ll upgrade after I’ve seen the in-depth review (please review swim tracking – hint hint).

      I really don’t want to face more Garmin issues….

    • Brooklyn

      Google paid $95 a hour on the internet..my close relative has been without labor for nine months and the earlier month her compensation check was $51005 by working at home for 10 hours a day….. Everybody must try this job now by just use this… link to t.ly

    • Brian

      Too bad to actually use it for scuba diving in any meaningful way you need to pay a subscription to have it do math… The tissue loading (aka decompression model) is the only advantage you have over a bottom timer. If anyone seriously buys this for the scuba aspect they are basically getting scammed.

    • Alan Wynn

      Actually, the app is free, the subscription is only for other features.

    • Ciprian

      Lack of celuöar and EKG.

  2. Dave

    I’m ordering one, and running it alongside my Fenix 7X for a bit. It’s a great package, and I suspect that bar topo maps, it’s going to do everything I need it to do. Having cellular, diving, better running metrics, Fitness+ connectivity for rowing, and all the usual AW/iOS integration is seriously compelling.

    • Mark

      I wonder how much third party app developers will work on adding in depth support for their favorite sports. Since Apple is notorious for rejecting existing apps when it wants to enter a given field, why should developers spend any time making an app that potentially will get rejected from the app store at Apple’s whim?

      Maybe the more niche sports have little to worry about, but in depth running or cycling analytics on the watch is probably going to languish until Apple writes it themselves.

    • DontGetTheCheese

      If I had to guess, more than work on Garmin products.

    • Alan Wynn

      Responses like yours always make me laugh. Garmin has a minimal app ecosystem and Apple has a huge one. Just searching the App Store for fitness apps shows more for any sport than one could even evaluate. A small number of apps with developers who make a lot of noise have been rejected for overlapping specific functions, it is not common or general, as if it was, the App Store would not outsell the Google Play store more than 2 to 1 despite Android’s market share being around 2 times the size of iOS’s

    • Dave

      How much more in-depth do you mean? You’ll get vertical / contact / cadence / stride / power on the AW out of the box.

  3. Lisa

    I really wish they had an option for people with tiny wrists. Not only big buff guys do endurance/outdoor stuff. What about us petite girls?! I was an early adopter of the Apple Watch, and have upgraded regularly. The ultra looks awesome, and love the siren feature, which could also be useful for warding off weirdos and worse who are getting too close to me on my run, but I do not have nearly enough wrist real estate for 49 mm. Sigh 🙁

    • bob

      I can’t wear any of the ‘normal’ watches, I’m on a Fenix 7S and that’s a big as I can go, I have amazingly skinny wrists but my first gen apple watch still works for short term wearing. The Fenix is my day to day but I’ve been thinking of the 41mm Series 8 but it won’t last a full IM which is pretty sad.

    • Robyn

      Right there with you. Very disappointed that Apple seems to have completely ignored the female segment of the outdoors/athlete demographic.

    • Matt

      There’s definitely guys with this “issue” too. I’m 180cm tall, so not short but I’m skinny. I’ve tried some of the larger Garmin devices and they overhang my wrists and move about which affects the HR readings. I have a Fenix 6S because it fits me properly. This new Apple Watch would look like a pizza box on my wrist. Fortunately, for me, I think it’s really ugly and lacks features that my Fenix has so it’s not a concern for me right now

    • bc

      Same here but shorter. I’ve found the Coros Apex Pro to fit my slim wrist quite well. Waaay better than my old Suunto Ambit 3.

    • Small-wristed male here – it’s not just females!

      I wrote this post back in early 2020 where I hoped they’d release a ‘widescreen’ Apple Watch – I.e. essentially take a Series 3 or 4 and just double the width. It would allow two apps to run side by side, increase the number of visible metrics, or mapping, etc.
      I still wish they’d consider this…… I can even see myself being happy to wear this daily also: under a shirt/jumper? have a setting where only half the OLED screen is powered up……

      link to nealmcquaid.com

    • Andrew

      I wear an Apple watch (44mm series 5) daily, and wear a Garmin for most activities, and would like to have this more capable Apple Watch. But, as a guy with smaller wrists, I worry that the Ultra is too big for me — it’s larger and heavier than the Forerunner 935. If there was a 45mm version of the Ultra with slightly less battery life, I would have purchased that already. I also don’t really like wearing watches do not want larger, heavier watch. I’m debating between the nicer size series 8 and more capable but potentially too large Ultra. And the more time I spend thinking about it, I suspect the more I’m going to want to spend less money now and hold off for an equally capable, but smaller, Ultra 3 or 4 in a couple of years.

    • M

      Why you think so? Temperature measue is not for man. Big battery requires big chassis, so not for man but a need. The design regular apple watch has woman asthetics. I’m tired of costant woman complains and always being a victim

    • Bram van Dieren

      What about maps, i use mapping all the time on my Epix 2. This is the main focus for cycling and running for me. Does the ultra have any maps offline use??

    • Paul

      I don’t believe they purposely ignored the demographic. I think it’s more of a component sizing issue (that’s a lot of tech to cram into even a 49MM case). I suspect in time as technology advances and components shrink, they’ll come out with a smaller version….there are dudes with small wrists too that they’re missing out on.

    • Dr. Stephen A. Ragusea

      I had asked about the scratch resistance of the crystal, given how prone the 7 was to scratching. Perhaps you intended this reply for somebody else?

    • Vingi

      There’s an excellent app called WorkOutDoors which has maps with preloaded gpx routes. You transfer the routes to your watch and the app also has the option to download maps for off-the-grid use. My goto app for hiking on my apple watch 7, soon to be replaced with the Ultra.

    • Nathan M.

      What is really cool is, if you sign up to be a WorkOutDoors beta tester (not entirely sure how to do that) the developer said he wants to get an app update out to those testers to work with the new 49mm screen and size within days to weeks after the official launch day of the Ultra. Over on MacRumors in a forum specific to the WorkOutDoors app the developer regularly posts on there and seems like a really responsive and cool guy. He takes suggestions too.

    • Henning

      Not sure, if you don’t know of that already:
      link to workoutdoors.net

      Best app mapwise for me, has blown my Garmins & Polars out of the water. Incredible easy and smooth to use with the digital crown.

    • Dave

      You can have non-routable topo maps on AW today. If maps are really that important to you on the bike, I’d suggest an Edge, Karoo or Elemnt is what you’re after.

    • Dave

      No, not yet other than with 3rd party apps.

    • Dave

      The 49mm case is for one reason… the screen is the same size as the 45mm (actually it is 1.7% larger, but essentially its identical in size) but has black border bezels twice the width as the 45mm and then an entire flat picture frame bezel of titanium around that. on the 45mm the screen essentially goes to the very edge of the device, on the Ultra there is 1mm of black bezel and 1mm of titanium bezel. I assume this is for protection and ruggedness, as well as the aesthetic of a beefier watch that is popular. The tech inside the Ultra is nearly identical to the Series 8 with the exception of a larger battery and what little is required to support the extra button and siren.

    • Applesause

      No need to get into gender blaming, i am a male with very thin wrists, i just accept the watch will look huge on me.

      For most runners/cyclers/triatlons they are skinny and have the same issue.

  4. Jeff Mabry

    Cycling power meter support?

  5. David Hensley

    Can one use the button(s) (“programmable” or not) for both start and stop in a workout app?

    Does the watch provide GPS lock indication, so that one knows when one can begin an outdoor workout?

  6. GLT

    The hardware design doesn’t really scream “Apple” in the way I would have expected. Perhaps there is a limit to how much function you can force into a specific form after all.

    In response to the less-pretty Apple I suspect we’ll see a more-pretty Garmin at some point.

  7. morey000

    I could live with the shorter battery life – but would need custom workouts, custom routes, topo maps of trails, cycling power/cadence support, program a workout in it to run my smart trainer, body battery and training and recovery metrics (first beat stuff), and a slew of sport modes, customization of screens on all of them, etc.

    Basically, I need nearly everything my Fenix 6P does. Spoiled. can’t live without it all.

    • Dave

      Same. I’m going to get one, but I was going to order a S8 anyway in stainless steel. I might as well spend the same and get the Ultra.

    • Peter Z.

      I expect Apple will be faster than Garmin to innovate on the software and analysis side once they put their mind to it. I think a lot of folks depend on Strava or other 3rd party services since Garmin’s is lacking.

      It’ll be interesting to see how other device manufacturers can reapond

    • inSyt

      You mean a lot of people rely on Strava since Apple/WearOS is lacking.

      Garmin/Coros/Polar offer everything Strava offers and a whole lot more.

  8. Doug

    I haven’t seen any mention of navigation, turn-by-turn, GPX course import, etc. Do you think they will add this, or allow 3rd parties (Ride With GPS, Strava) to implement it?

  9. Jeremy

    So is track mode exclusive to the Ultra?

  10. ImNoOne

    Did they mention bike power and heart rate broadcast?

    • Neither supported at this point natively, though, 3rd party apps for both.

    • qpop

      Not sure 3rd party apps for HR broadcast is telling the whole story.

      Apple are hopelessly restrictive on HR broadcast. Unless your fitness device supports “works with Apple watch” (like Peloton bike+ for example, where you just bring watch to screen et voila), you have to use an app like blueheart, which requires you to both run it, and leave it open, on your phone screen, which then transmits the data via your phone’s Bluetooth to whatever device.

      This makes it totally hopeless for things like cycling computers, but ok for things like indoor/yoga type workouts (I was using it for linking to peloton’s app on my ipad for yoga type workouts, because ridiculously it couldn’t natively pick up the apple watch)

    • Oh, I’m definitely not saying it’s a good thing. Just that it’s a thing.

    • Matt

      Another option is the Heartbeatz device from NPE. It requires running the app on your watch but the device broadcasts easily to my Garmin 530. Obviously not ideal, but I’d rather have another device stored on my bike than another strap to wear.

    • Hugo

      Yeah, Heartbeatz I’m using that for a year now with my Apple Watch and my Wahoo Roam and I love it. It’s small, I store it in my saddle bag. I’m not sure why no one talk about that little device. It works reliably and I use it as well for Zwift in the winter. Zwift Apple Watch app was always such a pain, now it just work.

  11. Nathan M.

    I am extremely excited for this space to heat up. Although it’s not on this article, I am still mind blown that iPhone 14 Pro will have emergency sos communication via satellite. I’m one presentation Apple came swinging for the inReach line up and the endurance sports world today. I really only have an inReach because I don’t want to not have help. With the iPhone having it built in I have no reason for the inReach anymore.

    I still have a lot of questions about the Apple Watch Ultra though. How does the dual frequency GPS work if you have an iPhone nearby? Does it no longer use the iPhone GPS? I read online that heart rate sampling will be less in the “60 hour mode” so it remains to be seen how accurate the tracking will be. My final question is the scratch resistance of the titanium. Does it have something similar to DLC? When I owned a uncoated Fenix 6 in titanium you could breathe on that thing and it would leave a mark. I appreciate that titanium is being used with how big it is, but question the durability compared to the DLC coated stainless steel models of the Apple Watch I would buy. I guess will see.

    • If an iPhone is nearby it uses the GPS from the iPhone (still). The whole low-power things is really fuzzy still, especially the differences between non-workout and workout low power modes. I’ve got more meetings tomorrow to dig into that.

      I’ll add your DLC questions to the list.

    • 1500k

      Hardly. InReach devices have profound advantages both in hardware and satellite technology/coverage. Garmin utilizes Iridium Satellite Communications which is available worldwide whereas Apple relies upon Globalstar– hence why it is being limited to the United States and Canada. The Apple’s “Emergency SOS via Satellite” is a fine solution for iPhone users doing one or two day outdoor activities where LTE coverage may be weak.

      If you’re serious about extreme adventuring and surviving, you pick InReach.

    • Dave

      I’ve used InReach all over NZ, on land, sea kayaking, and flying. You can wait a long time for InReach to make a connection, and longer still for weather updates. Tracking pings have been variable at best. You can guarantee that Apple are going to do this better in due course.

    • 1500k

      Doubtful. Just in the same way the Apple Watch will never support ANT+ or other software integrations/features, the iPhone will never be aimed at the upper end and compete with solutions for extreme situations or industries that depend on Iridium Satellite Communications.

      The iPhone 14 Emergency SOS via Satellite is a solution ideal for Instagram users who slip and fall trying to get a photo of Antelope Canyon.

    • Ben Enfield

      The iPhone 14 Pro has the same L2+L5 gps as the watch ultra, so when the watch offloads gps tracking tyou should get the benefit of the better GPS, provided you phone isn’t under your water bottle in your Solomon running pack (doh).

    • Tams

      They aren’t going to be doing it better unless they start paying to launch their own satellites (whether designed by them or pay someone else to). They jave the money to do it, but operators there would not take them barging in kindly.

      And launch capacity is extremely tight.

  12. james

    Any word on if the AW relying on the phones GPS when they’re connected functions any differently? With multi-band on the watch i really hope this is configurable now. Rely on the phone to maximize battery, watch to maximize accuracy.

    • Mike Richie

      This has been one of my major complaints with Apple. They are always trying to make it “just work”. And not giving you the option of making it work the way you want it to. When I was using my Apple Watch and had my phone, it not only would use the phone GPS but burn the batteries of both to send the data (so I don’t think it really helps battery that much). Now when I run and have my phone I just put it in Airplane mode unless I need to use it for something (mostly I just don’t take my phone).

    • It still relies on the phone for GPS if said phone is in range.

    • Dionne

      Interesting wording on the iPhone 14 Pro specs page. It appears as though it also has dual frequency GPS now. That itself is interesting and can assist with even LONGER battery life.

    • Joez

      And if you switch off gps on the phone ? does the watch fallback to internal gps despites being connected to the phone ?

    • Andrew

      I don’t think you can switch off GPS on the phone. Advice from the running app I use (iSmoothRun) is to turn Bluetooth off on the phone so it simply doesn’t pair.

    • Soojong

      What if I use iPhone13 or older with Ultra? The 13 doesn’t have dual band GPS and when Ultra relies on my phone GPS, the Ultra will lose merits from the dual bands.

  13. Joseph

    Coming from Fenix 6X Pro to Epic2 now, I am new to the apple watch. I don’t know much about it and haven’t had much interest either because I tought it is hook into something that I don’t need and it feels like a fad. I am happy about Apple about the trend into endurance sports. But something I noticed with apple phones, if I wanted something to fit my niche then I need to pay for a third party app. Will this be the same senario with the apple watch? Will I have to pay for 3rd party app to track data that I want? I have been happy with not paying for for 3rd party apps on my Garmin watches.

    • Your data is there for free within Apple Health, and the new Fitness app definitely has increased the amount of data it displays for workouts. Yet at the same time, it’s a far cry from the depth you’d find for the analytics side from Garmin.

      You could use 3rd party apps like HealthFit to bridge that gap at a very low one time price.

    • Dave

      Yeah. And just imagine the amount of data Apple have access to for the creation of their own FirstBeat.

    • qpop

      I just discovered “training today”, which looks like a much more focused version of Athlytic and similar, to give a daily “readiness score” based on HRV.

      They seem sensible and the data is pretty. Free with one time payment for more charts currently, though subscription model soon.

    • Joseph

      yeah, subscription model is the issue. I don’t mind paying subscription for somethings like strava, zwift, or SYSTM. I am paying to support the company that is providing the services I need. But with 3rd party apps why do I need to pay apple 1/3 of the subscription.

      I am not an apple hater. I love my macbook pro and ipad. I don’t mind my iphone, but I do prefer android. I just think it is greed.

    • Chris

      Not many would argue that 30% cut is steep (15% for smaller devs), but don’t discount what Apple has done for the developer community.

  14. Tom Kaufman

    Remarkably 48 hours for the sports tech industry. First Zwift upends the trainer market with a crazy $499 price. Then Apple makes it clear that it’s entering this game, both with satellite support for phone and the new watch. I know the hard core endurance crowd will complain about random missing features, but this will be good enough for a lot of people. And that’s before the inevitable first party iterations and third party apps. It’s going to take a few years for all of this to shake out, but this could be a game changing week. Interestingly, Garmin is hit by all three developments — their upper-tier Tacx trainers suddenly seem hopelessly overpriced, casual inReach users may just stick with their phone, and their watches now face real competition from a player with vastly more resources and software/big data expertise. Firstbeat datasets presumably aren’t even a rounding error to Apple, so if Apple is committed to making this real they’re starting with a massive data advantage over Garmin (and everyone else in the industry). Ray teased on yesterday’s video that the next two weeks would be big, but, wow, I didn’t expected the next 48 hours alone to be this interesting.

    • Nathan M.

      I am one of those users who really only have an inReach for emergency purposes. I like the ability to send texts to family, but with the new satellite based find my feature on the 14 I can live without it. Not to mention for some odd reason the inReach devices have a high resale value. If I can dump my inReach mini 2 for nearly as much as a paid for it 5 months ago I am happy! That thing wasn’t cheap.

    • Chris

      “ this will be good enough for a lot of people”

      Nailed it. My InReach mini 2 on eBay now.

    • Dave

      This is exactly it. InReach is still going to worth the monthly subscription for some people. It’s just not nearly worth it for *most* people…and it doesn’t have to be.

    • JM

      I think I read somewhere that the Apple’s Emergency SOS feature is dependent on the infrastucture (satelite network). I wonder who’s network they are going to use. I am curious if there is enough satelite coverage to make it practical. And I am curious if the increase in load/number of subscribers will affect network coverage. I keep on thinking of my Sirrius XM coverage in my car. And how I lose it in any tunnels or with tall structures/buidings to block the line of site. I also know that water also affects coverage and that clouds, rain, and snow can affect signal quality. The other thing, the battery life is really not impressive. So if the power low does it affect the signal quality.

    • David

      Globalstar is providing the satellite service for Apple. link to fiercewireless.com

  15. rrochepa

    So Apple doesn’t think women do any endurance sports/backpacking/etc? How the heck am I supposed to wear a 49mm watch on my petite wrists. I’ve had every Series of AW since the *very* first one…sad that this one isn’t available for people like me. I was looking forward to it.

    • Alan Wynn

      You think that all women have small wrists, and that only women have small wrists? This is Apple’s first pass at a watch for this segment. If it is successful, they will probably do multiple sizes and colors, for the moment, they are only addressing those who can/want to wear this size watch.

      I would at least go to an Apple Store and try it on and see if you like it. Maybe too big, but no way to know until you see that it covers your whole forearm.

    • Kelli M.

      100% agree that they intentionally did not consider the female market and people with smaller wrists in general. Oh well it’s a shadow at best compared to what Garmin offers.

    • biobiker

      I don’t think this has anything to do with gender. I’d also prefer smaller devices (especially phones) but here we are where nobody targets that market anymore with Apple discontinuing the iPhone Mini line. For a watch, the reason for the size is more understandable. You can only fit things into a small enough space, and for a watch the screen needs to be somewhat bigger to make it more functional for app developers and consumers.

    • Neil Jones

      But presumably Apple didn’t just make it this size for cosmetic reasons, it’s almost a certainty that the size was primarily dictated by components relating to the additional headline functionality, including having enough battery capacity for endurance events. You can’t just take a ‘Series’ AW and add all of this new stuff whilst keeping the same size case. Of course, in the future we might get a smaller version, but that would involve compromises with a reduced feature set. And I’m speaking as a male who wishes Garmin would stop their ‘size creep’, so I share your frustration.

  16. MB-Deus

    At a time when Garmin are doing themselves no favors by continuing to provide GPS services to the Russian military Apple finally release a serious competitor to the Fénix.

    I’ve held out upgrading my Garmin because of their values and with this release I’ll definitely give Apple a go now.

    Looking forward to DC doing a more in depth review in a week or two to cover things like GPS accuracy (city running etc, ocean swimming which has been notoriously bad on previous Apple watches), heart rate tracking accuracy, HRV metrics, additional tech inter-operability (power meters, HRMs etc). As a minimum though at least I can now go for a training run and listen to podcasts without having to take both my old Fénix and my iPhone. (And vote with my $’s on companies that have no morals in regards to invasion of Ukraine).

    • Ben

      “At a time when Garmin are doing themselves no favors by continuing to provide GPS services to the Russian military Apple finally release a serious competitor to the Fénix.”

      Do you have a source for that? The only thing I’ve seen is that Russian fighter pilots are taping civilian grade Garmins to their dashboards because their own systems are so unreliable. Not really anything Garmin can do to stop them. link to flightglobal.com

    • Mb-deus

      Yes (below) their researchers dig into the details and comms i have had with Garmin support this.

      link to som.yale.edu

    • Sadly, that article seems very confused about a lot of things.

      Garmin doesn’t provide GPS services. GPS services are provided by national governments/bodies. Garmin makes GPS devices, which don’t require any connection to/from Garmin to operate (sorta the point of them). Garmin no longer sells those devices in Russia, but they also can’t stop existing devices from working.

      Looking through the list, there’s plenty of other seemingly very confused examples. I think that’s what happens when you try to make a list of 1,000 anythings.

    • Dave

      I think you’re misunderstanding quite a few things here.

    • mb-deus

      Thanks – their public fillings do indicate they provide ‘services’ albeit it would be a much smaller part of their product offering. As with any large ‘tech’ company, their experience and knowledge would be valuable to sell in some form of a service offering. If they aren’t still performing some services in Russia then their responses to my queries haven’t countered this and they could very easily have solved this in their public statements.

    • Paul S.

      Have you filed “inquiries” with the US government, which provides GPS service to the world? How about the EU which does the same with Galileo? China (BeiDou)? It wouldn’t do much good to complain to Russia (GLONASS).

      Garmin sells devices which, among other things, can use one or more of the satnav services to provide your location at any time. They no longer sell in Russia, but there are any number of ways that devices sold outside of Russia can be brought into Russia (lots of countries ignore sanctions) and as Ray says, older devices continue to work. How is Garmin to blame for that, and what in the world do you think Garmin can do about that?

  17. Dave Lusty

    Hopefully this will be the kick Garmin need to put dive features into Fenix and Epix, or at least release the Descent at the same time. I’d love a Descent, but the delayed release means they’re always behind the Fenix in hardware and software. As it stands I still use an ancient Suunto Stinger but I’d drop that in a heartbeat for a Garmin if they sort this out.

  18. madmalkav

    Any mention about cellular roaming on the device? It was not possible in the previous versions and as someone that lives in the border between two countries and does half his activities in each this is a showstopper for me.

    • So there’s some solid changes from Watch 8 (inclusive of this), around cellular roaming now taking advantage of your phone’s plan via carrier agreements in 30 countries. But the details of that are somewhat fuzzy.

    • David

      I think they mentioned the cellular roaming is being added for Series 5 and up at the event via WatchOS 9, so it won’t be exclusive for Series 8 / Ultra.

  19. Frank

    Hi Ray

    By any change you know if you can charge the watch during an activity?

    Thx

    Regards
    Frank

    • Paul S.

      No one has an Ultra to try yet, so I got my battery with built in Apple Watch charger and tried with my series 7. Apple Watches from the beginning have used inductive charging, so there is no port to plug into. When I put my watch on the charger, it immediately switched to its charging face, but I was able to gain control and use a few apps. Started an activity using the Strava app and it actually ran without complaining about being off my wrist. Realize that you’re going to go around with a charging puck on your wrist or wherever you’re going to carry the watch, and you’ll lose heart rate (because the watch isn’t touching your wrist) but it looks like it’s actually possible. I’m a little surprised.

    • Frank

      Thx for testing this out!!

  20. Thomas

    I am ready to pull the trigger and try this – if it can replace my 6x.

    The question I can seem to figure out can it work with Zwift connecting to a concept 2 (powermeter) and HR eiter from watch or strap? Today I use strap and Garmin 6x to connect to zwift running on Apple TV and the Concept PM5. Works like a charm.

    Can apple get both power/cadence and hr to zwift app?

    • Jonathan Robson

      I believe the C2 now supports heart rate from a Apple watch, not sure if you rebroadcast from there to Zwift though

    • Dave

      PM5 connects just fine to just about any ANT+ or BTLE HRM. I tend to wear my HRM-Pro and pair it directly to the PM5. You can also pair the rower to your Fenix as “Fitness Equipment” and get power and stroke data directly into the Watch too…but I never bother. I don’t see the point when the row gets fed out to a Connect by the C2 logbook anyway.

  21. That was a surprise to see last night! SO many features. I think they are really going to have an impact on Garmin and the other companies with this. For me though I am so used to only having to charge my Garmin every couple of weeks that I don’t think I’d like to make the switch. The pricing isn’t bad either!

  22. Ignacio

    I have the feeling that Apple is much more cautious than Garmin on the analytics side. I’ve been using a Garmin Edge 1030 for four years, and a Fenix 5 for some years and realized that they aren’t better than my own subjective feelings about training load, fitness, recovery times, etc. The information I get now from my Apple Watch and Apple Health is reliable.

    • David

      I think this is exactly it. I think smaller companies like Whoop, Oura, and even Fitbit and Garmin can create metrics to say how their devices estimate your health / training is, when you are getting sick, etc. but if Apple did that, people will absolutely try to make a story out of how their analysis is sometimes wrong, heck they probably have to deal with frivolous lawsuits over such things too. It makes Apple incredibly careful before implementing any such features but I bet more will slowly arrive over time and probably be quite good when they do.

  23. NorW

    I clearly like the design of the Ultra but a ‘bit’ too expensive to my liking. Most important omissions with the AW are:
    – the lack of more ‘holistic’ insights (Training load, training readiness,…) and advice for the day (think of what both Polar and Garmin are doing)
    – I like the new features in the workout app, but I absolutely hate to configure the workouts on the tiny screen. Why they did not include this in the Watch app on the iphone yet is something I don’t understand.

    • MaDMaLKaV

      You can use a third party service for most of those metrics like Runalyze. I’m using it even if I use a Garmin because I feel it is more on point that Garmin calculations.

  24. gideon

    great info…thanks

  25. Steven

    There is a huge difference in sports and outdoor functionalities between the latest Garmin devices (Fenix ​​7, Epix 2, Forerunner x55) and Apple Watches. Difference which even Apple Watch Ultra or the latest version of WearOS (with some new functions) will not make up for ..

    Well, We can see that Apple has noticed this sport/outdoor direction and wants to go this way. This may hurt Garmin in the future in terms of selling its products, especially when next generations of Apple devices will have more features like this.

    The question is whether Garmin will rest on its enormous advantage as an outdoor sports watch and notice that when it comes to being an everyday smart watch, it lies and squeals compared to the Apple Watch.

    The latest Garmin watches (Fenix ​​7, Epix 2, Forerunners x55) still do not support:
    – receiving calls or being able to make calls (implemented by Garmin in cheap Venu 2 Plus, not copied to premium Watches!),
    – calling Siri or other voice assistant (they same as receiving calls),
    – replying to messages (OK, this is Apple’s limitation, but Garmin is big enough to press the Apple to change the decision – especially since there are antitrust cases against Apple in the US / EU about maintaining the monopoly and limiting external Application developers),
    – they have a very poor Bluetooth range – you have to carry the phone with you (my old FitBit connects to the iPhone from the next room, Garmin Fenix ​​7 does not),
    – they do not have WIFI or GSM (4G) integration with the phone – which is HUGE daily-use missing feature.

    Sports maniacs can laugh at the Apple Watch, but the ability to have fully voice / text / assistant communication using Apple Watch in both directions and no limit to a few meters of range to the phone are the enormous advantages of the Apple Watch as a smart watch that Garmin has been ignoring for years.

    And by this they lose enormous market. Market of fitness enthusiasts who for 23 hours per day use their watches as a smart watch and only need sports or outdoor functionalities for an 1 hour a day (usually not even every day :).

    • Andrei

      If only functionality above would be truly needed on a watch (sports or even everyday). The very first thing I did with my Fenix7 is turn off any smart notifications. Because I have enough with gazillion messages and calls I get on my phone. I dont need that on my watch. Battery life of 36 hours without gps is just ridiculous. I already have to charge my phone and tablet daily, I dont want to do the same for watch.

      And dont let me start on aesthetic comparison. Apple watch looks abysmal compare to fenix.

      On the other side features like dive mode and non-cellurar SOS looks really nice but I doubt it will take long for Garmin to add same features to next Fenix generation.

      So in reality sure apple watch will appeal to Apple fanboys, but I seriously doubt that anyone outside of existing Apple fanboys base will switch.

    • arnold

      +++++++
      I love my fenix 6 pro and my edge 530. highly customizable and very intuïtive menu. I never have a phone with me when i AM running (max 2 hours). Only when i cycle i have my phone with me in case of an emergency. i don’t wanna be bothered with smart notifications when i AM out Sporting. batterylife of an Apple watch is a joke

      Besides that i find the Apple watches plain ugly with that 80’s look. The data fields also look very early 80’s. the Apple watch looks like a tot compared to my fenix 6 pro
      I must admit i AM a hardcore Garmin user as a dedicated runner and cyclist.

    • Arnold

      Apologies for the ridiculous big photo 😭

  26. Andy

    This is really basic but I love how my fenix 7 will allow me to calibrate a treadmill run to the accurate distance. Any updates on whether you can do that with this watch?

  27. Luke Selby

    I’ve been with Garmin forever, since the forerunner 410, and I like their watches. However, it has always pissed me off their their watches have had this weird overlap of stuff they do and don’t do, or that their release dates aren’t synchronized. I’m hoping that this new Apple Watch will force them to get their act in gear related syncronizing release dates and condensing product lines, so that the endurance watch isn’t released just before the endurance/SCUBA watch made by a different “branch” of the same company.

  28. Andrea

    I’m not an IPhone user, so I can still use this watch with full functionality?

  29. Ryan

    Apple has always been great at releasing overpriced status symbols, and now they arrive in the endurance sports field to do the same.

    I can’t imagine why any serious athlete would want this over a Garmin or Coros. If its like previous Apple Watches, there’ll be no ANT+. Battery life of 36 hours is nothing when a Fenix can go for 17 days. Yet people are still going to drool all over this because…its Apple.

    • Neil Jones

      Why not? I already see plenty of competitive 10k, marathon and Tri racers using Apple watches – not every “serious” athlete wants or needs the in-depth data Garmin/Coros provides, and some prefer having the integration, functionality and polish an AW offers that a Garmin doesn’t. Why would the endurance market be any different?

      And there’s another positive. Yes, some people will buy this because it’s Apple and more as a statement. But as has been shown with the original AW, building activity functionality into a device can encourage people to take up those activities which they otherwise might never have done. If this watch ends up motivating people to be active, regardless of the reason they bought it, then that seems to be a win, not a cause for anyone to look down their noses at them.

    • Sebastian

      “If this watch ends up motivating people to be active, regardless of the reason they bought it, then that seems to be a win, not a cause for anyone to look down their noses at them.”

      Come on, do you really see sport novices buying 1000€ Apple watches as a motivation do begin being active. We’re in an energy and economic crisis at full scale now.
      For every outdoor lover a smart device which such a low battery endurance is nonsense. This is just a product to keep Apple shareholders like Warren Buffet in.

    • Mr. T

      And there will always be people whining about the “overprice status symbol.” It’s asinine to compare the two watches. Apple does things well thank frankly Garmin is terrible at and vice versa.

  30. cheers for this Ray, doesn’t look huge on the wrist.

    I have a series 6 and a Fenix 6, I suspect this could replace both. I found the Fenix tends to “bounce” on my wrist if running due to the size & weight, do you think this would stay more solid on the wrist as my series 6 does?

    Cheers,

    Greg

  31. Peter Z.

    Ray, will you be doing a review of the iPhone 14 satellite capability and Apple’s help process? I know Garmin has a robust service center system, but Apple does mention having some coordinating service for places that don’t take electronic notices. I get impression Apple depends more on direct contact to local authorities for most of it.

    However that could be sufficient for many potential inReach customers.

    • Yup, I will. However, keep in mind that feature isn’t there at launch.

    • Peter Z.

      Good point, just noticed the November disclaimer when I was reading about the feature. It’s enticing enough it’s got me seriously considering switching to iPhone though as I’m on verge of buying new phone. I’m not trekking mountains necessarily but would be peace if mind hiking/biking out of cell range. Free service for two years is nice too

    • Seth

      I want to see more information published regarding iPhone satellite functionality and extraction cost.
      I think it’s a great idea for people getting stranding while traveling by car in extremely rural areas, but hopefully it doesn’t result in a bunch of inexperienced iPhone owners going out unprepared for day hikes and then getting hit with a $10,000 plus extraction bill for using up county and state emergency services.

      I’m keeping my Garmin inReach and my Search and Rescue insurance policy in place for a little longer!

  32. James

    An ultra watch with 36 hrs battery life. Meh!
    Scuba diving to 120ft (36m) Meh, that’s 25m too short.
    The rest of the things they have added, are either long overdue, or already on other sports watches.

    Sorry Apple but still an awful long way to go, wrapping a new watch with it’s reality distortion field marketing, isn’t going to overcome the shortcomings with their watches.
    As a female reader said above, this comes in a massive size, so will dampen the enthusiasm for it, by females or those that prefer smaller watches. Of course they can’t go smaller, as they cannot seem to create a device with reasonable battery life.

    • Chris

      I’m certain your astute advice will help them turn this troubled product around. 🙄

      Garmin’s, and others, are niche products, serving a far smaller subset of users. That said, they serve their purpose for their users, including you. But, don’t be so myopic. I could go on about how Garmin should “get with it” so I can talk to it and open my garage when returning from a ride, or when I can take a phone call, respond to a text and control music when stand up paddling in the middle of a lake, but I’m sure you don’t care…which is perfectly fine.

  33. fiatlux

    Interesting to see that Apple is at last addressing the UI (and battery life) aspects of its watch used as a sports watch.
    Better battery life for longer activities is welcome, but I wonder how much better the watch will be in instances where you need to interact with it to accurately time activities (think races or interval training).
    Previous Apple Watches were close to useless in these scenarios which is why I kept using my Garmin Forerunner and now Fenix with their big physical buttons.

    • Dave

      Do you mean the touchscreen you had to use to start/stop/lap? The action button, I assume, will fix that issue.
      Not sure how it will work in practice – hopefully something like a long press to end the activity and a short press to mark a new lap. If you can only set it up to either start/stop an activity OR start a new lap I’ll be disappointed.

  34. Cary

    I think the thing which is *very* interesting here from the perspective of a long-time Garmin user is that the one part of the Garmin eco system which is incredibly weak – Garmin Connect (specifically the web service) – may be the one aspect which in the immediate term is the most obvious thing which Apple does not bring to the table and in all likelihood will specifically not attempt to replicate. For all of its out-datedness and intentional or benign neglect in the context of not even trying to keep up with the likes of Strava, it does glue everything Garmin-related together in a way that Apple just will not attempt to do.

    • Mike Richie

      There are ways you can actually keep using Garmin Connect with the Apple Watch. HealthFit (it is a fairly small one time cost) will upload all or any of your workouts to most online services (I use Strava). It won’t auto upload to Garmin Connect but you can import the .fit files that HealthFit creates. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple do something on Fitness+ – they are pretty committed to the services model and there is an awful lot they could do with the data that the Watch can collect rather than just give it back to you, which is what Connect basically does.

    • Will

      Yeah, Garmin Connect (both the website and the app) is terrible in terms of UI/UX, but for all of its faults, it pulls together all the data I want.

      I know very few runners who even bother to look at their data in Garmin Connect, tho. Everyone just shares their runs on Strava. I’m probably an outlier because I care about extremely nerdy data (like max cadence, max instant pace, recovery HR) which isn’t available on Strava.

      Then again, if I want to dive deeply in to my data, I can also look at it on runalyze.com. (My only gripe with that website is it shows different values than Garmin for some of your data, like cadence / stride length. It’s also not user-friendly, but it is free.)

      Garmin’s seemingly intentional outdatedness kind of sets it apart in some ways that aren’t 100% bad, I think. Seems like Garmin’s products are unlike most complex modern mobile/wearable devices in that you can productively use a Garmin for days or weeks without ever connecting it to the internet. Garmins with mapping support have fully offline maps, unlike Apple Watch (I realize an app like WorkOutDoors allows you to download apps for offline use, but that isn’t quite the same to me.) Then again, the actual UI/UX of maps on button-based Garmin watches is pretty bad in my experience (as far as panning and zooming goes). It’s not just that using the buttons is a pain, but the map is fairly unresponsive, and when it does pan or zoom, it’s too slow or the entire screen flashes white (so the map disappears).

      Garmins can even be “hacked” in certain limited ways, because the user has access to the file system via USB. (For example, in the past it was impossible to set a certain wheel size for bike trainers in the watch’s UI, but there was a way to get around this limitation by copying the Bike activity settings file from the watch to a computer, editing the file, then copying it back. This is obviously something that the vast majority of users would not be interested in, though.)

    • Will

      “I realize an app like WorkOutDoors allows you to download apps for offline use”

      Whoops I meant “downloads maps”, not “apps”.

  35. Hoot

    I am not sure that this new watch will pose immediate danger to Garmin. For reasons unknown, this Ultra cost 999€ in the EU (AW8 is 499) vs 799$ in the US. This is Epix/Enduro2/Fenix 7XS territory and you still have a lot of the drawbacks of the AW (big square shape, meh battery), just with a much bigger pricetag…and only if you have an iPhone you can use it. The iPhone 14 now starts at 999 (1400 for the 14 pro) and with some memory uprade 1300€ (in Europe).
    Garmin just needs to come up with a few little things that some watches have already implemented, like taking phone calls (Venu 2+) or activating the ECG measuring or cleaning up GC a bit. And they should roll out their feature or at least some of them to their cheaper watches IOT be competitive. Just the other day I gave my old AW5 to my daughter (15yo) and she truly enjoys it, but I will stay with Garmin for the forseeable future.

    • fiatlux

      US prices are without any tax. 799$ is about 799€ given the current near-parity and you’re not far off 999€ once you add the typical VAT applicable in the euro zone.

      Not all manufacturers will deal with the exchange rates the same way, but Apple usually realign their prices at each new release (which is sadly for us Europeans what just happened).

    • Yeah, but a number of US states don’t have tax, or, have very low tax rates. So it’s far closer to $799 than $1000USD (which is roughly what the EU units are with the EUR being essentially parity).

    • Dave

      I think fiatlux was just commenting on the fact that Hoot said “For reasons unknown” when the reason is obvious. Apple are selling the watch for basically the same price pre-tax in the EU and the US. It would be unusual for them to not take into account the currency changes and instead just take a much lower margin when selling in Europe and would only happen if they thought it would end up costing them more in lower sales.

    • jeffgoblue

      Ultra is probably not an immediate concern to Garmin, but this article points out how familiar this all looks. As someone who has always like Garmin hardware but have not been too fond of their UI, this has the ring of truth. Time will tell…

      link to theverge.com

    • okrunner

      As I have thought about the double whammy of satellite communication in the iphone 14 pro and the AW Ultra features, it appears someone in Kansas better wake up and take notice of the following:

      1. Garmin has been told countless times and by numerous persons in the know – quit making so many models and quit charging for each little difference in each watch. Quit cutting features when the hardware is identical. Garmin needs to cut their lineup in half at the very least. Iphone does and will compete with essentially just three models.
      2. Charging anything over $799 just for sapphire glass is overcharging.
      3. Garmin has been told and it has been requested for years that 4g/lte connectivity be built into more watches. Garmin better do it and do it now for every watch in their lineup except the bare bones.
      4. Garmin Edge devices should immediately add 5g/lte connectivity, music, and probably satellite communications. They’ve been told to add cell and music but ignore it. Hammerhead is ahead of them on this and Apple laid down the law.
      5. The maximum they can continue to charge for their diving watches will be $1,000 even with air integration. Anything without air integration better be $799 or less. They’re close on this one but need to immediately drop the price of their high end models. Additionally, their diving watches need to be on parity software wise with the rest of their lineup which somewhat goes back to eliminating models.

      My take on all this is that Garmin has two years to make drastic changes. If Apple improves software and every gets to 4 to 7 days battery life, Apple will gut 60% of Garmin’s business. It wont’ happen today but it’s coming. The good thing is, I have to believe Garmin knew this was coming. In some ways Garmin has been laughing at the half-hearted attempts by Wahoo, Polar, Coros, Suunto, etc. But, somebody was going to get it right sooner or later and Apple had the moxy and money to pull it off. They just may have.

    • Paul S.

      Apple Garmin is doomed!

      Yawn. Heard it before.

      Why would I want LTE on my Edge? Maybe if it came with real time traffic, but I don’t want to be bothered during a ride by calls or texts. I certainly don’t want music.

    • okrunner

      For one, LTE on the Edge might actually make live tracking work like it’s supposed to, instead of just 50% of the time like Garmin is notorious for. I suspect you carry your phone already so you are already bothered by calls and texts during your ride. Just because you don’t want music doesn’t mean no one else does. Garmin isn’t doomed but they better up there game. 90% of what I said above, Ray has said a gazillion times. For one, he said it again in the comments here “Garmin needs to thin it’s hurd.”

  36. Trey

    Is there a list of activities the Ultra tracks?

  37. Chris

    All I need now is a nicely integrated Strava application running on that watch 🙂

  38. fgerson

    What 3rd party apps permit display of cycling power?

  39. giorgitd

    Two observations…even if the price tag seems high, for current AW users who also have a Garmin/Polar/Suunto/Coros, if the AWU eliminates the need for the 2nd GPS watch, this could be a bargain. The ‘if you can use the AWU as your *only* GPS watch’ is the key here. 2nd point…to my eyes, this design is unattractive – unusually so for an Apple device. The RHS ‘wheel guard’ looks as if it was epoxied on the rectangular watch case. And this is a device that I’ll be super interested in size comparisons. Maybe it’s just a trick of the light, but it also appears thick/clunky. All will be revealed in the full review!

    • Cary

      Agreed, I think this is a key for many athletes who are currently using a Garmin etc for workouts and AW for everything else – if this new watch can serve both roles its a clear win. Looking at this quite closely myself.

  40. Jeff T

    Interesting to find out with the increased battery life now on the Ultra, will apple allow Always on display for all apps now by default.

  41. Peter

    Well, 36hr of battery for a (ultra) sport watch is not much compare with Garmin devices, however it has cellular connectivity. Let’s see how goes the low power mode when tracking activities by using GPS and also what metrics (running/cycling/swimming/etc) offers natively or how it uses them to make reports (running metrics, stamina, recovering time, stress, etc). Can the scuba diving mode do a body/water temperature, depth and heart rate tracking simultaneously?

  42. David W

    Question: Does this watch have a bezel to protect the edge of the display glass? In the photos it looks like the glass is flat to the edge of the metal instead of protruding like all of the older watches. I ask because both my wife and I have destroyed Apple watches by scraping the edge of the glass against something and breaking the glass.

  43. Jason

    One gripe I had with the Apple Watch was heart rate. The stock workout app and most others I could find wouldn’t activate the HR sensor until you hit ‘start’. With the stock app that means you hit go, HR sensor turns on and you have a 3 second count down until starting. That was not enough time to get an HR lock, so the first 10 seconds of almost every run I had an HR around 180 because it was locked to my cadence. Made it bad trying to check workout intensity, and my real max HR is below 180.

    Another gripe was I wanted to carry my phone and use the watch GPS. Have to do a song and dance of turning off settings to break the connection between the watch and the phone. If they don’t have an option to always use watch GPS, they really should do that with multiband on the watch.

    I also recall being frustrated trying to transfer files to the watch, it defaulting to bluetooth even though I’m at home, on wifi and have the watch on a charger.

    I like the design though. Flat face/bezel looks good. Surprised the screen isn’t larger given the increase in size – seems pretty close to the 45mm screen size, but the flat display may play into that. Concerned about the large size and weight but that will be a positive for many. Curious how it wears compared to a Fenix 6X or 7X.

    • Ben Enfield

      Heart rate locking
      If you open the workout app the heart rate sensor activates and a GPS lock is acquired. You can wait ~15 seconds after you open the app before you select the workout and the HR will start correctly. This doesn’t fix the issue of poor HR in a wrist based HR sensor, but at least it gives the watch a fighting chance.

      Multiband GPS
      The iPhone 14 Pro has the same multi band GPS, so offloading to the that phone model shouldn’t decrease accuracy in most conditions.

    • Jason

      Heart rate never turned on when opening the workout app on my series 5 until I hit start and the 3 second countdown began. Maybe I was doing something wrong or it has changed since then? That would solve the issue!

      I’d still rather have my GOS on my wrist with li e of sight to the sky though.

    • Ben Enfield

      I forgot to mention that I am running the RC of the new watch software an an AW6, so this is probably a change they made for all devices in the next release.

  44. Kien Chua

    Any possibilities for Ultra being able to detect Heart Rate during swim?

    Currently, how does anyone using apple watch transfer heart rate data if Apple Watch does not broadcast to say a Garmin Edge.

  45. Nigel Leigh

    Still unimpressive battery life.
    I have 3 versions of the Apple Watch over a 5 year time period and seriously loved them. Seamless Integration with the iPhone to the point it felt like an extension of the phone. However the battery life always bugged me and when my version 6 started to run out of battery after 12 hours and I was constantly travelling, I started looking at other options.
    I bought the Garmin Epix Gen2 at the start of 2022 and I have not looked back. Actually made me realise I didn’t need or want constant messages buzzing on my arm and sleep and training readiness are far more important. Yes it’s a big watch but the screen is fantastic and battery lasts 16 days between charges and that’s with over 4hrs of GPS enabled running a week.
    Sorry Apple this is not good enough to make me swap from my Garmin

  46. Sebastian

    Hi, do you have any info about whether it will be possible for 3rd party developers (other than Oceanic) to use scuba APIs? I’m really not willing to pay 1k Euro and still needing a subscription to use certain features.

    Cheers!

    • Brian

      Good question. I’m annoyed enough about that that my next equipment purchase I’ll be less likely to buy anything Oceanic. This subscription nonsense is just greedy.

  47. CH

    I have favoured Garmins (currently a FR945) over Apple Watches (AW) for running activities for three reasons till now.

    First, the screen dimming. During an activity, the screen doesn’t change on a Garmin. If I want to see HR Zone, Duration and Pace on a Garmin, these stay fully active on the screen for the duration of the activity. While more recent Apple Watches dim with most original information still visible (if less of it), any app outside of AW just displays the time, and it takes a wrist raise, or a poke or a button press to get it visible.

    Second, multiple screens. Garmin allows me to create lots of screens and just switch between them depending on what type of run I’m doing (long slow distance, short race, long race, tempo / intervals, ultra race etc), and I can just swipe between them even during the activity, by pressing a button, going from lap time & lap pace to lots of metrics, to time of day, to HR and distance. But AW makes me create the (single) page on the iPhone for one activity such as “outdoor run”, rather than on the watch, edits need to be on the phone Watch app also.

    Third, battery life. Until now AW wouldn’t make it through a marathon reliably never mind a 100-miler. Ultra could change this.

    So the questions I’d have would be (1) What info on AW Ultra is available during an activity when the watch dims (assuming it does), (2) Can I create multiple screens in advance for one activity and can I change switch between them on the fly without opening the phone? (3) How much battery life available for an outdoor run using GPS, with and without a phone present?

    • Ben Enfield

      I am using an AW6 with the RC of watchOS9, so I can only answer the second question. On your watch can create a lot of different screens with a lot of different metrics and have them specific to a type of running workout. For example:

      I have base easy workout that is a warmup, 135 bpm HR pace, then warm down. This has a set of screens that focus on form and HR.

      I have another workout that is hills at zone 5, which has a different set of HR alert thresholds, and I don’t include the display for ground contact time, but I do include the elevation profile.

      I have another running workout that I customize for track intervals that has its own set of screens that I can cycle through using the Digital Crown.

  48. Davis

    What do you think of the Verge’s article on this could lead to the death of Garmin wearables? I haven’t bought an Apple watch because of battery life (this is still short, but moving closer), however, I really dislike Garmin’s software both on the watch and the phone app. As Apple plays more in this space it’s just a matter of time until the reason to buy a Garmin disappears or gets outweighed by the better user experience. Article on Verge: link to theverge.com

    • Matt

      To be fair polar and suunto have more to worry about than Garmin.

      Garmin and coros will be around for a good many years to come. I assume the reason for Garmin battery life is it’s OS, yet the OS is the exact reason why the Apple Watch is so poor

    • biobiker

      I think it’s possible and akin to google maps navigation destroying their car nav business. However, the financial markets don’t think that’s the case yet. I have a fenix 6s and I like the watch compared to what was out there. However, I don’t love it and their software on the watch, iOS, web and Mac are all pretty bad.

      Just today I tried to connect the watch to Garmin Express and it won’t show up in the app. Then it freezes repeatedly and restart everything to hopefully make it work. The iOS Connect app needing connectivity to do anything is also pretty frustrating. My watch constantly unregistering from iOS Explore is also annoying and then I can’t sync activities to Explore if they already synced to Connect. BaseCamp takes ages to load the watch maps and crashes frequently. I also get random battery drain issues sometimes that cuts my battery life in half, and sometimes workouts get corrupt for no obvious reason. Just last week loading courses also stopped working which apparently was due to a weird .fit file being saved. On the hardware side the blue-tinted blurry screen on the fenix 6 watches was also a negative and I’m not sure they ever corrected it. I know I eventually gave up and just dealt with it.

      For me, if the Ultra can record a 16hr activity with gps and HR then it’s good enough for me. My other must have is good maps and navigation. That’s one thing that garmin has that I really like, although the UI is still really bad with moving/zooming the map on the watch.

    • JM

      I might consider article serious, if the writer of the article wrote more about Garmin watches. Doing a google search with his name and garmin is pretty sparse as compared to his name and with apple as keywords.

    • Karl

      I keep waiting to hear that Apple is going to use all of that cash it’s sitting on to simply buy Garmin and integrate Apple software. That would be a win for the consumer.

    • Alan Wynn

      Just out of curiosity, were you a Blackberry, Nokia or Palm user before you switched to Android or iOS?While there is no guarantee that Apple will take the whole high end market, I would not want to be in Garmin’s position. I have been watching almost the same set of complaints since the Series 0 Apple Watch, and yet, Apple has eaten most of the low to medium end of the market and is slowly moving upscale. I used to have a Polar Heartrate strap and watch and a Garmin bike computer (it has been years, so I do not even remember which one it was). I have a Polar heart rate strap, but no longer own any Garmin gear. I dive, but not enough to own an air integrated computer. The Ultra with the Oceanic+ integration means I will never wear my old dive watch again.

      It may very well be true that Apple never tries to capture the very top of the market, but as the segments that Garmin can address shrink it gets harder and harder for them to keep up.

      In the mean time, my Apple Watch just keeps taking over more jobs, and more interestingly, is likely to be doing so for more and more people.

    • Stuart

      Whether it would be a win for the consumer depends very heavily on what Apple does with the existing Garmin firmware.

      For me, the key advantages of Garmin over the Apple Watch (in any form, not ‘just’ the Ultra) are, in no particular order: ANT+ support (nice to have, I can live without if BLE is the only option); native FIT file format support (must have, at least as long as it’s the standard choice for Training Peaks); and native support for the various cycling sensors (primarily the power meter, but also speed and Di2 data – I get cadence out of my power meter.) Yes, you can get third party applications that will do most of these (excluding ANT+) on the Apple Watch, but having it all out of the box means much less fiddling, and fewer spots where data can leak. (Yes, I’m paranoid about GPS tracking data. You would be too, if you had two multi-thousand dollar bicycles sitting in your house.)

      Battery life is another consideration where the Garmin wins handily, but I expect that gap to narrow as technology continues to march on. Whether Apple will focus as much on getting to the 24+ hours my Fenix 7s gets in GPS tracking mode as Garmin has is an open question, and it leaves a fairly small market niche open for other competitors, but it’s an advantage I view as temporary, not permanent.

      I also like having push buttons for everything. Touch screens are all well and good, but in the middle of a race (or during/after a swim), nothing beats a tactile button that cannot be misinterpreted by software. That runs absolutely counter to Apple’s design philosophy. (Note that I am not saying Apple’s design philosophy is inherently bad. Only that it doesn’t work for a specific part of the market.)

      Or, to put it another way – I’d be less concerned about such a possibility if Garmin’s design philosophy and Apple’s design philosophy didn’t contradict each other so much. Having those choices in the marketplace is a good thing. (Though that contradiction is also why I very much doubt that it would happen.)

    • Dave

      Exactly. Running-wise, the number of people who need more than 16hrs is, realistically, tiny. Ironman? A bigger number of potential users. 70.3 isn’t going to be a problem for it at all in current form.

    • Justin Kaplan

      I can’t decide if I should switch from epix 2 to AW ultra. The fact that no power broadcasting in the bike to AW is bothersome but the reality is I have a hammerhead unit on my bike and so don’t need the power broadcasting to AW. Thoughts ?

    • Paul S

      If you have a Hammerhead, what’s the Ultra for?

    • Stephen Thomas

      If the Apple Watch were able to record power measurements, what difference would it make to you? That’s a serious question. If it would make a difference, then that’s a factor in your decision.

      FWIW, I have an Apple Watch but always cycle with a Wahoo computer. And all three of my bikes have power meters.

      I do record my rides with the watch and use the Apple Watch workout data for training load, etc. in the Gentler Streak and Athlytic apps, as well as for “closing my rings.” None of those apps would benefit from power data.

      The power data that Wahoo records is interesting and useful to me for Strava and power-meter.cc as a way of assessing my fitness.

      The only benefit I can think of for having the watch record power data would be as a backup, should the Wahoo fail during a ride. Were that to happen today, I would still be able to upload the watch workout data to Strava, etc, but that data would lack power measurements.

  49. Greg

    The Apple Watch Ultra still has a far way to go. With double battery life, I assume it doubles the 4-5 hours to 8-10 hours of battery life while using GPS. As an ultra runner that just isn’t enough battery life, especially when compared to 57 hours on the Garmin Fenix 7. The Garmin is also $99 cheaper as well. I’d love to move to an Apple Watch, but I need something that can last the duration of 50 mile, 100k and 100 mile ultras.

    • Ben enfield

      For most of my long runs over a marathon I bring my phone along with me and the watch offloads gps duty to the phone. This has allowed me to get 12 hours of battery life on the watch while tracking.

      I don’t know if you bring your phone with you on ultras, but this bridges that gap for me.

    • JM

      some runners may want to maximize performance by reducing weight. iPhones are kind of heavy plus if you are running I would think a case would be necessary adding more weight.

    • Bram van Dieren

      What about maps, i use mapping all the time on my Epix 2. This is the main focus for cycling and running for me. Does the ultra have any maps offline use??

  50. Troy Lindeman

    One minor correction the app from Hush Outdoors is Oceanic+… not sure if auto-correct got you on that one! Keep up the great reviews!!! Looking forward to your review on this 🙂

    Also for reference here are the details on the Oceanic+ Subscription and FAQ’s they have put together thus far.

  51. Davd H

    Will it pair with ANT+ sensors like my bike’s power meter? I’m wondering how good it is for replacng a traditional head unt…

  52. SCDC

    I ordered one and immediately got rid of my Garmin Epix 2 on Ebay. I’ve grown so frustrated with the Garmin bugs and unacceptable bluetooth performance. Let alone having to have my phone with me for any sort of connectivity. Heck with that. I used my Epix for 3 months and it hit the dresser drawer a few weeks ago and went back to my AW7 SS LTE. So much happier.

    Apple’s data is so much more accurate and reliable (at least for me) and I don’t deal with all of the damn Garmin bugs! No need for a phone and the thing JUST WORKS.

    So, i’m looking very forward to getting the Ultra. My multiple tries with Garmin has soured me completely on buying Garmin ever again.

    • JR

      Huh. I tried an AW6 with LTE and got rid of it after about a month. I couldn’t list a single way in which it was superior to a Forerunner 245. And I’m including the reliability/bugginess of the software.

      I had been excited about having LTE, but almost no apps work over LTE connections. There’s a lot of potential, but the developers have learned that people who use their AW without a phone are an extreme edge case, and it’s just not worth developing software for them.

      The biggest problems, though, were the lack of buttons and slow gesture response on the screen.

    • marek

      I just don’t get this complain about Garmin software. I see not a single issue! I had no crashes, no data loses etc. Also the website has all the necessary details, the same is the app (and the watch as well). Also on the accuracy point .. what are you talking about? HR? Or GPS? The rest of the metrics as sleep, rest, body battery etc .. these things are all quite “soft” metrics .. how do you know what is correct or more precise?

    • Alan Wynn

      @JR Do you have any recollection what apps you were describing that did not work over LTE? Are you saying that they were iPhone apps that just had some UI on the Apple Watch or that they were Apple Watch apps that only worked using WiFi? I am interested in how this works, so I am very curious.

      Thanks!

  53. What I really want to know is have they improved the face material. I scratched my Apple Watch 7 the first week I wore it and it looks awful. Lots of people have a similar experience. Is this watch crystal any better?

    • SCDC

      I always purchase the Stainless Steel which has Sapphire, when you order the less expensive ones, they have some other material that scratches like crazy.

      My SS Sapphire screens don’t scratch. So this one shouldn’t as well.

    • Dr. Stephen A. Ragusea

      I’m afraid my 7 IS stainless steel and the crystal still got scratched that first week. I don’t understand why Apple doesn’t use the same material used for their phones which has been absolutely scratch proof for many years now.

    • yes the stainless steel versions all have harder crystal and all have LTE.

      all my aluminium Ion-X screen have scratched but my stainless steel watch 7 hasn’t.

      Apple should come with a screen health warning and you really need insurance for the aluminium models

  54. 1500k

    Garmin’s clap back tweet in response to the Apple Watch Ultra confirms how inept their social marketing team is across all of their accounts. This tweet has already sparked an embarrassing backlash in replies and news coverage.
    link to twitter.com

    • JR

      What’s inept about it? Apple fans always flip out when people criticize their products. It was an entirely fair point to make: The Enduro 2 can go for 2+ months under some conditions. And it can go over a month in normal smartwatch mode.

    • 1500k

      It was misguided and backfired– look at the responses and press surrounding it. Not to mention Garmin’s history of firmware updates that cause excessive battery drain and reduced the life to hours… It was a clap back tweet they would have been better off without.

    • C.Sco

      The only article I can find that criticizes Garmin for the tweet was a surely unbiased article posted at MacRumors.

    • Yeah, I don’t see any actual backfiring here. In fact, but every metric you could use, that tweet was overwhelmingly successful.

      First, let’s look at likes, right now it has 1,400 likes – compare that to most of Garmin’s tweets measured in the low dozens (seriously).

      Then there’s retweets, right now at 261 – compared to single digits for most of Garmin’s tweets. Retweets is a far more important metric here, because it’s showing reach (we can’t see the actual reach of the tweet, only Garmin can).

      If we look at quoted retweets, they’re pretty much overwhelmingly positive in Garmin’s direction.

      Finally, looking at replies to the post, it’s a mixed bag – as is the case for virtually any corporate tweet from any company on any topic, even just random mundane Monday tweets. You always get all sorts of “One time at band camp” type responses. Most of the snarky ones are almost copy/paste from tidbits in the Macrumors article, indicating they’re probably not the target customer here.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think Garmin has a substantial problem ahead of them – but it’s not, today, Ultra. It’s their own confusing AF lineup of watches that people are just giving up on and buying an Apple Watch. That’s their issue they really do need to address. They need to significantly thin the heard, and probably kill off some product line brands.

      Lastly, keep in mind that when the Apple Watch came out initially, everyone said Garmin watches would quickly die. Yet each successive year Garmin has sold more and more watches, and made more and more money. Business has never been better for them with the Apple competition. Likely, because it’s exposing other options.

      In fact, I’d argue even further that for the next year (maybe two), Ultra will only do that even more. Every single Apple Watch Ultra article published by any media source has cited not just the Garmin brand, but specific models. Again, increasing exposure. Sure, a few people will jump ship – people that the Fenix likely wasn’t a good fit for anyways.

      Anyways, all this is probably a topic for a different day. But from a business, social, etc… standpoint, they nailed that tweet. The only people upset about it are people who never would have purchased a Garmin product anyway. Anyone else is fair game, and the reaction shows they hit their mark.

    • 1500k

      To name a few is on: news.yahoo.com. wareable.com, macrumors.com, gearrice.com, notebookcheck.net, iphoneincanada.ca, newsncr.com, localtoday.news etc. name a few. And add the thousands of comments ranging from Reddit to Twitter.

      I am a Garmin diehard currently using 955 Solar and 945 LTE but their marketing team and new social media manager needs to find a better way.

    • Chris

      Apple measures sales in $B.

    • 1500k

      Exactly, Chris. Apple could care less about “261 retweets” and Garmin’s AOC-like clap back tweet.

    • 2013: “Nokia racks up the retweets by poking fun at Apple’s iPhone 5C”, See: link to theverge.com

      History sometimes informs us. Sometimes not.

  55. Ron Scubadiver

    There might be too much here. Not everyone wants cellular service and relatively few want a dive computer. I’m not sure that I would trust this item as a dive computer as it comes from a company with no experience in the field. It’s probably super conservative meaning short bottom times below 60′.

    • Alan Wynn

      Guess you have never heard of Oceanic, nor any of the other Huish Outdoors brands like Suunto and Zeagle. Pretty sure they have a fair amount of dive experience.

      You are right. Not everyone wants LTE, but having LTE even without service means that your watch can call emergency services almost anywhere in the world in the event of an accident if you are trapped or incapacitated. I have T-Mobile service on my Apple Watch Series 6, but my BF just has it for emergency use, so no service on it.

      You did get one other thing right, Apple will not be able to target 100% of the extreme sports market with this watch. It just added an additional few percentage points of addressable market.

    • Ronald Teitelbaum

      I have heard of Oceanic and the like. That should have been obvious. My preference is for Aladin/Uwatec, now sold as Scubapro. Your point on phone service capability is valid, but it only works if there is phone service. In mountainous areas there isn’t any just a few miles from town. I suppose the iPhone with Satellite service is the fail-safe answer.

    • Alan Wynn

      My point on Oceanic was not that they are better or worse that Uwatec, just that you said: “ I’m not sure that I would trust this item as a dive computer as it comes from a company with no experience in the field. It’s probably super conservative meaning short bottom times below 60′.”

      and while Apple might be new, Oceanic is not. I dive a few times a year and do not have an air integrated dive computer (I have a steam powered Suunto, built by Elves during the First Age), and while I consider it every once in a while, I have yet to get one. What I like about the Ultra is that it would be a nice upgrade to my dive computer and make it easy to actually maintain a real dive log (I have many log books, just have no idea where they are).

      I would not buy it as a dive computer, but as an casual diver, it works well for me. I hope in the next version they add the radios to do air integration, as well as well as increasing the depth rating to 11KM (so I can dive the Marianas Trench – I can do that with Nitrox, right? 🙂 ).

  56. Tom Kaufman

    Thinking back to Ray’s “specs are wrong” post, I couldn’t help but look at the Ultra’s official specs. Apple lists the Ultra as 11.4mm deep, whereas Garmin lists my 955 — which I find acceptably thin — as 14.4mm, and the epix II as 14.5mm. If accurate, that’s quite a difference. That 20%+ delta could hold a chunk of extra battery, though that would have added significantly to what already is quite the weight penalty (61g Ultra (case) vs. 47g epix Sapphire (case) vs. 53g 955 (unclear if case only)). Fascinating dimensional differences between all of them, can’t wait to try the Ultra in a store. I’m hungry, time to go find an Oreo.

    • Jason

      I’m seeing the depth listed as 14.4mm by Apple, which seems more in line with how it looks in pics.

    • Tom Kaufman

      Interesting, I wonder if there are accidental variations across the different Apple country websites. On the Apple.com.au site it lists the Ultra as: “49 mm by 44 mm by 11.4 mm, 61.3 grams” Seems unlikely that it’s that much thinner than my 955, but if it is I’m certainly going to look at it closely. link to apple.com

  57. marek

    How can you use the sleep tracking features, if you need to charge the watch every day? Do people charge it during the day? How long does it take to charge? What would be the time of the day when is the best to charge?

    • Paul S.

      People that use the sleep tracking feature generally charge the watch at various times during the day. If you’re sitting still for a while, pop it on the charger. In the shower, pop it on the charger. I’m told that about a half hour on the charger is sufficient. (There’s a graph in Settings->Battery that shows charge state as a function of time, but yesterday for me was not normal because I was trying out a new battery AW charger and it got charged during the day, so no conclusions can be drawn.). The series 7 and presumably the 8+ultra have fast charging capabilities. Me, I don’t care about sleep tracking, so mine goes on the charger when I go to bed.

    • David Ceremuga

      I have a AW7 SS with Cellular. With a 1 hour run (no phone) so everything off of the watch including cellular, music, etc. Another hour of misc. activities like stair climbing and indoor bike. Also, no phone, cellular connected, music, etc. I get over 24 hours a charge. Sleep tracking has never been a problem. I charge my watch each morning at my desk.

      The Ultra is icing on the cake for me.

    • Chris

      I’ve used every AW for sleep tracking. I put it on charger in the evening, then put it on and wear it until I put it back on the charger the next evening, usually with 25-35% battery remaining (S5, currently).

    • @Marek, the other comments are correct about a different more periodic charging routine working with apples. Apple’s fast charging means you can get a quite significant battery boost, for example, when showering.

      In response, someone might ask why someone might wear an inaccurate watch overnight that assesses their sleep stages incorrectly. The Quantified Scientist seems to think that Apple Watch is pretty good on this with the new sleep stages and I’d agree.

      link to youtube.com

    • Was about to ask how to sleep track if it barely lasts a day, thanks!

  58. A good side by side image displaying the size and dimensions of the Apple Watch Ultra vs Garmin Fenix 7.
    Looks like Apple is stating the dimensions with the heart rate sensor bump, unlike Garmin.

  59. David Ceremuga

    I’m very happy about the ugly crown protector. I wear my AW on my left arm, crown on bottom left. Often when swimming i bend my wrist enough to move the crown and when I go to view my stat, the water unlock screen displays momentarily, meaning i moved the crown a little. I’m hoping this stops that.

    If you haven’t tried wearing your watch with the crown on the left side, you are missing out. Try it. Make sure to change the orientation to “left wrist”, “Crown on left”.

    • Ben Enfield

      The next version of watchOS changes the swimming unlock process from twisting the crown to pressing the crown, which will somewhat resolve your issue with twisting the crown causing the unlock screen to show.

  60. Sean K.

    Ultimately, it’s running the same WatchOS. That doesn’t really change with this new watch. I still don’t care to use 90+% of the features that come along with it being based on WatchOS. There is an Irish saying, Cuir síoda ar ghabhar agus is gabhar fós é. Put silk on a goat and it’s still a goat. So, nope.

  61. Neil Jones

    Yeah but the big question: how will the actual case size compare to the advertised spec?

    • Big D

      Their article says “– Increased display size to 49mm” and this is completely incorrect. Apple measures watches vertically from the top to the bottom of the entire case. Therefore, the screen size is significantly less than 49mm on the Watch Ultra.

  62. Gh

    I’ll wait for Apple Watch 11 or 12 before I’ll be tempted. Battery just not good enough yet, and whilst it may be the best smart watch out there right now, it just doesn’t compete with my garmin fenix yet for sporting activities.

  63. Olivier

    Komoot is my go to for vector maps with topo, GPX routing etc. Works great with my Garmin watch and with Apple Watch which I borrowed briefly recently.

  64. Big D

    Your article says “– Increased display size to 49mm” and this is completely incorrect. Apple measures watches vertically from the top to the bottom of the entire case. Therefore, the screen size is significantly less than 49mm on the Watch Ultra.

  65. Jeff

    As the owner of a Suunto 9 and Suunto 7, plus a Garmin Instinct and Forerunner 245, I think the ultra is interesting, and just adds to the fitness wareables market. You either like it or you don’t. Apple is a huge beast and will throw bucket loads of cash at this market. It’ll be the new gorilla.

    People have their favourites and will likely stick with them. I like Garmin, Suunto etc etc. I won’t buy ever buy an Apple watch. To me, they’re a toy. My suunto 7 is a brilliant piece of kit. Highly useable and has a fantastic and beautiful screen. My Instinct, in contrast, is a lesson in rugged outdoor useability. It has a “million” features that I use and the battery will last for weeks, not 36hrs. I love it.

    But when I travel overseas, I prefer my mechanical watchs. Never needs charging and gives me such a sense of freedom from “range anxiety” of wearing something that requires charging.

    So it’s all horses for courses as they say. Some will buy the AW, others won’t.

  66. I have an 8 and find WorkOutdoors (super app!) is almost always 10% long, which I blame on the AW chipset. The phones are very strong with acquisition and multipath rejection; the watches, not so much. We will see how the new Ultra chipset fares.

  67. Kuifje777

    Just a thought, but I don’t have the answer as I don’t own an Apple Watch. For those that are worrying about battery life during triathlons, could you set the bike portion to ‘indoor cycling’?

    I do Ironmans but really only use the watch for the total time and my bike computer for everything else. This should massively reduce battery drain during the bike portion (ie when you do not need gps anyway as you have your bike computer).

    Has anyone tried this?

  68. Ben Enfield

    I finally found Apple’s battery life information for workouts.

    Series 8 vs Ultra
    GPS: 6 vs 12 hours
    GPS+Cel 5. vs 10 hours

    So about double the battery life of the series 8, not including the ‘battery saver mode’ that reduces GPS and HR accuracy.

    For my adventure runs or hikes that are longer than 10 hours I’d typically bring along my cell phone specifically for route finding, as I am not too concerned about the extra 6 ounces when I am already carrying thousands of calories. I have friends who ran 100 milers over the weekend, and this obviously won’t work for them, but the battery life will work for me.

    I’ve been running the beta version of the new watch software, and it gives me most of the actionable info I want (split pace, current pace, and heart rate). It still doesn’t have native trail routing, which is a bummer for some of the mountains near Seattle, but the compass app seems to be headed in that direction.

  69. Ray,

    I am a swimmer, and remain very pleased with the Garmin software and analytics on my Fenix 6X Pro Solar, iPhone software, and Garmin Connect. Love the automatic rest feature on the Garmin watch for swim sets. I can view completed workout and trending metrics in many different ways.

    On the new Apple Watch Ultra, the Kickboard is now automatically detected as a new stroke type for Pool Swim workouts. Garmin doesn’t provide this. I usually go into the Garmin software and add a few laps to my completed workout to accommodate my kicks. Apple Watch 9 will now track your SWOLF score for each set.

    I am considering upgrading to the Garmin Epix 2. Now that Apple Watch Ultra is about to be released, I wonder what your thoughts are on the Apple software for swimmers. The Apple Health app is confusing, but I don’t have access to the IOS 9 version. Will Apple software be comparable to Garmin?

    • Realistically, no.

      I think the key thing people that’ll come out of this product launch is Apple setting the stage for future software expansions in the sports realm, but that this release is targetted more at people that wanted longer battery life and better hardiness from their Apple Watches. Less so for people that want deeper sports analytics.

      While WatchOS9 has new features like Running Power, Running Efficiency Metrics, and Triathlon modes, in many ways, those metrics do a fine job of gathering the data, or working during the workout. That’s all good.

      However, the challenge is on the analytics side, where by and large not much has changed. Sure, the Fitness app shows those new metrics, but there’s no training load/recovery type features, nor digging into all the data beyond the top-line metrics. For some, that’s totally fine. For others, less so.

      As I’ve said up above, I don’t think this release is going to significantly impact Garmin (in fact, I think it might actually just draw more attention to their offerings). However, if I was Garmin I’d be *FAR* more concerned about what happens in 2023+, as the org expands upon this pivot on the Ultra watch.

    • Alan Wynn

      Someone on MacRumors posted this list of Garmin users:
      (link to forums.macrumors.com)

      1. weekend/casual athletes and adventurers (including those scuba diving once a year or backpacking once a year)
      2. The people buying into a fantasy. ( I have a friend that was convinced to buy a Garmin when he bought his bike. The bike sits, but the fantasy and watch remain)
      3. The people buying for style/image
      4. Android users
      5. Athletes or adventurers with niche needs

      I agree that this really does not substantially move the needle for group 5 yet, but I think it will be an issue for groups 1 and 2. As you say, Apple’s demonstrated interest in parts of group 5 coupled with increased improvements for groups 1 and 2 should be Garmin’s concern. Options that prevent people from entering the ecosystem are their biggest risk, not so much targeting the small number of real ultra marathoners (vs. the aspiring ones).

    • Alan Wynn

      The biggest problem I have in comparing any of these units is that their top line battery numbers are useless.

      Take the Enduro 2 as an example:

      Garmin’s site says:
      34 days
      110 hours of GPS
      78 All Satellite Systems
      68 All Satellite Systems and Multi-band
      20 All Satellite Systems with Music.

      (It does not seem to list an All Satellite Systems, Multi-band and music.)

      For the Forerunner 945 LTE the numbers are:
      14 days
      GPS Mode with Music up to 12 hours
      GPS Mode with LTE Live Track up to 10 hours
      GPS Mode with Music and LTE Live Track up to 7 hours.

      While that top line number of 14 days is cool, what I want to understand is if I actually use the GPS every day, what it really does to battery life.

      My regular activities are: two hours of GPS walking/jogging every day (at a minimum – each dog gets a minimum of two miles, plus some about of time running with other dogs in the field while I pace around 🙂 ), usually with my phone, one hour of indoor workouts every day (yoga and HIIT) one to two hours of jogging (on the track), usually without my phone and listening to music several times a week.

      With my Apple Watch, I know I have to charge it every day, (usually I put it on the charger when I shower after the two dog walks), and again before I go to bed. Both times are about 15 – 20 minutes.

      What I would like to understand is how often I would have to charge either of these Garmin watches with a similar activity pattern.

      I would also like to know how long does it takes to charge either of these watches from about 10%

      It would be great if you did some testing with some daily activities with a few of these watches, so there is some comparison.

    • okrunner

      Alan,
      MacRumors apparently totally missed just plain folks who want a smart watch that lasts over a day without charging. My wife and both daughters ditched their AW becoming tired of charging every day. I’ve never owned an AW so don’t have an appreciation other than to say that I too get tired of charging every little thing in my life at this point. Any electronic product I buy with an internal battery, I generally buy the one that needs to be charged the least. This is the reason I don’t own Apple headphones. My wife has had a Garmin for two years and I don’t think she has once turned on the GPS. She’s not the only one. Many of her friends have purchased Garmin as well and they never use the sports side of them. They want notifications, look at their heart rate, timer, alarm, etc. and not have to charge every day. 36 hours on the AW Ultra just doesn’t change this for any of these people.

  70. Dave

    I have to say I’m surprised by the number of high end Garmin users online I’m seeing saying things like “finally” and “I’m tempted” etc. Now mind you I am an Apple Watch user, and I’ve already ordered my Ultra… but what EXACTLY does the Ultra give you that the regular Apple Watch doesn’t that makes it suddenly a usable choice for those who before refused to leave Garmin/Coros etc. for Apple Watch?

    1. It has 36 hour normal battery life. Ok, that essentially means you will still need to charge it once a day, although the risk of running out during a busy day is less. This is extendable to 60 hours if you are willing to not have always on display and other niceties of owning an Apple Watch. Neither of these times includes any significant time tracking a workout with GPS and 1 second HR recording which depletes it faster.
    2. It has “more than enough GPS / normal battery life for a marathon” …. I take that as it has 6-8 hours GPS recording plus everything else (always on display / cellular) turned on. ok this is good if you are a non-ultra runner, many in this category I suppose.
    3. It has “enough battery life for *most* athletes to finish a Ironman in *low power workout mode*.” whatever that is. I assume that means GPS/HR on, but always on screen and cellular/wireless off? “Most” athletes probably means 12 hours of this low power mode?
    4. The native workout app now has a ton of good running features it didn’t before including running dynamics and running power.
    5. there is a 3rd party scuba app you can download for a subscription fee, a better microphone, a siren, and double the waterproofing.
    6. A new breadcrumb mode during hiking but no topo maps. HOWEVER THIS IS COMING FREE to all Apple Watches Series 5 and up, including the new 8.

    Ok, that’s all good but what isn’t there?

    1. Battery life. It’s not even close to dedicated sports devices. I think even the most basic Garmin running watches for a couple hundred dollars have 18 hour GPS recording which on the surface is more than the Ultra. When you get into Fenix / Epix / Enduro you start talking about 24 hours to days off GPS tracking. If you just use it as a watch those high end watches last from a week to a MONTH, as opposed to 36-60 hours. I think the Apple Watch Ultra is fine for the marathoner now (hardly “ultra”) but beyond that I think even getting into supports like half Ironman or any kind of running Ultra, or even long day hikes bring major battery concerns where you *might* eek out your needs but have to turn stuff off and “think” about it too much, sorta like Apple Watch today is for marathoning.

    2. Triathlon and Cycling. Yes they added a triathlon mode to the watch but as we said battery life is an issue. Further the watch really drops the ball on recording necessary info from cycling… no BLE connection to cadence sensors, no power meters, and certainly nothing that works with shifters, radars etc. You basically get GPS tracking and HR tracking on a bike, which is woeful. Nothing for spin bikes, trainers etc.

    3. Hiking. There are no topo maps natively. The breadcrumb mode as I mentioned isn’t exclusive to the Ultra but is coming to the Series 5 and on. You can get 3rd party apps for this like WorkOutdoors that are great but they come with tradeoffs and aren’t as good to look at or easy to use as native stuff on the watch.

    I think the Ultra is a nice start in the right direction. It’s an acknowledgement that dedicated athletes, amateur or pro, have needs beyond the normal Apple Watch. This likely will be a nice marathoning watch, a first for Apple. But calling this a true adventurers watch is beyond a stretch. I think Apple needs to get at least twice the battery of the life of the Ultra to enter the conversation for that (at least 24 hour GPS with everything on, at least 4-6 days of normal use) and they need to dramatically step up their indoor and outdoor cycling game (perhaps they can and will do this will future software the way they have suddenly with running this year, but it won’t be until fall of 2023 at the earliest because of the annual nature of these major updates.)

    Why am I getting the ultra? Mainly for the style and so when I run my shorter duration events like half marathons etc. I still have enough battery hopefully to make it to the end of the day.

    • Dave

      I do see a future where Apple iterates like they are great at, and delivers a watch with 2x-3x more battery life in the next year or two and combined with even more updates to their workout app and hopefully adding something along the likes of “body battery” or recovery scores to the Apple Health app and they will really hurt Garmin.

      Garmin needs to work both on price, less options (they have WAY to many watches on the high end, things like the Garmin 7X vs. Enduro 2 are silly, they should be one product) and MUCH better on watch UI.

    • Mr. T

      The ultra has cellular. No Garmin watch has true cellular

    • Kuifje777

      If Apple wants to claims enough battery life for most Ironman athletes, I would expect 17 hours of battery life, which is the cut off for Ironman full distance events.

      I do not think that the majority of athletes will be able finish in 12 hours. You also need a bit buffer for the morning, I guess.

    • biobiker

      I don’t know where you’re pulling those GPS recording stats for the Fenix. I have the Fenix 6s and I get maybe around 12hrs before it get low battery warnings (yeah I know it has the smallest battery of the fenix line, but still). That is when a software bug is not excessively draining the battery for whatever reason where I see low battery after 6 hours. I think the interesting part for me will be what low power mode means. If AW can do at least 12hrs that works for almost all my activities.

      The rest seem software limitations that I’m hoping will be addressed by 3rd parties initially and Apple eventually. While I really like offline maps on the garmin, the usability is terrible. Moving around a map, zooming is something an AW could potentially do much better.

    • Benfield

      Per apple the ultra has a battery life of 18 hours indoors, 12 hours GPS, 10 hours GPS+LTE.

      If you bring your phone with you and it offloads GPS, I’d expect ~18 hours for an outdoor workout based on my experience with the AW4 and AW6.

      link to apple.com

    • 1500k

      In response to, “…what EXACTLY does the Ultra give you that the regular Apple Watch doesn’t that makes it suddenly a usable choice…?”

      Even though the Apple Watch Ultra has has additional physical button’s, WatchOS 9 was not adapted to be fully navigated using those buttons– it still requires touch. Apple largely rebodied the Apple Watch Series 6/7/8 and did not fully solve the usability issues (i.e. activities in light rain, wearing gloves, etc.).

  71. Ken

    As someone who uses a Garmin Fenix 6 on my left arm and an Apple S7 Cellular on my right arm, I’m pretty familiar with both eco-systems. One of the glaring weaknesses of the Apple system is the run workouts are not always easily accessible and the ability to program a specific workout is completely absent. Easy things to address. The other issues is the information for a run is so much better presented and customizable on the Fenix versus the Apple.

  72. Soojong

    GPS test both with iphone 14 and older model is needed.

    What if I use iPhone13 or older with Ultra?
    The 13 doesn’t have dual band GPS.
    Therefore when the Ultra is used with older iphones, it may not get merits from dual bands. In that case, the GPS performance of Ultra will not be as good as Garmin watches with dual bands.

  73. SoCorsu

    It is disappointing for this price, the autonomy is incomparable with Garmin, Coros and others.
    We are talking about several days versus a few dozen hours … the energy crisis is current. While in 2019 this had already been a criterion for me, impossible to tell me that I had to charge my watch every day or every 2 days, and still it is thanks to an energy saving mode ……

    Still related to this autonomy, how long does the battery last with the “always on” on-screen mapping with route tracking? It is a very useful mode on our tocantes when we discover new places, when we guide groups in Trail or in round trip.

    The hyper connected side, which is much better than our tocantes, the multiplicity of sensors should not make us accept this kind of compromise on the autonomy, especially at this price.

  74. Martin

    There is a lot of talk about battery life, but personally, after testing it for a month-long training process culminating in a triathlon race, I think the main problem is the software and the minor limitations that make it unusable. I’d prefer to use only one device, in an ideal world it would be the Apple Watch, but I’m afraid they’re not there yet. So the main problem in my opinion is neither battery life, nor a third physical button (although it would be great to have one), nor more durable materials, but the software, which is the same for all Apple Watches. Whether Ultra, 8, or SE.

    Running training has been sufficient with the Apple Watch. I had no problem setting up interval training with WatchOS9, they offered plenty of data, the optical heart rate monitor is perfect, and the extra data like vertical oscillation and ground contact time, without the need for another sensor, was great. It was no problem to set up alerts for pace, hr zones, etc. The only shame is that I couldn’t create workouts on my phone, only on my watch – but again, it’s not that complicated.

    As for swimming, auto lapping is much more accurate than on the Fenix 5x in my experience, but here I missed the ability to create any workout. On the Garmin the watch guided me through the workout, here I had to make do with a piece of paper stuck to the bottle. The watch shows relatively little data when swimming and one has to manually calculate the pauses. Another problem is that AW uploads the workout to Strava so that the average pace is calculated from the total workout time and doesn’t take into account the pauses. But these are all problems that maybe some third-party app can solve.

    With the bike there is also the option to create a simple interval workout which worked for me, here I didn’t address the workout in much depth because a serious athlete with the best watch in the world solves a separate bike computer for the bike anyway. But I was pleased and surprised to see that I can use the AW as a heart rate monitor on the Zwift.

    My biggest problems were caused by the race itself. I’ll start by saying that I’m confident that the AW (even my SE) are capable of easily lasting Ironman 70.3 for most participants. I think their battery life is largely underestimated and it’s out of place to compare them to Garmins, which I find unusable for real life. But the problem is that AW seems to start looking for a GPS signal after the workout starts, which caused relatively inaccurate data during the swim portion. Additionally, I have a feeling that the GPS sensor also turns off when I pause the workout. Later that day, I had a 1K running race, and with the distance so short, it was unusable without the pre-GPS lock.

    Also completely unnecessary is the three-second countdown at the start of the activity, which I solved by turning on the activity, immediately stopping it, and unpausing the workout at the start of the race by physically pressing the buttons on the side.

    The idea of automatic transitions is very appealing, and I had no interest in tackling the AW transitions manually (which seemed pretty damn complicated). The transition from swim to bike was almost completely accurate, the transition from bike to run was miserable – according to AW it took 7 seconds, and the accelerometer didn’t take into account the fact that I stopped for some 15-20 seconds and started to put on shoes. Too bad.

    The biggest disappointment for me was the data reading. The triathlon was uploaded to Trainingpeaks as a single cardio activity where I had absolutely no details, with a listed length of 0.25 miles and what I thought was an inaccurate TSS. It would have been very helpful if I could manually refine the time of post-race transitions- my running pace per kilometer during the race was something I couldn’t get to within the interface, as it included dressing down at the transition and the analysis options were extremely limited. The workout was also uploaded to Strava as one cardio activity, not as 3/5 separate activities, without any detail, although in the native Apple app the sports were split up relatively nicely.

    So I’d like to just stick with the Apple Watch (whether Ultra, 8 or SE) and not address the other Garmin watches, but I think there are a few (very easily solvable) points for which that still won’t be possible without any of these variants.

  75. m2

    Dear Garmin, read this blog post (and all the comments) VERY carefully! Pay special attention to things like LTE, recreational scuba diving, at least 1 “sexy” watchface. These are not “fringe” features to be reserved for niche Garmin products, these are now mainstream capabilities of a modern adventure watch.

  76. said

    I am getting one.

    I contemplated about getting a garmin watch but my garmin explore 2 has so many flaws and bugs and required 2 firmware upgrades out of the box to get it somewhat reliable, i am not really keen to spend 600+ USD another of their products atm.

    The explore 2 still feels outdated and old while it being brand new.

    Slow map navigation
    Tons of small rerouting/navigation issues (i post them daily on their forum)
    Touch screen in combi with cpu feels a bit sluggish and oldschool/ same for the resolution/screentype.
    Battery nowhere near as good as advertised.

    Overall it feels like a half assed product because there is not much competition in said segment.

    The AW4 i used the past 4 years served me well, it is a very basic watch/ not quite as smart as it said to be but it does things i like although very stripped down.

    It is my daily carry that just gives me a bit more indepth about my health/cardio it is not a garmin metric monster. I dont need a MMO on my wrist, spewing numbers at me.

  77. Hey folks!

    Just a quick note that I’ve dropped another Apple Watch video, diving specifically into the new fitness/sports features. And even more specifically, all the details that you didn’t know (seriously, I promise you didn’t know any of these details): link to youtube.com

    With that, there’s a notable change to some of the conversation above, which is that the Apple Watch Series 8, SE 2nd Gen, and Ultra no longer leverage your phone’s GPS in any capacity during workouts. Again, full details on that change and 8 other changes in the video linked above.

    • Andrew

      “Apple Watch Series 8, SE 2nd Gen, and Ultra no longer leverage your phone’s GPS in any capacity during workouts”

      Excellent news!

      Although a dilemma as I had planned to go cellular but may now rethink if I can actually have the watch and phone linked without screwing up gps.

    • Alan Wynn

      I will say that the benefit of have LTE even if you do not have service is that in the event of an accident (bike or car crash detection and fall detection), your watch will call emergency services. That makes the $129 worth it to many people as an emergency fall back.

  78. Harmen

    I enthusiastically tried to store important waypoints in Apple Maps. It’s a mess. First there is no option to import a gps file, so I can’t simply copy my long list from Garmin Explore to Apple Maps. Then I spent an hour copying latitudes and longitudes into the Apple Maps search box, and storing the location in a ‘Guide’ together with the name, repeatedly. It would frequently refuse to add a location to an existing guide, so I had to keep adding new guides. When I eventually moved all locations across into the same guide, a large number of them simply disappeared. It seems a guide will not remember any further locations once it has already stored one on what it considers a street? All my locations are in the middle of nowhere, so this completely falls apart. Trying to store them as favourites also didn’t work, as the location secretly changes or copies a nearby one that it deems sufficiently near.
    How does one store locations on an Apple Watch and navigate based on them?

  79. Brian

    Curious if there will be a solution for offline maps and also how the watch does being exposed to rain and if constant rain drops will cause the screen to “wake/brighten” and burn battery life.

  80. Love the look and new features of the AW Ultra, especially the dive computer capabilities but without ANT+ connection it’s still not quite there for me as I need ANT+ capabilities to connect to my existing power meters, head units and turbo trainers – I guess bluetooth will work for some of these but bluetooth has never been as reliable as ANT+ for me, especially when it comes to controlling turbo trainers.

    I doubt that Apple will ever add ANT+ though so I’ll stick with Garmin for now.

    Hopefully the AW Ultra will prompt Garmin to improve some of the smart capabilities in their watches. if not and Apple catch-up / overtake Garmin with the sports capabilities of the AW then that will be the time to change.

    I currently use my Garmin Fenix 6 daily for swimming, cycling (road, MTB, CX and gravel), running, triathlon, quadrathlon, hiking, windsurfing, kite-surfing, surfing, surf ski, kayking, SUP, weights, circuits, yoga and of course all of the health features such as step tracking, HRV, sleep metrics etc. Main thing I miss from the AW is the ECG capabilities.

    Al.

    • SCDC

      Alan,

      Good points. I sold my Garmin Epix 2 and purchased an Ultra because I missed the accuracy, LTE connectivity, Apples unbelievably strong Bluetooth. I mean I have never had a disconnect. My Epix was a Bluetooth disaster, and the bugs that never get addressed with Garmin’s outsourced programming is terrible.

      I simply do NOT want to carry a phone with me, and I’m older. If I get injured on a run, my phone is on my wrist. Also, with 2 daughters and wife, they can reach me and I can respond. That’s much more important to me than connecting to an ANT+ device.

      The data i get from my workouts with my AW has been pretty much spot on. WORKOUTDOORS App does everything plus more than my Epix 2 could ever attempt to do.

      So we sacrifice 2 things. ANT+ and longer battery. Look at what the AW gives in return.

  81. ven_190

    I have both an Apple Watch 7 and a Fenix 6s.

    Love the look of the Fenix and the how it functions for workouts, but the lack of LTE connectivity basically has it sitting in the drawer most of the time.

    I think Garmin is going to be in trouble if it doesn’t figure out how to provide LTE connectivity for its watches.

    They needed to do more than the half hearted attempts the made previously like the Vivoactive LTE and the Forerunner 945 LTE. They need to have the same type of LTE connectivity that Apple, Samsung, and other Wear OS watches provide.

    I am still on the fence about the AW Ultra, mainly due to its size, but Apple and some 3rd party developers have come a long way with their workout applications. Workoutdoors is amazingly functional and provides a level of data even beyond what you get with Garmin. With the latest release, you have full sensor support (bluetooth only) and it works great with Stryd.

    Will probably not consider another Garmin watch until they provide full LTE connectivity, and that includes allowing Connect IQ apps to leverage that connection. The AW is just far more functional, and the battery life isn’t an issue for me as with fast charging it is usually charged in about 30 minutes each day.

  82. JB

    I’ve got to say I am glad to see this. After the absolute garbage long term performance of by Fenix5 plus – a 4 year old thousand dollar paperweight I am looking for an alternative. I don’t love the price of these watches and dont have confidence any of them will be more than a 4-5 year replacement. Really all I am looking for is an accurate gps (for pace and or speed), an accurate hear rate sensor – my small boney wrists apparently dont let that the watch sit flat enough (according to garmin), good running matrics, and now good HRM tracking. I was hoping wahoo’s watch would be suitable as I use their bike computers and love them.
    Everything else is a nice to have but I am getting tired of paying for marginal features (cool stuff that I never use).

  83. Mike Janders

    Does anyone know if the metal end link on the ocean band can be moved to a different position on the band? Thanks!

  84. BH

    The screen is listed as always on. Can you turn it off to further extend battery life?

  85. Well I have been holding on a Garmin Epix2 because I feel it was not going to mix my Apple calendar, email and outdoor hiking/adventures that I need to help manage my life living with a Brain Injury and my social online Strava and navigation in one.
    Now this looks to cover the important information and map my rest/nap’s and fitness for my support team to help manage my weekly fatigue etc.
    My only question is would the sleep tracking cover my daytime naps and night time sleeping or just my night time sleeping?

  86. Zacharias

    Price in Europe is 25-30% higher. Amazon preorder is 999€ and in Greece it’s 1039€. That applies to all apple products

  87. Juan Becerra

    I’ve had the OG Apple Watch and I loved it, but “HAD” to switch to Garmin due to battery being too small for Ironman triathletes. I’ve always missed the voice/sound features on the Apple watch.
    8 years later, I am wearing my Fenix 7 Pro, but I wonder if this is finally the watch that can make me switch back to Apple?
    Can the data be integrated with Training Peaks?

    • Alan Wynn

      I do not use Training Peaks, but from HealthFit’s App Store pages:

      “If you love working out with Apple Watch, but you need more advanced fitness stats, HealthFit is for you.

      By analyzing the workout data stored in Apple Health, HealthFit provides the kind of indispensable tracking and insights you normally only get from premium subscription services. But if you still prefer to use apps like Strava or Training Peaks, HealthFit has you covered with reliable automated background syncing.”

      It is a one time purchase for $4.99.

    • Juan

      Thanks a lot for the info!

  88. David

    Until Apple incorporates ANT+ or BLE so I can include power meter data and maybe cadence it will always be “just not good enough”.

    • Christopher P

      Agreed. Seems like such an oversight if they’re serious about this watch.

    • There are some Apple Watch apps that do pair with BLE power meters. For example, iSmoothRun does (I know, weird name for a cycling app, but hey, it works). There’s another I’m blanking on at the moment, though I think that required/requires a subscription to their platform.

      Realistically, all power meters made in the last 4-5 years have had BLE support (save Infocrank, but hey…it’s coming soonish).

      I don’t think this gap is falling on deaf ears at Apple though…

    • Stephen Thomas

      Support for cycling has always been several years behind running. Wasn’t it only watchOS 7 that added support for auto-pause while cycling?

      I don’t think that’s a bad prioritization, though. Wouldn’t most folks that have a cycling power meter also have a cycling computer? (Just a road cyclist and triathlete here, so maybe mountain bikers would be different.) That said, it would be nice to have both watch and computer collect all the data. I could also imagine that haptic feedback from the watch might be helpful with a BLE radar.

    • Stephen Thomas

      Cadence

    • Stephen Thomas

      Should have included link:

      link to apps.apple.com

    • Alan Wynn

      The Apple Watch has had Bluetooth Low Energy since the first version. I doubt that they will every support ANT+ (one never knows), because they do not like supporting two things that they consider do the same thing.

    • Paul S

      But they don’t do the same thing. For one thing, ANT+ sensors can connect to any.number of receivers, while Bluetooth is one to one (newer sensors get around this by having more than one Bluetooth channel). And it’s always seemed to me that ANT+ profiles are always much more robust than the Bluetooth equivalents. ANT+ seems to make you follow the standard, while Bluetooth seems much looser and more of a “I’ll do it my way”. ANT+ is a must for a serious fitness watch, which is why I don’t consider my Ultra arriving in October a serious fitness watch. But it is a kick-ass smart watch that might last me more than 2 years with the more robust battery.

    • Stephen Thomas

      > “ANT+ is a must for a serious fitness watch”

      Which is why Polar, Suunto, and (now) Coros no longer support ANT+. They don’t want to be considered serious fitness watches.

      The lack of one-to-many connectivity for BTLE is valid, but it’s apparently not an issue for the market. At least not since the most common sensors (HRMs) now support two or three simultaneous BTLE streams.

      In practical terms, I’m not going to be running or swimming with more than one watch, so multi-point connections only come into play with cycling. And in that case, the two devices are a watch and a cycling computer. Since all cycling computers (save Polar) support ANT+, there’s no problem.

    • Alan Wynn

      @Paul S: They do serve the same purpose. Both can be used to connect sensors to hosts. As you even point out, ANT+’s biggest benefit (multipoint connection), can be (and is routinely) achieved easily with Bluetooth Smart. I am not sure how you are comparing Bluetooth Smart vs. ANT+ device performance (are you using a Garmin with it obvious bias to its proprietary ANT+ protocol, or some other device)? Many people have commented on how poor Garmin’s Bluetooth implementation is, so if that is how you are testing, it would not surprise me that you had a bad experience.

      More and more sensors support both Bluetooth Smart and ANT+, while Sport and Fitness watch manufacturers have begun to drop ANT+ and almost no phones include it. You have every right to define Sport Watch or Fitness Watch as you wish, and include whatever specs you require, but I am not sure the market is moving in your direction.

  89. SmallAndStrong

    Super annoying this watch is clearly not made for a woman’s wrist. There are plenty of small women who are also athletic! Shame on Apple!

    • Alan Wynn

      As I commented before, when you say “woman’s wrist”, you mean small wrist, right? Just so we understand, what are you willing to give up to have it be smaller? Brighter display? Longer battery life? Water resistance?

      To make a smaller version of the watch, there have to be trade offs.

    • Stephen Thomas

      Guys like me with a slender wrist also prefer smaller watches, but our preferences can’t repeal the laws of physics. I don’t think Apple wants to exclude any potential customers unless it’s unavoidable.

      If the Ultra remains popular, I would expect a smaller version at some point. If I recall correctly, it took Garmin 5 years (2012 to 2017) before they introduced a smaller version of the Fenix. Advances in battery and display technology will be a factor, but I bet Apple has a smaller version of the Ultra in less than 5 years.

      In the meantime, there is of course the 41mm Series 8. For most amateur athletes, and subject to its size constraints, about all it’s missing compared to the Ultra is the action button.

      I’m keeping my 41mm Series 7 for daily wear since even the 45mm watch looks gigantic on my wrist. But I’ve also pre-ordered an Ultra that I’ll use for workouts. At first it seemed silly to have 2 watches, but then (a) there are a lot of folks that wear an Apple watch most of the time but use a Garmin/Polar/Coros/Suunto/Wahoo for training and this really isn’t any different, and (b) having two makes keeping each fully charged simple.

    • SmallAndStrong

      Really? Are there trade offs for for male athletes built for running with a slight frame? If I’m a 5’4 woman who is athletic, I’d expect the same performance in a “unisex” watch regardless of my sport. I wanted the 45 and when trying on in an apple store was told by the sales staff the watch was ridiculously too large for my wrist. But I bet I can beat his time him (and yours) in a mile run and/or use it with my credentials as a rescue diver.

    • A couple of general technical considerations:

      A) Battery size. A fair chunk of the increased size of the Apple Watch Ultra is due to increased battery size, allowing for longer durations. There’s really no getting around this simple fact. Same goes for larger buttons that are glove-friendly, with button guards. Take Garmin for example, they do offer the ‘S’ (small) variants of their Fenix series, but, those come at a downside of lesser battery life than the regular or larger ‘X’ variants. My guess is in time Apple will do the same.

      B) Watch-to-wrist size absolutely impacts sensor accuracy. Specifically, optical HR sensor accuracy. If a watch is too big for a wrist such that it flops around when running, the optical HR sensor will have poor performance (because it lets in too much light, and because it bounces around). Similarly, the same is true for other sensor bits like skin temperature or ECG performance – these require relatively good fit for consistent results.

      I don’t think it’s really about beating anyone’s time. My smaller 5’2″ wife can probably beat most people running, however, that simply won’t change the reality that when I give her a watch to test that’s too big, it has poor optical HR performance. It’s ultimately why she uses the smaller ‘S’ series watches.

      Given we didn’t see Apple make any real display changes in the Series 8/Ultra this year, it means that they didn’t change to perhaps better battery-performing technologies. I could see in future versions having different displays/processors might save enough battery life to make a smaller variant more viable.