Apple Watch Ultra Released

DCR Hands on

Of note: They say the battery will outlast an Ironman Triathlon.


I’m generally a fan of Apple’s industrial design but man… that thing is hideous.

Looks aside, I haven’t seen any mention of whether or not this watch (or watchOS 9) will support pairing power meters. Am I way off base in thinking that should be table stakes for a sports watch, especially one where they’re adding triathlon-specific features?


The case design looks to be purposeful. All the choices seem to be made with usability in mind, and very often things that are more usable are not as pretty. Think Oxo.

Plus, I really like the three bands shown.

Yeah, it is a mystery to me why Apple hasn’t implemented support for power meters a long time ago.


I get it integrates nicely into the Apple ecosystem, and for the occasional event or workout it’s OK. But given it’s battery life I can’t see picking it over something like the Garmin Fenix which has much better battery life and every feature for mutlisport athletes.


Looks neat. That being said, even with all these improvements I’ve got zero interest in replacing my Garmin Forerunner 935 with this. It can’t do as much as the Apple Watch, but it’s a better tool for the specific job(s) I need it for

And I should note that our house is loaded with Apple products (2 phones, 2 Apple TV’s, a Mac mini, a MacBook, an iPad and my wife has an Apple Watch) before anyone caller me an Apple hater :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Out of curiosity, how much more battery life do you need? If it can record the entire event for an Iron Man athlete or an ultra runner, then I’m not sure how much more is meaningfully relevant.

Yes, you might cook up scenarios, but on any excursion that lasts longer than a day or so, I’d take my battery bank and my phone with me. Heck, even on long rides (>8 hours) I’ll take my small battery bank with me to be able to recharge my lights, my phone and/or my Wahoo if necessary.

IMHO the limitations are more the lack of integration with power meters and other simple functionality like the ability to connect the Apple Watch as a heart rate sensor.

I would say you’re turning this on its head. You need to bring a battery bank because you have poor battery life on your devices. That is one of the main reasons a chose a Fenix and not an apple watch (iphone and macbook user normally) because I don’t want to have to recharge it all the time, and bring a powebank on longer trips. For my usage, my fenix lasts about 2 weeks on a charge.


How do you charge your phone or other devices then? Or do you leave your phone at home? (Personally, I would definitely take my phone with me, e. g. no matter how big my watch’s or bike computer’s screen is, doing mapping on a phone is 100x better.)

For the record, I don’t own any smartwatch, including an Apple Watch. (Like you, I’m an all Apple household.) Not having to charge devices every day would be nice, yes, but I don’t think it is a deal breaker.

Having just bought a Garmin Epix, after having been an Apple user forever, I thought I would really miss out here.
I gotta say that the watch looks pretty questionable at best, doesn’t have the cycling features (climb pro, freshness, body battery etc), and worst of all, has a 36h battery life.
It’s just so nice about the Epix that I can charge that 5 times in 4 weeks, not 5 times in one week.


My trips are usually hiking trips (going this weekend, yay!) at most a couple of nights. I use my phone very little on these trips (to rest my head and detach from antisocial media etc) and it easily lasts a couple of days then. Headlamps and such run on AAA batteries, and I bring spares. If maps are needed, I bring the paper kind.


Re: Deal breaker. But I would suggest it is for most of us that record 24/7 metrics. Every time you have to charge it you lose data… its down time.

Also a pain if you’ve go to make sure its a 100% charged before your event so it makes it to the end.

It is a very valid point made by @NotRailingTurns in my opinion.

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Again we see that people have different acceptance levels requirements from their devices, we saw that in the Hammerhead / 1030 debate, I’ve changes from a Fenix to a Apple Watch 7, because it fits my use case, ok, having to charge every day is a pain (but the number of times I found that my Fenix has been on my wrist for 5 days and did have enough charge for a short run), but everybody is different and their use cases can vary … and that’s ok

The most interesting thing I find from this is the statement of intent by Apple, this is the first time in a long time that function has so clearly won out over style, and they have targeted a specific market segment, and it will be interesting to see where they are going to go with this,


But then one way or another, you have spare batteries, don’t you? (Whether they are triple As or a battery bank of similar size doesn’t really matter, does it?)

Ok, true. But if I have to charge it for about 30-60 minutes per day, is that really that big of a deal? (My wife is on her second Apple Watch, she had an Apple Watch 3, which she exchanged for an Apple Watch SE when the battery got old. She goes to the gym three times a week, and usually takes it off at night to charge. If she doesn’t, she’ll get eczema where the watch rests.)

Well, before a long event, I’d also make sure that my Wahoo, my SRAM AXS battery and my lights are charged. It really doesn’t seem like such a big bother. Plus, it depends on the length of the event. If it is, say, a 10-hour event, that seems to fit comfortably within the Apple Watch Ultra’s battery life.

I completely understand that there is a subset of people who are on events longer than that, and the Apple Watch Ultra doesn’t serve them. To me the question is: how big is that subset really? Is it just battery range anxiety or a real issue?

I totally agree that it is a step change if you go from charging once a day (effectively) to once a week. I reckon it changes how you use the watch, but it also changes the capabilities. Apple seems to put all the battery life gains into extending smartwatch capabilities — which are great, if you use them.

I haven’t owned any smartwatch yet, so I don’t know what the Epix can and cannot do. How much battery life would you want to have in a smartwatch? Is 1 week enough or do you want more? To get to a week, do you need to disable anything? (Most of the smartwatches with long battery life have many modes, e. g. several GPS modes where in some they only use GPS proper, in others GPS + GLNSS (+ Galileo and whatever Japan’s GPS satellite network was called again)?

Yes, I find that quite interesting, too. Even though some in this thread don’t like the case design, I really love the design of the bands and the case keeps on growing on me … It really looks purpose-built and sturdy. And while certainly bigger, it really evokes the feel of some diving watches.

What is interesting is that Apple seems to have invested a lot in certain applications (triathlon, ultra distance events, scuba diving). I’m really at a loss why Apple hasn’t implemented support for power meters or heart rate sharing, though. These are software feature, so I reckon they could be implemented at any point in time and also for other Apple Watches.

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It’s not about recording one event, it’s the fact that it needs to be charged nearly every day. My Fenix 5X goes 2-3 weeks between charges. Even if Apple could do 7 days it would be something, but 36 hours is laughable.


It matters to me, even though it doesn’t matter a lot. A battery bank able to charge my phone, watch and lights would be much bigger and heavier than 3 AAA batteries. And they can take more abuse than a battery bank with electronics.

I can definitely see that others have a different approach, after all people I know use their phone on their handlebars (with a battery bank) when riding offroad. That’s not me :wink:

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I think the name ultra is wrong, would be better to use Pro, what will you do on real ultra event like Marathon de Saibles, RAAm or so?
Garmin have definitely more choices for real Ultra Events


Clearly I’m in the minority, but I like the look. I’d pair it with an olive band for a nice traditional military style.

Having said that, I used an Apple Watch for a few years, and while I loved it, I switched to a Fenix for the battery and I won’t go back until you can get at least 5 days of charge. When you wear an Apple Watch, you get used to it, but I was CONSTANTLY thinking about the need to charge it. There were often times when I was worried about using features for fear of battery drainage. With the Fenix, I just charge it while I have coffee once or twice a week at most, and that’s a huge difference for me.


I like the looks. I don’t understand the battery issues, do you wear your watch in the shower? I take my Apple Watch off before I shower, then come back a bit later and it’s charged :person_shrugging:t4:. It’s never even occurred to me this is an inconvenience, I’ve never ran out of battery. 36 hours seems plenty. My wife doesn’t like to sleep with a watch so just let’s it charge overnight.

Edit: I just realized it only comes in titanium color. I’ll wait for v2 next year when hopefully I can buy it in black-ish color.


Yes, I always wear my watch in the shower after workouts to clean it. My Apple Watch never lasted even 24 hours without a charge. That was 2 years ago though, so I’m sure they’ve improved a bit. Having said that, 1.5 days of charge is nowhere near enough for me to feel untethered from a power source and able to do whatever I want whenever I want.

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A limiting factor for battery life (how long the battery lasts in your device before it needs replacing, not hours per charge) is the total number of charge cycles (charge/discharge). A watch requiring on average one charge cycle per day (classic apple watch, not this new model) will have 730 charge cycles in two years (google-fu says 1000 charge cycles is when a macbook battery starts to deteriorate significantly, YMMV) while a garmin fenix, for instance, battery lasting 14 days between cycles will have 52 charge cycles in two years. That is significant (to me, at least)