OPINION: This week Apple treated tech fans to its yearly September deluge of announcements.
During the Far Out event, Apple announced countless devices, including the heavily leaked iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch SE 2. While there were plenty of upgrades here that I welcomed, notably on the Pro iPhone models, there wasn’t a whole lot to really get me truly excited.
But thankfully there was a shiny ray of hope that broke the monotony – the Apple Watch Ultra.
This is a high-end wearable, vastly different from the standard Apple Watch and it will target the hardcore athlete market currently controlled by Garmin, Polar and their ilk.
Despite being described by Apple as “its most advanced Apple Watch” to date, a phrase it usually uses before revealing you’ll have to re-mortgage your house to buy whatever new kit it’s schilling, the device will retail for $799/£849.
To be clear, I am well aware that’s not cheap. It’s actually over twice the price of the Apple Watch SE 2, which starts starts at $249 for the GPS model and $299 for the cellular model.
But for what you get this could actually be very good value.
Let’s run through the perks – advanced GPS and mapping connectivity similar to the best-in-class experience you get on the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar, including SOS and backtrack support. The latter is a particularly nice feature that makes the watch leave markers on routes you’re travelling that you can then use to find your way back if and when you get lost.
The Watch Ultra also packs a dive ready, titanium chassis which is capable of surviving sub-zero conditions and temperatures up to 139 degrees. Adding to this are upgraded activity tracking features, which from what Apple showed include key things including more detailed heart rate zone analysis. This is a key differentiator and the reason we tend to recommend Garmins over Apple Watches for serious athletes.
When you consider all this and the fact that on top of this you get the advanced app library of WatchOS 9 and full-fat smartwatch functionality, two things missing on most of the best fitness trackers on the market, this makes the Ultra very competitive. To put it in context the best fitness tracker we currently recommend, the Fenix 7, retails for £699.
In fact, the price and feature set look so good, that I can’t help but think there must be a catch.