In some ways the arrival of the Apple Watch Ultra, the newcomer to the Apple Watch family, is very reminiscent of the debut of the first generation, the Series 0: when Apple unveiled the deviceit was already clear that the smartphone and iPhone boom had led to an important evolution in the needs of millions of users, that is the demand for a device that was even more personal, even more connected and connected to the user, that would do from an even closer link between everyday life and the digital world. This did the Apple Watch and it does today, much better than it did in those days, after 8 generations.
The Watch Ultra, however, is something completely new. Larger 49mm case, cellular connectivity, a clear vocation for adventure and physicality. And speaking of body, the Watch Ultra changes quite radically, beyond the size: the dial acquires a new, flatter form factor, thus protecting the corners of the screen. The display is specific, reaches 2000 nights and it is legible even in full sunlight, but above all, given its size, it is easier to optically place the information of the dials, as happens in the native Wayfinder dial. The written text, like that of the messages, is therefore more readable, but the Ultra is also easier to use in writing and in the use of applications with the most command-dense interfaces. The Ultra weighs just over 60 grams and the difference with other Apple Watches in this sense is negligible. Greatness too on the wrist does not represent a footprint (it’s not a frying pan, in short) and the new display design makes it look almost like a small iPhone. The shapes are harmonious: the Watch Ultra is a beautiful object, as per the tradition of the Apple. But other important new features are in the overall user experience.
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What makes the difference is the use: Apple Watch Ultra has the S8 chip inside, the same as the Watch Series 8, but a significantly larger and more capable battery. The Watch Ultra, too used intensively with telephone calls, use of GPS (multi-band in this case) in moving and walking / training and as a detector of sleep quality, can reach 3 full days of use. If you use it at a minimum, that is, in the basic functionalities (notifications, light apps and so on) it could exceed the working week: we will verify this by going on with our test in the coming weeks.
But already from the first hours of use, looking the battery indicator which remains stably in the high areas, the feeling of having something on the wrist to recharge in the evening almost disappears as happens with the smartphone, and this is the first, absolute leap in quality. The low-energy mode of WatchOS 9the new version of the operating system, which will be further optimized.
On the wrist
In terms of performance of use we are in fact a regeneration of the Watch, not a simple update or worse, a Sport version of an already consolidated product. In daily use, the new 3-microphone array and speaker makes incoming and outgoing calls very clear: for example, there are algorithms that analyze wind noise in real time, to minimize interference and the quality of conversations is now of telephone quality. What is missing from this renewed communication experience to achieve what we saw in science fiction movies? A front camera for FaceTime. But (almost) certainly we will see it in a future version of the Watch Ultra, perhaps with a small Dynamic Island like in the iPhone 14 Pro.
What is there and which represents a real revolution is instead the evident vocation to the physicality of this Watch Ultra: the digital crown is bigger and therefore easier to use (even with gloves) and a new Side Action button arrives, assignable to different functions and which is much more convenient during physical activity than the traditional screen interface, even if only for, for example, to operate the stopwatch or pedometer. Interesting is the possibility to assign to this button also a macro to your liking, one shortcut which can be set just as it already happens for the Siri Shortcut on the iPhone. And so really anything: we used it with a script for a trivial action like turning on the lights and to start an app with which to record vocal notes on the fly. But certainly the most useful functions are those that can be connected to the specific functions of the Ultra, or those dedicated to physical activity. And of course to the functions of Satellite SOSwhen they become available.
Here, once the normal Watch is put back on the wrist, the lack of this pulsating action you hear it, and a lot. It should not be underestimated that a physical button (also colored in orange, international security code) can also be pressed while wearing gloves and therefore use the Watch even in conditions in which these are required or necessary.
Into the wild
The specific exploratory features of the Ultra are those that make the most important difference, whatever the outdoor activity of choice. The ability to withstand extreme temperatures (-20 and +50 degrees)military certifications and advanced underwater functions (up to 40 meters deep) thanks to specific sensors, the L1 and L5 multi-band GPS with the antenna embedded in the chassis, plus a specific user localization algorithm, the compass with recovery of the path made for trekking, the depth app for scuba divers are all unique features that they also function as a stimulus for activity, just like the normal Watch by detecting the movements it asks the user if he intends to train. And then there is the lifesaving siren, a function that emits a sound (up to 86 db) to help locate the user of the Watch in emergency situations, which are not necessarily in the woods or in wastelands, but also in moments of danger in the city. This is a feature that gives the Watch Ultra that extra thing, that “one more thing” typically Applewhich in an already crowded market like that of smartwatches actually makes a difference.
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The Watch Ultra is once again the sign of the changing times, surely it is the digital sign: the iPhones 14 we saw this year are important updates, especially the Pros, but certainly iterative when it comes to the base models, while the Watch Ultra is an indicator of how our lives have and have been changed in recent years. Basically, with the arrival of smart working as a structural asset in many working realities and the possibility of carrying out professional activities more and more remotely, there are many people who are readjusting one’s perception and use of time to the new world, much more projected outside than inside buildings. A world that by connecting more and more, at the same time unites lives and frees them from some burdens of just a few years ago. Apple Watch Ultra, net of technological innovations (which are many, you can see and hear) is a device that opens up another segment of the luxury market for Apple, with the price list at 1009 euros. But above all it is a category evolution in the wearable device market, which, just like the original Watch, marks the time we live in today. And it already indicates that of tomorrow.
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