Apple watch

Experts tell us why the Apple Watch Ultra doesn’t cut it

Apple touts its new Apple Watch Ultra as the perfect wearable for athletes, but some outdoor pros say it’s not the best choice as a watch for adventures.

The $799 Apple Watch Ultra is packed with rugged sports-oriented features, including a larger screen and greater durability than other Apple Watch models. It’s “a watch that pushes boundaries for athletes who do the same,” the company complaints. Not So Fast, Canadian Duathlete Bradley Thompson said Digital Trends in an interview.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

“If you’re a serious athlete, you’re probably not going to use an Apple Watch,” he said. “There are far better watches on the market for athletes who don’t just cater to aesthetics or the obsession of the Apple universe.”

Super or not?

Apple says its Ultra model is “built for endurance, exploration, and adventure.” The new watch has a 49mm titanium case and the company’s brightest Apple Watch display. There’s also a new customizable action button that provides quick access to a wide range of useful features, which might be useful for doing things like definition of waypoints when you are hiking.

The Apple Watch Ultra with the Wayfinder watch face.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

“Inspired by explorers and athletes around the world, we’ve created an all-new class of Apple Watch designed for new and extreme environments – it’s the toughest, most capable Apple Watch yet,” wrote Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. Press release. “Apple Watch Ultra is a versatile tool that allows users to push their limits with adventure, endurance, and exploration.”

Thompson acknowledges that the Ultra offers simple user interfaces and better battery life than previous models. “It has a running route feature and beneficial features like heart rate zones,” he added. “These are some of the benefits for someone looking to use an Apple Watch for tough workouts.”

But Thompson said if you’re a serious athlete, you might be better off looking at the Ultra’s competitors, like Garmin’s lineup. “With a watch like Garmin, you’re buying a sports watch with better battery life, more accurate workout tracking, quality GPS, external tracking connections, safety tracking features, training, route planning, etc.”, he added.

Garmin Forerunner 955 solar watch displaying heart rate zones.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Lukas Furtenbach, owner of a mountaineering business Adventures of Furtenbach, said in an interview that the Garmin Fenix ​​series is a better watch for expedition climbers. While the Ultra offers accurate blood oxygen readings and heart rate monitoring, Furtenbach said he preferred the Fenix ​​due to its longer battery life. “In expeditions, where you don’t always have the possibility to recharge, this is essential,” he added.

Kenneth Grahamformer scientist at Australia’s NSW Institute of Sport and now a senior scientist at eo sports technology company, said in an interview that devices like the Ultra could help athletes understand the impact of different training strategies. “So you can use that information in competitions and race day events to optimize performance, and then [use] on race day as a device that provides both feedforward and feedback information to further refine and optimize performance,” he added.

But, Graham warned, “these devices only tell part of the story” and that “you should also associate the information you have gleaned from the devices with your perception of how your body and the environment adjust what you do”.

deep dive

Using the Depth Gauge on Apple Watch Ultra.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Apple Watch Ultra has a new depth gauge. Apple says the Ultra also provides the data and functionality required by scuba and free divers for descents down to 40 meters. The Depth app displays the current time, your current depth, the maximum session depth while you were underwater, and the water temperature.

In an interview, the ocean explorer Marc Bromhall said the Ultra has poor battery life compared to other watches in its class. “If you want to use the dive computer, you need to purchase a paid subscription,” he added.

The Ultra’s only advantage over similar Garmin devices is that it will immediately connect you to emergency services, he said. “Garmin just sends a notification to your contacts with your location,” he added. “As a result, your friends need to be on their phones at all times.”

A person using Apple Watch Ultra while scuba diving.

But Bromhall said his watch of choice is Garmin’s fēnix 7X Solar. “For me, it’s the best watch in its class,” he added.

The Fenix ​​7 series offers features meant to appeal to serious athletes, including a multi-LED flashlight. The company claims the 7X models have a battery life of up to five weeks in smartwatch mode and up to five days in GPS mode.

“The fēnix 7 series brings cutting-edge training and multisport features to the wrist,” Dan Bartel, vice president of worldwide sales at Garmin, said in a statement. Press release. “With a design upgrade, Garmin’s best performance metrics, and health/wellness tracking, [the] fēnix 7 gives serious athletes everything they need for peak performance.

A new type of smartwatch

This is perhaps the best way to view the Apple Watch Ultra. Not necessarily as a stand-alone replacement for a Garmin watch or other sports-focused watch, but as a new category unto itself.

There are other smartwatches that are better equipped for people who love hiking, diving, etc. But if you want a watch that can help with those things while also acting as a full-fledged smartwatch, that’s where the Apple Watch Ultra shines. It may not be the Garmin killer some were hoping for, but rather something else. And, depending on who you are, that might not be such a bad thing after all.

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