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Apple Watch Ultra is ready for your Ironman racing and training needs

Apple gets serious about endurance sports and activities with latest watch

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Anyone who is both a fan of Apple products and also an avid long-distance triathlete has been waiting for this moment – the time when Apple finally got serious about us long-distance folks and created a watch designed to get through an ultra event. Triathletes aren’t the only ones who will be thrilled with this new watch – adventure enthusiasts will also love this new watch, too.

We’ve had the opportunity to have a quick look at the Ultra – here are some initial thoughts:

The new Apple Watch Ultra features an aerospace titanium case that sets off the initial impressions of the new watch – it’s tough, looks great, but also remains quite light. The titanium even extends up and above the front crystal to protect from front impacts.

That flat, sapphire crystal on the 49 mm case that shows the biggest and brightest display we’ve seen in an Apple Watch. The biggest addition for triathletes, though, is the new “Action” button that makes the Apple Watch Ultra an invaluable training tool – I still struggle not to call it the much-needed lap button serious triathletes have wanted on the previous Apple Watch iterations.

In keeping with the outdoor/ adventure theme, the buttons on the Ultra are designed to be used while wearing gloves – the Digital Crown is 30 per cent bigger than on other Apple Watches, too.

There are a variety of bands available for the Ultra for different activities including Alpine, Ocean and Endurance.

Battery life

The Apple Watch Ultra features the biggest battery seen in one of Apple’s wrist devices, offering a whopping 36 hours of battery life that can be extended to 60 hours on low power mode. That means you should get through an Ironman without any issues, tracking your data all the way.

You don’t actually lose much functionality when you go to low power mode – it turns off the always-on display, reduces cellular connectivity and limits some background features. Workouts still retain full GPS and HR readings. Low power mode can also be turned on just for workouts.

GPS performance and safety improvements

The Ultra offers dramatically improved GPS performance by using a dual frequencies (L1 and L5) to provide accurate GPS. There’s also a redesigned compass app and backtrack feature that will allow you to retrace your steps should you find yourself in trouble. There’s even a built in siren that can be heard up to 180 m away.

Sports friendly

That new action button can be set to allow you to immediately start a workout, and you can use it to accurately get lap times. While the Ultra will automatically detect when you’ve moved from swimming to cycling to running (and even the transition) during a multisport workout, you can use the action button to get precise times as you move through each stage of your race, too.

You can customize the action button for much more than just starting workouts or getting laps – it can set a compass way point, start a backtrack path and much more.

The Ultra includes all of the same vastly improved sport metrics and health monitoring available in the Apple Watch Series 8, too – we reviewed those last week.

The Ultra is so ready for adventure activities that it is even designed for water sports – this fall Apple will release a new dive app for certified scuba divers. It is twice as water resistant as previous Apple Watches, so triathletes will have no qualms about using it for all their training.

Crash detection

The new Apple Watches utilize improved accelerometer and gyroscopes to detect extreme impacts and sudden changes in speed. So now in addition to the fall detection capabilities of the Apple Watch while you’re walking, running or cycling, your watch can reach out to emergency services or contacts if you’re in a crash, too.

We’ll have more on the new Apple Watch Ultra as we have more time to play with this new training tool.