Launching an adventure version of its namesake smartwatch, Apple is trying to out-Garmin Garmin.
In tandem with its Apple Watch 8 debut, the tech giant unveiled Apple Watch Ultra, a smartwatch designed for endurance sports and outdoor pursuits.
Design. Unlike the original, The Ultra has a larger screen with a space-grade titanium case and an extra physical button on its housing.
With three variations of band—the Trail Loop (lightweight), Alpine Loop (woven for adjustability), and Ocean Band (synthetic rubber)—Apple targets runners, climbers, and divers.
Sensors. New sensors enable off-the-grid features, including a built-in compass, GPS with waypoints, depth gauge, and an emergency siren.
Metrics. With its larger screen, Apple Watch Ultra is the first watch to show six real-time metrics at once. For running, new data forms include stride length, ground contact time, vertical oscillation, and running power.
Modes. Apple added new workout views, including segments, splits, and elevation, as well as some endurance-sport-focused features like heart rate zones, pacing, and custom workouts — all easily driven by the Action button.
Targeting triathletes, Ultra can auto-detect when you’ve switched between styles of workouts, like swimming to biking.
Next-gen health. Sharing new features with the Watch 8, Ultra will house two temperature sensors, informing modules for stress management, sleep, menstrual cycles, and high-level disease detection.
Adding to the experience of its Fitness+ service, watch wearers will have more on-screen guidance—including intensity levels—during workouts.
But, by launching a rugged, amphibious, and GPS-enabled outdoorsy watch for $799, Apple is undercutting adventure watch makers Garmin and Suunto — whose watches serving trailrunners, triathletes, divers, backcountry skiers, and more typically run $200–300 higher.
Going head to head, Apple’s new tech stack arguably matches its outdoorsy rivals’ capabilities. And, it isn’t the only one targeting the adventure niche.
- In late 2020, Wahoo added its first smartwatch, ELEMNT RIVAL, to its triathlete-centered ecosystem.
- This April, Polar debuted its Pacer Series, runner-focused watches designed to elevate race performance.
- This May, Withings’ debuted ScanWatch Horizon, a luxury diver-style smartwatch.
Looking ahead: The winner of the wrist wars will be the device that means the most things to the most people. While the Watch 8 lands somewhere between wellness smartwatch and medical device, Apple will continue to release extensions to align with every lifestyle — extreme or not.