Apple's big September event is always a show stopper, and the iPhone is certainly what generates the most buzz, but this year something stole the thunder — the Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple finally unveiled the extra-rugged Apple Watch Ultra (opens in new tab), and right from the very first time we saw it during the event all the way until the end of the event, it was all I could think about.
It was truly the event's biggest surprise — somehow meeting most of my expectations and even exceeding some. For me, it was absolutely the star of the show and completely outshone the iPhone 14 (opens in new tab) at its own event.
#1: Brand new design
New watch, who dis?
Besides bigger screens with slightly smaller bezels, the Apple Watch has mostly maintained the same design throughout the years, but the Apple Watch Ultra breaks from that tradition and offers something a bit more fresh.
It's not a radical redesign — like making it a circle or something — but the flat display and the large 49mm case make it stand out. Plus, not to mention the upgrades along with the new look. New dual speakers that allow for louder alerts — even an 86 dB siren for use in emergencies — a more accurate GPS antenna, and a three-mic array for much better communication.
The new design isn't just for the sake of looking new or fresh, but actually brings some very tangible upgrades to the device as a whole, and that's awesome.
#2: New Action button
Do more with one press of a button.
While the Apple Watch has always had a side button that helps you navigate watchOS (opens in new tab), the new Action button aims to help you do more without having to touch your Apple Watch screen.
The full potential of the Action button won't be fully realized until people strap the new smartwatch onto their wrist, but Apple stated it was customizable. It has even dropped some hints as to some of the functionality it could have, like starting a workout or even dropping a waypoint while using the compass app.
Any new streamlined ways for users to interact with their Apple Watch more quickly means spending less time fiddling with their Apple Watch and more time doing the sports and activities they love to do.
#3: 60-hour battery life
Weekend away? Don't need your Apple Watch Ultra charger.
One of my biggest gripes about the Apple Watch has always been that it needs better battery life, and when rumors were circling about Apple releasing a more sports-focused Apple Watch, I knew the battery life would need to get better. The Apple Watch Ultra is prepared to deliver.
With normal use, Apple states that the Ultra will get 36 hours of battery life. That's about double what you can expect on the Series 8 (opens in new tab), but it doesn't stop there. You can push the battery power to reach up to 60 hours when you have the new low-power mode on and have optimized the low-power settings to use the least amount of power as possible.
It's a little bittersweet that being able to turn on all the low-power settings won't be available right at launch, but hopefully "later this fall" isn't too far away.
#4: $799 price tag
It's about that money, honey!
Most estimates from analysts put the cost of the Apple Watch Ultra around the $1,000 mark. Heck, I even tweeted right before the event saying that my guess was a $999 starting price. When Apple announced that the price of the Apple Watch Ultra was only $799, my jaw nearly hit the floor.
Generally, Apple products tend to be more expensive than competitors and seeing how many other companies have watches like this around that $1,000 price point, $799 is great to see. Plus, there are no extra options you need to add on because cellular comes in every Apple Watch Ultra and there's only one finish. So, unless you feel like buying a fancy band, $799 is all you need to spend to get the new best Apple Watch (opens in new tab).
Considering what you get for $799, I have no doubt Apple will be selling lots of Apple Watch Ultras in the future.
Can't wait to test out the Apple Watch Ultra
Am I biased toward Apple Watch because I love it so much? Maybe. But, there's still no doubt in my mind that the Apple Watch Ultra was the standout announcement from the Far Out event. It's a completely new type of Watch and venture for the company. I can't wait to get my hands on one!
Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.
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