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the Apple Watch Ultra, Series 8, new SE (2022) – all the features and tech details
Must Read: Apple watch Ultra Review
Apple Watch Series 8 has just launched and it’s bad news for Garmin if they’re not careful.
There are big changes to the range of watches offered and big changes to the software on watchOS 9 which I’ve been using since June. For once, there’s no need for the hype as Apple has made a genuinely BIG play on fitness – on running, triathlon and outdoor adventuring in particular.
Pre-orders have already started with the availability of the Apple Watch Series 8 and SE on 16 September and the Ultra on September 23rd with a review to follow soon after.
Apple Watch Series 8 Details
The new range sees 3 distinct watches these being Series 8, Ultra and the SE (2022) second generation. Whilst the new SE and Series 8 are evolutions of the previous models, Apple Watch Ultra is new.
- Car crash detection is added which uses 2 new sensors, a high g-force accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope. The detection algorithm uses a new sensor fusion algorithm to combine data from these two new sensors with a barometer (think airbag going off), GPS and microphone.
- A new Low power mode doubles battery life by disabling sensors, in particular, the always-on display. This is not available at launch.
- Series 8 and SE maintain an 18-hour battery life but get up to 36-hour battery life in low-power mode
- Ultra has a 36-hour battery life boosted to 60 hours in low power mode
- All cellular models support international roaming
- [Series 8, Ultra] 2 body temperature sensors are added to each model and the accuracy is 0.1 Celcius with readings taken every 5 seconds.
- [SE Only] Improved environmental credentials with new material for the back plate that’s also better colour-matched
- [SE Only] Up to 20% faster S8 CPU compared to earlier SE model
Apple Watch Ultra is a new watch and so all features are new. Here are its most distinguishing features compared to the Series 8.
- Titanium case, sapphire crystal and cellular as standard
- A redesigned screen surround to better protect the crystal lens
- Largest-ever 49mm display
- New, user-customisable action button on the left-hand side – for example, to start a workout
- Larger, coarser crown for use with gloves
- 2 speakers & 3 microphones for improved audio clarity and volume
- 36-hour battery life, 60 hours in low power mode
- 3 new bands specially designed for outdoors use cases – explorer (alpine), ocean and trail (endurance)
- New GPS chip with greater precision dual frequency reception using L1 and L5 bands.
- The high precision mode gives a battery life for most people to finish an Ironman which I would hope to be >=16 hours
- Track mode coming later in the year and appears to automatically detect known track geometries by GPS positioning.
- 80-decibel emergency location siren
- It’s a fully-featured, entry-level dive watch. WR100 water resistance, certified for diving to 40m with En13319. Plus lots of other diving features that will come later in the year.
Full Hardware Details
The range of case colours has been reduced from the prior generation with a maximum of 3 colours per model plus Product RED for the Series 8 aluminium.
After many years of predictable sizes, this year has gone crazy and there are now 5 case sizes in total with 2-3 band sizes per model. Apple Watch 8 maintains the same sizes as the 41mm and 45mm model from the Series 7 in 2021. Similarly, the new generation SE (2022) is the same size as the original SE which in turn was the same size as Series 5 ie 40mm and 44mm. The Ultra trumps everything and brings in a notably larger 49mm model.
Whilst Apple Watch Hermes is continued, the Series 3 is discontinued plus the Watch Nike Edition has been dropped. Instead, Nike watch faces are freely available and Nike straps can sensibly be ordered as options for the SE and Series 8 models. #Sensible
|Apple Watch Specifications||Series 8||
|Aluminium||Yes (4 finishes, 6 straps)||Yes (3 finishes, 6 straps)||No|
|Stainless Steel (+LTE & Sapphire)||Yes (4 finishes, 6 straps)||No||No|
|Titanium (+LTE & Sapphire)||No||No||Yes (1 finish, 3 straps)|
||Ion-X Crystal||Flat sapphire crystal with display edge protection|
|Pixels||396x484px 45mm Case
352x430px 41mm Case
|368x448px 44mm Case
324x394px 40mm case
|Display||Always On Retina Display||Retina Display||Always On Retina Display|
|Brightness||1000 nits||1000 nits||2000 nits|
|Screen Area||1,143 sq mm on 45mm model
904 sq mm on 41mm model
|977 sq mm on 44mm model
759 sq mm on 40mm model
|1,164 sq mm
27% more than SE
|Battery Life||18 hours||18 hours||36 hours|
|Battery Capacity||308 mAh on 41mm model
398 mAh on 45mm model
|245 mAh on 40mm model
296 mAh on 44mm model
(36% more than Watch 8 45mm)
|Certified IP6X dust resistant||Yes||
|Tested to MIL-STD 810H||Yes||
|Practical Water Usage||Swimproof||Swimproof||Diveproof app certified to 40m|
|Depth gauge with water temperature sensor|
|Blood Oxygen App||Yes||
|High and low HR Notifications||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Irregular Heart rhythm notification||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cycle Tracking||With Retrospective Ovulation estimates||
|With Retrospective Ovulation estimates|
|International Emergency Calling||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Siren||No||No||86 decibel to 600ft|
|Dual Core S8 SIP||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|L1 GPS||Yes||Yes||Precision L1 & L5|
watchOS 9 Updates
All Apple Watches newer than Series 3 get access to a boatload of features in watchOS 9, available later in September.
These were already announced at WWDC in June and many of us have been using them since. Not all were covered in today’s announcement but most are worth highlighting as they represent significant new developments for Apple.
Here are the juicy sports updates all of which are found in Apple’s Workout app
- Live heart rate zones for the watch which can be tweaked on the iPhone.
- Configurable data pages (workout views) with more data per page and more ways to show it
- Alerts, thresholds and ranges for heart rate, speed/pace, power, cadence, distance and time
- Good triathlon support, both by offering a range of multisport options (triathlon, duathlon, custom) and automatic detection of the transitions between the disciplines.
- New running form metrics covering Ground Contact Time, Vertical Oscillation and Stride Length.
- Native running power support
- Custom Workouts including
- paced goal-based workouts (pace, time, distances & calories)
- Custom workouts with preloaded routines like Tempo, 800 repeats, mile repeats, speed pyramid, run-walk and custom repeats
- shortcut/suggested workouts
- Kickboard detection for swimming
- Race a previous effort over a route and be paced against yourself
Of course, there’s lots of other stuff too not necessarily linked to sports
- 4 new watch faces were announced in June – Astronomy, Lunar, PlayTime and Metropolitan. There is also a new Hermes watch face and the Nike Edition watch faces can now be shared with non-Nike Edition watches.
- Watchface background colours can be customised
- Improved calendar app
- Portrait Watchfaces can now accept pictures of dogs and cats.
- new scrolling banner notifications and refreshed SIRI interface.
- Crown press and hold to exit the locked swim or night modes
- Expanded keyboard support
Price & Availability
Finally, entry-level pricing is lowered in the USA for the new SE model and unchanged for the Series 8. UK buyers seem to be taken advantage of once again with some very strange pricing.
- Apple Watch SE: From $249, £259 ($299 Cellular)
- Apple Watch Series 8: From $399, £419 ($499 for cellular)
- Apple Watch Ultra: From $799, 999€, £849 (! Cellular only)
3 months of Fitness+ are included with new watch purchases.
Pre-order has started with the availability of Series 8 and SE on 16 September and the Ultra on September 23rd.
Apple Watch Series 8, Ultra & SE – Some Thoughts
There’s a lot to take in here.
Other than the new Ultra model what stands out to me is the pricing. Despite inflationary concerns, Apple seems to be sensibly pricing the Series 8 and SE (2022) watches in the US market but the UK/EU pricing looks crazy to the point where someone has made a mistake. Sure the pound is falling but the Ultra should be Eu/£100 cheaper.
The Ultra has made a relatively ugly watch a tad uglier with the bizarre sticky-out thing on the right-hand side. Sure there are ergonomic reasons for doing that but there are aesthetic reasons not to do that. Anyway, I’m still going to buy one and will probably wear it a lot as we now have more sensible battery life for a rectangular-faced sports watch. And everyone seems to say that rectangular is the right shape, right?
To a degree, the Ultra seems to have also negated the lack of more buttons argument frequently thrown in its direction. Whilst the old crown/button does work well it’s just handy to have an extra 3rd or 4th button to press when taking a lap or entering the transition stage of a triathlon. The new button is claimed to be customisable and perhaps some clever developers can add some even cleverer sporting uses than that.
I never thought I’d say this next bit. The straps are actually interesting. The alpine design features a nice clasp mechanism and the ocean design is a weird and wonderful mechanism that On Cloud running shoes might claim as being the original inspiration. Then we come to the endurance strap for endurance people like me and it seems that the Trail Loop might be sufficiently sensible to be unable to accidentally come undone…unlike that found on the mega-expensive Garmin Enduro 2.
In a similar vein, the new night mode watch faces are also interesting in that they remove blue light to increase nighttime visibility. Very clever.
Then, whilst Garmin introduced a flashlight on the Fenix 7X, Apple introduce a fairly loud siren for the Ultra. Again….nice.
The Ultra also gets L1+L5 accurate GPS and I’m intrigued that Apple feel bold enough to say they have the most accurate GPS of any wearable. We’ll soon see about that! But it’s a believable claim as Apple is strong in this area and, in any case, tends not to stretch the truth on specs like certain other companies.
The new watchOS 9 sports features are also pretty good. Sure they are geared for the non-Pro, weekend warrior or weekend adventurer but the bonus for a potentially huge number of buyers is that they can now do these things with the main watch they use during the week….there’s no longer a need to buy a Garmin as well.
Watch Series 8 and Watch SE 2nd generation were largely predictable in what eventually appeared. I was a bit disappointed that there was no increase in battery life, although Apple tends to downplay that aspect of their watches’ performance. The only other disappointment was that the SE retained the same screen ie it still lacks an always-on screen. Honestly, folks, that becomes really annoying, really quickly.
Turning finally to the pesky Garmin Fenix 7/Epix 2 question. Apple Watch Ultra is clearly nowhere near as feature-competent as those two watches despite what any Applephile will tell you. However, the majority of Fenix 7/Epix 2 buyers simply don’t need all those features. Whether or not they want them is an entirely different question. For those that do their research or simply believe the Apple hype, they may well find that Apple Watch Ultra does the weekend warrior job…bang goes a Garmin sale. And that bang could be many hundreds of thousands of watches. This could be a turning point in the fortunes of Garmin and I think, looking back from a few years hence we will all think that..
Q: How to buy
A: This is only on apple.com at launch. Delivery times are quoted for many models as late October. If you want one on September 23rd try a different case colour/strap/strap length combination and you might find stock.
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