Apple's surprise new Apple Watch Ultra model, with a different design and extra battery

As expected, during today's iPhone 14 announcement event, the Cupertino giant Apple unveiled a few other devices besides new smartphones. Namely the Apple Watch Series 8.

The new Series 8 notably includes a brand new model called the Apple Watch Ultra, which has a slightly unconventional design element over the usual smartwatches from Apple. That element is a bump on the side, holding an extra physical button, in addition to the familiar rotating crown. It goes somewhat against the company's traditionally uniform design philosophy, but it also makes the Apple Watch Ultra model quite a unique one among the rest.

Premium build premium price, big battery

The new Apple Watch Ultra boasts a premium, rugged titanium build, as opposed to the more traditional stainless steel. And, unsurprisingly – this smartwatch comes at a 799$ price tag to match the whole "Ultra" / "premium" vibe.

Perhaps this smartwatch's most notable feature for the average user is its huge battery, which should bode well for previous Apple Watch users, looking to upgrade to something that lasts longer than a single day.

As usual, the "Ultra" name stands for extra something

Why the "Ultra" name in Apple Watch Ultra? Well, besides the bigger battery, this smartwatch is particularly targeted at people who are heavy into workouts, and even athletes. As its design and price suggest, if you're looking for a casual smartwatch for basic health tracking or as a fashion accessory, you'd definitely want to go with the "normal" Apple Watch Series 8 instead.

 The Apple Watch Ultra is finally here

After over a year of rumors, Apple has finally announced the Apple Watch Ultra — a rugged, premium smartwatch that now sits atop Apple’s smartwatch lineup. The watch introduces a new design with a bigger display as well as a new design for exploration and outdoor activity. There’s a new button guard on the side, with a 49mm titanium case, redesigned digital crown, and a new Action button. The orange Action button can be customized for various purposes. The display has sapphire crystal as well as 2,000 nits of brightness. The buttons and crowns are also designed to work with gloves, which is a big concern for outdoor athletes. Each has the cellular capability and gets up to 36 hours on a single charge. It also has an extended battery life of 60 hours. There’s also a low-power GPS mode that still is able to measure heart rate.

The Ultra also has improved multi-band GPS, which includes the new L5 frequency. It’s something you only see on fitness watches like Garmins and Coros these days. It also has a trackback feature in case you accidentally go off the grid. The Action button also lets you transition from one leg of the triathlon to the next. There’ll also be auto-detect for when athletes arrive at tracks later this year. It also has an 86-decibel siren to help others locate you.

For water sports, it can withstand kiteboarding and has WR 100 water resistance. It automatically l launches a new depth app when you’re underwater to show time, depth, and temperature. It’s also certified to EN 13319 for scuba divers. It also has a new Oceanic Plus app for recreational and scuba divers.

There are also three new bands: Alpine, Trail, and Ocean. They cater to different environments and are meant to endure “long runs, hard falls, and rippling currents.”

The Apple Watch Ultra marks a new chapter in Apple’s smartwatch journey. So far, Apple Watches have been more general use devices with great connectivity, smart features, and advanced health alerts. But the Ultra is an explicitly fitness-first device that’s meant to compete with the likes of Garmin and Polar.

It also comes at a time when the Android landscape is shifting — Google is launching its first-ever smartwatch, Samsung also just came out with a pro watch, and certain Wear OS 2 watches are slated for an upgrade to Wear OS 3 this fall. When you consider that, it feels like kismet that Apple is also embarking on something new in the wearables space now.

The Apple Watch Ultra will be available starting September 23 for $799.