Apple Watch Extremely Evaluation – iRunFar

The Apple Watch Extremely ($800) is our favourite smartwatch in our Greatest GPS Operating Watches information.

On this video, iRunFar explores its options and limitations, and the professionals and cons of choosing the Apple Watch Extremely over an alternate high-end GPS working look ahead to lengthy distance working.

[Editor’s Note: The Apple Watch Ultra 2 releases in September, 2023, and we’ll be testing it just as soon as we can get our hands on it. It appears that the most significant changes to the Apple Watch Ultra 2 are a new chip, new sensors, and a brighter screen. According to Apple, we’ll see the same battery life and lack of native mapping abilities in the second version.]

Store the Apple Watch Extremely

Apple Watch Extremely Evaluation Transcript

Hey and welcome to Path Trials, the video evaluation part of iRunFar. My title is Travis Liles. On this video, we have a look at the Apple Watch Extremely. We ask the query, is it “extremely?” This query applies to iRunFar readers particularly, is that this one thing you’ll put on for an ultramarathon and lengthy distance run coaching? Let’s test it out.

Earlier than we dig in, let’s speak about what this evaluation is and isn’t. This gadget has been out for some time. Updates are coming to it. I’m recording this in roughly the center of July, 2023. There have been some updates since I bought it. I’ll be as correct as I can about the place we’re right now. I additionally plan on recording a supplemental video as time goes on, when options are added on which might be relevant to both my critiques, or to our sport of ultrarunning usually.

That’s the distinction between this and one thing like a shoe. A shoe is a shoe, till a brand new model comes out. This watch will get software program updates, firmware updates, issues can change, and be added over time.

Due to that, we have now to consider this as a point-in-time evaluation. Additionally, this isn’t an exhaustive expertise evaluation. There are a bunch of these on the market already that speak about Apple watches, their well being options, their smartwatch options.

I’m making an attempt to condense this down into — if I’m an ultrarunner, what do I take into consideration this watch? How does it match into my world? If I’m going to spend on a high-end gadget to trace my runs, is that this one which is sensible, given what I do? I hope to reply that by the tip of this evaluation.

Apple Watch Ultra - main menu

The Apple Watch Extremely. All images: iRunFar/Travis Liles

Apple Watch Extremely Specs and Operation

Let’s begin by wanting on the general structure of the Apple Watch Extremely. First, that is an all-titanium case. It’s 49 millimeters in diameter, and for a reference level, that’s a reasonably large sports activities watch.

I’m a small individual. I’m 5 foot, 5 inches. I’m 135 kilos. I’ve bought pretty small wrists. These watches have presence, however they’re not loopy large. For those who have a look at the 2 of those in contrast [shows two watches], that is the Garmin fēnix 7 — Sapphire Photo voltaic Version — you’ll be able to try our Garmin fēnix 7 — Sapphire Photo voltaic Version evaluation, too. Numerous phrases there. And right here is the Apple Watch Extremely.

The distinction is, one’s sq. and one’s round. For a reference level, these fall on the bigger dimension of the sports-watch class. There’s quite a bit happening right here by way of sensors, and GPS, and an even bigger battery. Particularly in case you’ve solely used a daily Apple Watch. However the case is made out of all titanium and it’s an enormous, chunky case. Titanium is a reasonably light-weight steel. It’s mild for the dimensions that it’s. It has a really massive and brilliant OLED display, which simply means blacks are actually black. For those who’ve bought an iPhone Professional, this is similar sort of display, clearly a lot smaller. It’s actually brilliant and vivid.

When it comes to working the watch, you may have a few issues to work with. One is the digital crown, and it does a pair issues. One, as you’ll be able to see, it provides you a purple face, which is cool. For those who don’t need one thing tremendous brilliant, you’ll be able to flip to that. For those who’re tenting or no matter, that’s a enjoyable operate to have. However the crown additionally works for scrolling via the apps. Once more, it is a smartwatch, so that you work together with it via functions. After all, it has touchscreen, in addition to the crown button.

Over right here on the best, there’s one other button, and that pops you into your just lately opened functions. Once more, you should utilize that crown to scroll. Contact remains to be a reasonably respectable interplay level with this watch, and that’s positively one thing to bear in mind. For instance, if we go into the Climate app, you’ll be able to scroll via some info. But when I need to return to the listing of areas, I’ve to the touch on the display, and hit that time to get again. So, contact is a requirement as you’re employed with this, and we’ll discuss extra about that later.

Over right here on the facet, the factor that’s totally different from the remainder of the Apple line is that this Motion button. The Motion button is, for all intents and functions, a shortcut — a deep shortcut button into the Exercise software, in my case. Once I hit that button, it goes into the Exercise app, and now it waits for a GPS sign. That may be a operate that you could activate or flip off. It may well simply begin mechanically if you hit that, or you’ll be able to wait to your sign to be absolutely intact. When you’ve bought that able to go, you’re good. You hit that button once more, and that can begin your exercise. Or you’ll be able to edit this button to do various things, however it’s successfully going to right here, and I’ve it mapped to the Exercise app. Then Outside Run is the precise form of exercise that I’ve it go to once I begin the gadget.

Apple Watch Ultra - running mode

The Apple Watch Extremely’s working mode.

Apple Watch Extremely Options

Now we have a pair different issues to name out on the Apple Watch Extremely. You’ll discover these large holes right here — it is a speaker. There are microphones on this as properly. These act in a few features, however primarily for speaking to your voice assistant on the Apple world.

It additionally acts as a siren. You may take a telephone name on this gadget as properly, and discuss to your wrist, which is oddly satisfying.

The display is made with sapphire glass, and that’s, for essentially the most half, not scratchable, or extraordinarily exhausting to scratch. I’m positive there are eventualities, however I’ve had many sports activities watches and mechanical watches via the years with sapphire glass, and I don’t know of any of them that’s scratched.

Listed below are a number of notes on the straps. These straps are all detachable. That is the Path Loop right here. In all probability the one which’s most viable, I’d say, for most individuals, particularly with working. It’s stretchy. It conforms to the wrist. It’s bought stretch to it, however it will get a pleasant, comfortable match, which implies that it locks down and get your coronary heart price readings pretty properly. You need it to be as darkish as could be beneath the watch to guarantee that it’s doing what it must, to take these coronary heart price readings, these pulse readings, all that sort of stuff.

They’re simply modified out. You push these little buttons right here on the backside. This one known as an Alpine Loop. I just like the aesthetic of this, that’s simply private choice right here. However they’re quite simple to alter out and in. There are many third-party choices. Apple makes a complete bunch that you could go check out, to alter the feel and appear of the gadget as you see match.

Utilizing the Apple Watch Extremely to Work Out

Let’s have a look at what it’s wish to work out with the Apple Watch Extremely. For those who’re going out to your run, you hit your button. It opens the Exercise app. You may map it to about no matter you need right here, even third-party functions, which we’ll speak about in a bit. That arrow signifies that I’ve bought my GPS sign.

What I’ll say about that is, I turned on mobile as an possibility, as a result of I needed to place this factor via the paces. So, this may use the GPS, mobile, and pedometer features. It lays down actually good GPS tracks.

Once I examine it to different gadgets, I’ve by no means seen any large swings in some way by way of the standard of the observe, or shedding sign. The truth is, it’ll even do some actually good issues. For those who’re in crowded downtown areas — as a result of Apple Maps has integration right here, like the identical one which’s in your telephone — it could fill in gaps and determine issues out.

Now, you should utilize your digital crown and work your method via your totally different screens right here. Coronary heart price coaching, several types of splits, your tempo, no matter it’s, there are lots of choices right here that you could customise to make it look the best way that you really want. That is one which’s particular to elevation, and it’ll present like a chart. You then’ve bought your music choices additionally, as a result of it is a smartwatch, and you may simply plug your headphones in and take off from there.

What you’ll in all probability discover via all of that is it’s simply base-function-type monitoring. Once more, coronary heart price, all that info, will likely be precisely such as you count on it to be. It tracks. It provides you your tempo. It does an amazing job of conserving all that info in. Whenever you’re accomplished, it uploads into Apple Well being. You could have a pair interplay factors right here whereas it’s taking that knowledge. On the one facet, let’s proceed speaking about after I’ve accomplished a exercise. That goes into Health.

Apple Watch Ultra - workout menu

The exercise menu on the Apple Watch Extremely.

The way in which Health works is rather like Garmin Join. It’s identical to the Coros app, or the Suunto app, no matter you’re utilizing. This syncs that knowledge right here, after which from right here, it decides on what to do with it.

Right here’s an instance of an Outside Run exercise. I can see my exercise time, distance, common tempo, coronary heart price, and it’s damaged up into splits. All that knowledge that you’d count on to see. Even actually fascinating issues like vertical oscillations, are you off the bottom an excessive amount of or not, what’s your common cadence, floor contact, stride size. There’s lots of stuff in right here to actually dig into and get details about what it’s that you simply’re doing.

The opposite facet although, is what about sharing this knowledge? On the social facet of issues, you’ll be able to sync all this info to Strava. It actually goes via this setting right here, which is your gadget settings. You simply join Apple Well being. When you do this, the entire exercises add into Strava within the background. You may inform it to do its factor. As a result of the watch has Wi-Fi and mobile, it’s a really fast course of.

There’s a little bit little bit of the app interface. Mainly, you’ve bought all that wealthy knowledge, identical to you may have on all of your different apps which might be on the market, once more, like Garmin Join or the Coros app. For getting that information after which for sharing that externally, it could go to these different functions. I’m utilizing Strava like I feel nearly all of persons are, however there are different platforms, and also you simply have to see if Apple Well being is a sync goal.

Apple Watch Extremely Security and Navigation

Let’s speak about security. The Apple Watch Extremely is a smartwatch, so it has mobile connectivity. Due to that, it has fascinating ideas not in different sport watches available on the market.

You realize, the Apple commercials you’ve seen the place a man runs into the again of a automotive and his watch says, “I detect a crash.” Similar factor applies right here. It has crash and fall detection. Additionally, with this large speaker on right here, it truly has a siren in-built and I’ll hit that in 3, 2, 1. [Beeping siren sound] What that does is, in case you fall or get damage, you’ve bought this siren, versus always screaming, you’ll be able to set that, flip it on, and it beeps repeatedly. The siren, and the frequency, and the loudness, and the way it cascades and goes up and goes down — that’s imagined to be consideration grabbing. It’s not as loud as a whistle, however it does always go, it takes the “you” out of getting to always blow into one thing. You may truly flip that siren on and it does that for you. It’s bought mobile, and due to that, if by probability I crashed right into a tree — I truly had a coworker do that on his bike. His Apple Watch referred to as for an emergency, and he bought pulled out due to that.

The opposite factor I’ll name out right here is the Compass app. For those who have a look at any Apple advertising and marketing, you’ll see the place you should utilize the Compass app’s Backtrack characteristic. I can hit that and mainly begin laying down a footpath. Or I can go into the all app display, and discover my approach to Compass. You may see why that motion button is actually useful in there.

Leaping to the display, and this has a few features which might be which might be constructed into it. One is that Backtrack operate. As a observe, this watch doesn’t lay down a observe for you mechanically. Whenever you begin a run, you’re working inside the Exercise app. It’s monitoring your tempo, it’s monitoring your distance, it’s laying down a map within the background, however it isn’t laying down a map that you could, if by probability you are taking a mistaken flip, return and comply with. There are triggers within the Compass app that can search for connection. When’s the final time it was in a position to discuss to mobile, and different issues, or discuss to your telephone over mobile, after which will supposedly lay down a pin. However essentially the most surefire approach to ensure you have a Backtrack is actually to return into this app that’s Compass. Begin that, and lay down this Backtrack.

You are able to do fascinating issues inside this app. It permits for scrolling proper out and in. I don’t get lots of info right here essentially. Consider it extra as a, because the crow flies, as the best way the info is introduced on right here. And actually, I can lay down, , numerous factors of curiosity and such to return to a spot. If I parked my automotive, it often leaves a parked automotive spot by default. However in case you begin at a trailhead that’s farther away, you can lay that down and return to it.

But it surely lacks within the particulars of data. You don’t get a lot in method of contour. It’s primarily only a line. It doesn’t offer you intersecting knowledge that you simply’ve gone via, trails that you simply’ve handed, or something like that. It’s very a lot simply laying down a observe as you go.

That is a kind of issues that I feel from a security standpoint, is simply too difficult. I might have appreciated to have seen this Compass app and the Backtrack operate like an choice to activate mechanically inside a exercise. As a result of in case you don’t flip it on upfront, it doesn’t do it.

Or it’s a must to depend on a bunch of different components. You must hope that it begins the Backtrack characteristic for you. That’s one half. The second half is as a result of it’s an app, the best way that you simply interface between this, in case you are misplaced on a path run, and also you need to get again to the place you began, you’re bouncing out and in of those two. Okay, I’m again right here. I see how lengthy I’ve ran. I feel it was a couple of mile again, proper, for instance. I’m going again into the Compass app. As a reference level, in case your palms are moist, or sweaty, otherwise you’re carrying gloves, all this turns into more durable to navigate via. But it surely does serve a base performance for the Backtrack. Once more, you simply need to just remember to bear in mind to show it on.

Apple Watch Ultra - side view

A facet view of the Apple Watch Extremely.

Talking of maps and Backtrack, let’s speak about what I might say might be the most important obvious gap on this gadget, because it stands. That’s the truth that you shouldn’t have maps in-built. You don’t lay down a observe as I discussed within the Compass half. There’s nowhere in these screens the place you’re getting the route that you simply simply did, or are working. That doesn’t seem anyplace the place that line is laying down a breadcrumb behind you. Once more, until you utilize that Compass operate that I simply talked about.

If you find yourself working a route, let’s use an instance right here of, let’s say I need to do that outside run. Possibly I need to run a route that I’ve accomplished earlier than. There isn’t a operate of importing a GPX file to this. For those who get a race route or one thing alongside these traces, or buddies going out on a run collectively, and also you guys are all working the identical route and put that in your watch. Otherwise you’re going someplace you don’t know. That isn’t a base operate of the watch.

What it does have is that this means to hint a route that you simply’ve already run. You may see right here, scrolling via, there are a few routes that from my home will likely be part of this that I’ve accomplished up to now. The set off is actually easy. You’ve needed to have accomplished the route a number of occasions, I imagine twice, after which it’s a must to be near that begin spot. When you do, it presents itself.

This menu solely consists of those couple of routes right here, once I’m near the start line. Then when you’re in it, it solely tells you in case you’re off track. It doesn’t inform you learn how to get again on to it. That’s one of many main misses, I feel, because it pertains to path working, is there isn’t a performance out of field for this gadget to offer you that mapping that you really want.

Then there’s an enormous a part of my day-to-day coaching that it information properly. You’ve bought the Compass app. It’s simply all form of clunky, bouncing out and in of a few totally different locations.

Apple Watch Extremely Smartwatch Options

What I didn’t count on with the Apple Watch Extremely was that the smartwatch options would play fairly as large a task as they did. I didn’t count on the extent of “wow” that I, for lack of a greater time period, skilled from utilizing this watch every day. I feel that’s the true energy of that is, , what it lacks in these different areas for, it makes up for within the smartwatch facet of issues. You realize, I’ve every little thing I want with me. If I need to verify into my flight, it’s on my watch. If I need to, discover out the place my automotive is parked, this factor remembers the place it was. It’s a smartwatch, proper, and that’s what you’re getting. You’re getting all of this actually nice — let’s name it client, or high quality of life — stuff that’s in-built, like messaging, and mindfulness. There’s simply a lot right here — Spotify, the information, I can use my electronic mail from work. There’s simply all these actually nice issues which might be right here for me to benefit from, that I can look via actually simply, and see all my stuff. I can obtain these on the fly. I can take and make telephone calls via it. I will pay for meals.

Once more, what this watch lacks within the different half, I used to be mesmerized, if you’ll, with the opposite features that got here in with it that I wasn’t anticipating. Whenever you examine that to one thing just like the Garmin equal, you understand simply how binary a lot of these gadgets are because it pertains to the smartwatch operate. These two are usually not even in the identical ballpark, proper? This could settle for a name or deny a name. This may give me a notification that somebody despatched me a textual content. I may even learn that textual content, however I can’t actually reply in a full constancy method. I’m caught with a sure or a no, or pre-canned-type of data.

This, to me, was actually an sudden profit, I feel, of what got here out of utilizing a smartwatch. That’s that I didn’t should have my telephone with me on a regular basis. There was a stage of freedom there that was simply sudden. Whenever you pair this with headphones for instance, it’s proper there in your wrist. Going out for my run, I can shortly swipe over, seize my music, and join it to no matter headphones that I might need. Once more, something with Bluetooth connects proper up. I can begin listening to that, and if somebody calls, I get the decision.

Just like the workflow, or lack thereof, is fairly attractive. I might say at the same time as somebody that’s in expertise, that didn’t historically use this, I used to be very a lot impressed with the combination. You’ve bought to be within the Apple ecosystem to actually benefit from it. However lots of people in the USA and past are. That’s one thing to bear in mind.

Apple Watch Ultra - back view

A again view of the Apple Watch Extremely.

Apple Watch Extremely Use with Exterior Apps

The very last thing that I need to speak about is filling the hole with the Apple Watch Extremely. What do I imply by that? Properly, I discussed the dearth of maps concern, and what an enormous miss for me. However I discovered apps on-line that fill that hole. There are a few apps that work rather well, and the one I’ll speak about right here is WorkOutDoors.

WorkOutDoors is mainly a full-blown sport watch software. And also you get to decide on what it’s that you simply’re doing. However the place this fills the hole is on this map. This map space enables you to go in your telephone, choose a location, add that map. It sends over the tiles, after which you’ll be able to add a route from beneath. We are able to go to settings. I can hit certainly one of my routes. I’ve certainly one of them on right here. The Nasty Junior is the title of my route. I can drop that route on there. Now it’s chosen. If I head again right here to my map. Alright, we will see this route is on the watch. Now I can actually go right here. I can park. It’ll give me turn-by-turn instructions, the maps there, all of the stuff that was lacking earlier than, is right here.

There are a few totally different apps that use this, and there’s totally different ways in which you are able to do this. I’ve talked a complete lot about core performance. That is the distinction right here, between [the Garmin fēnix 7 — Sapphire Solar Edition] and [the Apple Watch Ultra.] If [the Garmin] doesn’t have what you need, you’re caught, proper? On the Apple watch, you’ll be able to change screens. You are able to do this, you are able to do that. This factor actually has 1000’s of apps that you should utilize to make the gadget work in a method that matches for you. The WorkOutDoors app is a chief instance of how that occurs.

What I’ll level out although, is that it’s a third-party software. What which means is that you simply’re reliant on updates from this app. You’re reliant on, , it sustaining the identical battery requirements because the Apple Exercise app does, and people forms of issues. I discovered that to be the case, however it’s one thing to consider, as a result of it’s not the native operate of the gadget to do the forms of issues. At the very least the mapping in the best way that that is, however in case you really need plenty of screens and totally different choices in your watch, I’d advocate this to take a look at. I’ve no monetary curiosity or something like that.

There’s a few different apps that enable for drawing of routes, and people forms of issues. However this one let me get the screens I needed. It let me do the mapping that I needed, and allowed me to get nearer, if you’ll, to the Garmin, which I’ve bought very snug with, due to having that map knowledge all the time out there. Whenever you’re off the grid, or at the least out of mobile vary, this, to me, was a recreation changer by way of utilizing the gadget.

Apple Watch Ultra - clockface

The clock face on the Apple Watch Extremely.

Apple Watch Extremely General Impressions

In closing, what’s my remaining impression of the Apple Watch Extremely? If the query is, do you have to purchase this watch versus a high-end Garmin, Coros, Polar, or Suunto — it’s not a simple reply. That’s not usually the reply that folks need to hear.

But it surely actually depends upon what it’s that you simply want. This gadget has been actually nice for Monday via Friday. Once I know what I’m doing, once I know what I’m entering into, once I want to have the ability to doubtlessly take a telephone name as a result of my oldest daughter must come up with me whereas she’s watching my youngest daughter, or the college has to name me, or one thing occurs. I’m out and about as a result of I’ve bought a free afternoon to go for a run. I can nonetheless be related to work. I can obtain a podcast. I can hearken to music. I’ve entry to do what I have to do, and nonetheless be related with out having to hold a telephone in my again pocket, or placed on a waistbelt, to have that storage.

That’s a really releasing feeling that you simply simply don’t get with common GPS watches. Sure, different watches available on the market enable for notifications and light-weight interactions. However I can actually take a telephone name on this watch by placing my wrist as much as my mouth. I can have earbuds on, and I can ship out a textual content message. That may be a feeling of freedom and engagement that, on one hand, is perhaps too related. However alternatively is like, Wow, I see how that is nice.

The place it misses is all of the maps. I don’t belief what it has on it for maps, the dearth of the flexibility to place a GPX file on there and comply with a route natively, I simply don’t have the consolation in that third-party ecosystem. I would like that to be a core operate of the watch. As of proper now, it isn’t.

Once more, you are able to do it. I’m positive of us will say, “You are able to do that like this.” I’ve used this app, and I did it. I simply have apprehension about it, as a result of it feels prefer it must be there, and it feels prefer it must be an even bigger a part of the package deal.

So, the place to go together with that? For those who’re an Apple person, clearly that’s a step in. For those who’ve been utilizing an Apple Look ahead to coaching and also you suppose, I might actually simply use higher battery life, or perhaps you need one thing extra rugged, additionally an possibility. Or in case you’re coming from that entry stage watch area, and now you’re making an attempt to suppose, Do I would like this Apple Watch that’s a smartwatch, that does all these things, that may observe my runs? Or do I would like this Garmin or Coros that may observe all my runs?

It comes all the way down to this. Would you like a sports activities watch that has some smartwatch performance, or would you like a smartwatch that has some sport watch performance?

This can be a smartwatch first. You may inform that by the best way that you simply work together with it, by the touch-first design, by bouncing out and in of apps, by the best way that the Compass app is disconnected from the run program within the Exercise app, and it’s a must to bounce backwards and forwards if you wish to use these two independently. If it’s moist otherwise you’re sweaty, use points could include that. How typically does that occur? These are questions to bear in mind as you’re serious about shopping for this.

Whereas these different watches are constructed sport first. My location is already there, the map is getting laid down as I run, and I don’t have to fret about sweating. They’ve contact, however my major interplay is thru buttons that I can simply navigate up and down. However then I can’t simply stroll away from the home and never take my telephone. I’ve to be related. I can’t obtain music as I’m going.

In order that’s your resolution level. As a result of you will get via a extremely long-distance race utilizing this Apple Watch Extremely. You may even use the previous battery trick, the place you plug it in when you’re going, and it retains recording. That every one is there to do and have. However how a lot fuss would you like?

For me, at this level, I’m extra of a set it and neglect it. I need to begin my watch. I need to know that it’s working. I would like to have the ability to look down. I would like to have the ability to see that my map is on the market to me. I don’t need to have to consider, like, Did I begin this? Did I begin that? Will my battery final for twenty-four, 30 hours, no matter that quantity is perhaps. That’s the choice level for me.

However in case you’re solely doing that a few times a 12 months, then it is a fairly superior setup. That is the query: the place would you like your performance to go?

I’ll shut with this. That is model certainly one of this watch. Apple is a huge firm. They’ve a market cap of shut to a few trillion {dollars}. They’ve bought plenty of analysis and improvement, and plenty of issues that they will do. In a conventional Apple sense, they work their method into issues slowly, after which grow to be the usual. Will that occur right here? That’s exhausting to say. However foundationally you’ll be able to see the place that is going, and know that that may be a firm that has deep sufficient pockets that if they’re so excited by actually going all in, they’ve that means to take action.

[Editor’s Note: Again, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 releases in September, 2023, and we’ll be testing it just as soon as we can get our hands on it. It appears that the most significant changes to the Apple Watch Ultra 2 are a new chip, new sensors, and a brighter screen. According to Apple, we’ll see the same battery life and lack of native mapping abilities in the second version.]

You may also verify our information to the Greatest GPS Operating Watches to see how we in contrast the Apple Watch Extremely with different market leaders.

Store the Apple Watch Extremely

Name for Feedback

So, with that stated, questions? Feedback? Are you utilizing a smartwatch to your coaching? Do you may have these splits that you consider? What’s your gadget of alternative proper now and why? Depart these within the feedback beneath. Thanks for watching. We’ll catch you subsequent time.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

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