The Apple Watch Ultra is a SCUBA diver's wet dream

Cal Jeffrey

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Staff member
In brief: There were plenty of rumors leading up to the announcement of the Apple Watch Series 8. The central theme of almost all of them was the Pro appendage to the name. Seemingly every bit of information leaked regarding Cupertino's newest wearable was specified as the "Apple Watch Pro," leading us to wonder; will there even be a standard Apple Watch this year?

Apple unveiled the Watch Series 8 at Wednesday's "Far Out" keynote. The good news is that there is a standard version. The more affordable SE model also makes a return this year. The bad news is that there was no Pro model to be seen. Well, that's because Apple decided to psych everybody out and call it Apple Watch Ultra.

The Apple Watch Series 8 is not a giant leap forward from the Series 7. The most noteworthy features are a couple of additional sensors for gauging body temperature and blood oxygen levels (SpO2). It also has an upgraded gyroscope and accelerometer that can detect severe car crashes and will automatically call first responders.

The screen is crack-resistant, and Apple says it increased the display size by reducing the bezels. So while the Series 8 has the same case size as last year, the screen is just a tad larger. The more exciting aspect is the always-on display. This feature is welcome for those who like the ability to check the time with a glance. We thought we would get that last year, but apparently, it needed just a bit more time in the R&D department.

Battery life on the Series 8 is about the same as last year's model (18 hours), but watchOS 9 will have a low-power mode for conserving it for up to 36 hours on a full charge. This feature nullifies most features that make the Seris 8 different, like turning off the always-on screen and shutting down background apps.

As always, Apple has come up with fresh faces and complications to go with the newest Apple Watch, which launches on September 16. Preorders are available as of today, starting at $399 for the 41mm Wi-Fi-only model and $499 for Wi-Fi/Cellular. If you like the larger 45mm casing, bump those price points by $30.

The SE version of the Apple Watch is Cupertino's budget branding. It is essentially the same as the standard Series 8 but misses out on the always-on display. It is also one millimeter smaller than its counterparts (40mm and 44mm).

However, it does have the core features of Series 8, including its hardware. So compared to last year's model, the SE has a 30 percent larger screen (again, thanks to bezel reductions) and is 30 percent faster.

Preorders are available today, starting at $249 and $299 for Wi-Fi-only and GPS models, respectively. It's also the same $30 increase for the larger version.

Developing…

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