This year, there are three new Apple Watches, ranging in price from $250 dollars to $800 dollars. So, what do you get with each model?
I chatted with Apple Watch Product Manager Deidre Caldbeck to find out what’s new and did some testing of my own by wearing the Ultra for a few weeks.
“I think it’s just one of those products that really helps people improve their life,” said Caldbeck of the popularity of the Apple Watch.
It’s not just the world’s best-selling smartwatch, but the best-selling watch in general.
For starters, there are three models to choose from and all are new this year: the SE, the Series 8 and the Ultra.
SE is the entry level model. This model is a bit smaller in size and lacks the always on display. The price got a little chop this year. It now starts at $250.
If you’re thinking of getting this for your kid, I’d recommend the cellular version for $300. With a data plan, they’ll be able to make and receive calls and texts even without an iPhone or Wi-Fi nearby. Carriers typically charge between $5 and $10 a month for the plan.
“It’s 20 percent faster than the previous version of SE,” said Caldbeck.
Series 8 is right in the middle of the lineup. New features include a temperature sensor.
“It’s not detecting your core body temperature, but it can detect your nighttime wrist temperature,” said Caldbeck.
It takes a measurement every 5 seconds, but only while you sleep. Plus, it takes a few days to show up in the app so don’t return the watch if your temp isn’t showing up after the first night you wear it to bed.
A variation in wrist temp could reveal when you’re getting sick, jetlag, the impact of exercise and more. Plus, it’s key for tracking women’s health metrics.
“You’ll actually receive a notification that gives you an estimate of when you likely ovulated,” said Caldbeck. “Which is really important for those trying to conceive, it’s important for family planning.”
The Series 8 also has car crash detection built in, which is now included in all the new models. Series 8 starts at $400.
The newest Apple Watch in the lineup is the Ultra. This is Apple’s most rugged, most extreme watch with a new larger 49mm case. I say case because the display doesn’t necessarily go all the way to the edges of the screen.
The Ultra has a larger battery, dive features, an emergency siren, extra microphones, more precise GPS and even an extra, programmable button on the side.
“It’s really for exploration and adventure,” said Caldbeck.
In my testing, I found it to be lighter than it looks and even comfortable to wear to sleep. I prefer the ocean band over the loop, which can be a bit of a challenge to put on and take off regularly.
There is only one model of the Ultra that includes a cellular antenna. It starts at $800. Keep in mind if you get any Apple Watch with cellular it can still dial 911 in an emergency even without an active plan. This is due to regulations in the U.S. that says all cellular devices must be able to reach 911 even if they’re not currently on an active carrier plan. Rules in other countries vary.
The battery on the Ultra lasts longer, but you’ll still need to find a suitable time to charge it, especially if you want to wear it to sleep.
Overall, the Ultra mostly lives up to its name and immediately invokes a sense of ruggedness, but you really need to use the extra features to justify the higher price tag.