In case you missed the big announcement, Apple has confirmed that this year's Apple September event will take place on Tuesday, September 12, and we've been dissecting Apple's invite for clues as to what we can expect to see unveiled.
We’re likely to see a plethora of new devices, including the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, two higher-end models, presumably a Pro and Pro Max, and next gen AirPods. However, in my capacity as TechRadar’s Fitness, Wellness and Wearables Editor, I’m most interested in the Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, both of which are reportedly landing this year.
I believe the tagline Apple has chosen for the even – 'Wonderlust', an obvious play on 'wanderlust' – is a veiled reference to, at the very least, the Ultra 2. The original Apple Watch Ultra impressed us enough to earn a place on our list of the best Apple Watch entries last year due to its sturdy, rugged construction, improved GPS capabilities and new action button mechanic.
This action button was engineered for use during exercise or adventuring, making it easier to operate the watch while wearing gloves, control the watch while underwater (especially if you’re a diver – the watch is also a working dive computer), or signal for help thanks to its programmable functionality.
Thanks to leaks from notable sources such as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, we’re pretty sure an Ultra 2 is on the cards for this year’s presentation alongside the Watch 9. It’s likely to be a fairly minor upgrade, but I believe Apple will be leaning pretty heavily on the adventuring aspects of the Watch, even if I have nothing else to go on other than the logo and that cryptic tagline.
Wanderlust – defined as 'a strong desire to travel' – is a word that’s become a touchstone or keyword for travel bloggers everywhere, and those who love the scent of adventure in their nostrils will have their interest piqued by Apple's play on it. It’s not hard to believe that the Ultra 2 will be packing even more adventurous features. It’s likely to be lighter thanks to 3D-printed parts, for one, retaining the same tough titanium construction and hardened glass.
The hardened glass could be referenced by the Apple logo dissolving into grains of sand, or it might be a reference to being able to use the Watch in ever-more extreme environments, such as snowy or desert climes. The GPS is getting as good as it can be, and it’s certainly up there with the systems on the best Garmin watches, but one key area where the Ultra 2 could improve, as ever, is battery life. Most Garmin, Coros, Polar and other watches that are tailor-made for adventure and triathlons are engineered to last for weeks, not 36 hours.
To see the Apple Watch Ultra 2 get 48 hours battery life, and 52 hours on a reduced ‘expedition’ mode, would mean it would last over the course of a multi-day event in the wilderness involving camping or hiking, pushing the limits of what’s been possible for Apple in the past. This upgrade is top of my list, and although it’s ambitious, it would certainly cement the Ultra’s place in the adventure watch canon. As things stand, battery anxiety would prevent me using it on a camping trip, swapping to my trusty Garmin Instinct Crossover instead.
The emphasis on travel and wanderlust, if my guesses are correct, is also likely to extend to the iPhone 15’s camera setup, which could offer new ways to capture impressive-looking landscape shots. If the iPhone 15’s high-end models are just as robust as the watch, you’d have a combination of devices that you can take into any climate, ready to measure your progress, navigate your surroundings, and capture inspiring content.
Of course, this is all conjecture, speculation, guesswork, and, in some cases, a bit of a pipe-dreaming. But at the very least I think it's likely that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 will be a bit lighter, and that the quoted battery life will extend to 42 hours from 36. Those upgrades alone would cement its place among the best running watches.
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Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.
Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.