The Apple Watch Ultra caught our attention in 2022 when it was announced as Apple’s first rugged wearable, but can it continue to stand up to 2023’s Apple Watch Ultra 2?
While the regular Apple Watch is an ever-popular smartwatch for everyday wear and fitness tracking, the Ultra was the first Apple wearable designed for outdoor adventurers, making it a true rival to trackers from the likes of Garmin and Coros. The question is, how does the Apple Watch compare to the new Apple Watch Ultra 2?
We’ve tried and tested both Apple Watches. Keep reading to learn how the two compare when it comes to design, screen, performance, fitness tracking and health monitoring.
Design and screen
When it comes to design, both the Apple Watch Ultra and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 feature Apple’s usual square design and have 49mm cases. This makes them virtually identical on the wrist from afar, though the Ultra 2 is built from 95% recycled titanium.
Both Ultras boast OLED Retina displays with LTPO refresh rates and always-on technology. Both screens are also made from flat sapphire crystal display for extra durability.
One key difference between the two wearables is the brightness of the screens. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has a much brighter 3000-nit display compared to the 1000-nit screen on the original Apple Watch Ultra. This is especially useful for divers as having a bright screen is essential underwater, and we could immediately tell the difference when looking at the two watches side-by-side.
Speaking of water, both Apple Watches are also water-resistant up to 100m and dust-resistant up to IP6X.
Features and performance
When it comes to performance, the biggest update on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 comes from the new Apple S9 chipset.
The S9 – which can also be found in the Apple Watch 9 – offers faster CPU performance and includes a second-generation Ultra Wideband chip that allows you to use Prevision Find to track down a misplaced iPhone.
Thanks to the updated Neural Engine, Siri requests can now be processed on-device. This means that you to ask the voice assistant to complete tasks with no need for internet access on the Ultra 2. We also found that Siri is better in general, picking up words more accurately.
Another new feature that we found quite futuristic to use is the double-tap gesture. This allows you to open your Smart Stack and dismiss timers simply by pinching your fingers together rather than tapping on the screen.
Lastly, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has twice the capacity of the original Apple Watch Ultra with 64GB up from 32GB.
Fitness and health tracking
When it comes to health and fitness tracking, there aren’t many distinguishable differences between the two Apple Watch Ultra generations as most of these updates are arriving via watchOS 10.
One Ultra 2-exclusive feature worth noting is the new on-device Siri health requests. Like the Siri features mentioned in the last section, these requests are completed on-device. This means you can log health information and access data from the Apple Health app privately and securely.
However, it’s important to note that we didn’t get a chance to try this feature out during the review period so we can’t give our opinion on this feature.
Both the Apple Watch Ultra and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 pack long-lasting all-day battery lives that outperform other Apple Watch models.
According to Apple, both smartwatches should have you moving for up to 36 hours between charges, but we found that the Ultra 2 lasted an average of 50-60 hours. Likewise, the original Ultra lasted for a couple of days even with some of its more power-hungry features in use.
Some of the biggest differences between the Apple Watch Ultra and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 can be found in the brightness of the display, support for on-device Siri requests and the futuristic double-tap pinching gesture.
The second-generation Ultra also delivers faster performance and packs twice the internal storage, making it a compelling buy if you don’t already have the Ultra at home.
Otherwise, the two smartwatches share the same design, waterproofing, app support and fitness tracking features Apple Watch Ultra users have known and loved for the past year.