Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra - Specs, price, and features, compared

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited September 2023

The second-generation Apple Watch Ultra offers more performance in a wearable that looks like the original. Here's how the upgraded wearable stands against its predecessor.

Apple released a new Apple Watch Ultra 2 for extreme athletes
Apple released a new Apple Watch Ultra 2 for extreme athletes



Apple unveiled the first Apple Watch Ultra in 2022, a rugged device for extreme activities in a different design than other Apple Watch models. The company announced the next generation in September 2023, calling it the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

It has an updated display, a new processor and other internal elements, and a new way for users to interact with it. The new device is also carbon neutral as Apple works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across materials, electricity, and transportation.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra - Specifications

SpecificationsApple Watch UltraApple Watch Ultra 2
Price (starting)$799.00
Best Apple Watch Ultra 1 prices
$799.00
Best Apple Watch Ultra 2 prices
Sizes49mm49mm
DisplayAlways-On Retina LTPO OLED display
Up to 2,000 nits
Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display
Up to 3,000 nits
Case MaterialsTitaniumTitanium
ProcessorS8 SiPS9 SiP
Health SensorsTemperature
Blood oxygen
Electrical heart sensor
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Temperature
Blood oxygen
Electrical heart sensor
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Water Resistance100 meters100 meters
Battery LifeUp to 36 hoursUp to 36 hours
RechargingWirelessWireless
ConnectivityLTE
UMTS
Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n)
Bluetooth 5.3
U1 Ultra Wideband
GPS/GNSS
LTE
UMTS
Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n)
Bluetooth 5.3
Second-generation Ultra Wideband
GPS/GNSS
Other SensorsEmergency SOS
Fall Detection
Crash Detection
Always-on altimeter
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Emergency SOS
Fall Detection
Crash Detection
Always-on altimeter
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
ColorsNatural TitaniumNatural Titanium

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra - Case sizes, materials, and weight



The dimensions of both versions remain unchanged. Apple presents both iterations of the Apple Watch Ultra in a 49mm format, which is bigger than other models in the Apple Watch series.

They are constructed from titanium, ensuring durability and resistance to corrosion, which is par for the course for a rugged-inspired device.

Regarding the other physical attributes of the Apple Watch Ultra and the Apple Watch Ultra 2, both devices share identical dimensions and weight. The watches measure 49mm by 44mm by 14.4mm, maintaining a substantial yet comfortable size that accommodates the unique feature set offered by the devices.

Since they can both be used while swimming, enhanced water resistance is rated to 100 meters under ISO 22810 for both devices. Apple also says they can be used for recreational scuba diving to 40 meters.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra - Display



While the Apple Watch Ultra has a brightness of up to 2,000 nits for the Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display, the Ultra 2 bumps up to 3,000 nits. Moreover, the display can lower its brightness to just one nit to avoid disturbing others in dark environments.

The Modular Ultra watch face is a notable addition, which leverages the large display to present real-time data at the outermost edge. It offers the highest number of complications of any Apple digital watch face to date.

Each Apple Watch Ultra variant boasts a sharp display resolution of 410 x 502 pixels, ensuring clear and vibrant visuals for a better user experience. The high resolution results in detailed and crisp rendering of texts, images, and other content on the watch's screen.

New Modular watch face on Apple Watch Ultra 2
New Modular watch face on Apple Watch Ultra 2



The updated display structure enhances the flashlight function on the Apple Watch Ultra 2, allowing users to turn the Digital Crown to increase the brightness twofold for improved illumination momentarily.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra - Processor



After using the S8 on the first Apple Watch Ultra, Apple upgraded the processor or System in Package (SiP) on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 with the S9 chip. The S9 enables an on-device Siri capable of confidential and secure health data retrieval and recording.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has a revamped 4-core Neural Engine, which handles machine learning operations up to two times faster than its predecessor.

Furthermore, the dictation feature on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has seen up to a 25% increase in accuracy thanks to the S9 chip. The enhancement guarantees more exact voice-to-text translations, improving the user experience to ensure quick responses.

The processor's Ultra Wideband chip has been upgraded to a second-generation version in the Apple Watch Ultra 2, enhancing the precision of locating a nearby iPhone.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra - Health and fitness



The two Apple Watch Ultra models have health and fitness features for athletes or other people. The orange-colored Action button on the side of each model can instantly start workouts.

For events such as triathlons and duathlons, or any activity involving a combination of swimming, biking, or running, the Multisport workout feature in watchOS 9 later includes automatic detection to transition between different workouts seamlessly. The Apple Watch Ultra models have sufficient battery longevity to support most users through a lengthy triathlon.

A new modular watch face [left] and the interface used when diving [right]
A new modular watch face [left] and the interface used when diving [right]



The Action button can start workouts and facilitate the transition to a Custom Workout's next phase or the Multisport exercise's next stage. Additionally, it can be used to mark segments for optimal pacing and distance projections for track runners.

The Oceanic+ app on both models enables recreational scuba diving and freediving, providing users with critical data such as depth and elapsed time during a freedive, along with target depth alerts.

Thanks to watchOS and physical sensors, both Apple Watch Ultra models can log mental health with the Mindfulness app, track temperature so women can understand their menstrual cycle with the Cycle Tracking app, measure blood oxygen levels, take an ECG from the wrist, and monitor sleep stages.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra - Battery and storage



The battery on the Apple Watch Ultra can last up to 36 hours on Wi-Fi or 18 hours with cellular connectivity. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has the same 36-hour battery life in "normal" usage but can increase that to 72 hours in Low Power Mode.

The claim of all-day battery longevity is based on the following usage pattern of 180 instances of checking the time, receiving 180 notifications, utilizing apps for 90 minutes, and engaging in a 60-minute workout while playing music through the Apple Watch using Bluetooth, all within 36 hours.

Battery life was verified through tests performed by Apple with pre-release versions of the Apple Watch Ultra models equipped with GPS and Cellular and paired with an iPhone.

Additionally, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has a storage capacity of 64GB, which is double that of the Apple Watch Ultra at 32GB. The increased storage allows more apps, music, and other media to be stored directly on the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra - Other features



The Apple Watch Ultra 2 introduces a new way for users to interact and control their wearable without touching the display. When users press their thumb and index finger together twice, they can open the Smart Stack from a watch face, answer calls, scroll through widgets, and enable other features.




Powered by the enhanced Neural Engine in the S9 chip, the feature uses a new machine-learning algorithm to analyze data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor. The algorithm identifies the patterns of minor wrist motions and blood flow alterations that take place when a double tap gesture is performed with the thumb and index finger.

The S9 chip also introduces a Siri assistant with offline capabilities. As long as a user's request doesn't require information from the internet, Siri can offer fast and reliable responses, such as accessing health data, setting timers, and starting workouts.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra - Price



The original Apple Watch Ultra was priced at $799. Fortunately, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 keeps the same price of $799 despite the device's new features and upgraded components.

However, similar to other older products, Apple doesn't directly sell the original Apple Watch Ultra anymore. It doesn't even list any in the refurbished section of the online store, at least not at the time of writing, but that may change.

Despite Apple shifting only to the Apple Watch Ultra 2 at retail and online, there will still be supplies of the first-generation model at third-party retailers for a while.

Every Apple Watch variant ships exclusively in a natural titanium color. There are no alternatives for either color or material of the Apple Watch itself.

There are a selection of bands available, including the Alpine Loop "for outdoor adventure," a Trail Loop for general workouts, and the Ocean Band intended for water sports and recreational diving. All are offered in a variety of colors.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra - What to buy



Despite some enhancements, the new Apple Watch Ultra 2 probably won't be necessary for every Apple Watch Ultra user. Some options to consider are the brighter display, greater storage, and Low Power Mode.

The Apple Watch Ultra is already a highly capable smartwatch with most of the same features as the second-generation model. Its display, health and fitness functionalities, and battery life are commendable, and for many, these features will still be more than sufficient for daily use.

The double-tap gesture used on the Apple Watch Ultra 2
The double-tap gesture used on the Apple Watch Ultra 2



Unless users have a unique need that can only be met by the Apple Watch Ultra 2, they are unlikely to miss out on most features if they stick to the first-generation model.

When considered as a first-time purchase or an upgrade from the standard Apple Watch line, there's very little reason to use the older model than the second-generation Apple Watch Ultra. It's a premium model so potential purchasers may not necessarily be swayed by any cost savings from tracking down the first-generation model.

The second-generation Apple Watch Ultra is the best example of Apple's work in producing a wearable computer. It may fall into the trap of Apple's second-gen devices being iterations on the first without going all-out on new features, but for the audience it seeks, the latest edition doesn't need to do that.

Where to buy the Apple Watch Ultra 2



The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is available for purchase from Amazon.com, Adorama.com and Expercom.com, with availability from September 22. Easily compare prices across top retailers in the AppleInsider Apple Watch Price Guide.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    Nah, my first gen still functions of my needs.
    williamlondongrandact73bluefire1
  • Reply 2 of 17
    All these improvements for the same price as the original is incredible! If you have a 45mm Series 5, 6, 7 or 8, and need cellular connectivity, the Ultra Watch 2 is a no-brainer 
    jfabula1jahbladewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 17
    The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has the same 36-hour battery life in "normal" usage but can increase that to 72 hours in Low Power Mode.

    The Ultra 1 also has Low Power mode.  So do the Series 4 thru 8, and almost certainly the 9 as well.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobradarkvader
  • Reply 4 of 17
    I have definitely felt that previous versions of the Watch were not bright enough, but 2,000 nits is perfectly good enough for me. The other added stuff seems kind of cool but not enough to justify me upgrading. I'm perfectly happy with the one I have. Until this year, I have actually upgraded every year starting with the 4. Every year they would make the screen brighter or larger or add must-haves, like an always-on-display. this is also the first watch that doesn't scratch, which is also a must-have for me. So this is basically the first watch that I have felt was good enough. But honestly, I can see how 3,000 nits would be better than 2,000 nits. But 2,000 is not horrible and I'm just going to stick with the one I have. Another good point is that the Watch has a significantly lower resale value compared to the iPhone. If I could get a 57% trade-in value for the Watch, I would probably do it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 17
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,182member
    "potential purchasers may not necessarily be swayed by any cost savings from tracking down the first-generation model."
    I believe saving $200 or more by purchasing the 1st generation model would sway a lot of people and be a smart move.
    edited September 2023
  • Reply 6 of 17
    Let’s be kind to the planet; it doesn’t upgrade but can degrade. 

    jfabula1twokatmew
  • Reply 7 of 17
    Another good point is that the Watch has a significantly lower resale value compared to the iPhone. If I could get a 57% trade-in value for the Watch, I would probably do it.
    What are you talking about? You can EASILY resell the first gen Ultra for 57% of original value. Unless that was a typo and you meant 75%. In that case, you could still possibly get that for it. I see people selling theirs for $600 all over the place right now. The ultra is almost in line with the iPhone Pro on resell value. 

    And I'm not talking TRADE IN value. If you're trading in your Apple gear to APPLE, you either don't really care how much you get for it or you aren't very bright. Trading in your iPhone to your carrier could be a good deal with their inflated trade in values, but then you're locked into 3 years with that carrier and no real upgrade potential for those three years.
    edited September 2023 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 17
    Another good point is that the Watch has a significantly lower resale value compared to the iPhone. If I could get a 57% trade-in value for the Watch, I would probably do it.
    What are you talking about? You can EASILY resell the first gen Ultra for 57% of original value. Unless that was a typo and you meant 75%. In that case, you could still possibly get that for it. I see people selling theirs for $600 all over the place right now. The ultra is almost in line with the iPhone Pro on resell value. 

    And I'm not talking TRADE IN value. If you're trading in your Apple gear to APPLE, you either don't really care how much you get for it or you aren't very bright. Trading in your iPhone to your carrier could be a good deal with their inflated trade in values, but then you're locked into 3 years with that carrier and no real upgrade potential for those three years.
    Apparently, you didn't read my post very well because I specifically stated "Trade-In". You gave 2 reasons for trading in, but missed a third reason, which is super easy and uncomplicated. Not every person in the world enjoys selling stuff. Apple offers a 57% or higher trade in value for the previous generation iPhone. Last year I received a 60% trade-in value which made my cost $400. It's so great that you can get $600 by selling your phone and you imply that basically the vast majority of other people can also do it (except the stupid loser people of course), but I have no confidence in my ability to do that. You say in your reply that people are selling for $600 all over the place. But if Apple is buying for very close to that, why would that be dumb? It's super easy and convenient with no hassle. I didn't check the trade-in value for the Ultra. I just remember that Apple only offered $155 for the Series 7, which is less than half. 
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 17
    XedXed Posts: 2,471member
    I have definitely felt that previous versions of the Watch were not bright enough, but 2,000 nits is perfectly good enough for me. The other added stuff seems kind of cool but not enough to justify me upgrading. I'm perfectly happy with the one I have. Until this year, I have actually upgraded every year starting with the 4. Every year they would make the screen brighter or larger or add must-haves, like an always-on-display. this is also the first watch that doesn't scratch, which is also a must-have for me. So this is basically the first watch that I have felt was good enough. But honestly, I can see how 3,000 nits would be better than 2,000 nits. But 2,000 is not horrible and I'm just going to stick with the one I have. Another good point is that the Watch has a significantly lower resale value compared to the iPhone. If I could get a 57% trade-in value for the Watch, I would probably do it.
    2000 nits isn't "good enough" when you're on a peak in the bright daylight with no cloud cover and you want to glance at your watch face quickly. I not only have to remove or adjust my sunglasses because reading it with them on is impossible, but I have to take too much time and often have to cup my hand to see anything. I'm not even sure 3000 nits would be good enough then, but 50% brighter is certainly a feature that made me consider upgrading my Ultra but I've ultimately decided to wait for at least another generation.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 17
    I can’t believe after an entire year of R&D, all they could come up with was this. A minor spec bump.
  • Reply 11 of 17
    64GBs of STORAGE (FINALLY)!!!  Please give me my Digital_ID, so I can walk the streets with no iPhone (or wallet) and have most of my music playing over Bluetooth 5.3 with my AirPod Pro 2s!!!

    Laters...

    Kenny Rogers remix on the Gambler:

    You gotta know when buy 'um, know when to sell 'um!  They'll be time enough for battery, when the chargings done...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 17
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,336member
    Another good point is that the Watch has a significantly lower resale value compared to the iPhone. If I could get a 57% trade-in value for the Watch, I would probably do it.
    What are you talking about? You can EASILY resell the first gen Ultra for 57% of original value. Unless that was a typo and you meant 75%. In that case, you could still possibly get that for it. I see people selling theirs for $600 all over the place right now. The ultra is almost in line with the iPhone Pro on resell value. 

    And I'm not talking TRADE IN value. If you're trading in your Apple gear to APPLE, you either don't really care how much you get for it or you aren't very bright. Trading in your iPhone to your carrier could be a good deal with their inflated trade in values, but then you're locked into 3 years with that carrier and no real upgrade potential for those three years.
    Apple is offering $580.00 trade in for 13 Pro max and 380.00 for the first gen Apple watch Ultra. I upgrade my phone every year and give her my previous so that is why I looked up trade in for the 13 pro max.  I am not sure how trading in for this prices wouldn't be very bright?  Also just because you see people selling AW Ultra for $600.00 does not mean they will get that much in the end with a private sale. I sold phones privately to upgrade for years prior to Apple offering trade ins. People are low balling assholes when it comes time to pay for something they agreed too. I think Apple's Ultra trade in could be a little higher but nearly 50% is not bad at all in my opinion.

    I like doing things through Apple as I can pay the remaining balance off quickly.. with the carriers there is no pay off early option, you are stuck for 3 years making payments. Then have to go back to them and jump through hoops to get the device unlocked once it's paid in full. Which is complete nonsense in my opinion.

    edited September 2023 slow n easywatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 17
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,336member
    clexman said:
    I can’t believe after an entire year of R&D, all they could come up with was this. A minor spec bump.

    Honestly there was no need to update the Ultra year over year. They should have saved that year for R&D to make the next model a bit more compelling IMHO.
  • Reply 14 of 17
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,344member
    jcs2305 said:
    clexman said:
    I can’t believe after an entire year of R&D, all they could come up with was this. A minor spec bump.

    Honestly there was no need to update the Ultra year over year. They should have saved that year for R&D to make the next model a bit more compelling IMHO.
    I was thinking the same thing. This upgrade is just a slight bit more than a spec bump. But If I didn't already have an Ultra, the 2 would have tipped the scales for me. I got a pretty good deal on an Ultra or I was going to see what Gen 2 would be like.

    Skipping the 2 is a no-brainer for me and maybe I'll consider the 3. But with the MSRP of $800 I'm in no hurry for a new Ultra.

    For anybody considering any Apple Watch, a titanium case and sapphire combo is practically bulletproof. My U has been banged around quite a bit but looks absolutely brand new.

    If Apple did trade-ins of 60% for Watches in perfect condition, I might cash-in for a U2. They only offered me $300 via the website so there's no way. Yeah I hate the selling process and potential pitfalls too.

     or you aren't very bright.
    Don't be dick.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 17
    Thanks Andrew! Great article, you hit so many good points of the Ultra watch. 
    I'd add, use it solo!


    Use as replacing phone for daily activities, walking, running, workouts, streaming music to headphones and car radio as I travel through town to the things I need to do, without having to carry a phone, yet having all the connectivity!  

    (You have to light up the cell link at your carrier of course.)

    Including super bright easy to read screen, music, Apps, shopping lists, email, web-links, texts, phone calls, fitness, heart rate, reminders, photos, maps, weather, notifications, interactions on most Apps.  

    You can even go to web sites if you have pre sent yourself the URL links in an email or text.
    If you were out, and met a friend who says check this website, just ask them to text you the URL.

    Here is the thing, if you actually take that action of leaving your phone behind part of your day, you will learn so much more about the watch!   This watch does so much more, all day, and still tracks sleep at night. It does not have to be considered an extreme activities watch, there is so much more!

    My favorite thing is streaming and playing music to my car when driving!
    The watch has a decent amount of storage as well, and you can download a good amount of playlists so that those will play if you lose connection.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,146member
    All these improvements for the same price as the original is incredible! If you have a 45mm Series 5, 6, 7 or 8, and need cellular connectivity, the Ultra Watch 2 is a no-brainer 
    It's really not.  I've got a 45mm 7, and I definitely don't want anything bigger.  If my eyes were better, I'd have gotten a 41mm instead.

    I'm not into scuba diving, and I'm never far from a charger.  The ultra makes no sense for me.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    I like the double tap feature, it's a great way to integrate Gestures, which I really use a lot on the Mac, but other than that my Ultra is fine.

    2000 nits, even in bright summertime sun light is good enough. 
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