Apple Watch Ultra vs Ultra 2 - Understand the Main Differences

Apple Watch Ultra vs Ultra 2 - Understand the Main Differences

The Apple Watch Ultra and the Ultra 2 are Apple’s most capable and rugged Watches yet. However, the Ultra 2 (2023) is the successor to the Ultra (2022) and boasts several enhancements.

The Ultra 2 has double the storage capacity, 50% more brightness, on-device Siri, dual-band GPS, and the watchOS 10 software upgrade.

Apart from that, the core functionality and design features are largely the same in the Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2. Both are designed for high-speed watersports, recreational scuba diving, and other extreme activities.

We’re waiting on the Ultra 3 sometime in 2024 or 2025, which is expected to continue crushing extreme performance and ruggedness expectations. 

This comprehensive comparison between the original Apple Watch Ultra and new Ultra 2 models covers aspects such as design, performance, features, battery life, and price.

Action: If you already have the Apple Watch Ultra, we recommend that you wait for the Ultra 3’s release. The current patent dispute with Masimo means the available Ultra 2 models lack the disputed pulse oximeter technology. Hopefully, Apple will resolve the matter or develop more innovative health monitoring technology for the Ultra 3.

#1. Size, Weight, and Display Comparison

The Apple Ultra and Ultra 2 both feature vibrant Retina displays. However, there are several notable improvements in the Ultra 2.

The two watches share the same 49mm by 44mm case with slim bezels. They have an identical Always-On Retina display, which is 27% larger than the one in the Apple Watch Series 6/7/8. The result is an immersive viewing experience like no other.

The large display area allows for more content to be shown on the screen, enhancing usability for health data and activity monitoring apps.

In terms of display resolution, the Ultra 2 has the same pixel density as the Ultra. Both have a 502 x 410 px screen, which is more than enough to give you sharp images and text. Both Watches handle small text and fine details in photos and apps pretty well, although it seems the Ultra 2 has better scaling.

That’s where the similarities stop. The Ultra 2 is 50% brighter, with 3,000 nits of maximum brightness versus 2,000 nits in the Ultra. Thus, the newer model has better visibility in outdoor conditions, which is particularly beneficial for users who often use their Watch in bright sunlight.

Here is a comparison table summarizing the key differences in display quality:


Apple Watch Ultra

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Display Area

410 by 502 pixels (1185 sq mm display area)

410 by 502 pixels


502 x 410 (~326 ppi density)

502 x 410 (~326 pixels per inch)


Lower max brightness: 2,000 nits

Higher max brightness: 3,000 nits

TL;DR: In terms of display, the only difference between the Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Ultra 2 is the brightness. The Ultra 2 has a higher maximum brightness of 3,000 nits, compared to the Ultra’s 2,000 nits. This means the Ultra 2 offers better visibility in bright sunshine.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Ultra: Size And Weight Comparison

The Apple Watch Ultra, the earlier model, has a weight of 61.3g (titanium model), while the Ultra 2 weighs 61.4 grams, also in titanium. This weight includes everything enclosed in the watch case, excluding the bands.

In terms of dimensions, the Apple Watch Ultra measures 49mm in height by 44mm depth by 14.4mm depth, exactly the same as the Ultra 2.

#2. Apple Watch Ultra vs Ultra 2: Performance and Features

army green Apple watch band for Apple Ultra and Ultra 2

The main differences between the Ultra 2 and its predecessor start to show themselves once we peek under the waterproof titanium case.

Check the table below for a brief overview of the main differences in the performance and features of the Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2.


Apple Watch Ultra

Apple Watch Ultra 2


S8 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor

S9 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor

4-core Neural Engine

Ultra Wideband

U1 chip

Second-generation Ultra Wideband with improved Precision Finding





Blood oxygen sensor, ECG app, Temperature sensor, Fitness tracking

Same but without oxygen saturation due to patent dispute

Also has cycle tracking, a Medications app, a Mindfulness app,

Noise app, Sleep tracking app

Navigation and Activity

Standard set plus high-G accelerometer for Fall and Crash Detection

Advanced running, hiking, swimming, cycling, diving features, and more

Battery Life & Charging

Up to 36 hours, Fast charging

Up to 36 hours, 72 hours in Low Power Mode, 80% charge in 1 hour

All the other features are mostly identical between the two Watches:

    • Connectivity: Both models support LTE and UMTS on GPS + Cellular models, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz), and Bluetooth Version 5.3.
  • W3 Apple Wireless Chip
  • Audio: Dual speakers, 40% louder than the Apple Watch Series 8
  • Microphone: Three-microphone array with beamforming and wind noise mitigation
  • User experience: Digital Crown, customizable Action Button
  • Payment: Apple Pay and GymKit compatibility
  • Power and charging: USB-C Magnetic Fast Charging Cable; up to 80% charge in 1 hour
  • Navigation: Dual-band frequency GPS (L1 and L5), GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou, compass, Always-On Altimeter, high dynamic range gyroscope, and a depth gauge capable of 40m/130 ft.
  • Emergency: SOS, International Emergency Calling, Crash Detection, inbuilt Siren

The New S9 Chip With Neural Engine

The main performance difference is that the Ultra 2 has a newer chip compared to its predecessor, as well as an updated Ultra-Wideband chip. According to Apple, the new S9 chip allows you to access Siri right on the Ultra 2, even without an internet connection.

That’s because the newer 4-core Neural Engine on the Ultra 2 allows 25% more accuracy in speech recognition and 2x faster processing of machine learning tasks compared to the other Apple Watch Series.

This chip also brings about the other notable difference—the Ultra 2’s new double tap gesture.

You can now control the Watch using just one hand without touching the display, simply by quickly tapping the index finger and thumb of the hand where you’re wearing your watch.

This gesture allows you to perform common actions like opening Smart Stack, scrolling through widgets, answering and ending phone calls, playing and pausing music, stopping timers, and much more.

Other Differences: Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Original Ultra

Apple watch band for Apple Ultra and Ultra 2

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 introduces several new features that were not present in the original model. These enhancements span across various aspects of the device, including health tracking, user interface, and connectivity.

  • Modular Watch Face - First introduced in the Ultra, the Modular Watch Face has been customized and enhanced in the Ultra 2 in many subtle ways
  • Tougher - The Ultra 2 is proven to work at 500 meters below and 9,000 meters above sea level
  • Dive capability: Like the original Apple Watch Ultra, the Ultra 2 works with the Oceanic+ app to log dives, heart rate, set alarms, show elapsed time, and more, with some improvements.
  • On-device Siri - As mentioned, Siri is now native on the Ultra 2 and won’t require internet connectivity to process requests like setting timers, starting an inbuilt workout, or accessing logged health information.
  • Improved Find My iPhone feature - the new Ultra Wideband feature enables better Precision Finding, with visual, haptic, and audio guidance
  • New OS - the Ultra 2 runs on watchOS 10, as opposed to watchOS 9 for the Ultra.

The watchOS 10 features redesigned information flows, a new Smart Stack, new watch faces, automatic night mode, real-time compass and elevation information, new topographic maps, and more. It also features more intuitive control of the Digital Crown and Action Button. 

Despite these upgrades, the Ultra 2 comes at the price of $799, the same as the original model. However, Apple no longer sells the older Apple Watch Ultra directly, and third-party resellers may charge different prices for the two models.

Hot Tip: If you grabbed your Apple Watch Ultra or Ultra 2 before Apple removed the blood oxygen sensing technology, good for you! However, take care of the Watch to avoid breaking it. If you take it to Apple Care, you’re very likely to lose that technology, given the ongoing legal disputes.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 Carbon Neutrality

Apple has been making good on its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030. The Ultra 2 comes with many environmentally-friendly features, such as a case made of 95% recycled titanium. 

Other materials are also recycled, such as tungsten, rare earth elements in magnets, and tin used in solder on the printed circuit boards, all of which are 100% recycled. If this is important to you, ensure you get an Ultra 2 with the Alpine or Trail Loop Bands.


The Apple Ultra is very similar to the new Ultra 2, with only a few hardware and performance differences. Chiefly, the Ultra 2 comes with the modern S9 chip, twice the storage, a brighter display, and better battery performance. 

The software also comes with some sweet performance upgrades, including the native Siri and new double tap gesture. If you’re earth-conscious, you’ll appreciate the 100% carbon neutrality of the Ultra 2.

All these upgrades are nice, but are they worth upgrading from an Ultra to an Ultra 2? Probably not. It’s best to wait for the promised Ultra 3, which may feature even better battery life, more Siri integrations, and user experience upgrades.

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