If you want the best Apple Watch with the longest battery life and the most features, you need the Apple Watch Ultra. But despite being the best, it's coming up on its first birthday and there could be a sequel waiting in the wings.
We're getting closer to the expected Apple September event, which should see the launch of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. Alongside the new phones, we could very well see an Apple Watch Ultra 2 alongside watchOS 10.
Last year's Apple Watch Ultra brought a suite of upgrades to the Apple Watch: a larger screen, titanium frame, built-in siren, added action button and, of course, longer battery life. And while the next version is almost certainly going to be an iteration rather than a reinvention, we could well see some notable additions that will make it worth waiting for.
Much of what's coming is still shrouded in secrecy, but a few rumors on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 have broken through the cracks. Below, we're comparing those rumors to what the current Apple Watch Ultra already offers. While we can't make the buying decision for you, here's all the latest information to help you decide whether to opt for the original or wait for the next generation.
And, if you decide the Ultra isn't the way to go, there's always the upcoming Apple Watch Series 9 we expect to launch soon as well.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra: Real vs rumored specs
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Apple Watch Ultra: possible price and release date
The Apple Watch Ultra is unashamedly the best Apple Watch experience you can get, and comes with a price tag to match. Unlike other Apple Watch models, the Ultra has only one 49mm, GPS + Cellular configuration that costs $799/£849/AU$1,299.
Since it's the first generation, we haven't seen any price fluctuations from one Ultra model to the next. But we will point out the Ultra's price is double the starting price of Apple's next best wearable, the Apple Watch 8. For Memorial Day, the Apple Watch Ultra did drop down to $749 at Amazon.
Although Apple doesn't often hike prices between generations (the iPhone 15 Pro may buck this trend), there could be a jump for the price of the Apple Watch Ultra 2. That's due to rumors of a display upgrade that we'll cover below. We don't know specifics on the pricing yet, but it could well be north of $800 when it finally does arrive.
As for the Apple Watch Ultra 2 release date, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple plans to reveal the device in the fall of 2023 alongside the iPhone 15 line-up. Writing in his Power Up newsletter, Gurman claims the Apple Watch Ultra 2 (codenamed N210) will make an appearance at Apple's September event this year. Which means it will likely go on sale in the immediate weeks after the launch, possibly in October 2023.
A second analyst, the reliable Ming-Chi Kuo, also said in a report in July that the Apple Watch 2 should arrive this fall.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Apple Watch Ultra: design and display
We won't expect the overall look of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 to be radically different from the current Apple Watch Ultra. After all, the Ultra was the first real shake-up of the Apple Watch design since the Series 1 debuted in 2015. It's entirely likely the next version will continue the rugged, outdoorsy appeal that Apple is targeting. However, as is the case with the regular Apple Watch models, we expect some tweaks and refinements to come through with the Apple Watch Ultra 2 when it does debut.
Those that feel the current Apple Watch Ultra is too big at 49mm may be unnerved to learn that size could grow to 50mm. According to a report in Digitimes, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 will grow to that larger size to accommodate a 2.1mm display (up from 1.9-inch on the current version).
Initially there were rumors that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 may feature a Micro LED display in favor of the OLED panel on the current generation. As we've seen on TV panels, Micro LED offers brighter colors and better off-angle viewing. However, we may not see these panels for another few years.
While the size may increase, there's a suggestion the weight of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 may drop compared to the 61.3g current model. A rumor posted on Chinese social media site Weibo by a user known as "Setsuna Digital" claims Apple will reduce the weight of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 — but they don't say by how much.
Meanwhile, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently claimed, via MacRumors, the Ultra 2 will feature 3D-printed mechanical parts including the Digital Crown, Side Button and Action Button. Currently, those parts are made from titanium and CNC machined. It's not clear if this shift would be part of the weight reduction, but it could improve production time for Apple as well as reduce overall costs.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Apple Watch Ultra: features
The Apple Watch Ultra brought in several new features that helped set it aside from the Apple Watch Series 8 as a rugged adventure watch. The titanium frame and 2,000 nits peak brightness mean it's well-suited to surviving the knocks and dings of outdoor pursuits while remaining legible.
It also offers the longest battery life of any Apple Watch and, of course, the added functionality of an Action Button to start a workout instantly or manually record laps if you want to use it to, for example, run a marathon.
That doesn't mean there aren't several areas of improvement we could see from the Apple Watch Ultra 2.
Although the battery life on the Apple Watch Ultra is stated at 36 hours — and can be pushed to 60 hours by limiting functionality, that's still far behind some of the competition. If the Apple Watch Ultra 2 could last closer to a week, it would close the gap with some of the best Garmin watches or the impressive Coros Vertix 2.
Additionally, while the Action Button is a great addition, it's somewhat limited in what it can perform. It gives wearers a convenient way to launch certain functions and emergency features from the side of the device. But we wouldn't be surprised if the Apple Watch Ultra 2 expands on this and opens the Action Button up to even more features. If it was opened up to developers to utilize for third-party Apple Watch apps, it could make the Ultra 2 a very appealing device indeed.
Another key area the Apple Watch Ultra 2 could upgrade over the first version is in the available health sensors.
Rumors of a blood glucose sensor joining the other health tech inside Apple's smartwatch started before the Apple Watch Series 7 launch. But a Bloomberg report from earlier this year suggested a non-invasive blood glucose-reading sensor is "hitting major milestones." It stops short of saying we'll see it on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 (the current prototype is reportedly the size of an iPhone), but it would seem the perfect device for Apple to launch the tech on.
The current Apple Watch Ultra has a skin temperature reader, SpO2 reader, ECG sensor, and heart rate monitor, which can all be found on the more affordable Series 8. If the Apple Watch Ultra 2 does get a blood glucose reader, blood pressure monitor, or other health sensor, it could help justify the purchase decision.
When it comes to connectivity, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 will likely arrive with the same dual-frequency GPS as the current model as well as support for the GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS and BeiDou satellite systems.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Apple Watch Ultra 2: specs
Inside the current Apple Watch Ultra are a trio of chips providing the beating heart of the device: the S8 system-on-a-chip, W3 wireless chip and Apple U1 chip.
However, these three chips are exactly the same as those inside the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE (2022). Moreover, the 32GB internal storage is also identical.
If its just specs you're after, then you're almost better off saving your money and opting for the Apple Watch Series 8 than the Ultra 2. While we haven't had any rumors to confirm, we'd be surprised if the Apple Watch Ultra 2 doesn't provide a new more powerful chip. However, whether it will be a significant jump over the Apple Watch Series 9 remains to be seen.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Apple Watch Ultra: outlook
Trying to decide between the Apple Watch Ultra or Apple Watch Ultra 2 is difficult. While the next generation will certainly build on the original, its arrival may mean you can pick the debut Apple Watch Ultra at a discounted price.
Then again, while its rumored the Ultra 2 will arrive in September, it's far from confirmed at this point. So if you do decide to wait for the next model, you may be waiting longer than you want. But we'd still suggest that, with Apple's September event coming up soon, it's worth holding off to see what does or doesn't get announced.
Ultimately, if you want the very best Apple Watch experience you won't go wrong with either the Apple Watch Ultra or the Apple Watch Ultra 2 if it does prove a reality.