The $799 Apple Watch Ultra 2 is here, and it’s not trying to reinvent the wheel. After a week of rigorous testing involving hikes, bike rides, and even spelunking, this latest offering from Apple impresses not with a ‘wow’ factor, but with a comforting familiarity. Much like its predecessor, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is designed as an outdoors watch, boasting a rugged design and an array of sports features like a customizable action button, fall and car crash detection, ECG, temperature sensor, dual-frequency GPS, and built-in LTE. Its 49mm case, now made from 95% recycled titanium, looks identical to the first Ultra, and it shares the same heart rate sensor and sports features collection, making it equally suited for divers, runners, and outdoor enthusiasts.
But what sets the Apple Watch Ultra 2 apart? The answer lies in its screen, chip, and the new Double Tap feature. For hikers and cyclists, the Ultra 2 offers significant advantages, largely thanks to WatchOS 10. This, however, isn’t a reflection of the hardware itself; you can still get most of the same great experience on earlier, compatible Apple Watches. The Apple Watch Ultra 2, which I named the most exciting watch in years when it came out in 2022, will be available from September 22 and is open for preorders now.
Reinventing the Wheel with the New Apple Watch Ultra 2
Apple’s Watch Ultra 2, priced at $799, might not appear to be a significant departure from its predecessor, but a closer look reveals some innovative features that justify its position in the market. With a design identical to the first Ultra, including a 95% recycled titanium case, the new model boasts a customizable action button, accurate heart rate sensor, and a range of sports features targeted at divers, runners, and outdoor enthusiasts.
The Brightest Screen Yet
The Ultra 2’s screen, chip, and new Double Tap feature are key highlights that set it apart from the first Ultra. The screen’s brightness has been cranked up to 3,000 nits, making it the brightest screen on any Apple product. Compared to the iPhone 15 Pro’s peak brightness of 2,000 nits, the Ultra 2’s screen promises superior visibility in various lighting conditions.
The Ultra 2’s flashlight feature also receives a significant boost, able to light up a small room or assist in finding dropped keys. Furthermore, users can force the flashlight to reach maximum brightness by turning the digital crown – a feature unavailable on the first Ultra. The brighter flashlight is a boon for those walking, running, or riding at night, enhancing safety and visibility.
Double Tap: A Gamechanger
Built on the foundation set by AssistiveTouch, the Double Tap feature is an addition to the Ultra 2’s repertoire. Users can double-tap their thumb and index finger to act as a screen press when the watch is out of reach. With over 65 different actions possible in Apple’s native apps, the feature promises enhanced convenience and usability.
WatchOS 10’s Contribution
The Ultra 2’s capabilities are further augmented by WatchOS 10, which brings important updates for outdoor enthusiasts. Offline and topographic maps are now available in Apple Maps, and the compass app supports cellular waypoints. Cyclists also receive significant updates, including support for Bluetooth accessories like power meters and the ability to see metrics as a live activity on the iPhone.
Faster Performace with the S9 chip
The Ultra 2 sports the same S9 chip as the Series 9, allowing for on-device Siri, performance improvements, and the double tap gesture. The S9 chip supports on-device Siri, which is faster and works when the Ultra 2 or your iPhone doesn’t have a signal.
In comparison tests, the Ultra 2 turned on 20 seconds faster than the first Ultra, and message dictation was also speedier and more accurate. Notably, the Ultra 2 doubles the internal storage to 64GB, a significant upgrade for offline music and media storage.
Same Battery Life, More Potential
The Ultra 2’s battery life is unchanged from the first Ultra, offering up to two full days of use on a single charge. Extended outdoor workouts with GPS can be powered for up to 12 hours, and a low power mode extends the runtime to 72 hours.
Conclusion and Takeaways
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 offers a modest update for current Ultra owners and a significant upgrade for those coming from earlier Apple Watch Series. While maintaining its predecessor’s design and core features, the Ultra 2 adds a brighter screen, the Double Tap feature, and the S9 chip. These additions, coupled with the enhancements from WatchOS 10, make the Ultra 2 a compelling choice for both sports enthusiasts and general users seeking a smartwatch that offers a seamless second-screen experience without compromising on app support or cellular connectivity.