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Apple Watch Ultra 2 announced: Evolutionary, not revolutionary.
Apple has announced the Watch Ultra 2 alongside the Apple Watch Series 9 and the iPhone 15 lineup at its “Wonderlust” event. The smartwatch retains the enormous 49mm size and rugged looks of its predecessor, and presents as a minor upgrade over the previous $799 wearable.
Apple says the Watch Ultra 2 is its brightest smartwatch ever with an improved display that delivers 3,000 nits at its max setting. The bigger changes are on the inside, though. The Watch Ultra 2 sports the new S9 processor believed to be based on the A15 chip Apple first used in the iPhone 13 models. The same improved processor also powers the newly launched Apple Watch Series 9.
The upgrade should give you a boost in performance and efficiency, especially since the S8 chip on the Apple Watch Ultra was essentially identical to the S6 and S7 chips used in the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch Series 7. The older chip was also modeled after the A13 Bionic processor from the iPhone 11 family, so an A15-based chip on the new Apple Watch Ultra 2 should make noticeable improvements to how the wearable functions.
One of the coolest features the new chip enables is the new double-tap gesture.
Apple says it is the most powerful chip the company has ever made for a smartwatch and promises 60% more transistors compared to the S8 chip, 30% faster GPU, a four-core neural engine, on-device Siri request processing, more accurate dictation, access to health data via Siri requests, and more.
One of the coolest features the new chip enables is the new Double Tap gesture. It controls the primary button in an app and can be used to answer incoming calls, stop a timer, play and pause music, snooze an alarm, take a photo with the Camera Remote, and more by simply tapping the index finger and thumb of the watch hand.
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 also features a new second-generation Ultra Wideband chip for more precise location services. Thanks to the latter, you can now see the distance and direction to your iPhone when you’re using your Apple Watch Ultra 2 to find it. The watch will also provide haptic feedback as you get closer or further away from your phone on your hunt.
Of course, the Watch Ultra 2 comes with watchOS 10 straight out of the box. One of the most notable changes to the software is the return of widgets, which should appear especially well on the large display of the Watch Ultra 2. The Digital Crown of the Watch Ultra 2 will now let you scroll through the widgets pane instead of the app launcher by default. You also get a new “Modular Ultra watch face” that offers tons of data at a glance, iOS 17-like ability to NameDrop, a few extra workout metrics aimed at cyclists, useful new features in the Compass app, and more. All of these features should also be available on the Apple Watch Ultra and other older Apple smartwatches.
Other than all of the above, the Watch Ultra 2 does not boast many upgrades and new features compared to the Watch Ultra. It still has heart rate, ECG, compass, blood oxygen, temperature sensors, altimeter, depth, and dual-band GPS functions, the same as before.
Apple has priced the Watch Ultra 2 at $799. Pre-orders are now open, with general availability starting on September 22.
If you spent the same amount on the older Apple Watch Ultra model, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 might not seem like a big upgrade, at least from what Apple showed us at the event. We would, of course, reserve our final thoughts about the smartwatch for our review.