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Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs 1: What’s different?

Apple Watch Ultra 2 has an identical physical design to the original Ultra and many of the core features and capabilities remain the same. But what sets them apart? Read along for a look at what’s different between Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs 1.

To be fair, the Pam “same thing” meme only applies to the exterior as there are a number of differences between the Ultra 2 and Ultra 1 when it comes to features, the SoC, and more.

But how meaningful those differences are in real-world use could end up feeling inconsequential for many people.

We’ll dig into all the nitty gritty details below. And to give the best perspective on the differences between all the recent models, we’ve included Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs 1 as well as Series 9 and 8 in all the charts.

If you’re curious about Series 9 vs 8-6 and SE, check out our dedicated guide:

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs 1 and more

Processor, storage, more

Last year, Apple used the S8 64-bit dual-core processor in the Ultra and Series 8 which wasn’t that different from the S7 or S6 in the previous Apple Watches.

But with Series 9, Apple says the S9 SiP brings notable improvements across the CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs 1 chip

Apple didn’t share a specific measure of how much faster the CPU of the S9 is compared to S8, but it features 5.6 billion transistors – up 60% from S8.

For the S9 GPU, Apple says it’s 30% faster than the S8 and the Neural Engine is twice as fast.

Ultra 2UltraSeries 9Series 8
SiP/ProcessorS9 SiP 64-bit dual-core processorS8 SiP 64-bit dual-core processorS9 SiP 64-bit dual-core processorS8 SiP 64-bit dual-core processor
Ultra wideband chip✅ – gen 2✅ – gen 1✅ – gen 2✅ – gen 2

Another benefit if you’re coming from a previous generation Apple Watch is a boost to 64GB of storage.

Case and display

Apple Watch Ultra 2 has the same 49mm case as its predecessor with an identical 410 x 502 display resolution. Apple says it’s 27% bigger than the display on Series 4-6/SE. However, now it’s 50% brighter at an impressive 3,000 nits.

Ultra 2UltraSeries 9Series 8
Case size49mm49mm45/41mm45/41mm
Display size410 x 502 pixels, 1164 sq mm410 x 502 pixels, 1164 sq mm396 x 484 pixels, 1143 sq mm (45mm model)396 x 484 pixels, 1143 sq mm (45mm model)
Brightness3,000 nits2,000 nits2,000 nits1,000 nits
Always-on display
Sapphire crystal frontYes with steel models, no with aluminumYes with steel models, no with aluminum

Meanwhile, Apple Watch Series 9 carries on with the same sizes that launched with Apple Watch Series 7. That’s 45 and 41mm cases and a larger display that’s 20% bigger than Series 4-6/SE and 50% larger than the Series 3 display.

Apple Watch band compatibility

When it comes to bands, any of them designed for 49, 45, and 44mm Apple Watches will work with Apple Watch Ultra 2 and vice versa.

With no changes to the band connection, that means all previous and new bands work with Series 9 and all older Apple Watches.

Battery life and charging

A major change with Apple Watch Ultra 1 was the biggest battery ever for the lineup. That was 36 hours of standard battery life and up to 60 hours of extended use with Low Power mode.

While Apple Watch Ultra 2 delivers the same 36 hours of standard use, it can give up to 72 hours with Low Power mode.

Notably, the Low Power mode is also available for Apple Watch Series 4 and later and doubles the battery life from 18 to 36 hours.

Ultra 2UltraSeries 9Series 8
Battery lifestandard36 hours36 hours18 hours18 hours
Extended battery with Low Power mode72 hours60 hours36 hours36 hours
Charging0-80% in 45 minutes0-80% in 45 minutes0-80% in 45 minutes0-80% in 45 minutes

First introduced with Apple Watch 7 and continued with Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 is 33% faster charging than Series 6 and earlier. That means going from 0-80% in 45 instead of around 60 minutes for the other models.

If you’re interested in using Apple Watch Ultra 2/Ultra, Series 9, 8, or 7 for sleep tracking, you also get 8 hours worth of use from an 8-minute charge.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs 1 – Key features

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs 1 features

The main new features you get with Ultra 2 are:

  • Double tap gesture support
  • On-device Siri with health access
  • Precision finding for iPhone
Apple Watch model/featuresUltra 2UltraSeries 9Series 8
Customizable action button
Double tap gesture
On-device Siri with health access
ECG app
Blood Oxygen app
High/low heart rate notifications
MIL-STD 810H certified
Precision finding for iPhone
Precision dual-frequency GPS
Compass app w/ waypoints + backtrack
IP6X dust resistant
Water resistant to 100m
Water resistant to 50m
Depth gauge + EN13319 certified
Oceanic+ app/dive computer
86-decibel siren
Sleep tracking
Crash detection
Fall detection
Cycle tracking with temp sensing
Emergency SOS
Auto night mode activation

While the new Double Tap feature for Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 is neat, it turns out a similar capability is available for Series 3 and later:


  • Apple Watch Ultra 2 is priced from $799 (Apple, Amazon, more)
  • Series 9 starts from $399/$429 and up (Apple, Amazon, more)

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Ultra 1 wrap-up

Top comment by Frank D. Del Pizzo

Liked by 8 people

I have the Ultra 1st Gen. I absolutely love it! The 2nd Gen is nice. But for me, it’s not worth the upgrade. I will upgrade whenever they add a glucose and a blood pressure sensor. 🩸🧪

View all comments

While Apple Watch Ultra 2 is an incredible wearable, it’s probably not different enough to be enticing for those who already have the predecessor.

However, if you’re thinking of upgrading from an Apple Watch Series 8 or earlier that may be a different story. You get a larger display, on-device Siri, the longest battery life in an Apple Watch, all of the latest and greatest health features, Action button, Double Tap gesture, and more.

What do you think about the new Apple Watch lineup? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for reading our guide on Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs 1!

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.