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Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

The Apple Watch Ultra is geared firmly at adventurers: divers, hikers, and other sports who want a tough, long-lasting timepiece capable of withstanding endurance events and harsh weather. How about Apple Watch Ultra 2 ??

However, much as many buy 4x4s with no intention of ever driving them off road, the Ultra has proven popular with regular people who will never test its water resistance to a depth of 100m or rely on following waypoints out in the wilderness. They adore its design and the fact that it lasts twice as long between charges as a standard Apple Watch.

Because of its exorbitant price, it has virtually become a status symbol, albeit not quite to the level that the original Edition models did. Because it’s so different from a Watch Series 7, 8, or 9, it’s simple to see, unlike if you buy an iPhone 15; nearly no one will notice you have the most recent model.

So, while the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is a fantastic fashion piece, is it also a terrific smartwatch? Thankfully, it is.

Design & display

  • 49mm, 3000 nit OLED display
  • Ambient light sensor
  • 2nd-gen ultrawideband chip

If you’re not familiar with the Watch Ultra, think of it as an Apple Watch on steroids. It includes a larger 49mm display, a larger crown that is easier to operate when wearing gloves, and an additional button, the Action button, that can be programmed to perform a variety of tasks in addition to triggering the built-in 86-decibel siren.

Instead of the curved cover glass seen on standard Apple Watches, the Watch Ultra 2 features a flat sapphire crystal that is protected by the metal casing that sits just proud of it.

That cover is constructed of 95% recyclable titanium, but unlike the iPhone 15 Pro, it does not come in a variety of finishes. It’s naked titanium or nothing if you buy a Watch Ultra 2. I’m sure the reason for this is that it is the most durable alternative when scuffed or scraped since it does not lose its color.

A raised crown guard helps to avoid inadvertent pressing of the crown and side buttons while also protecting them.

The Watch Ultra 2 weighs roughly 62g without a band, which is about 10g more than the 45mm Watch Series 9. It’s 14mm thick, so it won’t easily slip under shirt cuffs, but that’s not the point, and it’s just as pleasant to wear all day (and night) as a standard Apple Watch.

Three microphones assist to decrease wind and other background noise, allowing anybody on the phone to hear what you’re saying. There’s also an ambient light sensor (a feature added since the original Watch Ultra) that lets the display to immediately convert to night mode and dim to only 1 nit, so it’s never dazzling at night.

In terms of toughness, the Ultra 2 has the same features as the original Watch Ultra: IP6X water and dust resistance, allowing it to be submerged up to 100m.

A new second-generation ultrawideband processor makes it simpler to locate a misplaced iPhone. As long as it’s an iPhone 15 (or any other model with the same chip), you’ll be able to see how far away it is and, more importantly, which direction to go towards it.

The screen can now produce 3000 nits, which is phenomenally bright but also arguably unnecessary

Another enhancement is increased brightness. The screen can now output 3000 nits, which is extremely bright but perhaps superfluous given that the Ultra’s 2000-nit display was already easy to see in full sunshine. The difference is most noticeable when you require a torch: you may crank the crown to briefly ramp up to peak brightness.

If you’re upgrading from a previous Apple Watch, the major change is the screen size. It allows you to view a lot more information at once, and the Ultra-specific watch faces are a wonderful example of that.

I like the Modular face in general, but the Modular Ultra adds seven complexities and shows elevation in both feet and meters at the borders. There’s also Wayfinder, which has eight complexities and is based on an analog clock.

Although the Ultra 2 works with 44mm and 45mm straps, Apple advises using a 49mm strap for anything other than recreational use. Alpine, Ocean, and Trail are the three types.

Apple provided the new orange/beige Trail band for this evaluation, which is available in two sizes: S/M and M/L. The little one suits wrists measuring 130-180mm, while the big one is 145-220mm. It’s flexible, but getting the S/M band over my hand proved difficult, and I’m a small guy.

Both the Trail and Alpine Loop are carbon neutral, which is nice, and the Ocean band (above, right) is made from pliable silicone for diving and water sports.

Health & fitness tracking

  • High and low heart rate notifications
  • Irregular heart rhythm notification
  • ECG app
  • Sleep phases

Apple’s newest S9 chipset is housed underneath the 49mm display. It’s the same one used in the Watch Series 9, and it, combined with the same set of sensors, means the Ultra 2 can measure health and fitness in the same way.

Much of it is standard fare for a fitness tracker: steps, distance, calories burned, and flights climbed. All of this is wrapped in a neat system of ‘rings’ that allows you to see at a glance how far you’ve come toward your daily move, exercise, and stand objectives.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

There’s loads – tons – more data available in the Health app on your phone from your physical effort in METs to the speed you walk up steps and your walking step length.

Naturally, you can track your activity while exercising, which is one of the Apple Watch’s capabilities. Apple has expanded the number of sports available, and each one may be customized to meet your specific needs. You may also start an exercise fast by clicking the Action button, if you’ve configured it to do so.

Everything works well, especially for running, walking, and riding. The only major issue is that not every workout tracks your path using the built-in GPS. So, if you choose skiing, you won’t be able to see where you traveled. This should be fixed within the next year or so.

For cyclists there are a couple of new features including the ability to use your iPhone as a bike computer, mirroring the details from the Ultra to the larger screen

There are a few new capabilities for bikers, like the option to use your iPhone as a cycle computer, reflecting the information from the Ultra to the bigger screen. It’s also now possible to connect the Watch to Bluetooth devices like power meters, giving you access to even more data in the Workouts app. These, however, were included in watchOS 10 and are not specific to the Ultra 2.

I haven’t tried it, but there is a Depth app for divers that will show your live depth down to 40m, the current water temperature, the greatest depth you’ve reached, and the time you’ve been underwater.

Hiking, like it did on the original Ultra, is a special focus. Again, the Action button may be configured to record waypoints, and by pressing and holding it, you can select the Compass Backtrack option to retrace your movements even if you don’t have a mobile signal, either to your phone or straight to the Ultra 2.

The Compass app is a more helpful tool these days, with a range of perspectives available simply rotating the crown. When you tap the elevation readout, it switches between 2D and 3D perspectives, displaying any waypoints you’ve highlighted.

The technique, however, is built for point-to-point walks and isn’t very beneficial for circular routes.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

When hiking, you can now use the Maps app to zoom in to examine topographical information like paths and contour lines, as well as sites of interest. These are now only accessible in the United States, thus UK trekkers in the Lake District, for example, will find nothing useful when ascending Scafell Pike, which is disappointing. Hopefully, it won’t be long before similar maps include the United Kingdom and other nations.

Strangely, given the Ultra 2’s 64GB of on-board storage, maps aren’t cached locally: they’re stored on your phone

Despite the Ultra 2’s 64GB of internal storage, maps are not cached locally: they are kept on your phone. This implies that when you move to a new place and begin zooming in, there is a slight delay.

Another new feature detects when you’re near a running track and displays a route map and allows you to choose which lane you’re running in.

Aside from fitness and activity monitoring, the Watch Ultra 2 can also monitor other elements of your health, such as sleep quality and heart rate, among other things. Most of the metrics aren’t intended to be used for medical purposes, although the data, particularly the heart rate, is frequently quite precise.

The Ultra 2, like the Series 9, may be programmed to alert you if an abnormal cardiac rhythm or unusually high or low heart rate is detected.

It can also detect a hard fall or a catastrophic automobile accident and, if configured and a data connection is available, it will inform your emergency contacts and can automatically summon emergency services if you do not move or reply after the occurrence.

A skin temperature sensor detects variations in temperature and is mostly used for female cycle monitoring. Anyone can view past data (again, via the Health app), but there isn’t much we can do with it.

Another sensor can detect blood oxygen, and an ECG (which is also believed to be quite accurate by medical specialists) may be taken.

Right now, it’s up to you to look at the data and do something with it: neither the Watch Ultra 2 nor the Health app attempt to analyze it and, for example, warn you that you could be coming down with a virus, or even recommend lifestyle adjustments to make you healthier.

Smart features & watchOS

As I said in my review of the Watch Series 9, watchOS 10 introduces some fairly radical changes. One is that rotating the crown upwards displays the new Smart Stack, a series of informational cards which you can customise.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

They include things like a weather forecast, the next calendar event, news headlines, and activity statistics, but almost every default app includes one. You can progress through the cards with the digital crown, but you can also use Double Tap, which is exclusive to the Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2.

It’s difficult to see the difference between this and the Double Pinch accessibility gesture that’s been in watchOS for a while. Apple hasn’t done a good job of defining it, only stating that the S9 chipset supports it. This appears to suggest that Double Tap is ‘always on,’ so you may use it at any time.

When the Ultra 2 senses that you’re doing anything else, you don’t need to use your other hand to touch on the screen to take a call, dismiss a timer, or even start a workout. It’s obviously beneficial, but it’s not a strong enough reason to purchase the Ultra 2 over the Ultra.

One of the major benefits Apple has over other wristwatch manufacturers is that it produces both the iPhone and the Watch, making them ideal partners. Apps send rich alerts, you may respond to messages, view navigation directions, music playing settings, and much more.

It’s also a significant disadvantage if you don’t possess an iPhone because you can’t use the Watch Ultra 2 with an Android phone, even in a restricted capacity. To be clear, you can use an Apple Watch without using a phone at all due to Family Setup, but someone in the family must have an iPhone for the initial setup, which isn’t much help if you want it to function with an Android phone.

The capacity of the S9 chip’s neural engine to handle Siri instructions without an internet connection is one capability that the Ultra 2 has – or will have – over the original Ultra. But let me clarify: you can only say a limited number of things. Furthermore, any query or instruction that would require an internet connection won’t work.

This means you can get Siri to set timers, change settings and call contacts. A data connection is needed for things like unit conversions, weather forecasts and, well, everything else.

The neural engine also does a few other things such as speeding up Siri’s response time while the always-on mics mean there’s two seconds of buffering, so audio is captured before you raise your wrist which can also help speed up those responses.

By the end of the year – which is mere weeks as I write this review – Apple says you’ll be able to ask Siri for health data and also log it. This means you ask for information such as “How much did I sleep last night?” and provide details like “I just took my antacid medication”.

Battery life

The battery life of the Watch Ultra 2 (and its predecessor) is one of its primary selling points. Whereas the original Watch has an 18-hour battery life, the Ultra 2 doubles it to 36 hours and then doubles it again in low-power mode.

If your mental arithmetic is anything like mine, it won’t be evident that this implies you can spend three days without charging – longer than the original Watch Ultra’s 60 hours of low-power mode.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Importantly, low-power mode doesn’t remove any essential features: it’s eminently usable. It turns off the always-on display, doesn’t monitor heart rate and other things as frequently and limits mobile data and Wi-Fi so they’re not frivolously burning through the power reserves.

The good news is that those numbers are easily achievable, too. So long as you’re not hammering the battery by using the GPS for hours on end (about 17 hours is the maximum in that case) you can enjoy not having to pop the Ultra 2 on its charger every day.

I found that, on a normal working day with an hour-long workout that used the GPS to record a route, I’d end up with pretty much exactly 50% remaining by bedtime (having begun it with 100%). It then used about 5% overnight and told me to charge before bed the following evening.

Price & availability

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 costs £799 / $799. That’s the same price as before in the US, but £50 less in the UK.

The obvious place to buy one is directly from Apple, but small discounts can be found if you shop around. Or on Amazon.

Achraf Grini
Achraf Grini
Hello This is AG. I am a Tech lover and I have long been a promoter and editor for a shopping company, I have followed smartphones and headphones and others. I covers iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, writing tutorials, buying guides and reviews.


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