Apple Watch Ultra vs. Ultra 2 Buyer's Guide: 12 Differences Compared

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 replaces the first-generation model that was introduced last year in Apple's smartwatch lineup, but how different are the two successive smartwatch generations?

Apple Watch Ultra vs Ultra 2 Buyers Guide
In 2023, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch Ultra, introducing a more durable design and titanium casing, a larger and brighter display, additional speakers and microphones, considerably longer battery life, and more. The first-generation Apple Watch Ultra has now been discontinued by Apple, and as a year-old model, prices at third-party resellers are falling. As such, some customers may be weighing up whether to upgrade to a first- or second-generation Ultra‌.

The two Apple Watch Ultra models share the overwhelming majority of their features, so should you consider buying or sticking with the first-generation to save money? This breakdown also serves as a way to see all the differences that the Ultra 2 brings to the table.

Apple Watch Ultra (first-generation) ‌Apple Watch Ultra 2‌
Retina display with up to 2,000 nits of brightness Retina display with up to 3,000 nits of brightness, Apple's brightest display ever
Flashlight Flashlight boost via Digital Crown
Double Tap gesture to stop timers, play and pause music, snooze alarms, answer and end phone calls, take photos with the Camera Remote, open the Smart Stack, and scroll through widgets, all without touching the display
S8 chip (based on A13 Bionic chip) S9 chip (based on A15 Bionic chip: 60% more transistors, 30% faster)
Neural Engine 4-core Neural Engine (up to twice as fast)
Siri processed in the cloud via internet connection ‌Siri‌ processed on-device for requests that do not need information from the internet, resulting in quicker and more reliable responses
‌Siri‌ can access health and fitness data
Dictation 25% more accurate dictation
First-generation Ultra Wideband chip Second-generation Ultra Wideband chip
Precision Finding for iPhone 15 models, providing distance and direction, as well as visual, haptic, and audio guidance to a misplaced iPhone
HomePod integration: When a user gets within four meters of a playing ‌HomePod‌, the Apple Watch launches Now Playing to control playback. If nothing is playing, media suggestions appear at the top of the Smart Stack.
32GB storage 64GB storage

Overall, the ‌Apple Watch Ultra 2‌ is a very minor upgrade over the first-generation model, with the S9 chip, Double Tap, and Precision Finding for ‌iPhone 15‌ models being the most significant changes. As a result, it is very difficult to recommend upgrading.

Most users of the existing Apple Watch Ultra will not be able to justify upgrading to the Ultra 2, but some customers coming from an older Apple Watch or those who do not have one at all could still have good reason to prefer the latest model, namely those who heavily use a ‌HomePod‌, plan to buy an ‌iPhone 15‌ model and can take advantage of Precision Finding, need additional storage for downloaded media, or think one-handed use with the Double Tap gesture would be useful.

The ‌Apple Watch Ultra 2‌ is very similar to the first-generation model, so most customers who are interested in buying an Ultra model may prefer to look for a discounted first-generation model. If the original device can be found for a substantially lower price, it remains a solid buy. The Ultra 2 is priced at $799, so if you are not interested in its new features and can find the original model for less than ~$650, it may be worth getting that instead.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Ultra 2
Related Forum: Apple Watch

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Top Rated Comments

surfzen21 Avatar
11 months ago
I honestly see zero reason to upgrade.

Gestures are covered in accessibility.

I regularly run on very sunny days in the summer and never had a problem with the brightness of the screen. I can't imagine a situation where the 2000 nits was too low.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alexandr Avatar
11 months ago
With these incremental updates, how am I ever supposed to upgrade from my S6?..
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gix1k Avatar
11 months ago
You’d be crazy to upgrade from Ultra 1 to Ultra 2.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alexandr Avatar
11 months ago

What the hell does "60% more transistors" mean ? Apple is rarely that technical about those things...
It sounds as if it's a marketing twist for us to think it's 60% faster.
It is a marketing twist. No reason to upgrade, but you don't want to be that fool who has 60% less transistors, DO YOU?
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FHoff Avatar
11 months ago

You’d be crazy to upgrade from Ultra 1 to Ultra 2.
Call me crazy then.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
msackey Avatar
11 months ago
To me, the most important upgrade for the Ultra 2 is, surprisingly, having Siri processed on device. I have encountered a number of situations quite a few times when the Ultra is not processing my Siri commands, usually having to do with Map navigation and I need to finagle and try and try again. Usually this is while I'm driving too :(
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)