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I Looked at the Apple Watch Ultra 2, Here Is Why I Would Consider Buying One

Avoid screen protector Apple Watch

I Looked at the Apple Watch Ultra 2, Here Is Why I Would Consider Buying One

The introduction of the Apple Watch Ultra in September 2022 was a watershed moment for Apple. By introducing a watch that can better handle outdoor adventures, Apple is ready to compete against the likes of Garmin. Fast forward to September 2023 and the upgraded Ultra 2 included some big improvements.

As the current owner of the Apple Watch Series 8, I have long looked at the Ultra with adoration. The bigger face, better battery life, and additional features seem well worth the increased price tag. So, I did what any reasonable person would do and spent time in the Apple Store looking at the Ultra 2

When I left the store, I had a new appreciation for my Series 8 and a desire to own the Ultra 2. 

Best Overall
Apple Watch Ultra 2
$779.99
  • Very durable style
  • Beautiful, bright display
  • Features the Action Button
  • Smart stack display
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03/10/2024 05:56 pm GMT

What’s Special About the Apple Watch Ultra 2? 

Durable and Rugged

If you are looking at the Apple Watch Ultra 2, one of the best reasons is its more durable style. As someone who has cracked the screen on two Apple Watches in his time, durability matters quite a bit. Because of this, one of the first things I looked at was how tough the Ultra 2 felt while wearing. The reality is that Apple indicates the Ultra 2 has been tested to MIL-STD 810H standards. 

What this means is that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has been tested to withstand extreme temperatures, vibration, moisture, drop, and shock. While it’s still a watch with a glass display, there is no issue with saying the Ultra 2 is more durable than my existing Apple Watch Series 8. Additionally, Apple has also indicated the Ultra 2 is water resistant to 100 meters and IP6X dust resistant. 

Beautiful Display

While my Apple Watch Series 8 offers a 45mm display, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 offers a 49mm display. So, not only do you have more room to enjoy apps and activities on the display, but it’s also beautiful. 

What’s truly notable is my Apple Watch Series 8 can offer up to 1,000 nits of brightness. On the other hand, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 can deliver up to 3,000 nits at its peak. This is a substantial difference. Where I would get to test this difference in the real world is something I don’t know but I don’t see a downside to having a brighter screen available. 

Plus, the larger display enables Ultra 2 owners to get an even more data-rich experience. This means things like altitude, depth, and seconds are all visible along the edge of the display. 

Apple Watch Ultra - Display in direct sunlight
Even in sunlight, the brightness of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 display is easy to read.

Action Button

The introduction of the Action Button on the first-gen Apple Watch Ultra is one of the primary reasons I’m considering the upgrade to the Ultra 2. The ability to quickly activate a workout or mark a compass waypoint without diving into settings is great. As someone who uses a fitness routine on the Apple Watch daily, I’d love one quick button access to this feature. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like the Digital Crown on my Apple Watch Series 8, but the idea of an Action Button is so much smarter. As you can map this button to any number of shortcuts, it’s all the more functional and one of the most convincing reasons to upgrade. 

Smart Stack

Yet another function the Apple Watch Ultra 2 does better than the rest of the Apple Watch models is the Smart Stack. The Smart Stack is essentially a widget that can show information like your location, time, and activity that displays what the Apple Watch believes is most relevant to you at a particular time. 

With the additional screen space of the Apple Watch Ultra 2, I just found this feature so much more useful while I was looking at the watch. While I haven’t put it to the test on my own, I can see why Ultra 2 owners would enjoy this feature more than Series 7/8/9 owners. 

Fitness Features

One of the primary groups Apple is targeting with the Apple Watch Ultra lineup is those who are very fitness-oriented. Among the most exciting additions with the Ultra 2 is the ability to connect to accessories like a power meter. This will help you see more data about your cycling workout and provide data about your target heart rate zones. 

You can even combine multiple fitness activities into a single workout in case you are training for a triathlon. For the runners out there, the Ultra 2 uses GPS to see when you arrive at your favorite running track. You can then measure things like stride length or number of steps all from your wrist.

Needless to say, I am very impressed with all of the additional fitness tracking opportunities. It’s definitely more impressive than my already good Apple Watch Series 8. 

Compass and maps

Two features that also have me thinking about swapping to the Apple Watch Ultra 2 are the compass and maps. The compass is just a wow feature, there is no other way to say it. It’s outstanding to have such an accurate compass right on your wrist. This makes it super easy to navigate wherever you are, whether you are walking around town or on a trail. 

The same goes for the Maps feature as Apple introduced an incredible level of topography for Maps. Covering over 1,000 national and regional parks in the U.S., mountains, and bodies of water are both highlighted to an exceptional degree. I can only imagine how much fun it would be to navigate a park solely by using your watch. 

Does the Apple Watch Ultra 2 Actually Work? 

After spending a few hours with the Apple Watch Ultra 2 there is no question it works well. As I tried different features, it was very difficult to find fault with any of the tests I tried while walking around an Apple Store. Aside from the security guard wondering what I was doing, the compass worked super well. I can confidently say I was impressed by how well everything worked in my short time with the Ultra 2. Add in how good it all looks and it’s clear Apple has a winner on its hands.

There is no doubt in my mind Apple has a winner with the Ultra 2 and I expect to see more and more of these watches on wrists as time goes on. While the price tag is no doubt a barrier to entry for many people, the feature set is undeniably great. 

Feeling like you can survive a night lost in the woods or train for a triathlon all from your wrist is an aha moment. If I were someone who took fitness more seriously than morning treadmill runs, I can easily say I would already own the Apple Watch Ultra 2. 

New Apple Watch Ultra on a log
The design of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is outstanding and makes you want to be more adventurous.

How the Apple Watch Ultra 2 Compares to the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro

Best Workout Tracker
SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch5 Pro
$295.95
  • Features advanced sleep tracking to analyze your sleep patterns.
  • Can automatically track workouts.
  • Can be paired with an Android phone, allowing you to access calls and texts on your wrist.
  • Includes 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.
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03/10/2024 06:01 pm GMT

Perhaps the biggest competitor on the market right now to the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro. These two heavyweight brands find themselves offering two very good smartwatches that are designed with adventurers in mind. Like the Ultra 2, Samsung developed the Watch5 Pro to have a 2x tougher Sapphire crystal glass face. The same goes for auto workout tracking, GPS route tracking, and being very resistant to outdoor elements. 

One thing to note is there will be people who prefer the rounded watch display of the Watch5 Pro. This is a nice opportunity for Samsung to rack up a win. This said, Samsung Health does lack a bit against the deeper fitness tracking of the Ultra 2. Samsung does win out with Google Assistant voice command support, which is far better than the current status of Siri. Samsung also gets an extra day of battery life, so these two smartwatches are really neck and neck. 

Is the Apple Watch Ultra 2 Worth It? 

If you are just looking at the feature set of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 without any other factors, it’s absolutely worth it. I came away super impressed with the screen, that big, beautiful display, and how solid the Ultra 2 feels on your wrist. Of course, it’s this solid approach that may also be one of the biggest factors against the Ultra 2. 

There is no way to deny the Ultra 2 is big and likely too big for many wrists. I can unequivocally say this is the single reason I didn’t walk out of the Apple Store wearing one. The Apple Watch Series 8 45mm feels so good walking around I don’t even notice it anymore.

After 5 minutes of wearing the Ultra 2, I knew I wouldn’t get used to its weight anytime soon. Never mind how silly it looked on my wrist, you also have to contend with its price tag at $799. If you don’t worry about watch size or price, there are more pros than cons with the Ultra 2.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the number one reason to pick up the Apple Watch Ultra 2?

The number one reason to pick up the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is if you are an adventurous type who needs a more durable smartwatch. 

How long does the Ultra 2 battery last?

Apple has indicated that you should get up to 36 hours of regular use and up to 72 hours when you turn off certain features.

What is the starting price of the Apple Watch Ultra 2?

The starting price of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is $799 across all three available band choices. 

Can you use the Apple Watch Ultra 2 with Android?

Unfortunately, no, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 only connects to the iPhone. 

How many different colors can you choose with the Apple Watch Ultra 2?

As it stands today, Apple only offers one color of the Ultra 2 hardware but offers 3 different bands. 

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