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At its "Far out" event earlier this month, alongside the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple announced the Apple Watch Ultra. The Apple Watch Ultra is a whole new kind of smartwatch from Apple with a focus on withstanding extreme environments, a high level of durability, extended battery life, and additional features to aid activities like diving and exploration.

apple-watch-ultra-snow.jpg

Both the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra feature the S8 chip, an Always-On Retina display, Crash Detection, temperature sensing, IP6X dust resistance, and more, but there are significant differences between the two devices.

With as little as $50 between the 45mm stainless steel Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra, some prospective customers will be weighing up whether it is worth spending a little extra to get the all-new 49mm model. While there is a $400 difference between the 41mm aluminum Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra, the new high-end model offers a whole new set of features to address specific challenges, so it may even be worth it for some of these buyers.

Differences


Apple Watch Series 8
  • Aluminum or stainless steel casing
  • Curved design
  • Digital Crown with haptic feedback and side button
  • 45mm or 41 mm case size (vertical)
  • 10.7mm thickness
  • Weighs 32.0 grams to 51.5 grams
  • Ion-X front glass (aluminum) or sapphire crystal (stainless steel)
  • Curved display with refractive edge
  • 904 sq mm (41mm) or 1,143 sq mm (45mm) display area
  • 352 by 430 pixels (41mm) or 396 by 484 pixels (45mm)
  • Up to 1,000 nits brightness
  • Single speaker
  • Single microphone
  • GPS
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • Water resistant to 50m
  • Swimproof
  • Up to 18-hour battery life
  • Available in Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and PRODUCT(RED) (aluminum) or Silver, Graphite, or Gold (stainless steel)
  • Starts at $399 (aluminum) and $699 (stainless steel)


Apple Watch Ultra
  • Aerospace-grade titanium casing
  • Lightweight weight, ruggedness, and corrosion resistant case with raised edges to protect the flat sapphire front crystal
  • Digital Crown with haptic feedback, side button, and customizable Action button
  • 49mm casing size (vertical)
  • 14.4mm thickness
  • Weighs 61.3 grams
  • Sapphire crystal
  • Flat display
  • 1164 sq mm display area
  • 410 by 502 pixels
  • Up to 2,000 nits brightness
  • Exclusive Wayfinder face features a live compass for navigation and Night Mode for low-visibility conditions
  • Dual speakers (40% louder than Series 8)
  • Three-microphone array with beamforming and wind noise mitigation
  • 86-decibel Siren to attract attention
  • Precision dual-frequency GPS (L1 and L5)
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • Tested to MIL-STD 810H
  • Water resistant to 100m
  • Swimproof and recreational dive to 40m
  • EN13319 certification
  • Water temperature sensor
  • Depth gauge
  • Dive computer app (available on the App Store)
  • Up to 36-hour battery life
  • Natural titanium finish only
  • Starts at $799


The Apple Watch Ultra offers new capabilities to address the specific requirements of those who need their Apple Watch to provide assistance in challenging environments. If you need a more durable Apple Watch with features like a brighter display, louder speakers, a more reliable GPS, better water resistance, and more, the Apple Watch Ultra is undoubtedly the best choice.

The Apple Watch Ultra is also the largest and most feature-rich Apple Watch option available, not to mention that it offers the first true redesign of the device since its introduction in 2015. For technology enthusiasts, Apple Watch Ultra represents a way to get a whole new Apple Watch experience with the top specifications. Features like longer battery life and a larger, brighter display are also highly accessible, and will be beneficial to all users. As such, some customers may still be inclined to choose the Apple Watch Ultra over the Apple Watch Series 8, even if they do not need it for use in challenging environments.

As the largest Apple Watch model to date, the size of the Apple Watch Ultra will not be for everyone. If you already prefer the 41mm Apple Watch casing size, the Apple Watch Ultra may be far too large for you. If in doubt, it may be worth heading to an Apple Store and trying on the Apple Watch Ultra in person to get to grips with the size and determine if it is too big and bulky for you.

Similarly, the Apple Watch Ultra's look may not appeal to some buyers. If you prefer the stainless steel Apple Watch and are looking for a more fasion-focused smartwatch that pairs well with metal and leather bands, the more aggressive, rugged design of the Apple Watch Ultra may not be for you.

If the Apple Watch Ultra is out of your price range but you still want to use your Apple Watch in challenging environments, it is worth bearing in mind that the Series 8 still offers a durable design with a strong front crystal, water resistance, and many of the Apple Watch Ultra's software features like waypoint marking.

The Apple Watch Ultra has a lot to offer, especially for the subset of users who can take advantage of all of its capabilities, so it is certainly worth considering when purchasing a new model – but the Apple Watch Series 8 is still a compelling all-around option that comes in at a lower price point with a subtler design.

Article Link: Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra Buyer's Guide
 

russell_314

macrumors 601
Feb 10, 2019
4,359
5,894
USA
The Apple Watch ultra looks really nice but no way when I go for such a big watch. That’s just my personal preference.

I kind of wish there was some other choice besides besides aluminum and stainless steel with the Series 8. I went with aluminum because I’m not too crazy about the polished stainless steel finish.
 
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colocolo

macrumors 6502
Jan 17, 2002
465
100
Santiago, Chile
Not a big criticism, but I would appreciate if the articles that have popped up lately comparing two devices would list a table, where you can see the same feature side by side.
When you look at the article (at least in desktop mode), the same feature does not match the same row between both devices. It only gets worse as you scroll down the list, and becomes difficult to really compare, which is the purpose.


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profets

macrumors 601
Mar 18, 2009
4,998
5,820
Both nice options, and honestly its nice that there is a bit more choice, even if you aren't a fan of the Ultra.

I'm still surprised that the price is 799 (just $50 more than the stainless steel Series 8 with a more expensive band). Was the Edition last year also at the 799 mark?
 

centauratlas

macrumors 68000
Jan 29, 2003
1,570
2,776
Florida
The Apple Watch ultra looks really nice but no way when I go for such a big watch. That’s just my personal preference.

I kind of wish there was some other choice besides besides aluminum and stainless steel with the Series 8. I went with aluminum because I’m not too crazy about the polished stainless steel finish.

I can't wait to see one in person to compare it with the 8 on my wrist. It is difficult to tell how it would look in the abstract - at least for me.
 
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Sasparilla

macrumors 68000
Jul 6, 2012
1,733
2,965
Really seems to depend on you either wanting one of the new Ultra features, the bigger watch itself or comparing it to a steel Series 8 (a big price increase over the basic 8). Once you go steel Series 8 it becomes hard not to see the Ultra as the better value.

But if you're looking at the base aluminum 8 and not wanting / needing the bigness or new features only on the Ultra it becomes a big financial stretch at almost double the price.
 
Last edited:

fwmireault

macrumors 65816
Jul 4, 2019
1,411
6,095
Montreal, Canada
Not a big criticism, but I would appreciate if the articles that have popped up lately comparing two devices would list a table, when you can see the same feature side by side.
When you look at the article (at least in desktop mode), the same feature does not match the same row between both devices. It only gets worse as you scroll down the list, and becomes difficult to really compare, which is the purpose.


View attachment 2074344
View attachment 2074350
I agree, a comparative table would be more useful here
 

Mizouse

macrumors 6502
Nov 5, 2014
379
592
FYI the ultra isn’t on display yet in the Apple stores. I went yesterday thinking it was, but they told me starting Friday.

I’m currently debating between the SS 45mm S8 or the Ultra to replace my aging 42mm series 3. That said I did try on the SS S8 yesterday and it’s a chonker over my S3 which is kind of swaying me to the S8. But I still want to try on the Ultra.
 
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mansplains

macrumors 6502a
Jan 8, 2021
634
925
Both nice options, and honestly its nice that there is a bit more choice, even if you aren't a fan of the Ultra.

I'm still surprised that the price is 799 (just $50 more than the stainless steel Series 8 with a more expensive band). Was the Edition last year also at the 799 mark?
The 41mm was $799, but the 45mm was $849. So the Ultra is even bigger than 45mm and is less expensive. Even though Ultra is just $50 more than SS, Apple will always take more! We perceive it as a better value to some extent.
 
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james2538

macrumors 6502
Jul 11, 2008
252
528
Similarly, the Apple Watch Ultra's look may not appeal to some buyers. If you prefer the stainless steel Apple Watch and are looking for a more fasion-focused smartwatch that pairs well with metal and leather bands, the more aggressive, rugged design of the Apple Watch Ultra may not be for you.
This is where I'm at, as the Ultra doesn't appeal to me outside of using it for workouts. The orange accents would look ridiculous for anything beyond a casual setting. I've got a large wrist but the size makes it difficult to use with long sleeves or for sleep tracking.

Here's hoping some of its features trickle down the Series 9 next year.
 

McKodiak

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2014
259
790
The Apple Watch ultra looks really nice but no way when I go for such a big watch. That’s just my personal preference.

I kind of wish there was some other choice besides besides aluminum and stainless steel with the Series 8. I went with aluminum because I’m not too crazy about the polished stainless steel finish.
I agree. Sizing should be:

Series 8: 41mm & 45mm
Series Ultra: 45mm & 49mm
 
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DarthDon

macrumors regular
Apr 17, 2020
188
75
Wireless N is now 13 Years old. LTE since 2014. Plus that design of a quartz watch in the 70's... Innovation? Zero. True stand alone (no iphone needed) - non. Price: twice than the competition.
 
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CrazyMacUser

macrumors newbie
Jul 31, 2012
21
55
I think Apple should have just made another Apple Watch 8 with larger screen for $50 more. I would buy that one. I don't need all the "Ultra" features, just a larger screen.
 
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Manzzle

macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2012
304
339
What I want to know is if the Ultra's prominent vibration setting is stronger than all the other watches.
 

jz0309

macrumors 603
Sep 25, 2018
6,234
16,917
SoCal
I have the Ultra coming on Friday, very excited. No way I would have upgraded my S7 for a 8, but if you’re on a 4 or before, the 8 will be a nice upgrade. But, if you’re going SS I would seriously compare that to the Ultra as in 55 it’s the identical price
 

simidene

macrumors member
Sep 23, 2017
94
33
I have the Garmin Epix gen2 and love it. I purchased the Apple Ultra as well, and believe like many that is was about time that Apple got into this market..outdoor enthusiasts, racers, climbers etc.. I respect those that do not like bigger watches, phones, but that train has left the station and apple needs/ needed to keep up with what is a growing niche market especially with outdoor enthusiasts and deliver a watch that caters to that group.
 
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