Apple shook up the Apple Watch product line with the Apple Watch Ultra's debut in 2022, with the more expensive, durable watch expected to be the pinnacle of the product line for some time.
As it happens, it's been quickly overthrown - the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has arrived just a year later. And while many of its upgrades are minor, the new chipset may make usage even slicker, and it'll share plenty of the new features of the Apple Watch Series 9, too.
Here's everything new in the Apple Watch Ultra 2, including improved performance, Double Tap, a brighter display, and more.
1. Even brighter display
The original Apple Watch Ultra offered a 2,000 nits brightness rating, which the Series 9 has caught up with.
Not to be outdone, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has upped things to a retina-searing 3,000 nits, the brightest display Apple has ever made across any of its devices. Expect it to be easy to read in just about any situation, bright or dark.
2. New Modular watch face
What's a new Apple Watch display without a new watch face? The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is offering a fresh new look for users with the Modular Ultra watch face.
With a huge number of customizable elements, it'll offer more information than any other Apple Watch face before.
To do so, it moves elevation and depth information right up to the edges of the display, the first Apple watch face of its kind to do so. There's certainly a lot going on, but if you're the kind of Apple Watch user who wants glanceable info, you'll certainly find plenty to look at.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 can also switch to Night Mode automatically, switching to the red-hued look whenever ambient light drops below a certain threshold.
3. New chip
The Apple Watch Ultra has the same CPU that was found in the Series 6 years ago, but the Ultra 2 will get an upgrade with the same S9 chip found in the Series 9.
It comes with the same improvements, with a 4-core neural engine for machine learning that's twice as fast, a 30% faster GPU, and on-device Siri for faster, more secure processing.
And yes, that fun new Double Tap gesture makes the jump too, powered by the new chip, so you can engage with various controls without actually touching the Apple Watch at all - neat. Double Tap arrives next month as part of a software update.
4. New cycling features
If you cycle, both watchOS 10 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 could be a great upgrade.
Both feature new compatibility with Bluetooth accessories to enable tracking of cadence, speed, and power as you bike down woodlands and even commutes. This way, you can get a better idea of how you can improve your speed, by connecting to peripherals like power meters.
Running a cycling workout will also trigger a Live Activity on your iPhone, giving even more metrics on a device that can be positioned between your handlebars.
What didn't come true: No black color option!
We'd hoped we might see a new color debut for the Apple Watch Ultra 2. But sadly there was no such announcement for those who were hoping to see this new model in Titanium Black.
It would have fit great with the new iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max in Titanium Black. But alas, it wasn't to be.
I've written about wanting one in this shade before, but it seems we may have to wait for the Apple Watch Ultra 3 instead.
We're covering all the Apple iPhone 15 event announcements live as they happen. Don't miss all our iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, iOS 17and watchOS 10 coverage so far.
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Lloyd Coombes is a freelance writer with a specialism in Apple tech. From his first, hand-me-down iMac, he’s been working with Apple products for over a decade, and while he loves his iPhone and Mac, the iPad will always have his heart for reasons he still can’t quite fathom.
Since moving from blogging to writing professionally, Lloyd’s work can be found at TechRadar, Macworld, TechAdvisor and plenty more.
He’s also the Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com, and on the rare occasion he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his son, or working hard at the gym (while wearing an Apple Watch, naturally). You can find him on Twitter @lloydcoombes.