Readers, I have a problem - I just love buying new Apple tech. That feeling of peeling off the label, opening it up, even the smell - there’s nothing quite like it.
Thankfully, I know I’m not alone - the Apple subreddit over on Reddit is full of folks like me. I also listen to podcasts where other ne’erdowells upgrade their tablet without needing to, or swap out their phone annually (the troublemakers!).
And yet, despite all of this, I just cannot find it in me to get excited about the Apple Watch Ultra 2.
It’s not that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is a bad device, far from it. The double-touch gesture (when it arrives in watchOS 10.1) sounds like the closest I’ll get to Vision Pro functionality without selling my house, and I’m sure it’d be nice to hand off podcasts to a HomePod if I had one.
I’m also pretty excited about the new S9 chip, which allows for smoother animations and better performance, according to our hands-on with the device. I even suggested the Ultra 2 is likely to be a far better, longer-lasting investment than the Series 9, despite the price difference.
And yet, despite being quite likely to get a significant amount of the value back from my Apple Watch Ultra 1, I can’t find the enthusiasm to get excited for another new wearable.
Can a sequel be better than the original?
Part of that could be due to me only buying the Ultra this year, a combination of it being a gift to myself for starting a new job, and a promise to take heart tracking more seriously than perhaps I have done in the past.
But even with the fresh performance and brighter screen, I find myself struggling to get excited - and this is coming from someone who prides himself on fashion to the point where I would’ve happily traded up for an Apple Watch Ultra in titanium black.
Comparing the two side-by-side, you’ll find no design changes that catch the eye, with even the ‘Apple Watch Ultra’ underneath matching on both - there’s no denoting that the Ultra 2 is the latest model at all (at least Apple Watch models used to do things with red dots on the Digital Crown).
There are subtle updates, of course. The Ultra 2 offers Precision Finding for my iPhone 15 Pro, improved dictation, and double the internal storage - something I appreciate as someone who likes to keep a few albums and playlists downloaded on my watch. But more than anything, I’m struggling to work out who the Ultra 2 is for - and whether Apple may have actually been better off not launching it at all.
Not so Ultra
You could argue that this is more like an Ultra 1.5 rather than a next-generation model, and I'd agree.
But, this isn’t something that’ll affect most people. The Ultra, regardless of whether it’s a first or second-generation model, is targeting a subset of users who are really into fitness, exploration, or both.
And yet, the differences are so minuscule that I feel a lot of people are likely to flock to buy a secondhand first-generation Ultra rather than stump up $800 for the second version.
It’s perhaps emblematic of the Apple Watch lineup as a whole (the Series 9 is also a very, very slim update), and makes me wonder if it’s time for a year off. Still, with rumors that 2024 will bring a Series 10/Apple Watch X model with a drastic redesign, maybe this is an instance of Apple needing to clear its processing plants of chassis and components ahead of a big update.
Whatever happens, it feels like a particularly slow year for Apple Watch - and one that has me scratching my head about why it was necessary at all.
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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.
Coming from a Stainless Steel Series 5 WATCH, the Ultra 2 is a beast and I’m glad I decided to get it. With that being said, I did NOT need it and I still don’t NEED it. The series 5 continued to serve its purpose admirably and I could have easily gone another year or two with it.Reply
From someone who actually upgraded from a AWU 1 to am AWU 2 i can say the upgrade is bigger than you think. the three plus year old chip in the UW 1 was starting to show its age. I didn’t think i would notice any really difference but i was wrong. It’s a better experience all around and i was able to get 550 for my AWU 1. There is a lot of “it’s not an upgrade“ talk on the Internet from people who haven’t used both. From someone who has used both, it is a noticeable and worthy upgrade.Reply
It's too large for my wrist.Reply
HowardBrazee said:It's too large for my wrist.
I initially thought the same, but it ended up not being the case. Having said that, my aging eyes welcome the larger screen… :)