Apple’s Wonderlust event seems a distant memory now, but with Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 now here, you may be wondering which Apple Watch to pick up.
There really is no such thing as a bad Apple Watch, but this year’s mainline entry lacks big new features. In fact, we’d argue that if you’re desperate for a new Apple Watch this year, we’d have to opt for the Ultra 2 (with some caveats we’ll touch on soon) — or its predecessor. Here’s why.
Before we begin:
It’s worth noting that there’s a $400 gap between the 41mm Series 9 and the Ultra 2, something we’re well aware of. Naturally, your budget will likely dictate which model you go for.
There are also plenty of similarities between the two - the Series 9 and the Ultra 2 both add the new “Double Tap” gesture and offer the same S9 chip. Still, there are some reasons we’d go for the Ultra 2 — or even the Ultra 1 — if you can.
Our biggest issue with the Apple Watch was one we felt was finally about to be rectified at the Wonderlust event. With Apple introducing its S9 chip, we waited with bated breath for the reveal that it would be more power-efficient and extend battery life.
Sadly, no such announcement came, meaning we’re still waiting for a jump in battery life. We’ll be the first to acknowledge that the Apple Watch does a lot more than most fitness trackers and smartwatches when it comes to offering a variety of apps, constant communication with the iPhone, and much more, but we’ve been on the same day and a half battery life since it debuted in 2015.
On the Ultra, battery life is essentially doubled, and while that does require a chunkier chassis, we’d still rather that - especially if you’re interested in sleep tracking.
We love the Apple Watch Series 9 design, we really do - but we’re a little bored of it in all honesty. The Series 7 saw the display start to spill over the edge of the body a little, but with a rumored Apple Watch Series X overhaul expected this year, nothing has changed this time around outside of the new pink color.
While the same can be said of the Apple Watch Ultra 2, that design is only a year old. While we’d have liked to have seen a black titanium version, it remains a great-looking watch that, if the lack of damage on the first generation is anything to go by, is almost bulletproof.
The Series 9 will be a tough device, but smack it against a doorknob accidentally and you may wish you’d plumped for the Ultra 2.
Apple Watch Series 8 didn’t feel like it needed a brighter display, but Apple upped it to 2,000 nits for good measure anyway. The Ultra 2 offers a retina-searingly bright 3,000 nits which is overkill for most, but it’s the size of the display that’s the real draw here.
It’s not that it’s dramatically larger - it’s 49mm vs 45mm on the larger Series 9, but those fractions matter when it comes to watchOS 10. We’ve written at length about how Apple’s latest update makes better use of the display, but it’s worth repeating — the new interface deserves to be displayed on a larger canvas.
The ‘Ultra’ features
There are other features, too, but they’re likely only of interest to the adventurous types. And yet, if you see yourself becoming a marathon runner, deep sea diver, or hiker in the coming months and years, why not get the tech for it early?
The siren, triple microphone array, and dive computer are likely overkill for the vast majority of users, but isn’t it better to have the option? There’s also the Backtrack tool to lead you back to the path if you get lost - you never know when you may need that.
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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.
How does a tech journalist with “specialism” in Apple get such basic things wrong. The ultra’s screen isn’t 49 mm. In fact, it’s marginally bigger than the one on the 45 mm watch — 3.6 percent, to be exact.Reply
Sheesh, iMore. Try a little harder.