Last Updated on September 20, 2023 by SPN Editor
I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2, and now that they are here, it’s time to dive deep into their features and capabilities.
As a tech enthusiast and an Apple aficionado, I’m excited to provide you with a detailed review and comparison of these two smartwatches. We’ll explore their impressive features, design choices, and help you decide whether upgrading is the right choice for you.
Key Features: Let’s kick things off by highlighting the standout features of the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2. These features represent a significant leap forward from their predecessors and are sure to enhance your overall smartwatch experience.
Smarter, Brighter, Mightier: The Apple Watch Series 9 is a testament to innovation. It comes equipped with a more potent chip than its predecessor, the Series 8. Additionally, it introduces the “Double Tap” feature, a revolutionary way to interact with your Apple Watch without even touching the screen.
The display is now twice as bright, making it incredibly readable even under direct sunlight. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Apple Watch without its trusted health and well-being features, allowing you to monitor your blood oxygen, heart rate, sleep, and more, all aimed at guiding you towards a healthier you.
More Powerful Chip: The Series 9 is powered by a dual-core CPU with 60% more transistors than the previous S8 chip. It also features a four-core Neural Engine that processes machine learning tasks up to two times faster, enabling innovations such as the Double Tap gesture. Speaking of which…
Double Tap Gesture: The Double Tap gesture is a game-changer. It makes using your Apple Watch even more intuitive, especially when your hands are full. Just double-tap your index finger and thumb together to answer a call, open a notification, play and pause music, and more. It’s almost like magic, right at your fingertips. (Please note that the Double Tap feature is available starting late 2023.)
Brilliant, Brighter Display: The Series 9 takes display technology to the next level. It boosts the maximum brightness up to an impressive 2,000 nits, doubling that of the Series 8. This enhancement ensures that your watch remains easily readable even in the brightest sunlight. Moreover, it adapts to low-light situations, dimming down to just 1 nit, which is perfect for a movie night at the cinema.
Sleep Insights: The Sleep app on the Apple Watch Series 9 does more than just track your time asleep. It provides insights into your sleep patterns, including time spent in REM, Core, or Deep sleep, and even identifies moments when you might have woken up. This level of detail can be invaluable for improving your sleep quality.
Emergency SOS: The Series 9 takes your safety seriously. It can detect if you’re involved in a severe car crash. When a crash is detected, the Crash Detection feature automatically connects you with emergency services, provides dispatchers with your precise location, and notifies your emergency contacts.
Blood Oxygen: Monitoring your blood oxygen levels is now easier than ever with the Series 9’s blood oxygen sensor, which incorporates LEDs and photodiodes in the back crystal. You can take readings on demand or let the watch capture background readings day and night, providing crucial insights into your overall wellness.
Workout: The Workout app on the Series 9 is your fitness companion, regardless of your preferred exercise. Whether you’re squatting, spinning, or striding, this app has you covered. With Workout Views, you get access to more advanced metrics at a glance, including Heart Rate Zones and customized intervals to keep you on track.
Durable and Dive-Ready: The Series 9 is incredibly durable, thanks to its thick front crystal and robust geometry. It’s resistant to cracking, and it boasts an IP6X dust resistance rating. Plus, it’s swimproof with WR50 water resistance, allowing you to take it down to depths of 50 meters without worry.
GPS and Altimeter: The built-in GPS in the Series 9 accurately measures your workouts, whether you’re swimming, running, or cycling. It records distance, speed, and pace with precision. Additionally, the always-on altimeter continuously tracks elevation changes in real-time, adding another layer of data to your workouts.
Super Cellular: Stay connected even when you’re away from your iPhone with the Series 9’s cellular feature. Make calls and send texts directly from your wrist, ensuring you never miss an important message. (Please note that a cellular service is required for this feature to operate.)
Apple Fitness+: Access world-class workouts and meditations led by expert trainers with Apple Fitness+. See in-session metrics from your Apple Watch, such as heart rate and calories burned, right on your screen. With over 30 new workouts and meditations added weekly, there’s a program for every fitness focus. (Subscription required; Apple Fitness+ requires an Apple Watch Series 3 or later and is available when paired with iPhone 6s or later with iOS 14.3 or later.)
Bluetooth vs. Cellular Connectivity: Before we wrap up, let’s clarify the difference between Bluetooth and cellular connectivity in smartwatches, including the Apple Watch Series 9.
Bluetooth Connectivity: Smartwatches with Bluetooth allow you to send and receive text messages, answer phone calls, and receive notifications when connected to your compatible phone via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Bluetooth + Cellular: Smartwatches with built-in cellular capabilities provide the freedom to send and receive text messages, answer phone calls, and receive notifications even when your phone is out of reach.
Cellular Carrier Support: To connect your cellular-enabled smartwatch to a cellular network, you’ll need to use the same carrier as your compatible phone.
It’s clear that these smartwatches bring remarkable advancements to the table. The Series 9 is smarter, brighter, and mightier, with a host of new features and a powerful chip.
The Double Tap gesture is a game-changer, and the brighter display ensures excellent visibility. Additionally, the Series 9 enhances your sleep tracking, offers critical safety features, and is packed with fitness capabilities.
Comparison between Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2
Let’s start by dissecting the standout features of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. These features promise to set them apart from their predecessors and enhance the overall user experience.
Brighter Displays: Both the Series 9 and Ultra 2 boast displays that are not only brighter but also more vibrant, delivering captivating visuals that elevate the watch’s appeal.
Speedy S9 Chip: Underneath their sleek exteriors, these watches house the new S9 chip, which offers up to 30% faster performance. This means smoother navigation and quicker app launches, making everyday tasks a breeze.
Double Tap Gesture: Apple has introduced an ingenious “Double Tap” gesture that allows users to interact with the watch without touching the screen. This gesture opens up new possibilities for convenience and efficiency when using your Apple Watch.
Expanded Storage: Both models come with a generous 64GB of internal storage, eliminating the need to constantly manage storage space and ensuring there’s enough room for your apps, music, and other digital content.
Design and Durability: When it comes to design and durability, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 takes center stage. Designed for users who demand ruggedness and reliability, the Ultra 2 offers a brighter display, enhanced water resistance, and speakers that pack a punch. What’s more, it’s the first Apple Watch to receive a substantial design overhaul since its debut in 2015, making it an enticing choice for tech enthusiasts seeking an upgraded experience.
However, it’s important to note that the Ultra 2’s larger size might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re accustomed to the 41mm Apple Watch casing, the Ultra 2’s 49mm size might feel a tad too large and bulky. To see if it comfortably fits your wrist, I’d recommend trying it on in person at an Apple Store.
The bold and rugged design of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 might not appeal to everyone, especially if you prefer the more elegant stainless steel Apple Watch. Personal style and preferences play a significant role in the decision-making process.
Battery Life: Both the Series 9 and Ultra 2 boast impressive battery life, ensuring they can keep up with your busy day. Say goodbye to constantly searching for a charger—these watches are designed to be reliable companions throughout your daily activities.
While the Apple Watch Ultra 2 may not have received a complete design overhaul, it does come with some noteworthy updates that cater to specific user needs. This rugged smartwatch boasts a lightweight aerospace-grade titanium body, offering both durability and a touch of elegance. The flat sapphire crystal face not only enhances its overall aesthetics but also adds robust protection.
One of the standout design elements is the larger diameter and deeper grooved Digital Crown. This makes navigation and interaction with the watch even more effortless, even in challenging environments. Additionally, the housing for the side button has been carefully designed for better usability.
But that’s not all—the Apple Watch Ultra 2 surprises with an extra physical button on the left side, aptly named the “Action button.” This button is designed in a striking international orange color, ensuring it remains visible even in low-light conditions or underwater scenarios.
The Brightest Yet: One of the most striking features of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is its dazzling display. With a peak brightness of up to 3000 nits, it is undoubtedly the brightest Apple Watch to date. This means that under direct sunlight, the display remains easily readable, eliminating the need for cupping your hand over the screen to see the information.
However, the brilliance of the Ultra 2’s display is not limited to sunny days alone. It is also designed to adapt to low-light conditions, such as movie theaters or dark rooms, by dimming down to just 1 nit. This flexibility ensures that you have a comfortable and optimal viewing experience regardless of your surroundings.
The Action Button’s Versatility: The Apple Watch Ultra 2 introduces the “Action button,” and its capabilities extend beyond its name. This button not only stands out in international orange to enhance visibility in dark or underwater scenarios, but it is also highly customizable.
Users can assign various functions to the Action button, making it a versatile tool to streamline your Apple Watch experience. It can be configured to activate Workouts, mark segments during your activities, set Compass Waypoints, and more. This level of customization allows you to tailor your smartwatch to your specific needs and preferences.
Whether you should upgrade to the Series 9 or Ultra 2 depends on your current Apple Watch model, specific needs, and personal preferences. Both models offer distinct advantages, catering to different user profiles.
The Series 9 is an excellent choice for those seeking a reliable, everyday smartwatch, while the Ultra 2 is tailored for users who demand enhanced durability and performance in challenging environments.
Ultimately, your decision should align with your unique requirements and style preferences. With the Series 9 and Ultra 2, Apple continues to push the boundaries of what a smartwatch can do, making it an exciting time to be part of the Apple Watch ecosystem.