Review: Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple Watch Ultra 2 both excites and disappoints

Apple's rugged smartwatch for wilderness friends and people with big wrists has been redesigned with few but important new features. Most of it is successful.

Published 2023-12-06 - 7:31 am
Apple Watch Ultra 2
Peter Gotschalk

Let’s be clear from the start. We don’t want to discriminate. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 can, of course, be worn by all people. So when we emphasize that this is a watch for men, it’s all about size.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is just as big and heavy as its predecessor, and it is also more robust than most other smartwatches on the market, not least all other Apple Watch editions, including the latest Series 9, which we recently tested.

This makes it better suited for people who find most other smartwatches too small and bulky on the wrist.

So was the first Apple Watch Ultra, and to be fair, there are only a few differences between the new Apple Watch Ultra 2 and last year’s model. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is also marketed somewhat to extreme sports enthusiasts thanks to the smartwatch’s flat sapphire crystal display, titanium casing, water resistance up to 100 meters and a construction that can withstand temperatures between -20 and 55 degrees Celsius. What’s more, the smartwatch promises 36 hours of battery life – or even up to 72 hours with power saving mode – which is certainly handy if you’re hiking in the wilderness, diving with dolphins and sharks or jumping off mountain peaks in a hang glider.


Apple Watch Ultra 2
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has a flat sapphire crystal display and a maximum brightness of 3,000 nits (Photo: Apple)

Let’s get it out of the way right away: This is not how we tested the Apple Watch Ultra 2, because most of the real news is hidden on the inside of the watch. However, it should be mentioned that the screen has also become brighter and now offers a brightness of up to 3,000 nits, making the watch even easier to read in sunlight.

Faster processor, more memory

But first and foremost, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is equipped with a new processor called Apple S9 SiP (System in Package). It contains a processor that has 60 percent more transistors than its predecessor and a graphics processor that is up to 30 percent faster. It also has a 4-core Neural Engine for machine learning. In addition, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has a whopping 64 gigabytes of built-in memory as opposed to the 32 gigabytes of its predecessor.

The bigger muscles are used to run Siri directly on the smartwatch. Previously, what you said had to be sent up to the cloud to be analyzed by Apple and then the answer came back. That’s why it sometimes felt a little slow to get a response from Siri, or barely worked if you had a bad connection. Now the Apple Watch Ultra 2 can answer you itself and you don’t have to go online to look for the answer.

Better tracking

Apple Watch Ultra 2 also features a new second-generation Ultra Wideband chip, just like the new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. This gives you precision search if you can’t find your phone. Not just a ringtone as before, but a compass that shows you which way to look and how far away the phone is. Like if you were tracking an Airtag.

And just like last year’s model, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 also features Car Crash Detection, which can detect if you are in a serious car accident. This is possible thanks to the watch’s accelerometer, gyroscope and barometer – as well as built-in microphones that help determine if an accident requires assistance.


Apple Watch Ultra 2
With the new Ultra Wideband chip, you get precision search if you can’t find your phone. In the form of a compass that shows you which way to look and how far away the phone is. (Photo: Apple)

Should this be the case, the watch will call the alarm center and any emergency contacts to notify them of your location.

Health and sport

Of course, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is also packed with various health features. These include automatic recognition and registration of physical activity, fall detection, ECG, blood oxygen level, sleep detection and a temperature sensor that helps women measure and track their menstrual cycle and generally measures your temperature at night if you wear the watch on your arm while you sleep.

In addition, it has the ability to detect specific sports activities such as interval training, multisport (another word for triathlon) and open water swimming and diving.

Double tap

Already at the launch of the new Apple Watch models, Apple promised that a new feature was on the way. Namely, the so-called double tap, which would be included in an upcoming update of the watch’s operating system, watchOS 10.

And even though we’ve had the Apple Watch Ultra 2 on the shelf for a few weeks, we decided to wait until the update was ready to test the new way of operating the smartwatch.

However, the double tap worked just as flawlessly as in Apple’s promotional video.

In its simplest form, double-tap allows the user to operate the Apple Watch Ultra 2 without touching the watch. Instead, you press your index finger and thumb together twice, as if you were double-clicking a mouse. The idea is that the gesture will activate the most obvious function in a particular situation, such as answering a call, pausing music or snoozing an alarm.

So, has it been worth the wait? Is double tap a revolutionary new interface that will change the way people interact with technology forever? Uh, no.

First of all, double tap is not a new feature at all, but was already part of Accessibility Features, which are generally designed to make Apple products easier to use for people with various disabilities. Secondly, it doesn’t work very well. About every other time, you have to make the gesture several times before the watch responds, and it’s so annoying that you quickly stop trying.


Apple Watch Ultra 2
The idea of double tap is that the gesture should activate the most obvious function in a particular situation, such as answering a call, pausing music or snoozing an alarm. (Photo: Apple)


But for the record, despite our disappointment with the double tap feature, we still think the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is a cool product. The smartwatch has all the same features as the first Apple Watch Ultra, plus more muscle to run Siri directly on the watch. It also has a brighter display and, last but not least, the updated Ultra Wideband chip that makes tracking other Apple products much more user-friendly.

Of course, Android users needn’t even consider purchasing the Apple Watch Ultra 2, as it doesn’t work with Android-based smartphones. And if you’re already the happy owner of an Apple Watch Ultra from last year, it’s probably a personal decision whether you think the few upgrades are worth the money.

Apple Watch Ultra 2
High End

We think

New processor means more power, so the smartwatch can run Siri without going online. Brighter screen and new Ultra Wideband chip that improves tracking of other Apple products. New double tap function works poorly. Only suitable for Apple users.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This is the smartwatch to choose if you use Samsung

The training watch you can use 24/7

TAG Heuer's smartwatch is in a class of its own

Scroll to Top