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Apple Watch Ultra vs Series 8: Which should you buy?

Apple’s late 2022 product lineup includes a healthy helping of AirPods, iPhones, and three new Apple Watches. The latter now features a flagship Apple Watch Ultra model alongside the Apple Watch Series 8. But if you’re in the market for a new Apple Watch, which should you consider buying? Below, we look at the pros and cons of both models and which you should pick. Let’s jump into our Apple Watch Ultra vs Apple Watch Series 8 comparison.

Design

You’ll need a fine-toothed comb to find the differences between the Series 8 and its direct predecessor, the Watch Series 7. Effectively, the two watches share the same chassis, screen, and case sizes. You’re still getting the digital crown mounted on the top right corner, a rounded-off face housing an OLED display, and aluminum or stainless steel construction. Dial sizes include 41mm for smaller wrists and 45mm for slightly larger arms. The Apple Watch Series 8 is effectively a Series 7 with some marked differences beneath its exterior.

The same can’t be said for the Apple Watch Ultra. This model features an all-new titanium design that’s now the most distinct in the Apple Watch range.

The Apple Watch Ultra immediately has the most distinct look in the Apple Watch range to date.

The most noticeable difference is the massive 49mm sapphire lens that houses a flat screen. This reportedly makes it easier for active users to select and glance at items on display. The other large differentiator is the hump the digital crown is housed in. This protrusion protects the crown from knocks and makes the power button a little easier to feel out even while wearing gloves.

Keeping with buttons for a moment, the Apple Watch Ultra also brings a third orange pusher to the device. The Action Button allows users to switch between workout modes or mark segments during those workouts. The Series 8 does not feature this button.

Some will love these aesthetic changes and the more rugged look it gives the Ultra. Others will hate it for ruining the Apple Watch’s otherwise sleek design. In terms of practicality, the much larger dial makes the Ultra less attractive to those who want a smaller, compact wearable. For these users, the Series 8 is a more sensible bet.

Features

Credit: Apple

The Apple Watch Series 8 may look similar to its predecessor but brings some notable changes under the hood. This mainly includes the new Apple S8 chipset and a new body temperature sensor, which allows for more accurate cycle tracking for those who menstruate. In the past, we’ve seen body temperature tracking debut on Fitbit and Samsung watches, so it’s great that Apple is finally joining the party. This sensor will also record temperature fluctuations of users during sleep, which may provide insight into the general well-being of the wearer. The Series 8 also brings car crash detection — a first for the Apple Watch. This will dial emergency services and send the user’s location after a brief countdown.

Other features are brought over from the Series 7, including the ECG, the SpO2 monitor, a heart rate sensor, fall detection capabilities, and sleep tracking.

apple watch ultra depth meter yellow strap

Credit: Apple

If you buy the Apple Watch Ultra, you get all these new features and a little more. For starters, LTE cellular data support is standard across all Ultra models. The Ultra also lands with a bigger battery for an estimated 36 hours of juice per charge — more than any Apple Watch before it. Low power mode can stretch this out for an additional 24 hours, making this model the best option for those who want a longer-lasting wearable. Notably, both features are meant to entice hardcore athletes, rock climbers, hikers, and others of this ilk but should appeal to everyone.

For swimmers and divers, the Apple Watch Ultra packs a depth gauge that can provide real-time water pressure measurements up to 40 meters. The device is water resistant at depths of up to 100 meters and IP6X dust resistant, too. The Series 8 settles for a 50-meter rating. Several apps are onboard to take advantage of the Ultra’s love for deep water, too, including a dedicated diving app that displays water temperature, underwater time, and more.

And if you get lost, the Ultra also features a dual speaker that doubles as an alert siren. According to Apple, that others can hear from 180 meters away. Ensuring you don’t get lost in a new dual-band GPS utilizing L1 and L5 frequency bands. This should give the Apple Watch Ultra GPS accuracy akin to Garmin’s sports watches. Like the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, the Ultra also includes Back Track functionality that helps users return to a previous waypoint.

Price and colors

apple watch series 8 3

Credit: Apple

  • Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS): $399 / £419
  • Apple Watch Series 8 (LTE): $499 / £529
  • Apple Watch Ultra (LTE): $799 / £849

As the Apple Watch Series 8 is a largely iterative upgrade, there’s no premium over the Series 7. The new model starts at $399 — the same as its predecessor. Of course, this price will vary wildly based on dial size, your choice of case material and band, and whether you opt for LTE connectivity or not.

Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)


$399 at Best Buy

Apple Watch Series 8 colors vary between the aluminum and stainless steel chassis. The former can be had in Starlight, Midnight, Silver, and Product Red, while the stainless steel version comes in Silver, Graphite, and Gold. Retail sales kick off on September 16.

Apple Watch Ultra


$799 at Best Buy

The Apple Watch Ultra, as you’ve probably guessed by its name, is the pricier option. It comes in a selection of bands, but all models feature a titanium chassis with LTE support. Pricing starts at $799. The bands on offer include the Ocean Loop, Trail Loop, and Alpine Loop for swimmers/divers, runners, and hikers. You can grab an Apple Watch Ultra at stores from September 23.

See also: The best Apple Watch bands

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