Last year, the Apple Watch Ultra chiseled a new category of lifestyle products. While a segment of adventure-centered smartwatches already existed, the Apple Watch Ultra merged the gap between bulky, sometimes distastefully designed, outdoorsy smartwatches and ones fitting every occasion. Alongside the iPhone 15 and the Apple Watch Series 9, Apple is announcing the Apple Watch Ultra 2 with notable improvements over the first generation. It’s not a particularly flashy or eye-catching upgrade, but it should be an important one nonetheless.
Like the Apple Watch Series 9, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 gets an updated S9 chip based on the iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic processor. The GPU is 30% faster than the Apple S8 chip, while a new custom NPU allows all your Siri data to be processed on the device instead of on the cloud. Apple also claims the new chip allows for 25% better dictation than the previous model.
The new chip also facilitates the new tap gesture, where you can tap your thumb and index finger to trigger actions like taking or ending a call, starting a timer, etc.
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Apple Watch Ultra 2 gets a new and brighter display with a peak brightness of up to 3,000 nits, which makes the display legible even in the brightest of surroundings. There aren’t any visible changes compared to the first-gen Watch Ultra. Like the Watch 9, Apple is offering eco-friendly band options for the Watch Ultra 2 while the shell is made from 99% recycled aluminum, which is why Apple is calling it a carbon-neutral product.
For fitness and outdoor activities, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 gets a dual-frequency GPS, which is presumably carried over from the first-gen. The new altimeter can now detect elevations ranging from 500 meters below sea level to 9,000 meters above sea.
Besides better hardware, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 also benefits from improvements part of watchOS 10. This includes new automatic controls based on your proximity to other devices. For instance, if you’re closer to a HomePod, controls will playback automatically pop up on your Watch’s screen.