Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Apple Watch Ultra 2: What are the differences? – Mashable

It’s time for a good ol’ Watch Series 9 vs. Watch Ultra 2 face-off. As Apple figures out how it can escape a potential ban that hinders it from selling the devices on its website and stores, we figured many would be wondering how one differs from the other.

It’s not really in dispute that Apple makes some of the best smartwatches around, but which one is right for you?

As usual, that depends on multiple factors like features, battery life, and perhaps most importantly, price. This year’s two new entries into the Apple Watch line, the Series 9 and Ultra 2, both seem like excellent choices, but not for the same kind of person.

One is more of a general-use device while the other is definitely geared towards the more adventurous among us. Here’s how Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 compare to one another.

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Watch Ultra 2: Price

Series 9 won’t set you back nearly as much as Ultra 2.
Credit: Apple

As one might expect, the Series 9 is a good deal cheaper than the Ultra 2.

To be more specific, Series 9 starts at $399, while the Ultra 2 has just one available model at $799. There are, of course, some hidden costs with the Series 9 that aren’t present with the Ultra 2, which comes with all the possible bells and whistles you could want. With Series 9, adding extra flourishes like a stainless-steel case (the default is aluminum) and cellular LTE coverage can balloon the total cost up to a staggering $749, the same ballpark as the Ultra 2.

Apple Watch Series 9 (starting price): $399

Apple Watch Series Ultra: $799

At that point, why not just get an Ultra 2, right? But not everyone needs every feature. For someone who just wants an excuse to look at their phone less and count their daily steps, the $399 Series 9 will do just fine.

Winner: Series 9

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Watch Ultra 2: Design

You can really trick out your Apple Watch.
Credit: Apple

Apple Watch is arguably the most customizable product Apple sells, with a variety of case materials, colors, and watch bands to choose from. For this category, we’ll just stick with the inherent design features of each device because going through every single permutation would take forever.

Unsurprisingly, Ultra 2 is one step ahead. Its titanium case is going to be more durable than the aluminum and stainless steel options on Series 9, though that may not matter if you’re not a hiker or athlete. Meanwhile, the Ultra 2’s 49mm case is slightly bigger than the 45mm or 41mm varieties of the Series 9. This means the display is also ever-so-slightly larger, offering more screen real estate than the Series 9.

The real secret weapon in the Ultra 2’s arsenal, though, is the programmable action button on the watch’s side. You can make it activate pretty much any app shortcut you want — the Series 9 doesn’t have this button at all. It’s arguably the one feature the Ultra 2 has that is useful to everyone, not just people who enjoy hiking, so it’s a bummer that the Series 9 doesn’t have it.

Winner: Ultra 2

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Ultra 2: Features

Depth sensing!
Credit: Apple

A look at Apple’s official comparison website for the different Apple Watch models is illuminating. Despite the big difference in (starting) price, these two devices have almost all of the same basic features.

For instance, both (obviously) support Siri and the new Double Tap feature. Health features are also the same across the board, with both watches supporting blood oxygen monitoring, ECG, heart rate notifications, skin temperature sensing, and cycle tracking.

The differences lie in the margins, and of course, the Ultra wins again by default. It comes with LTE built-in (it’s an optional add-on for Series 9) and can sink to a depth of 100m underwater, 50m more than Series 9. It’s also got a depth gauge and water temperature sensor, so diving fanatics don’t have much of a choice here. Oh, and there’s an emergency siren on Ultra 2 for, well, emergencies. Series 9 doesn’t have that.

But again, you may not need any of those things. I know I don’t.

Winner: Ultra 2

Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Ultra 2: Battery life

Ultra 2 easily has a better battery than Series 9.
Credit: Apple

The easiest category yet.

Series 9 has a runtime of up to 18 hours on a full charge and up to 36 hours on low-power mode.

Ultra 2 is rated for literally twice that much: 36 hours by default and 72 hours on low-power mode. This is one upgrade that everyone benefits from, not just lovers of the great outdoors.

Winner: Ultra 2

The verdict

As is customary with device comparisons featuring two gadgets that are so disparate in price, the more expensive one looks better on paper. Apple Watch Ultra 2 is bigger, more durable, longer-lasting, and has more features than Series 9. It’s also not for everyone.

Ultra 2 is definitely made with outdoorsy adventuring types in mind. It’s for people who might feasibly get lost in the woods or need to measure depth while diving in the ocean. I am certainly not one of those people and I’d venture to guess you might not be either. If that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with Apple Watch Series 9; it’s cheaper and has almost all of the same software features as Ultra 2.

But still, this is a competition and someone has to win. Congratulations, Apple.

Winner: Apple Watch Ultra 2 (but Series 9 is fine for most people too)

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