Galaxy Watch Ultra vs. Apple Watch Ultra: Who’s the most rugged of them all? [Video] – 9to5Google

The smartwatch market is about to get a shakeup. Samsung is now joining an exclusive group with the Galaxy Watch Ultra, which is poised to challenge the Apple Watch Ultra. Ecosystems aside, do they stack up well? Here’s everything you need to know.

Why are we comparing these wearables at all? Given the issues with incompatibility and interoperability, you should stick to the smartwatch that works best with your smartphone. However, Samsung is offering a product that directly competes with Apple’s best smartwatch, and we can discuss some shared traits to see which product meets the needs of the right person.

When I saw the Galaxy Watch Ultra in person, I thought it was 100% influenced by Apple’s rugged wearable. However, it’s important to note that Samsung isn’t new to this space. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the direct predecessor to the Watch Ultra. While the materials and some of the design decisions are certainly eyebrow-raising, it’s not like Samsung hasn’t been attempting to create something similar before.

Galaxy Watch UltraApple Watch UltraDisplay size47mm: 1.5-inch49mm: 1.91-inchDisplay resolution480 x 480 pixels502 x 410 pixelsDimensions47.1 x 47.4 x 12.1mm49 x 44 x 14.4mmProcessorExynos W1000Apple S9RAM2GB1GBStorage32GB64GBWeight60.5g61.5gBattery590mAh564mAhColorsTitanium Sliver / Titanium Gray / Titanium WhiteTitanium

Utilizing orange on the action button and adding an optional orange watch strap feels very “on the nose” here. Samsung isn’t escaping any suggestions that the Galaxy Watch Ultra hasn’t, at the very least, been influenced by the Apple Watch Ultra. The boxy aesthetic and altered strap mechanism hint at this even more so. I’m willing to give Samsung the benefit of the double, but calling this a copycat would also be pretty darn fair. That said, even though the Galaxy Watch Ultra has a rotating crown on the action button, it can’t control UI elements like the Apple Watch Ultra.

Unlike the Galaxy Watch 7, the Watch 7 Ultra now has an updated strap connection method. Straps securely clip into the watch frame, but the lugs from prior models are incompatible. This is a smooth and simple process. I think that Apple’s approach is a little better due to the backward compatibility with other Apple Watches. Maybe Samsung can continue to use the new connection with each new iteration as it’s annoying that you can’t use existing or old straps here.

Naturally, these are durability-focused wearables. So, both have similar design specifications, including a rugged titanium frame and chassis, but the displays are slightly different. They are both are OLED with sapphire crystal coatings to help up the protection level when out in the elements. The Apple Watch Ultra has a 49mm display with less noticeable bezels, while the Galaxy Watch Ultra is slightly smaller at 47mm.

Although at first glance, it looks like the Galaxy Watch Ultra has a square screen, it’s actually circular. It’s just the chassis that gives that vibe. This means that any potentially noticeable bezels have been filled with a chronograph and protective metal frame. I think despite the Watch Ultra having a marginally higher resolution 480×480 pixel panel, the display quality is almost identical. Apple’s UI felt much smoother when used side-by-side. Both have 3000 nit maximum brightness for easy reading in bright lighting conditions.

The Apple Watch Ultra is almost a gram heavier at 61.3g compared to the 60.5g Galaxy Watch Ultra. Is this going to make a difference? Probably not, but it might affect your comfort as the Apple Watch Ultra is around 14.4mm thick. Samsung’s new wearable is just 12.1mm, and because of that, it doesn’t stick out from your wrist as much. If you have a smaller wrist, this could be something to think about or consider. There are also two extra colors for the Samsung watch. Like the Apple Watch, it comes in a plain Titanium finish, but gray/black and white versions are also available.

Thickness is an important consideration because these wearables are designed to be companions in harsh environments—swimming, climbing, trail running, and all kinds of places that you wouldn’t assume a “regular” smartwatch would be a great fit for. The Galaxy Watch Ultra has an IP68 versus IP6X on the Apple Watch Ultra, but both have a 10ATM water or 100-meter water resistance. That means that both watches should be water-resistant for deep dives, but the Galaxy Watch Ultra might have the edge in sheer physical resilience.

Battery life is crucial for any smartwatch designed for extended adventures, and both of these wearables are designed with that in mind.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra does have a larger 590mAh internal battery than the Apple Watch Ultra’s supposed 542mAh internal cell. This doesn’t always paint a true picture due to efficiency differences, such as whether you’re using LTE connections, doing lots of GPS and fitness tracking, or putting your watch under other stresses.

Apple Watch Ultra boasts a respectable 36 hours, but real-world usage often exceeds this figure. 48 hours is feasible in most scenarios. Samsung claims up to 100 hours of lifespan when using specific on-device power-saving modes and a typical 48 hours between charges when using standard modes.

We haven’t been able to test this fully, but previous generations of Galaxy Watch 6 Classic and Watch 5 Pro models have handled up to 48 hours without any pressure. Although the chargers are incompatible, they are similar, with magnetic pucks charging both smartwatches fully in around an hour.

A true outdoor rugged wearable needs to be able to track all of your fitness endeavors. The Apple Watch Ultra and Galaxy Watch Ultra cater to basic fitness tracking, but a few modes are thrown in that might be useful for die-hard fitness fanatics. At the end of the day, neither are dedicated fitness watches; they are smartwatches with enhanced fitness modes thrown in.

One of the key new features touted by Samsung on the Watch Ultra is a personalized HR Zone. This analyzes your workouts using AI to give optimal intensity levels for future fitness sessions. It also gives you full tracking data without a subscription. Like the Apple Watch Ultra, the Galaxy Watch Ultra also has a multi-sports tile that lets you create a triathlon tracking system for workout tracking.

We all know that Watch OS and Wear OS are—to borrow an old English idiom—like “chalk and cheese”, but they have many refinements for the corresponding chipsets. 32GB and 64GB of storage should mean lots of space for apps, podcasts, music, and more. The performance seemed solid, but at times I was convinced the Apple Watch Ultra felt more fluid, but this could have been due to a low-battery on the Galaxy Watch Ultra.

About upgrading: 9to5Google often gives specific product recommendations. Sometimes, we may suggest not upgrading, due to various reasons including, but not limited to: increased device cost, negligible performance gains, or environmental impact. Whether to upgrade is always your call, but our aim is to help you make as informed a decision as possible.

The pricing is where things get interesting. Samsung is offering many smartwatches for quite a bit less, at $649/£599 versus $799/£799 in the UK. Despite the lower pricing structure, you even get cellular connectivity.

As we started this comparison, if you use an iPhone, then it’s a no-brainer as you will want the Apple Watch Ultra. If you have an Android phone, things are a little more complex. If you want the only out-and-out rugged wearable that is compatible with Android, then the Galaxy Watch Ultra is a very well-priced product.

One annoyance is that you will get more functionality with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, which makes it a little annoying if you use a non-Samsung phone. Therefore, it is hard to give a 100% seal of approval or recommendation to everyone. Even so, the Galaxy Watch Ultra is one of the most compelling Wear OS watches ever made and may be the catalyst for yet more rugged Android-powered alternatives to the Apple Watch Ultra.

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