The Apple Watch Ultra has been strapped to my wrist for the better part of the last year. I’ve used the $799 smartwatch for everything from fitness tracking and golfing to monitoring my sleep and even replacing my iPhone.
While I personally believe it's the best Apple Watch yet thanks to the longest battery life and largest display of any Apple smartwatch, there are certainly ways the rumored Apple Watch Ultra 2 could improve.
Some insiders say the next-generation Apple Watch Ultra could arrive in September alongside the Apple Watch Series 9. Despite the Apple Watch Ultra’s popularity, I’m not totally convinced that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is happening so soon. But if a follow-up is in the works, there are new features and improvements I hope it offers. Until there’s an Apple Watch trade-up program that mirrors the iPhone Upgrade Program, it’s going to take convincing for me to think the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is worth it. Here’s what I want to see.
Longer battery life
When it comes to the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra, battery life is one of the biggest differences. The flagship Apple Watch lasts 18 hours with normal use (up to 36 hours in low power mode) while the Apple Watch Ultra lasts up to 36 hours with normal use (up to 60 hours in low power mode.) After needing to charge my Apple Watch daily for several years, transitioning to every-other-day charging was a positive improvement.
Call me greedy, but I want the Apple Watch Ultra 2 to last even longer. When you compare it to the best Garmin watches and other GPS sports watches, the battery life can’t keep up. For example, the Garmin Forerunner 965 lasts 31 hours running continuous GPS — the Apple Watch Ultra will last less than half that long following your exact location. If Apple can manage a longer-lasting battery for the next Ultra watch, it would be better positioned for true outdoor sports enthusiasts.
New band options
One thing that’s remained true since I first tried the Apple Watch Ultra is that I’m not a fan of the three bands it's sold with. The Ocean Band is good for the water, but otherwise uncomfortable. The Trail Band is comfortable, but the fabric gets dirty too easily. The Alpine Loop is probably my favorite option, but it’s a bit too rugged-looking for my personal style.
Instead, I’ve used many of the best Apple Watch bands that fit non-Ultra models, including Apple’s Solo Loop and Milanese Loop. I usually switch between the two depending on the occasion. I’m also a fan of the Nomad Sport Loop, which comes in a fun range of colors. That’s just to say I hope the next Apple Watch Ultra is offered with a band that better accommodates everyday wear.
Other color options
Speaking of variety, I’d also appreciate it if the Apple Watch Ultra 2 came in multiple finishes. Currently, the 49mm watch is only available in a silvery gray titanium case. It’s versatile enough, but I think one or two different choices would provide further personalization options.
Rumors currently suggest that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 could come in a dark titanium finish. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said that the alternative color could “theoretically arrive” this year in a recent report on the Apple September event announcements.
If it does come in a darker color, I’ll probably stick to the existing Apple Watch Ultra. But if it comes in a lighter silver or gold coating, consider me sold. But that’s coming from someone who likes their smartwatch to look like jewelry.
Are we ready for the Apple Watch Ultra 2?
The Apple Watch Ultra has been available for about 10 months, and I’m not necessarily convinced that Apple needs to refresh it already. Having tracked the rumors and the Apple Watch category for several years, I can’t imagine there are many changes Apple could make between the Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Apple Watch Ultra.
I think the Apple Watch Ultra is better suited for the Apple Watch SE upgrade cycle. The Apple Watch SE (2022) launched two years after the original with some substantial improvements. Think about how much better the next Apple Watch Ultra could be with an additional year of development. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.