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Apple Watch Ultra vs. Series 8: What are the differences?

Is Apple’s new rugged Apple Watch Ultra the right fit for you?

Apple Watch Ultra

The Apple Watch Ultra is for those who are adventurous. With the ability to withstand extreme temperatures, submersion to 40 meters, and up to 60 hours of battery life, Apple Watch Ultra is going nowhere. Plus, it manages to be super light and durable with its 49mm titanium case. 

For

  • Up to 60-hour battery life
  • Temperature resistant
  • Diving up to 40M
  • New Action button

Against

  • More expensive
  • Only comes in titanium finish
  • No color options

Apple Watch Series 8

The Apple watch Ultra is much hard than the Apple Watch 8 so that costs a lot less. But both of the models feature the same processor and the same health-tracking function. It’s the standard update to the Apple Watch we expect every year, and you can expect it to perform as you’d wish. Plus, it’s available in more colors and finishes.

For

  • Temperature sensor
  • Crash Detection
  • S8 processor
  • Cheaper

Against

  • Only 36-hour battery life
  • No Night mode
  • The screen is not as bright

The Apple Watch Series 8 is continue to operate as the model you’ve come to know and love over the years. It has a few new features, like Crash Detection and a processor that’s about 20% faster than previous generations. It’s admittedly not as exciting of a new product as the super rugged Apple Watch Ultra, which you can even go diving with, but that doesn’t mean that you automatically should get the Apple Watch Ultra. Let’s dive into the specific differences to see which watch is right for you. 

What are the differences: Design, colors, and finishes

To start, the Apple Watch Series 8 has the same design as the previous generation. It comes in two case sizes —  41mm and 45mm — and offers aluminum or stainless steel finishes. The aluminum comes in four colors, Midnight, Starlight, PRODUCT(RED), and silver; while the stainless steel comes in silver, gold, and Graphite.

For sure, the Apple watch Ultra is a totally different model that is hard and rugged which we haven’t seen on the Apple watch before. It’s got a 49mm case, so the screen is larger than the biggest Series 8, and it’s completely flat. The Ultra also looks a far bit different thanks to its extra protection around the Digital Crown and Side button on the right side of the watch.

There’s a new Action button on the other side of the watch. It’s a customizable button that can offer one-touch access to many features. Apple specifically mentioned the ability to start a workout or move to the next interval of a custom workout, but we expect it can do a lot more than we know right now.

However, the Apple watch Ultra only features a titanium case and one color.

What are the differences: Internals and specs

As you can see from the below chart, both Apple watches Ultra and Series 8 are equipped with the same S8 chip. This chip promises a faster speed than other previous models. When it comes to sensors — like the new temperature sensors — both watches have them, but there are some more subtle differences that we can point out in the spec sheet. 


UltraSeries 8
Case sizes49mm41mm and 45mm
ProcessorS8S8
Battery life36 hours (up to 60 hours) 118 hours (up to 36 hours)
Screen brightness2000 nits1000 nits
Water resistance100m, swim-proof and recreational dive to 40m50m, swim-proof
Always-On displayYesYes
GPSPrecision dual-frequency (L1 & L5) GPSL1 GPS
SirenYesNo
CellularIncluded in every modelCellular models available
Night modeYesNo
Crash/Fall DetectionYesYes
Temperature SensorYesYes
Low Power ModeYesYes
Starting price$799$399

What are the differences: Display and features

The difference in brightness between the two models looks stark, with the Apple Watch Ultra being twice as bright as the Series 8. This will make it much easier to see the screen in direct sunlight or other bright conditions. That’s not the only trick the Ultra has up its sleeve, as the new Night mode will make it easier for your eyes to see the screen in the dark by turning the display dark and red. However, both do come with an always-on display.

The Ultra has better GPS, so you can get a more precise location on Apple watch Ultra than the series 8. However, both employ Backtrack, which quite literally helps you backtrack your steps — important if you’re out in the wilderness.

Both the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra are IP6X dust rated, but that’s where the similarities come in terms of durability. The Ultra is water-resistant up to 100m (twice as much as the Series 8) and can even withstand recreational diving up to 40m. Additionally, the Ultra has been tested MIL-STD 810H, which includes testing for altitude, low and high temperatures, rain, sand, freezing and thawing, and more. Plus, the Ultra will function just fine in some pretty extreme temperatures with a range between -4° F (-20° C) – 131° F (55° C), according to Apple. In other words, the Ultra is designed to go with you literally everywhere and will withstand a lot more abuse than the Apple Watch Series 8 can.

By now, you probably understand that the Apple Watch Ultra caters to adrenaline junkies who may find themselves in some tricky situations. In these cases, the Ultra can help come to the rescue. Both the Series 8 and Ultra offer SOS emergency calling, as well as Crash and Fall Detection, with each respective watch being able to notice you’ve fallen or been in a car crash, and then promptly notify authorities and reach out to your emergency contacts. However, it’s the Ultra that goes a step further. It has an 86-decibel siren that can sound off, alerting people up to 600 feet away that you need help through a unique sound signature.

What are the differences: Battery life

The Apple watch Ultra will have stronger battery life. The Series 8 has an 18-hour battery life, while the Ultra doubles that to 36 hours. That’s running normally. Thanks to the fact that the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra will run watchOS 9, Low Power Mode will be on both devices.

Apple Watch 8 can last for 36 hours on low power mode while the Ultra can last 60 hours. That’s with Low Power Mode enabled on both as well as special low power settings coming specifically to the Apple Watch Ultra. However, it seems that the low-power setting will not be available at launch, and Apple says it will be available later this fall, so keep that in mind. 

Which smartwatch should you buy?

The Apple watch Ultra is priced at $799 which seems a good price. But which is the best watch for you largely depends on the reason you want an Apple watch.

Are you an adventurer who wants an Apple Watch to take with you when hiking, diving, mountain climbing, or other adventurous activities? It seems like the Apple Watch Ultra would be the best fit for you, especially if you love the idea of having 60 hours of battery power to play around with. However, not everyone is so adventurous.

The Apple Watch Series 8 is the upgrade you’d expect. It has all the health tracking features you want, plus the addition of a temperature sensor and Crash Detection. It’s likely the best Apple Watch for most people who don’t mind being less adventurous.  

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