Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra: What are the differences?

Apple has just unveiled its new smartwatches for this year: Apple Watch SE 2, Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra. The Ultra model with its diving and outdoor features is aimed at athletes on the edge. We take a look at the new Apple Watch models.


  • Apple presented three new smartwatches at its “Far out” event today.
  • The Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen.), the Apple Watch 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra were presented.
  • We compare the Apple Watch 8 with the Apple Watch Ultra.

Much was reported in advance about a possible Watch Pro, which has now actually become an Apple Watch Ultra. This is joined by the Apple Watch Series 8 and the price-optimized model, with the Apple Watch SE in the second generation. In this article, we want to clarify what the actual differences of the Watch 8 and Watch Ultra are now.

Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra: Price and availability

Both watchOS 9 smartwatches are already available for pre-order this evening. While the Apple Watch Series 8 will already ship on September 16, the extreme athletes among you will have to wait until September 23. Cupertino wants to see $799 for the Ultra model.

The Apple Watch 8, on the other hand, is a bit more modest. The GPS-only model costs $399 and the Cellular version $499. Buyers of both Apple Watches get three months of Apple Fitness+ for free.

Apple Watch Ultra
The Apple Watch Ultra offers a more robust design than the regular Apple Watch 8. / © Apple, screenshot: NextPit

Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra: Display and case

The Apple Watch Ultra comes with a 49-millimeter titanium case and a flat sapphire crystal display on the front. Apple confirms the largest and brightest panel (2000 nits) in an Apple Watch to date. The Series 8, on the other hand, comes with either a 41 or 45 millimeter case. Here, the maximum brightness is 1000 nits.

The Apple Watch 8 can be made of aluminum or stainless steel. Depending on your choice, the light metal variant is available in black, gold, silver, and (product) red, and the noble steel in anthracite (graphite), silver, and black (space black).

Apple Watch 8 colors
The aluminum version of the Apple Watch Series 8 comes in four colors. The stainless steel version offers three additional colors. / © Apple

The Ultra model, on the other hand, only comes in one color. On the other hand, there are variations in the wristbands, which are no longer compatible with the previous bands. They are called Alpine and Trail Loop, as well as Ocean Band. Since the Ultra Watch is aimed at top athletes and explorers, it also has exceptional capabilities.

It is certified according to military standard 810 and WR100. It can withstand temperatures from -20 degrees to 55 degrees Celsius. The special feature is that divers no longer need to take off their Apple Watch. Provided it’s the Ultra model, and they don’t dive too deep.

This is because it is waterproof up to 40 meters thanks to EN 13319 certification. In combination with the Oceanic+ app, the diving depth, water temperature—and, importantly for survival—the diving time and ascent speed can be displayed.

Apple Watch 8 Ultra
The Apple Watch 8 Ultra also serves as a dive computer down to 40 meters / © Apple, screenshot: NextPit

The dedicated button should not go unmentioned either. It can be freely programmed and used for the new Backtrack function, for example. Furthermore, not only the display has become bigger on the Apple Watch Ultra, but also the crown. The idea behind this is that you can operate the Watch Ultra with gloves even at the said -20 degrees.

Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra: Processor and features

Both watches have received a new S8 chip – but Apple did not go into detail about the specs. Apple has basically kept all the previously known features for the Series 8.

These include the Afib detection, the electrocardiogram, the pedometer, the sleep tracking, the blood oxygen level and the pulse sensor. On the other hand, the temperature sensors are new —one sits under the display, and another is on the underside of the watch with direct skin contact.

Apple Watch 8
The temperature sensors in the Watch 8 are supposed to enable more or less precise cycle tracking, among other things. / © Apple

Apple’s focus is on women’s health. The Watch 8 measures temperature around the clock—for example, every five seconds during sleep. The data can be used to predict ovulation, for example, although Apple admits that these are only estimates. All data is encrypted and stored on your Apple account.

Another new feature of the Apple Watch 8 is the so-called accident detection. It uses improved gyro and acceleration sensors to determine whether an accident has occurred while driving a car. The Apple Watch 8 can even determine the type of accident—for example, whether it was a minor rear-end collision or a rollover. The watch then sends an emergency call within 10 seconds, provided this process is not interrupted by the user.

Apple Crash Detection
For the crash detection function, Apple even combines acceleration data from the iPhone and Watch – if available. / © Apple

Of course, the Apple Watch Ultra can do much more. After all, it is made for extreme athletes. For example, there is now a new compass app with waypoints and the aforementioned backtrack function. These are determined by the particularly precise dual-frequency GPS. This covers both the L1 and L5 frequency bands.

Apple Watch Ultra
The Apple Watch Ultra offers new tracking features / © Apple, screenshot: NextPit

Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra: Battery

Apple is once again not letting its guard down when it comes to specifying the battery capacities of the two smartwatches. For the Apple Watch 8, Jeff Williams announces that it will run for 18 hours on a single charge. New, however, is the “Low Power Mode”, which “catapults” the watch to a runtime of 36 hours. However, this means doing without an always-on display and 24/7 tracking of the heart rate as well as workout recognition.

Apple Watch 8 Ultra Funktionsübersicht
Here you can see the most important features of the Apple Watch Ultra at a glance! / © Apple, Screenshot: NextPit

Cupertino states an incredible runtime of up to 60 hours for the Apple Watch Ultra – for Apple users. However, those who use a Garmin smartwatch can only smile wearily here. Even the 60 hours can only be achieved in power-saving mode and without features. For example, it states: The “measurements of GPS or heart rate are reduced”. What this means in the end and how long the Apple Watch Ultra can run on one battery charge without restrictions will only be revealed in our detailed review.

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