Current rumors leading up to the Apple September event suggest that two new smartwatches are on the way: the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2.
Last year, Apple released the Apple Watch Ultra, an all-new premium Apple Watch with a 49mm display and double the battery life of the Apple Watch Series 8. Though it’s not clear how it’ll improve, the $799 smartwatch might be refreshed this year.
Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Series 9 should arrive as scheduled, offering the most up-to-date Apple smartwatch experience. Paired with watchOS 10, the Apple Watch Series 9 could be the best smartwatch overall depending on its upgrades.
Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple Watch Ultra 2: Price and availability
We expect the Apple Watch Series 9 price to remain the same as it has for years past. For reference, the Apple Watch 8 currently starts at $399 for the 41mm model, with premiums for the larger 45mm model and cellular connectivity.
Unlike other the best Apple Watch models, the Ultra has only one 49mm, GPS + Cellular configuration that costs $799. It’s hard to imagine Apple would change the price for the second-generation version, though there’s no precedent to follow when it comes to speculating the price of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple Watch-related announcements will happen on September 12, with product availability starting as early as the following Friday.
Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple Watch Ultra 2: Design
There are no rumors suggesting the Apple Watch Series 9 will be changed. We expect it’ll come in 41mm and 45mm sizes (both in aluminum and stainless steel), as well as in an array of color options. One rumor says the Series 9 may come in pink or rose gold, but besides that, not much new looks-wise between the Apple Watch Series 9 vs. Apple Watch Series 8.
The 49mm Apple Watch Ultra made the 45mm Series 8 look small side-by-side. The Ultra also has a flat display, while the flagship Apple Watch screen has a soft curve. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 might maintain the same general appearance, but come in a dark titanium finish. There’s a chance that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 isn’t happening, and the original Ultra is simply being made in a new color choice, but we’ll have to see.
Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple Watch Ultra 2: Features
It’s likely the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 will have most features in common. Both would come with watchOS 10, have the latest suite of health sensors, offer safety features, integrate with Apple Fitness Plus, support the best Apple Watch apps and more.
But the Apple Watch Ultra ushered in some new features that set it apart from the Apple Watch Series 8 as a rugged adventure watch. The titanium frame and 2,000 nits peak brightness mean it's well-suited to surviving the knocks and dings of outdoor pursuits while remaining legible. The built-in siren is a game-changer for emergencies, too. It also offers the longest battery life of any Apple Watch and the added functionality of the Action Button, which is essentially a quick launcher for a selection of apps and tools.
The biggest rumor we’ve seen in terms of Apple Watch features for the next generation of devices could apply to both the Ultra and non-Ultra models. Reports from Bloomburg's Mark Gurman and leaker Instant Digital suggest the Apple Watch 9 will pack an improved processor that boosts battery life and performance.
Gurman has also said that the Apple Watch Series 9 update will be “anything but major.” The tipster said we can expect “a more modest year” for the flagship Apple Watch model specifically. For the Apple Watch Ultra, Gurman said, “it’s unlikely you’ll want to spring for this version,” if you bought the original Ultra last year.
Apple Watch 9 vs. Apple Watch Ultra 2: Outlook
If you’re going to be in the market for a new smartwatch soon, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 will likely be strong options. That said, it’s possible not much will change compared to the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra, meaning our advice holds steady.
Unless there are major changes Apple is keeping under wraps, we're guessing the Apple Watch 9 will be the better smartwatch for most people. The Apple Watch Ultra 2, on the other hand, is better for those who would benefit from the outdoor sports features, or who can justify spending $400 more for the premium design.