Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra: Which one should you buy?

Apple announced a new product line for its mobile and portable devices during its September 7, 2022 event. Among the array of products shipping out of Apple’s coven, the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra – both with spectacular features – grab special attention. And I bet you can’t wait to sport one of these beasts on your wrist.

While both watches are great, Apple mentioned some tailored features for each; therefore, some weighing is required before deciding on which one to buy. We can’t ignore their price differences. But even if you can afford the almighty Apple Watch Ultra, is it an ideal watch for your needs? The Apple Watch Series 8 is a bit expensive too, but would you get everything that your activity standard demands?

So below is a detailed comparison of Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra. Which of the two is worth your investment? You’ll know by the end of this article.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra: A detailed comparison

The Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra have many features in common. However, let’s start by tabulating the key differences between them for a quick overview.

FeaturesApple Watch Series 8Apple Watch Ultra
DisplayOLED, up to 1000 nits
Ion-X glass on an aluminum case
Sapphire crystal on stainless steel
OLED, up to 2000 nits
Flat sapphire crystal display
Night ModeNoAvailable, handy in low-visibility conditions
Casing41mm or 45mm recycled aluminum; or stainless steel49mm aerospace-grade titanium
Cellular connectivity variantsGPS and GPS + Cellular modelsAll models on GPS + Cellular
Precision dual-frequencyNo (L1 GPS)Yes (L1 and L5 GPS)
ControlDigital crown + haptic feedbackDigital crown + haptic feedback + Action button
Crash and Fall DetectionYesYes
Water resistanceUp to 50 metersTwice the WR100 resistance mark. It can resist up to 100 meters
Battery life18 hours on a full charge
36 hours on low-power mode
36 hours on a full charge
Up to 60 hours on power optimization
Speaker and micBuilt-in speaker and micDual speakers and three mics + specific beamforming functionality
Siren (Emergency SOS)No86-decibel, audible up to 180 meters

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra: Key features

The Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Series 8 both have great protective features. But the Apple Watch Ultra is more rugged, with the casing extending across the sides for edge protection. The Watch Ultra can resist submergence up to 100 meters. Only half of this depth is ideal for the Apple Watch Series 8, as it has slimmer units.

Both watches are dust-proof and crack-resistant with an ingress protection of IP6X, enough to withstand high-pressure winds. However, the Apple Watch Ultra is still sturdier and lightweight since it glories in a 49mm aerospace-grade titanium. Thus, it withstands various outdoor activities, including running, water sports, biking, and adventures.

While the Apple Watch Series 8 comes with some more new straps, Apple tailored the Watch Ultra straps based on activities. These include the Alpine loop, Trail loop, and Ocean band.

Temperature sensors and cycle tracking

Temperature sensors and cycle tracking on Apple watch ultra

Apple has embedded several health features into its previous Watch series. But the new Apple Watches, especially the Watch Series 8, were designed with women’s health in mind. However, both watches feature an advanced temperature sensor and ovulation cycle tracking functionality.

The Apple Ultra and Series 8 Watches sample the wrist temperature every 5 seconds and can detect temperature changes as small as 0.1 degree Celsius. This is the basis of the bi-phasic temperature shift detection in women.

Additionally, it can measure and report a retrospective estimate of your ovulation period. According to Apple, if you use iOS 16 or Watch OS 9, the Watch Series 8 can notify you of a menstrual cycle deviation, which helps you detect underlying health conditions quicker.

Crash detection

Crash Detection on Apple Watch 8

Crash detection is one of the top-selling points of the new Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra. Apple says this line of watches boasts new motion sensors, including an improved 3-axis gyroscope and a high-g-force accelerometer, all combined with an advanced sensor-fusion algorithm to detect car crashes accurately.

The built-in accelerometer can measure up to 256 g-forces (the body kinetic motion during a crash) to detect a fatal crash impact. Its ability to sample motion four times faster at over 3000 times per second allows it to determine the precise impact time.

Apple says the crash detection feature was developed using simulated severe crash types. It then captured signals from test crashes as reported by sensors, gyroscopes, barometer, microphone, GPS, and the accelerometer used in the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra to develop a machine learning algorithm trained for over one million hours of real-world driving.

If you’ve been in a car crash, these Apple Watches don’t only detect it but also automatically dial all your emergency contacts and provide your precise location to them.

Speaker and Mics

Speaker on the side of the Apple Watch Ultra
Source: Macworld

As the Apple Watch Ultra comes with outdoor activities in mind, it has an extra speaker and an array of three microphones to beat the Apple Watch Series 8. So in terms of sound output and input quality, the Apple Watch Ultra takes the lead.

Cellular and GPS modeling

The Apple Watch Series 8 fits more subtle use cases. So it’s available as a GPS-only or GPS + Cellular model. This configuration doesn’t work for the Apple Watch Ultra, as it’s only available in the GPS + Cellular format.

The Apple Watch ultra provides a more accurate GPS, featuring the L1 + L5 GPS with custom positioning algorithms. It couples this with a new precision dual-frequency GPS solution to detect your location even in the most compromised geolocations.


Display of newly launched Apple Watch 8 and Ultra

With a big and bright sapphire crystal display of up to 2000 nits, the Apple Watch Ultra is undoubtedly the sharpest and brightest display you can get around. With this brightness level, you can read texts easily in harsh sunlight.

The Apple Watch Series 8 also packs a punch with its 1000 nits display, but it’s even better on the stainless steel case – where it beams with a sapphire crystal display.

Battery life

Battery Life on Apple Watch 8

Considering the Apple Watch Ultra’s heavy-duty battery, the difference in battery life between both watches is far apart. According to Apple, the Apple Watch Ultra’s battery can last up to 36 hours on a full charge. That’s in contrast to the Apple Watch Series 8, which serves you for 18 hours when fully charged, enough to last you for a whole day.

The Series 8 features a low-power mode that can double its battery life. And except for a few features, your Apple Watch Series 8 will keep core features alive even while in low-power mode. It’s not shocking that the Apple Watch Ultra is advanced with an optimum battery setting that can take its battery up to 60 hours at a stretch.

Besides, the bigger battery in the Apple Watch Ultra serves the device’s purpose. It’s ideal for endurance athletics, as athletes can go for up to a 2.4-mile swim plus a 112-mile bike ride while exploring the most extreme and remote locations.

What’s in Apple Watch Ultra and not in Apple Watch Series 8?

So the Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Series 8 have many functionalities in common. But the Apple Watch Ultra has some more features that make it breathtaking. Due to its focus on athletes, the following functions are crucial to the Apple Watch Ultra.

Customizable action button

Customizable Action Button on Apple Watch Ultra

Like the Apple Watch Series 8, the Apple Watch Ultra has a digital display. But you’ll control most of its adventure and sporting functionalities using the customizable action button on the side. Whether you want to alert others if you get lost, retrace your step if you wander off in a jungle, or measure the ocean depth or temperature, it’s all on the big action button.

Way finder (customizable compass)

The way finder is a customizable compass on the Apple Watch Ultra for surfing your favorite places. Retracing your steps if you get lost is easy, thanks to the backtrack feature of the new compass app. It now has precision views and additional capabilities that let you add positions automatically to your GPS data.

Long-range alert system

The long-range alert system is another detail in the Apple Watch Ultra. The Apple Watch Ultra features a built-in 86-decibel siren (audible up to 180 meters) to alert others if you get lost while hiking or during an adventure.

Dive and gauge functionality

Dive and gauge functionality on Apple Watch Ultra

The Apple Watch Ultra is certified under the standard for dive computers and gauges (EN 13319). It’s indeed the best digital watch you can get for underwater activities. In contrast to the Apple Watch Series 8, which can only withstand 50-meter water depth, the Watch Ultra can go as deep as 100 meters in water.

According to Apple, the Apple Watch Ultra can withstand intense activities like kitesurfing and skateboarding. It can even travel deep beneath the ocean waves. The Apple Watch Ultra features a depth gauge that launches the depth app when submerged. This displays your current depth, time spent underwater, and water temperature.

Pricing and release date

Apple says the Apple Watch Series 8 will sell in two models; the GPS-only and GPS+Cellular models. The firm confirmed that the GPS-only model is priced at $399, while the GPS+Cellular model will cost a hundred bucks more at $499. Both will be available starting September 16, 2022. So if you place an order now, you can expect to get yours on or after this date.

The Apple Watch ultra is more expensive and only available as a GPS+Cellular model. According to Apple, the Apple Watch Ultra will cost you $799 and will be available starting September 23, 2022.

Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 8?

Judging by the designs, the Apple Watch Series 8 is a highly functional gadget with beautiful units. The absence of some of the Apple Watch Ultra’s features doesn’t make the Apple Series 8 less valuable. As you’ve seen, Apple carefully tailored the Apple Watch Ultra for athletes and people with an appetite for adventures.

Therefore, if you’re not into sports or extreme adventures, I recommend the Apple Watch Series 8. Besides, it still provides most of Ultra’s functionalities and is more budget-friendly. And considering the array of new features tailored towards women, the Apple Watch Series 8 is an excellent choice for any lady.

Should you get the Apple Watch Ultra?

So should you buy an Apple Watch Ultra? You might want to opt for one if you prioritize sports and adventures. While its features are captivating, the Apple Watch Ultra is more expensive. So you also want to decide based on your budget.

With that in mind, the Apple Watch Ultra is functional, sturdy, and phenomenal, with attention to detail that doesn’t exclude the straps. So it’s an excellent choice. But if you ask me, I’d say you don’t need something this expensive if you’re not buying it for its purpose.

Signing off…

The Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra are phenomenal. Apple has tailored each watch towards a particular course. So it will help if you also try to tailor your purchase choice toward the purpose of the Watch.

If it’s for general daily usage, I’d recommend the Apple Watch Series 8. But you might look towards the more expensive Apple Watch Ultra if you surf the waters, hike, run marathons, scout the jungle often, or play rough for a living.

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