Apple Watch Ultra 2: everything you need to know

Apple watch Ultra 2
(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has now been announced as part of the Apple September event – you can see our Apple event 2023 live blog for the show as it happened. The new watch is available to order from September 12, 2023, and is actually released on September 22, 2023. It will cost the same as the previous model, give or take some small regional variations.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 didn't turn out to be a huge upgrade – there had been talk of larger screens and lightweight bodies in the run-up to the event, but instead we got some admittedly practical improvements that are largely also shared with the Apple Watch Series 9.

And that's probably just fine – we doubt many people who spent big on the original Apple Watch Ultra last year wanted to feel like they needed to upgrade, but the changes might persuade others who are still on the fence and are wondering if this is the best Apple Watch for them. Here's what you need to know.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The new outdoors-focused Apple Watch
  • When is it out? Available to order from September 12, 2023. Released on September 22, 2023. 
  • How much will it cost? $799 / £799 / AU$1,399

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Price & release date

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 will be released on September 22, 2023. It was made available to pre-order from September 12, 2023, but the actual release is on the 22nd.

It's priced at $799 / £799 / AU$1,399, which is the same as the previous model in the US, is £50 cheaper in the UK, and AU$170 more expensive in Australia.

Apple watch Ultra 2

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Design & screen

The design of the Watch Ultra 2 hasn't appreciably changed all – though Apple is pushing its low-carbon and recycled-material straps here too, so there are subtle changes to some of the bands.

It's still a tough titanium beast, thicker than the usual Apple Watch, and with the Action Button on the side for quick access to useful tools (which the iPhone 15 Pro now shares).

The only change is the screen, which is the same size and resolution as before, but now reach 3,000 nits of brightness. The previous Apple Watch Ultra hit 2,000 nits of brightness, so this is a 50% increase, which should help visibility in extreme sun conditions. This is inherently a niche upgrade in that way – 2,000 nits was already a lot, but this is a watch that's supposed to be able to handle niche and extreme stuff, so great.

There's a new watch face for the Watch Ultra too – Modular Ultra, which is the most information-dense watch face from Apple so far, capable of squeezing informations right to the edge of the display.

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Features & Double Tap

The new Apple S9 chip is at the center of most of the other upgrades in the Apple Watch Ultra 2. It's more powerful, particularly when it comes to machine learning functions, which enables a couple of the key upgrades of the Ultra 2.

First is "Double Tap" gesture control. In this, you can tap your index finger and your thumb twice quickly on your watch-wearing hand to respond to things on the screen. The chip detects your movement and even blood flow changes to detect this motion. You can Double Tap to answer calls or hang them up, to play or pause music, to snooze an alarm and more. The idea is that even if you have something in your other hand, or if you're halfway through a free climb, if you're in the middle of a fitness session and you don't want to break rhythm, you can just take action without needing to tap the screen.

The other upgrade from the chip is on-device Siri language recognition. Lots of tasks you might ask Siri can now be understood by the watch itself, rather than needing to go to the cloud, so response is faster, and works in the middle of nowhere. You can ask Siri to set a GPS waypoint, to start a workout, to set a timer – lots of functions will work offline.

Siri is also getting support for understanding questions about your data in the Health app, and you can even ask it to add data in there with just your voice.

Another internal upgrade is a U2 Ultra Wideband chip, which enables you to find your phone if you've misplaced it. The watch can literally point you in the right direction using this more precise wireless tech – and the new version has a much longer range.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.