Only the cost-effective Apple Watch SE, the cutting-edge Apple View Ultra 2, and the renowned Apple Check Series 9 are available in Apple’s current lineup of smartwatches. All three come in carbon-neutral configurations and provide fitness tracking, safety features, Siri support, and iPhone integration. However, there are many other differences as well, not the least of which is price: the Ultra 2 costs a whopping$ 799 while the Apple Watch SE costs$ 250. Additionally, battery life, internal sensors, and displays differ from model to model. In other words, choosing the ideal Apple Watch may be more difficult than you realize. To assist you in selecting the model that makes the most sense to you, we have created this guide.
Overview in a nutshell
49mm Apple Watch Ultra 2 ( GPS + Cellular )
ideal for explorers
Amazon’s$ 739 price tag
What qualities should an Apple Watch have?
sensors and chips
The S9 SiP ( system-in-package ) smartwatch silicon from Apple was recently added to the Series 9 and Ultra 2 models. The chip supports a new Double Tap gesture that enables you to answer calls or silence alarms by tapping your thumb and forefinger twice in addition to processing Siri requests on-device. Additionally, it makes it possible for machine learning to interpret sensor data, recognize speech, and carry out other” thinking” tasks more quickly. The S8 SiP, which was also employed in the Series 8 and the initial Ultra, is still used by the Apple Watch SE.
Temperature sensors on the Series 9 and Ultra 2 can be used to monitor ovulation. Blood oxygen sensors and the capability to perform an ECG are also included in the two higher-end models. A compass, altimeter, and support fall-and-crash detection are present in all three models. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has dive features like a depth gauge and an integrated SOS siren.
case sizes and displays
Always-on displays are available on the Apple Watch 9 and the Ultra 2, but using the SE requires you to lift your wrist to read or tell the time. The SE, Series 9, and Ultra 2 all have maximum brightnesses of 1, 000 and 3, 000 nits, respectively. The higher-end screens can both dim to a single nit, which reduces their visual annoyance. The SE and Series 9 are both available in case sizes of 40 or 44mm, respectively. The Ultra 2 only has a 49mm case size.
life of the battery
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has the largest battery and is said to last 36 hours on a charge because it is the biggest wearable. If you switch to low power mode, that number increases to 72 hours. The battery life on the Apple Watch 9 and SE is increased by 18 hours when using battery saver mode.
features of fitness
Unbelievably, the fitness features of the three Apple Watches are comparable. Three “rings” are used by the Activity app to track your daily movement: the Move ring counts your active calories, the Exercise number counts the minutes you’ve spent walking, running, practicing yoga, and other activities, while the Stand number indicates the number of hours per day that you stood up and moved around for at least one minute.
The accelerometer detects movement as opposed to sitting still, and the optical heart rate sensor determines how hard and how many calories you’ve burned. These internal sensors are examples of these activities. Each ring has a set of objectives, and achieving them will result in badges and animations.
You can begin and keep track of an exercise session using the Workout app. Even while you’re exercising, the sensors can automatically detect you by tapping your wrist to suggest that you keep an eye on the activity. As you attend a class, Apple Watches will display real-time heart rate and calorie burn data on your iPhone or iPad thanks to its integration with Apple’s Fitness + subscription. With just your watch and Bluetooth earbuds, Fitness + also offers audio-guided walks and runs. The Activity and Workout apps are free to use on all three models. All Apple Watches can be used with the Fitness + app, which costs$ 10 per month.
Asking Siri will allow you to find out the weather, begin a workout, find the song, and dictate text messages. The Raise to Speak feature, which eliminates the need to say” Hey Siri” and instead listens for your request when you lift your wrist close to your mouth, is available on all Apple Watch models.
Siri requests are processed onboard in both the Series 9 and the Ultra2. Because they wo n’t need to access outside networks, simple tasks like setting up workouts and timers can be completed more quickly. If you have a GPS-only model, you’ll need to have your phone nearby because requests like sending texts and getting weather forecasts still require Wi-Fi or cellular communication.
The cheapest and most expensive Apple Watches differ by$ 550. The 40mm Apple Watch SE with GPS-only connectivity is available for$ 250. The 40mm model of the Apple Watch Series 9 costs$ 399, but you’ll pay$ 30 more if you choose the larger case size. The SE and Series 9 both gain$ 50 when cellular connectivity is added. The latter costs$ 699 and includes a stainless steel case as well as cellular and GPS capabilities. A titanium 49mm case with GPS and cellular power costs$ 799 for the Apple Watch Ultra2.
Apple Watch Series 9 is the best overall.
Cherlynn Low/Engadget photo
The new Double Tap feature is supported by the Apple Watch Series 9, which is a well-rounded watch with extensive health and fitness tracking.
- supports the brand-new Double Tap function
- integrates with iPhones seamlessly
- thorough tracking of fitness and health
- The Raise to Speak feature is n’t always effective.
- life of the battery could be longer
Amazon price:$ 329
Our all-time favorite smartwatch is the Apple Watch Series 9. With new features like Double Tap, onboard Siri requests, a brighter screen, and an ultra wideband ( UWB ) chip that can be used to find your lost iPhone 15 using the FindMy app, it is clearly an improvement over the previous generation.
While it took some practice to get the tapping cadence right, Cherlynn Low from Engadget spent some time using the Double Tap feature in her review and discovered that it did simplify her life. It can be used to play music, ignore alarms or timers, and respond to messages. The Smart Stack, a list of watchOS 10 widgets included with the most recent software update, is also accessed by double tapping. A few of the gesture’s actions, such as how it navigates the Smart Stack and plays music, can be customized.
Siri requests can also be processed on-device by the Series 9. Although there was n’t much of a difference in response time between the Series 8 and our review unit, we did appreciate that Siri can be used when you’re away from home. In order to better anticipate your Siri needs, Apple also enhanced the Raise to Speak feature by using a two-second audio buffer from the always-on microphone. Without using the wake words, you should be able to lift your wrist and make requests. When it did, it was “almost magical,” despite the fact that it only worked 50 % of the time.
Despite all new features, the Apple Watch 9 is a reliable iPhone companion that enables you to view and respond to notifications without having to take your phone out. Activity rings are dependable and motivating, and the various sensors can provide information about your general health as well as fitness tracking tools. We do wish the battery would last a little longer because using the sleep tracking features can be challenging because you typically only need to recharge after using it for one day.
Read our in-depth analysis of the 9-inch Apple Watch.
Apple Watch SE ( 2nd generation ) is the best value.
Cherlynn Low/Engadget photo
Even though it costs significantly less than the other two models, the most affordable Apple Watch makes surprisingly few concessions.
- affordable cost
- excellent tracking of fitness and health
- increases an iPhone’s usefulness
- lacks temperature and blood oxygen sensors
- does not support double tap
- No perpetual display
Walmart costs$ 249, while Amazon charges$ 190.
When Apple updated its other two wearables in September, it did n’t create a new generation of the Apple Watch SE, but it still costs only$ 250. When the SE was released in 2022, Cherlynn also praised it as” the best smartwatch for the money.” Cherlynn “barely noticed a difference in performance” between the new Series 9 and the previous generation despite using the same chip as the original Ultra and Series8.
Having said that, there are some trade-offs. You wo n’t receive a temperature sensor, blood oxygen monitoring, or an always-on display. Additionally, the SE is unable to support the brand-new Double Tap feature and necessitates that your phone be nearby in order to receive Siri requests ( if your model is not cellular-enabled ). Ion-X glass, which is less durable than sapphire crystal on either the stainless steel Series 9 or the Ultra 2, is used to cover the SE face.
However, the SE shares more features with its more expensive sibling than not, such as 50 meters of water resistance, heart rate monitoring, emergency calling, and crash detection. Even in direct sunlight, we found the screen to be crisp and simple to read, despite the fact that it is n’t quite as bright as the more expensive models. The processor is quick, the design is lightweight and comfortable, and the fitness tracking is accurate. The SE is still the best option if you’re looking for a starter smartwatch and do n’t mind the few features that are missing.
Read our in-depth analysis of the Apple Watch SE.
ideal for explorers: Apple Watch Ultra 2
Cherlynn Low/Engadget photo
With a new processor and brighter screen, the second generation Ultra model expands on the first generation’s outdoor-ready features.
- strong construction
- features that are specifically designed for outdoor activities
- A large screen shows a lot of information.
- Smaller wrists may feel bulky in a large case.
Amazon’s$ 739 price tag
At the same time as the Series 9, Apple unveiled the Ultra2. For athletes and outdoor adventurers, the Ultra is a large, feature-rich smartwatch with many tools. There is only one variation, a 49mm titanium case with GPS and cellular connectivity. Strangely, despite the fact that the older model is currently receiving sizable discounts, the most recent model still costs$ 799.
Cherlynn Low from Engadget used the original Ultra’s outdoor-specific features on a hike, and the Backtrack feature actually prevented her and our video producer Brian from taking an unintentional detour. You can set waypoints like marking the parking lot before you leave using the feature, which is a part of the Compass app. If necessary, an onboard siren can alert onlookers or emergency personnel to your location.
The Ultra 2 has diving features for water-based activities that can gauge depth up to 40 meters, measure water temperature, and last a dive. The dual-frequency GPS provides you with more precise route tracking and pace calculations for exercises performed closer to home. Additionally, the action button can be programmed to perform various tasks, including setting a waypoint, controlling the stopwatch, and turning on the flashlight. Just keep in mind that accidentally pressing the crown with the action button was fairly simple for us, so it might require some practice.
Similar to the Series 9, the new S9 SiP chip enables Double Tap and on-device Siri processing. While we were unable to take the new model on a hike, the screen’s brightness was increased to 3, 000 nits, which was more than sufficient in direct sunlight. Although the oversized screen is also present on the original AWU, we like how the new Modular Ultra watch face makes excellent use of it. We used the Ultra for about three days before it needed to be recharged, and the battery life is still the same at 36 hours. A nearly empty watch can be squeezed for many extra hours by the low power mode, which is particularly impressive.
Read our in-depth Apple Watch Ultra review.