June 23, 2024

Mikayla Macfarlane

Serving technology better

The best Apple Watches of 2023: Expert tested and reviewed

3 min read
The best Apple Watches of 2023: Expert tested and reviewed

Apple Watch Ultra 2 tech specs: Display Size: 49mm | Battery life: Up to 72 hours | Storage capacity: 64GB | Features: Sturdy titanium case and sapphire crystal face, enhanced safety features including a built-in siren, dual-frequency GPS, works up to 100 meters underwater

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 offers a list of more exclusive features than any other Apple Watch model. That’s why it became the new flagship model as soon as the first Ultra was released last year, and that’s why it’s the watch to buy if you want all the best features the Apple Watch has to offer.

The most notable and useful difference between the Ultra and the other Apple Watch models is the larger, brighter, flatter screen that makes it much better for viewing images texted to you, typing short responses to texts, seeing alerts from home security cameras, interacting with apps such as smart lights, checking the weather, navigating directions from map apps, and much more. The screen is 49mm, compared to 45mm on the largest Series 9, and the brightness is 3000 nits — versus the 2000 nits of the Series 9.

The screen is covered by a sapphire crystal face and surrounded by a titanium case to considerably increase the amount of wear and tear it can handle. It’s also IPX6 dust resistant, works underwater up to 100 meters (328 feet), and has military grade (MIL-STD 810H) certification for ruggedness. And, it can now handle high altitudes, shocks, vibrations, and temperatures as low as 4 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit. I wouldn’t call it indestructible, but it’s pretty close. 

The Ultra 2 adds more exclusive features as well, including a larger battery that easily lasts 24 hours (and can get up to 60 hours of life in low power mode), a programmable Action Button with a variety of workout and adventuring functions (it can also simply activate the flashlight), dual-frequency GPS that can overcome interference from mountains and skyscrapers, and dual integrated speakers that are much louder for taking phone calls, playing music, or interacting with Siri. The price of the Ultra also includes the cellular option that would cost you $100 extra in the Series 9. This allows the watch to make phone calls and have an internet connection even when your iPhone isn’t nearby (you’ll have to add it with your cellular carrier for about $10/month).

Beyond that, the Ultra has all the health and safety features you can read about in the Apple Watch Series 9 below, but the Ultra offers one key addition: an emergency siren (activated by holding down the Action Button), which belts out an 86-decibel sound pattern that can be heard up to 600 feet (180 meters) away. This can help if you get lost or take a fall on a hike, to ward off wild animals, or to scare off attackers.

At $799, the Ultra is twice the price of the base model Series 9. If you plan to keep your smartwatch for 3-5 years, if you use your current Apple Watch constantly to interact with apps and look up information, or if you are at all clumsy or in situations where the watch can get banged around, then the Ultra could be a great choice.

Review: I put the Apple Watch Ultra through a Tough Mudder: Here’s how it held up

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