Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Dear Apple, please don’t release an Apple Watch Ultra 2 this year

Apple Watch Ultra being worn showing off the Action Button.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

It’s almost time for Apple’s fall event, which means new iPhones and Apple Watches. There’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing the iPhone 15 lineup next month, along with the Apple Watch Series 9. However, it’s a bit unclear if we’ll also see the next iteration of the Apple Watch Ultra, though some sparse rumors seem to point to “maybe.”

The first generation Apple Watch Ultra was only released last September, and it has been a big success. It’s the first significant design change for the Apple Watch as a whole, with some impressive new hardware features like the Action Button, much better battery life, and more.

I didn’t get the Apple Watch Ultra at launch, but I did eventually get one earlier this year, and it’s proven to be one of the best smartwatches I’ve tried — even as a female! But as much as I like the Apple Watch Ultra, I don’t think this one needs an update every year, and Apple should hold off on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 for a little while longer.

What are the Apple Watch Ultra 2 rumors?

Mockup of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 with a dark titanium finish.
ShrimpApplePro / Twitter

Unlike the iPhone 15, the rumor mill for the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has been much quieter. But that doesn’t mean nothing has been going on, however.

So far, one of the bigger bits of speculation comes from Ming-Chi Kuo, who’s been a reliable Apple analyst in the past, claiming that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 will be using a 3D printing process for some of the titanium mechanical parts. If this is true, the new method could “improve the production time and reduce the production cost.” There have been no rumors about a price increase for a second-generation Apple Watch Ultra, and this could play a part in that.

The only other rumors so far have been a possible upgraded processor to the S9 chip, which would also appear in the Apple Watch Series 9, as well as a new titanium color option: black. Some renders floating around show what the Apple Watch Ultra 2 could look like with black titanium and with orange accents (if this doesn’t change), and it really does look like an excellent Halloween edition Apple Watch.

But other than these few bits of news, remarks on an Apple Watch Ultra 2 has been mum.

Do we really need a new Apple Watch Ultra?

The Apple Watch Ultra with the Apple Watch Series 8 and Watch SE 2.
(Left to right) Apple Watch SE 2, Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Let’s take a look at what we have so far: 3D-printed titanium mechanical parts, an S9 chip upgrade, and a new color option — likely in addition to the natural titanium color that already exists.

Honestly, if that’s all we’re going to get with a second-generation Apple Watch Ultra this year, it just shows that the Ultra doesn’t need to be on an annual update cycle like the standard Apple Watch Series. Aside from the possibility of a black titanium color, none of these rumors are that exciting.

From a consumer perspective, are we really going to be able to tell the difference between the current titanium mechanical parts compared to 3D-printed versions? Highly doubtful, though maybe it will be more lightweight. This rumor only really affects Apple’s manufacturing cost, but I suppose it will affect consumers by keeping the price the same.

What about the upgraded chip? The S9 will reportedly be a special version of the A15 chip that was last used in the iPhone 13 series, which could mean overall better performance and battery.

Apple Watch Series 5 and an Apple Watch Ultra next to each other.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I only got an Apple Watch Ultra recently, but I’ve been very impressed with it overall. I came from an aging titanium Apple Watch Series 5, so the Ultra already feels blazingly fast. Whatever I need to do on the Apple Watch, the Ultra handles it seamlessly without breaking a sweat. Everything comes in fast, it’s snappy and responsive, and it can handle pretty much anything.

And the battery life is simply amazing. One of the things that was driving me insane on my old Series 5 was the bad battery, which would end up around 10% by 5 p.m. most days. Since I’ve gotten the Ultra, I don’t even check the battery life anymore because it gets me through the day and then some. I top it off every night while I sleep, with the Optimized Charge Limit feature kicking in to preserve the overall battery lifespan.

Not everything needs an annual update

Apple Watch Ultra worn on wrist while doing an outdoor walk workout.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Taking all of this into account, I don’t think the Apple Watch Ultra is a device that needs the annual upgrade cycle. I can’t see the S9 chip being that much better than what it currently has — it just feels like it would be a marginal improvement, if any. As I said, it’s plenty fast and responsive even now, and how much power do you really need on your wrist? The battery life is also way better than the regular Apple Watch already, and it definitely can last more than 24 hours for most people.

To me, it feels like the Apple Watch Ultra is a smartwatch that could be updated every other year, and it would be fine, similar to the Apple Watch SE. Annually just feels like a waste, especially if you’re not going to add new health sensors or other meaningful improvements.

But that black titanium? It’s awfully tempting, but otherwise, meh. If you don’t care about the black titanium, and if the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is indeed coming, you could probably save some money by buying the first generation — it’s just that good of a smartwatch.

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