Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra: Is bigger better?

At $799, the Ultra boasts a bigger and brighter display, advanced GPS features, and ultra-durability. But is that worth $400 more than the Apple Watch Series 8?

Apple Watch Series 8

Among the highlights of Apple’s annual fall event were the reveals of its Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra, two timepieces dedicated to bringing updated technology and performance to your wrist. Both offer new features including Crash Detection, which can automatically contact emergency services in the case of a car crash, and a temperature sensor that enables advanced tools for women’s health. With vastly different displays, durability, and prices, however, it’s worth exploring which watch is right for you.

Features — As rumored, the Apple Watch Ultra is best intended for outdoor enthusiasts who want a smartwatch that will survive the elements.

The hefty timepiece includes an improved microphone and speaker array for loud environments, 36 hours of battery life on a single charge, and a new “Wayfinder” watch face with a compass in- dial. An upcoming “Low Power Mode” update will also extend the Watch Ultra’s battery life up to 60 hours, and, with built-in cellular, there’s potential for the smartwatch to replace an iPhone altogether. That said, the Apple Watch Ultra will cost just as much as a smartphone at a price of $799.

The Series 8 display.Apple

The more humble counterpart, the Apple Watch Series 8, boasts a base price of $399 ($499 if users want cellular connectivity included). The smaller smartwatch features an 18-hour “all-day” battery life and will extend its battery life up to 36 hours — the Ultra’s standard amount — with Low Power Mode. Signature Apple Watch design cues, including an Always-On Retina display and strong crack-resistant crystal, make the Apple Watch Series 8 ideal for people seeking a more lifestyle-oriented smartwatch.

Design and durability — The Apple Watch Ultra is designed for athletes and “adventurers.” Built with a 49mm titanium case — as opposed to the Series 8’s 41mm and 45mm aluminum and stainless steel cases — the Ultra is the largest and most durable Apple Watch ever. It’s been designed to survive sub-zero temperatures as well as heat as high as 139 degrees Fahrenheit.


The Ultra also boasts a larger bezel that wraps around its flat sapphire glass screen, which helps protect the watch when engaging in extreme sports. Its display has 2,000 nits of brightness — an amount comparable to premium television displays — so it’s always visible outdoors, even in direct sunlight. Underwater, the Ultra is water-resistant up to 100 meters, double that of the Series 8’s capabilities.

Out of the two smartwatches, the Ultra is the only one built to MIL-STD 810H military ruggedization standards, so it’s much more durable. For further protection against the elements, the Ultra comes with IPX6 dust resistance and an array of bands intended for the outdoors, including an Alpine Loop, Ocean Band, and Trail Loop.


One of the biggest differences between the Ultra and the Series 8 is the former’s extra “Action” button. Housed at the top of the watch, the customizable control can change sports modes or activate a siren, among other actions chosen by its owner.

TL;DR: — Both watches are available for pre-order now through Apple’s website, although the Ultra launches later than the Series 8. The Series 8 is set to release on September 16, while its larger counterpart arrives on September 23.

If you’re still unable to choose from the two smartwatches, consider what you’ll be using them for. While the Ultra’s features will come in handy regardless of what lifestyle you lead — especially considering its long-lasting battery life and durability — the watch is really meant for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts who can tap into its advanced GPS capabilities and improved microphone and speaker array. Anyone just seeking an upgrade from their current smartwatch, or delving into Apple’s timepieces for the first time, should be satisfied with the Apple Watch Series 8.


Here’s one last rundown to help break down the two watches:

Display and size — The Series 8 comes in 41mm and 45mm aluminum and stainless steel cases, whereas the Ultra’s is a 49mm titanium case. The Ultra features a bigger and better-lit display with 2,000 nits of brightness.

Band compatibility — The Series 8 is compatible with all Apple Watch bands, while the Ultra is compatible with an Alpine Loop made for explorers, an Ocean Band made for high-speed water sports, and a Trail Loop made for endurance athletes with increased elasticity.

Durability — The Ultra is more durable than the Series 8 with MIL-STD 810H military ruggedization and IPX6 dust resistance.

Battery life — The Series 8 boasts an 18-hour battery life that extends to 36 hours with Low Power Mode. The Ultra has a 36-hour battery life that extends to 60 hours with Low Power Mode.

Price — The Series 8 retails for $399, or $499 with cellular. The Ultra retails for $799.