Apple Watch Ultra 2: Hands-on and What’s New

Apple has just announced the new Apple Watch Ultra 2, alongside the also-new Apple Watch Series 9. Both of these units see largely hardware upgrades, mostly focused on performance and the display, while also adding one notable new feature that leverages these new internal components for specific gesture controls.

Starting off with the hardware side of things, here’s what’s new:

  • New Apple Silicon S9 chipset, which Apple says has 5.6 billion transistors and is 60% more than before
  • New GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), which Apple states is 30% faster, allowing for faster rendering
  • New 4-core neural engine, which Apple states is twice as fast in machine learning applications
  • New far brighter 3,000 nit display (previously the Apple Watch Ultra was 2,000 nits, and the previous Series 8 is 1,000 nits)
  • New display can also go down to just 1 nit, versus the previous 2 nits. Apple says that in turn drives a big savings in battery consumption due to the always-on side of things (of course, that battery savings is then spent on the faster processor bits)
  • New UWB 2 (Ultrawideband) chip, which increases finding of things (like your phone), including exact distance and direction, but also increased Homepod integration
  • New watch bands
  • Updated case made from 95% recycled aluminum (versus 0% prior)
  • Same battery life as before (36hrs in normal mode, 72hrs in low-power mode)
  • Same $799 price as before, shipping September 22nd

However, it’s these hardware components that then drive new software features, including:

  • New Double tap: This allows you to double-tap your index and thumb together, acting as a virtual button. You can answer a call, hang-up a call, snooze an alarm, take a picture from the camera, or any number of other custom actions (more on this down below)
  • New Flashlight boost: This leverages the brighter display for a brighter virtual flashlight option
  • Siri now newly processes requests entirely offline (without cellular/WiFi) for things it can do locally
  • Siri can now log Apple Health metrics (purely via voice), including weight, period information, as well as respond to Health requests (e.g., asking for last night’s sleep stats) – available later this year in English and Mandarin.

By far, the biggest new software feature here is Double Tap. Apple says the idea is that you may be holding a cup of coffee, or riding a bike, or otherwise having your hands full. By simply double-tapping your index and thumb together, it’ll trigger a button response, which varies based on the application/watch.


Apple says this feature leverages three core sensors: The accelerometer, gyro, and heart rate sensor. Specifically, they look at the tiny pulses using the optical HR sensor to validate the data they get from the gyro and accelerometer. The heart rate sensor itself remains the same as last year, as does GPS – neither have changed.


How double-tap responds varies based on what you’re doing in the watch. For example, if doing nothing and just on the watch face, double tap will open up the list of widgets (called the Smart Stack on WatchOS 10). Whereas if a call is coming in, it’ll answer the call. And inversely, if on a call, it’ll hang up the call. Alarm ringing? It’ll snooze it. The double tap action is tied specifically to the primary button in any given app/scenario. Though not all apps do anything with it yet. For example, in sport recording modes, nothing happens.


In testing it out in the hands-on area today, it works reasonably well. The first time I put different watches on my wrist I tended to need to adjust/tighten the straps a bit before it triggered, but once I found that ‘happy point’, it triggered flawlessly each time.

Next, here’s a look at the display, side by side with the existing Apple Watch Ultra. Of course, this is really an outdoor-focused feature for the higher nits, and in this case, the hands-on area was indoors. It’s sorta tricky taking photos of brightness comparison levels, so I’ll do better than this quick one in the in-depth review.


But you can see it a bit better in the new Flashlight Boost option, which essentially just leverages the full brightness of that 3,000 nits display (versus the 2,000 nits on the original Apple Watch Ultra).

Instead, here’s a look at a bunch of the different new band options. Actually, to be precise, I think I managed to get them all in one shot.


In terms of speed and responsiveness, while the new chips are probably faster, it wasn’t something I could really notice in day-to-day use. I’m guessing there are certain scenarios beyond the above-outlined ones (e.g., Siri leveraging it locally) that might leverage that processing power more, perhaps 3rd party apps.

Finally, for lack of anywhere else to put it – the heart rate sensor and GPS (dual-frequency/multi-band) remains the same as the original Apple Watch Ultra, as does the display size/case size.

Ultimately, these changes seem somewhat minor in comparison to what we saw last year. Certainly from an internal specs standpoint they’re huge bumps up, but for most consumers, the main notable changes will likely be the double-tap gestures and in a handful of very bright sunlight scenarios, the brighter display. Though I never had trouble with display brightness previously.

Of course – the biggest features of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 aren’t necessarily the hardware ones, but all the new software features delivered by WatchOS 10, including the topographic maps, cycling power meter support, revamped user interface, and plenty more. All of which were previously outlined back in June at WWDC, Apple’s developer conference.

With that – stay tuned for the full in-depth review to see how things handle day-to-day with the new watches.

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Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

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  1. Dave

    Got mine ordered immediately at the end of the presentation – I’m looking forward to whatever comes next with Fitness+ and other fitness metrics. They’ve certainly added enough horsepower to deal with that stuff…I wonder how long it’ll take to have it rolled out.

  2. zfJames

    Here’s the real question – is this an indication Apple’s given up on the battery life front or just they are holding back for another attempt at it with later devices?

    Your ironic comment was also true – of course, that battery savings is then spent on the faster processor bits. Every time they make another watch, they keep adding features and draining the battery.

    • Dave

      The fact is that even on UTMB and similar events, you’re required to carry a battery pack. Many people do the same on bike tours, and while hiking. The battery life just isn’t a real issue. Charge it while you’re in the shower. Problem solved. It lasts an Ironman, which is about the only event (other than SwimRun) I’ve ever done where I wasn’t able or allowed to have a battery pack on me. There are always edge cases, but those aren’t going to be big enough groups for Apple to worry about at this scale.

    • Dirk

      You cannot charge during an activity as it pauses the activity during charging, rendering the powerbank useless for that use case. A better solution in my view would be for Apple to tweak allow the user through a software update to select the frequency of GPS and HR recordings like Garmin to stretch the battery life instead of giving 2 to 3 default options.

    • Dave

      That’s true. The point I’m making is really more about the fact that the battery life in normal sporting life is more than sufficient. The hand-wringing that fills YouTube and websites alike often seems generated by people who don’t actually need the extra battery life they’re moaning about not having.

    • Alex McCoy

      It’s also interesting you can charge the Apple Watch from an iPhone 15. I carry a battery pack in my daily carry bag for my phone and watch. It’d be great to just have a smaller MagSafe battery pack and be able to use my phone.

      The AWU battery is embarrassingly bad, though. Hopefully the Apple Watch X Ultra next year will have a substantially larger battery and commensurately longer battery life.

    • Brad

      All you need to do is restart the exercise and have wrist detection off. You can charge and record no problem

    • Mischievous Mermaid D

      Hi Dave, did you use your Apple Watch for the swimrun and if so, how did it manage the transitions? I’m doing my first swimrun next year and currently have the Apple 6.

    • Dave

      I didn’t – the last one I did was the Breca Bay of Islands race in 2018 (there’s an awesome event video of it on YouTube). I used a Suunto Spartan Ultra for that. It worked reasonably well, but the real standout from that race was the quality of the swim tracks. I think it ended up at about 9.5km in the water and 27km running, with sone of the swims as short as 400m but going up to 3km or so. Lots of transitions. If I was going to use an AW for SwimRun the only one I’d ever consider using would be the Ultra. I’d have destroyed a regular AW on that event.

    • Dave

      Embarrassingly bad for what, though? I still have my Fenix but it’s not just about the battery life. Nobody is out doing Ironman, ultras or through hikes so often tbst they can’t charge the AW while showering or whatever.

    • Marek

      Charge while in the shower? Based on what Apple says you get 80% charge in 1 hour. So .. you’d need to shower for a long time every day. Simply, you can’t use the watch for at least 1h a day to keep it going. Another problem is .. How many recharges before the batter is at say 75% capacity? 500 or more? Would the capacity drop significantly in a year and a half of daily charging?

    • Dave

      The odds of having run the Ultra down that far on a daily basis other than probably weekends after a series of very long rides of runs are very low. It’s just not an issue. Or maybe if you’re someone that waits a loooong time between showers…

    • Mischievous Mermaid D

      Wow, that’s quite the course, kudos man. I can see what you mean about destroying an AW on that one. I’m going for the Casco Bay short course which is much less intense. Thanks for getting back to me:)

    • Dave

      It was an amazing day, but took longer than planned as a broke the tip off the malelous of my right ankle just before the 3km swim. It was swim and hobble all the way after that and my leg looked like an umbrella stand the next morning! Enjoy your race and please choose your shoes carefully (I didn’t)!

    • inSyt

      I always wondered about these people who find 1 hour in the morning to shower. 😁
      1 hour – that’s a 30-40 min run and a shower for me.

    • Dave

      Imagine a situation where you’re topping the charge off, rather than from zero. I understand that ambiguity can be hard, but we can all get through this together.

    • Paul S.

      Yeah, from what I’ve read on Apple sites, people who wear their AW constantly find 10 or 20 minutes at a time to charge during the days. It seems to work. Portable AW chargers are available and work, so a charger can be carried around with you wherever you go. (Personally my AW lands on the charger when I go to bed and stays there all night.)

    • Alex McCoy

      Here’s a good example: today I started a bike ride with my Apple Watch at 84% and finished at 70%. I threw it on the charger while I showered, got dressed, put my bike stuff away, and grabbed a snack. This all took ~25 minutes. When I took the watch off the charger it was at 91%. I think this is what some people miss about the Apple Watch: it charges insanely quickly.

      I keep a power bank and fast charge cable in my day bag, which I always have with me. If I’m in the car for 15-20 minutes or sitting at a desk working I’ll throw it on the charger for a few minutes. It takes very little effort once you’re used to it. This way my battery is always in the 40-80% range, which is enough to get me through almost any training activity, planned or spontaneous.

      Is it more work than my Enduro 2? Yeah, obviously. But once it’s built into your life you stop caring. Also, you don’t have to do this occasional top-off routine. You could just charge it for an hour before bed every other night and be just fine.

    • Tom S

      Better yet, *not* having to do that, though. Or having only to “top off” once every 14 days instead of quite literally every single day. Every day. Even once every 7 days is a winner compared to AWU but most competitors go much longer than that. You can’t even skip a day if you have a long travel day, went for an overniter and forgot the charger (yep gotta remember it.. every single time) – It’s being used by someone else or – and this does happen – it’s broken. Any single variable can make the difference between having a dead watch or one that you strung along for an additional day.

      So statistically, the AW and even the AWU is “embarassingly bad” compared to many of its competitors. It may not be an issue for you, but that doesn’t devalue that for some that are “moaning”, if it’s important to them.

    • Alex McCoy

      Like I said, I have an Enduro 2. I’m familiar with the idea of infrequent charging.

      But the AWU gives you lots in return for the frequent charging: it’s essentially a camera-less iPhone on your wrist, with better battery life than an iPhone. It’s the most accurate sportswatch and sleep tracker available. You can use it to call 911 if your phone breaks or dies. You can take an ECG. You can watch YouTube on it (although you probably shouldn’t). It’s a full-on computer.

      On one hand, it makes some sense to say it’s a “competitor” of Garmin, Suunto, Coros, etc. But on the other hand, it makes no sense at all. I absolutely get where you’re coming from. I have both devices. But the people who are calling AWU battery life embarrassingly bad aren’t exactly comparing (ahem) apples to apples.

    • zfJames

      The point I’m making is really more about the fact that the battery life in normal sporting life is more than sufficient. —->>reply below

      I disagree completely. I am too busy in my life to charge my watch every day. I also actually want my sleep data every night which the Apple Watch battery life doesn’t help. I would likely buy an Apple Watch if they had really good battery life but it’s not worth it to have a dead watch. Source: I have used and tried to use them

    • Jorge

      Apparently, you have too much battery life of your own. Wish you’d go to low power mode and fade.

    • mato

      Why on earth should I carry a battery pack to charge my watch? And even if I do carry a battery, why should I waste it on a watch? The short battery life is a real issue. Maybe you accepted it but that doesn’t change the fact that most users wish Apple would solve this problem finally. The very short battery life is a huge annoyance and deficiency of Apple watches and that’s a fact.

  3. I think several places are misreporting something that I figured you would have covered if it was actually true.

    link to zdnet.com
    link to arstechnica.com

    They list ANT+ support. I suspect it’s arstechnica copying zdnet’s copy – paste – edit mistakes. But I figure I’d ask at fear of perpetuating this likely typo

    • Stuart

      I’m willing to bet a very large sum of money that Apple isn’t doing ANT+. They’ve had plenty of opportunity to incorporate ANT+ support, starting with the iPhone (back when Android phones had it), and haven’t done so.

      The advantages of ANT+ are fairly niche these days – power meter standards are slightly more stable than on BLE, and you get multiple head units out of the box instead of having to explicitly support it – so I’m not convinced that Apple would see fit to bring it in now.

    • I confirmed on-record with Apple people that’s a (hard) no, it’s not in there.

    • I’ve heard the story on ANT and the original apple meetings on the iphone from several people involved over the years. I was just checking to see if hell froze over somehow.

    • Bruce Burkhalter

      I’ve heard about this but not the actual story. Can you give a rough recap of what happened that pissed off Apple?

    • Jeppe

      Can the new Ultra 2 be used as a heart beat monitor for a garmin cykling computer?

    • Paul S.

      Unlikely. No Apple Watch has ever broadcast HR except to the paired iPhone. I don’t see any reason for Apple to change that. There are third party apps that claim to do it, but I’ve tried a few and never got any of them to work. In any event, wrist based HR is problematic for cycling because of the way your wrist bends, and there are many, many other ways of getting HR that work better. I generally use a chest strap.

  4. David Wall

    Do you think Garmin would be worried? I have a Fenix 5X I am now thinking of moving to Apple.

    • Paul S.

      I assume you have an iPhone. Forget about it if you don’t.

      I have an Ultra on my wrist which I wear constantly during waking hours. Nothing I saw today changes my plans of getting a new Garmin Fenix (probably the 7) in the near future when sales occur. I’m not going to order an Ultra 2. (I set up my preorder for the iPhone 15 Pro tonight, and will pull the trigger on Friday.) Garmin watches, for example, support cycling radar, the Fenix 7 has cross country ski power (which is largely why I’m interested in upgrading from my current 5+), they can control cycling smart trainers, connect to ANT+ sensors, etc. etc. We’re promised topo maps on WatchOS 10, but aside from some California examples, I haven’t seen them. I’m looking forward in a few weeks to scrolling a little south of my home in Maps on my iPhone or Ultra to see if there are actually topo lines and if the trail networks there show up (currently, the answer is no to both). Garmin has had topo maps for years. What takes many different apps on an Apple Watch can be done with the default Garmin software. Workoutdoors is great, but it doesn’t do everything a Garmin watch can do; the default Apple software is poor for the cycling, hiking, and cross country skiing that I do.

      So no, I don’t think Garmin will be worried. Apple is aiming for a different market than Garmin.

    • Dave

      Yeah, I’m keeping my 7XSS for the time being too. I ordered the Ultra 2 for the cell connection when I’m running closer to home. For anything out of area the Fenix has it covered as I’ll have my phone in my running pack.

    • always1biker

      No, Garmin isn’t worried yet. While the AW internal hardware is leaps better than Garmin’s, the software is seriously lacking. I tried the AWU last year but it just isn’t good enough for my multi-sport fitness needs. Before I move to Apple, I need a good native maps solution with nav and a much better native tracking app for multiple sports as well as a much better iPhone app and website to view activities, plan courses, gpx, stats, etc. I want something that’s similar to Garmin Connect + Explore and that is native. I don’t want to pay or deal with a handful of 3rd party apps that give me a fraction of the Garmin experience while also being lower quality. Basically, I want something that “just works”, which oddly is Garmin currently and not Apple who usually lives by that motto.

      Honestly, I’m surprised that Apple hasn’t made much progress on the software front.

    • Dave

      Yeah. This is why I keep my Fenix 7XSS. I suspect the new processors will be a big part of the puzzle to allow more feature development.

    • always1biker

      I’m not sure anymore. AWU1 had plenty powerful internals. It almost seems like they want to leave the software part to 3rd parties. Last year I kinda gave them a pass as a 1st gen product (AWU) but 1 year later and with AWU2 I expected a much better fitness offering and parity with Garmin’s software (which isn’t really that great to begin with).

      For now the Ultra is really just an apple smart watch for people that want longer battery life.

    • MaDMaLKaV

      “Honestly, I’m surprised that Apple hasn’t made much progress on the software front.”

      Apple or any third party developer. WorkOutDoors is a fine piece of software internally with a nightmare UI, I thought at this point some company would have started to do a similar app with better UX.

    • always1biker

      Agreed. Although the risk for third parties is that if Apple does want to pursue the Garmin target market and come out with proper native apps, the 3rd party devs might become obsolete very quickly. That and maybe not having the required access to low level APIs that a native app would.

      I guess at the end of the day, Apple targets the mass-market, so maybe competing with Garmin was/is not really part of their plans.

    • Paul S.

      “I need a good native maps solution with nav and a much better native tracking app for multiple sports…” Yes, and they need to work concurrently on the same screen. Navigating on my Edge 1040 while recording a ride is something I routinely do (and of course, that includes ClimbPro, which Apple has nothing like), and something I’ve done on my 5+ when skiing and hiking. Having the FIT file automatically get uploaded to Garmin Connect and onwards to Strava is just a bonus, something else that Apple has nothing like. Health is nowhere near the same as GC or Strava. Apple has nothing like free ride ClimbPro, either, which pops up regularly on my 1040 where I ride here in the mountains of central PA.

    • Paul S.

      “…the 3rd party devs might become obsolete very quickly.” Apple’s done it before. Look up “sherlocking”.

    • Dave

      All absolutely true, and all fixable with software. Apple’s also had a long time to see how these features work now and what people want from them. I have zero doubt they’ll all appear. It’s just a question of when.

    • biobiker

      I agree it’s fixable because of software but I’m starting to question if Apple is really interested in Garmin people that are more than the occasional recreational athlete. The market is maybe too small to invest seriously in the space. Apple typically delays releases of products until they work well, that’s why they’re rarely first-to-market. The AWU, if it’s really for athletes, just isn’t ready to be a compelling product that you would expect from Apple and that can replace a Garmin.

      I hope I’m wrong because I’d love to move to AWU but I also realize I’m more of a niche user.

    • Dave

      Me too, but I strongly suspect that their AI-related work in the background, plus a doubling of RAM and the new SIP in the Ultra 2 suggest that there’s something coming down the pipe. Small areas of topo mapping in one country are obviously nowhere near enough. Routing already exists in Apple Maps, and can probably be expanded on for topo features. The recovery metrics I think are where we might see change happening, although maybe not for another year. In the meantime it still does running power, has a crude “race an event” feature, and so on. I’m inclined to think that Fitness+ won’t remain an essentially non-interactive, static series of videos.

    • Jorge

      Did it ever dawn on you that maybe Apple simply does not want to be a Garmin and frankly does not need to? They have their niche and target users already in their ecosystem with iPhone users and those they pull over from Garmin and the others are the users who are done with Garmin and crunching their data to the umpteenth level. For these Garmin users ready to jump and those who have already have – AppleWatch U & U2 will serve them just fine. Apple gets that point. Apple does not care about the rest. Nor should Garmin worry.

    • tipoo

      Wait, the Ultra 2 doubled the RAM? How about the S9?

  5. Jason

    “Updated case made from 95% recycled aluminum (versus 0% prior)”

    You mean titanium right?

  6. Pavel Vishniakov

    Interesting to see how Apple slowly brings accessibility features (Double Tap was there for quite a while, same with hearing accomodations on the phone in iOS 16/17) to a more general audience.

  7. Jeremy

    It’s a shame it does not introduce Blood Pressure or Blood sugar levels. Cheaper Chinese watches do that at a fraction of the cost, so the technology exists.

    • …but do they actually do it accurately? (Answer: No).

      Even Samsung can’t get FDA approval for it, demonstrating that it’s simply not accurate.

    • Rui Pereira

      In this case accuracy only matters because there’s a lot of official scrutiny for these type of health related metrics.

      But for other features, for example sleep phases, blood oxygen, body fat, etc the accuracy and/or precision is also laughably bad but they were release over the years anyway.

    • JamieB

      There are some devices in the UK approved for blood pressure which are wrist based devices but that is a device dedicated entirely to one specific function. Personally im surprised Apple havent gone for CO2 monitoring. There are millions of people out there with chronic lung diseases where CO2 monitoring is just as crucial as oxygen levels but maybe that would detract from the sports focus of the brand direction.

    • Dan

      Commenting on the idea for CO2 measurements in wearables. Cool idea, but transcutanous CO2 monitoring is still years away from use in everyday wearables. And since paCO2 is also influenced-among other things- by cardiac output, interpretation of data is not entirely trivial. Sorry, you still need a blood gas analysis for that. And etCO2 just correlates but is not identical.

      link to pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

  8. Volker

    Ultra: 32gb
    Ultra 2: 64gb

    • Sean K.

      This increase in storage to 64GB seemed to fly under the radar. The fact that they didn’t make a big deal about it probably relates to accommodating more map storage? Just a conjecture.

  9. Neil Jones

    “New Apple Silicon S9 chipset, which Apple says had 5.6 billion transistors”

    And you’re just taking Apple at their word?

  10. MaDMaLKaV

    I find the improvements for Siri the most interesting of all the updates, but surely nothing to justify updating from AWU1.

    • MaDMaLKaV

      By the way, I’m still mad at Apple for not using the activities data to estimate the Max Heart Rate and resort to a crappy formula.

  11. Craig

    I was hoping TrainingPeaks structured workouts would have been ready to go at launch.

    • vicent

      agree! i’m still using my suunto ambit3 and have been waiting for a watch with full phone capabilities and that syncs with TP, this could be the one.
      Right nowI don’t wear a watch when not training so If TP integration is not great I may just buy a coros3 and save some money

  12. Emre Deliveli

    I am, or at least used to be a ultramarathon swimmer. That’s why I switched from Apple Watch to Garmin Forerunner (935, and now 955) a few years ago; there was no way Apple Watch would last a >10h swim:)

    Anyway, I had to quit swimming because of a heart condition- and my condition requires me to continuously monitor my heart rate. Would I be able to see my real-time HR on an UW face continuously as in Garmin watches. And if I can, how would I get about setting that and what would be the toll on battery?

    • Paul S.

      I changed one of the small complications on my Ultra watchface (I use “Modular”) to heart rate. The trouble is by now I switched several minutes ago and there’s still no reading. I looked in Health, and it looks as if it records readings at irregular intervals of roughly 3 minutes or so (sometime faster, sometimes slower). It’s certainly not continuous, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to influence the rate. I also changed one of the larger complications. That looks more promising, since it displays an actual daily plot, but again the data seems pretty spotty. So for your purpose I don’t think a complication on the watch face will work. Of course, the heart rate app on the watch will show continuous HR, but then you lose out on everything else.

    • Emre Deliveli

      Thanks for the detailed reply. That was very useful…

    • Sherman Olsen

      I’ll add that the sampling rate can be increased by turning on afib monitoring. Samples are more frequent and also in bursts with several checks per minute. But it can still be seven minutes between samples looking at my data.

    • Nathan M.

      What condition do you have? Because, at present the Apple Watch is probably the best tool to track heart rate conditions. If it’s an arrhythmia that causes irregularity Apple is the only one I know of that in the background tracks how often this occurs (think A-fib). You also get the ECG and or abnormally high or abnormally low HR alerts if needed.

    • try enabling afib history, answer yes to the questions

      this forces the watch to record hrv relatively frequently (and hr as well). hrv should give you some more interesting data points around your condition.

      i dont think you’ll easily get per second recording and display. there might be an app.

    • Jonathan Pincus

      FYI – Withings, a French company, was FDA insured before Apple! And the Scanwatch does EKG for a fraction of the cost.

    • “FYI – Withings, a French company, was FDA insured before Apple! And the Scanwatch does EKG for a fraction of the cost.”

      Apple released ECG support and FDA approval in Fall of 2018. Withings announced their first ECG wearable product in January 2019, but didn’t get approval for it in Europe till Fall 2019, and FDA approval till 2020.

  13. dan

    I love apple innovation and new versions yearly. Last year I replaced my garmin forunner 35 (amazing battery life) with my wife’s old apple 3 when I bought her a 5. Now she has a 6 and I have the 5. The market for leftover old version apple watches is so robust I am PERFECTLY willing to always be 4-5 generations behind :)

  14. Jason

    What doesn’t work for me with any smart watch for cycling is the need to look at my wrist for information. On mtb it makes no sense, on road maybe for more casual rides, but not for a grind when you are focusing on hitting some cadence or power metric. The old garmin forerunner watch had a handlebar mount for this reason. That didn’t have HR (predates HR built into watches), so it kind of worked as an ugly sports watch and a small bike computer. At least apple sort of has a solution in pushing screen to handlebar mounted iPhone. But no way do I want an iPhone on my MTB handlebar. It would be fine for non competitive road rides-luxurious even.

    I ordered the AWU2, but it’s not replacing my edge for cycling. For now I start a ride on the edge, and then have the Apple Watch nag until I start a ride there too.

    • ian

      Exactly that for me as well, I have the Karoo2 and expecting the 3 soon and that is where my biking expense will go. For reference I have the AW8 and iPhone 14 and always update on even cycles as seems to get bigger upgrades !!

      But the AW I use for more recreational uses and the PM support would be good in case of my Karoo breaking but thats it.

    • biobiker

      Garmin has an excellent handlebar mount for the Fenix (quickfit), not sure if anyone offers a similar solution for AWU. You obviously need to wear a HR strap/arm band for HR, but anyone that cares about precise data is gonna do that anyway.

    • Paul S.

      Sure, but you can mount a much bigger Edge/ELEMNT/Karoo/etc. on your handlebars and get the same information on a bigger display that can actually be seen. IMHO watches are lousy cycling devices. They can certainly do the job (depending on the device, more or less well), but a dedicated cycling device is a much better choice

  15. Matthew Borgman

    I simply want the Garmin functions of tracking training status, readiness, and suggested workouts/plans. It seems like with apple you have to pay extra money or use third party apps. Why can’t apple just work it into their software?

    • Alex McCoy

      Can I ask why you’re interested in those things? I have an Enduro 2 and an Apple Watch Ultra and the Garmin is likely going for sale in the next few days. I love all those metrics and the sleep tracking and stuff. It’s like a fun game.

      …but they don’t actually influence my training at all. If my training plan says it’s a tempo run that day, and I’m feeling OK, I just do the tempo run whether my Training Readiness is 20 or 100. If my Training Readiness is 5 I probably feel crappy and wouldn’t do the run even if I didn’t have a watch. But there have been times that my Training Readiness was 1 and I just lace up my shoes and run anyway.

      On two recent, consecutive Sundays I had long runs scheduled. My Training Readiness the first Sunday was 55, and the second Sunday it was 56. The first Sunday I felt like absolute garbage the whole time and hated life and almost quit. The second Sunday I felt awesome and ran much faster and felt better. It made me realize how much I don’t use any of the metrics, other than maybe HRV. Training Readiness on those days had zero predictive value.

      I’m genuinely curious what value you get out of the Garmin metrics, and I say that as a huge Garmin fan. I really like the metrics and feedback, but I question their actual, real-life utility.

    • Evan

      I totally agree, as a Enduro 2 user. It’s great to have all of these metrics and algorithms, such as training readiness and body battery. But in the end, by far the most important skill – is to learn to listen and feel your body, and the more you rely on metrics, the less in-tune you become. I’ve had 95/100 body battery and felt like crap on a run and also 15/100 and had a fantastic run.

    • Dave

      Yup. I did Ironman and other events for years without any of that stuff and somehow…I managed. They’re nice to have, but they’re not the be all and end all.

    • Adi Sahar

      Do you use trainingpeaks? If so, how do you download your training plans from trainingpeaks to the AWU? It is very simple in the Garmin system

  16. Nick

    I’m going to pick one up in the stores on release day (23rd September), and trade in my ageing Series 6 for a nice little credit sum.

    My question, however, is I actually enjoy and use the sleep tracking, and as the Ultra is significantly bigger, is it comfortable to keep on at night? It’s quite a bulky watch comparatively with the Series 6.

  17. Steven

    Do you see Apple going to a solar-powered watch in the near future?

    • No, I don’t. For the same reason as Garmin – it just doesn’t add much on an AMOLED-powered device in terms of capacity/generation.

      Even if we look at Garmin’s Fenix series, the solar panel helps in edge cases, but is more marketing than not. Whereas on the Instinct series, the solar panel is a legit big deal – because the power demands are so much lower.

  18. Michael Young

    I love my Apple Watch Ultra and as with most Apple products I’ll wait for the 24 month cycle to see whether updating is necessary. For me when I put it in low power mode and then go out on a trail run I’m yet to get even close to it running out of battery. I ran the OCC at Mont Blanc 2 weeks ago and after 11 and a half hours of running it still had 35% battery life at the finish – I however had to use my power bank to keep my iPhone charged throughout the run as it was at 40% left halfway through. I’ve also found that the elevation recorded has been super accurate and in doing so convinced the guys at Strava to accept the data from the watch rather than using their base maps which they had been doing up until then.

    • Dave

      Awesome and congrats on your OCC! I’d love to do either it or the CCC in future. I suspect the shorter event is more likely. More stones to be gathered over the coming year.

    • I’m interested about the iPhone being down to 40% after ~11 hours – were you playing music from it?
      The reason for the ask is I ran the CCC route over two days a few years ago and used an iPhone (in airplane mode, no music playing and no bluetooth HR strap) for the tracking with the Strava app. 10 hours of tracking daily and I was only down around 20% from memory for the tracking period – i.e. I could have run the UTMB and the iPhone wouldn’t have needed to be charged.

      As for the Ultra 2, I still find it too big in height from trying it on my skinny wrists. I’d love a ‘widescreen’ Apple Watch Series 8/9 – double the width of the screen but not the height!

    • Michael Young

      Neal it was the live tracking app – we had the option of providing real time live tracking to anyone following and that was enabled. I knew it would be a battery hog and having the battery pack meant I could do it. I agree with the comment around the skinny wrists but I have got used to it and found the trail loop strap holds it perfectly. It has been a game changer from the other watches and the accuracy has been next level.

    • Michael Young

      I should add we were not permitted to have the phones in airplane mode at any point on the course.

    • Neal

      Appreciated you taking the time to reply. That now makes sense with the live tracking – especially as cellular coverage is highly variable in the mountains which will drain the battery quicker also.

      Good to know about the Ultra size, I must spend some time in an Apple Store wearing one…

  19. Adi

    Is it possible (after upgrading to the watchos10) to download workouts from trainingpeaks to the Apple Watch Ultra?

  20. Tobias Fischer

    What I found exciting is that Apple is positioning the Ultra2 as the first high-tech consumer product that is carbon free and sustainable. Clearly a lot of marketing, I’m curious what pressure this will now bring to the competition. As a suggestion in the future not only to look at the accuracy of GPS, heart measurement etc.. also how sustainable is the product really.

  21. Javier Colomer

    Hi Ray! I am going to change my garmin device for the ultra 2. Is there an app that does something similar as the garmin connect regarding the training status?

  22. Marcus

    Which of the three types of bands is the best to go for, for your every day usage?
    The Trail, The Alpine or the Ocean….

  23. Rob B

    Is that new watch face exclusive to Ultra 2?

  24. Paul S.

    So Garmin had a sale this week, putting the Epix (2 not pro) at 25% off. Since I was going to buy a new Garmin watch anyway, I pulled the trigger. On the Garmin side, I’ve gone from Fenix (original) -> Epix (original, for the maps) -> Fenix 5+ and now Epix 2. On the Apple side, I’ve gone from series 0 (original) -> 3 -> 5LTE ->7 -> Ultra. The Apple Watch has been my daily wear since I got one.

    I use my Ultra for a lot of things (Apple Pay, logging medications, controlling podcasts on my iPhone and playback on my AppleTV) but primarily it’s an at-a-glance weather station. I can see temperature, wind speed, AQI, and conditions for the next 5 hours, and it updates frequently. So I tried, and failed, to do the same on my Epix. I looked at several of the Garmin watch faces, didn’t see anything I liked better than the one that showed when I first turned it on. So I tried to change what Apple calls “complications” on the watch face. The choices are extremely limited compared to the Ultra, and a lot of them (body battery, heart rate, sleep) I’m simply not interested in on a watch face, since I’m not going to wear the Epix at all except during actual activities. I found that the weather station temperature field changed very slowly (it was showing the temperature at 7 am when I first looked it at about 9:30). What I’d guessed was a wind speed field probably wasn’t, since it never actually showed anything.

    On the other hand, the three activity profiles I set up (hiking, cross country classic skiing, and eMTB) were easy to set up exactly how I wanted them. (Apple Workout’s cross country skiing profile is a pathetic joke.) Garmin loves hidden UI, so things like e-bike battery level and cross country skiing power didn’t show up until I paired my eMTB and HRM-Pro, but they’re there now. It paired to all of my old ANT+ only speed and cadence sensors, my smart trainer, my Varia radar, and my VIRB 360 without difficulty. (Good thing since VIRB control has disappeared from my Edge 1040. The last time I used the VIRB I brought my Fenix 5+ along just to control it, and I’ll do the same with the Epix next time I use the VIRB.)

    So the Apple Watch remains the best smart watch ever, but it pales in comparison with an Epix as a fitness watch.

  25. Tiest van Gool

    Ray and others – after seeing the TrainingPeaks structured workout integration I took the plunge and ordered AWU2. This will be my first non-Suunto watch. As a trail runner, my biggest concern is route creation and replication to the watch. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!!

  26. Art Hunter

    I was waiting with bated breath for the Apple Watch Ultra2 to appear, as a viable alternative to my Garmin Fenix FX Sapphire Solar (51mm). I was hesitating to pull the trigger on the Epix Gen2 (51mm), until the Ultra-2 revealed itself. I am personally disappointed again, about the Ultra2 battery life……in fact, it is the same pathetic 1-2 days, and does not move the needle one single bit, from the AW Ultra-1. I would have been satisfied, even if they were able to extend the battery life to a week, rather than upping the screen brightness to 3000 nits. The 3000nits thing, is a “solution” to a problem that did not exist, since 2000 nits was MORE than sufficient.

    I know the regular argument from the AW users, who are fine with charging the phone once a day etc. (I used to do that in my previous AW, prior to buying my current Fenix 7X), but after using the Fenix, and charging it sometime during a 2-3 WEEK time-frame, people doing the daily charging simply cannot understand how liberating it is to NOT have battery life as a worry factor in your life, even on an extra-long outing that spans over a whole week. You get a fully charged watch (with multi-band GPS and iPhone notifications enabled), and simply not worry at all, till you get back home from a 10-day trip !

    • Michael Young

      I think in real life the experience is different – it is not about needing to charge daily, that time has gone – the real benefit of having it on a charger next to your bed it is becomes and alarm clock if needed or even a notification device so no need to look at a phone ….. I actually prefer it on the night stand as it eliminates the need for clock. My real world usage show that on low power I get a minimum of 5 days which I don’t actually need, on normal battery and doing trail running each day I get just on 3 days usage. Recently at Mont Blanc running the OCC after a full day in the alps running I still had 40% … in other words the battery life is not an issue and I don’t even think about. Sure if your life style is that you want your watch on your wrist 24 x 7 and you don’t need a morning alarm or a night clock then this watch is not for you but for me and many others we don’t even pay any attention to the battery.

    • Art Hunter

      Yeah, I have the Fenix 7X 51mm on my wrist all the time. Solves the alarm situation and also the time situation. Also, I do sleep tracking, and thus the watch needs to be on my wrist while I am asleep.

      I turn on the iPhone notifications on my watch only when I am out and about. Either way, not having to charge the watch for weeks if need be, is a huge deal for my use case.

      If the Ultra2 came with say a week of normal usage, with always on, and without having to charge, it would have been a strong contender, but I get that the people who are used to charging the Apple Watch everyday, think of the Ultra as having “long battery life” (the “long battery life” seems to be the justification they make when choosing the Ultra over the other Apple Watches).

    • Michael Young

      The “long battery life” view is irrelevant – it is no different to a car that can go for 400km on a full tank of gas … it’s not the reason you buy it if your daily usage doesn’t demand it and it’s he same for the Ultra. I bought it because of its features and accuracy which I need out in the trails and in the mountains and the emergency siren and sos satellite calling are hugely reassuring. As a note I ran a pace group in the Sydney marathon last Sunday and the Ultra was bang on to the km markers within 10 to 20 metres each time ….. i could hear many of other runners watches of the big brands beeping at all sorts of distances, by the end of the race I could have sold a handful of them. Again which watch we use comes back to our personal preferences and mine happens to be a watch of this type.

  27. Sean K.

    Trainer Road can now push Outside Workouts to the Apple Watch…

    Surprised DCR hasn’t tested this yet!

    “You can now have scheduled TrainerRoad Outside Workouts pushed to your Apple Watch. This new feature will allow you to complete your scheduled TrainerRoad Outside Workout, using your Apple Watch device.

    Once pushed to your Apple Watch, your workout will guide you through the intervals of your session, showing you the specific power targets and interval times that Adaptive Training has prescribed.”

    link to support.trainerroad.com

    • Even more impressive is they beat TrainingPeaks to it.

    • Tiest van Gool


      Are you indicating TrainingPeaks structured workouts is not yet available in the AWU2? I see on the Apple website it does allow for import of structured workouts…

      Back to my original question though, any recommended track planning apps you have come across?


    • I haven’t seen it launch yet for TP. I’ll shoot them a note here shortly.

      As for track/routing, that’s still messy. Workoutdoors is pretty much the best option today. It’s technically strong, but UI wise a bit technical.

  28. Neal

    Is there any changes to battery life out of interest? Software/hardware optimisations, etc.

    Also, I vaguely remember you mentioned in the 1st gen version there was plan for a 2nd low power mode – did that ever appear?

  29. mato

    Why on earth should I carry a battery pack to charge my watch? And even if I do carry a battery, why should I waste it on a watch? The short battery life is a real issue. Maybe you accepted it but that doesn’t change the fact that most users wish Apple would solve this problem finally. The very short battery life is a huge annoyance and deficiency of Apple watches and that’s a fact.

    • Michael Young

      Apple have solved it. What hasn’t shifted is the non-Apple users view of the battery life. It is not a “short” battery life at all, it is sufficient for everything except those exceptional long Ultras that are in motion for longer than a day …. you know about 0.005% of the owners of an Apple Watch. It seems to annoy non-Apple users that those of us that love using the device are happy to charge overnight or slap it on a charger a couple of times a week rather than have a band on our wrist 24 x 7. I’ll trade the features and accuracy of the Ultra for a bit of battery life that I don’t use or need any day. It is worth noting that the AW is now the most dominant wearable globally, Apple do not care or be concerned about what Garmin etc are doing and each brand has their own reason for existence and that is a good thing for choice for consumers.

    • mato

      And how did they solve it? :) The battery life hasn’t changed much since the beginning. Every year Apple says new chipset is more efficient, yet they add new features and battery life does not improve in the end. Just recently Apple came up with a bigger watch that has about twice the battery life but still pales compared to others (by huge margin). We do understand Apple Watch has many other features and I don’t care what you chose, it’s really up to you. But it’s very funny reading how okay the battery life of AW is just to learn how you set up your life around its limitations. We others simply don’t want to live with those constraints, don’t want to think about it/them at all, we just want a watch that’s not a tamagotchi, one we could depend on. Well, to each their own, I guess. Take care.

    • Michael Young

      Then why are you as a non AW user fixated on the AW battery life? It’s odd, no? Factually though the Ultra has 60 hours of battery life as an average which is just a tad more than the early AW versions which were around 20 odd hours … different, no? I see the passive aggressive approach from you with your comment “set your life around its limitations “ … it won’t work with us, we don’t do that, we use the AW for the purpose it was built for. Again I have no problem with the other brands, they are excellent watches and a good choice for those that wish to use them, odd how some like yourself are not just happy to do that and get fixated on a brand you do t use and don’t understand.

    • Michael Young

      For someone who is not an AW user you really are rather fixated on the AW battery life,no? As the your passive aggressive comment “you set up your life around its limitations” … I’ll just put that down to you having a bad day, no? The thing is all of the top watch brands are excellent, they have moved the dial in how we use wearables and how we learn about the activities we are undertaking. Your negativity as a non-AW user towards Apple is just bizarre in this area and thankfully in a tiny minority that gets smaller every week, as they say jealousy is a curse.

    • Stuart

      What it comes down to is, you buy the watch that does what you need, with regards to the capabilities and compromises inherent in your choice. I use a Fenix 7s. It does what I need it to do, and does it well. Others use an Apple Watch. Presumably that does what they need, and well enough for them.

      Battery life? Sure, it’s a factor. But only one factor out of many – after all, if battery life were the ONLY consideration, you’d buy a cheap quartz watch and call it done.

      I’m not interested in arguing with anyone over their choice of watch. Life’s too short. As long as they’re happy with their decision, nothing else really matters.

    • Michael Young