Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Ultra: Huge performance difference with massive upgrades

There is one obvious reason why I would choose or not choose the Apple Watch Ultra over the Apple Watch Series 8. The Ultra is much bigger. However, there is a reason why the Ultra is so large. The Ultra is a completely different kind of watch from the Series 8.
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Let’s take a look at the differences between the Apple Watch Ultra and the Series 8. While many of the features are identical between the two watches, Apple has taken the Ultra to the next level. Some users are considering switching from a Garmin smartwatch.


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design and display

The Apple Watch Ultra is square in shape with rounded edges and rounded corners, following Apple’s adherence to watch design principles. It has grown in size and is surrounded by a high rim around the watch face as part of a change to make it more durable. There is also a platform that protects the Digital Crown and side buttons.

The Ultra is a single 49mm size and has a larger battery, so it’s 14.4mm thicker than the Series 8, which is 10.7mm thick. It weighs over 10g more than the heaviest 45mm stainless steel model in the Series 8. The design of the Series 8 is identical to the Series 7, which is slightly different from the Series 6. The bezels are smaller to match the larger display, and the corners of the case are rounded. Series 8 sizes are available in 45mm and 41mm.
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Both Ultra and Series 8 support always-on displays. However, the brightness of the Ultra is up to 2,000 nits, twice that of the Series 8. The Ultra is the brightest of all Apple Watch series.


The Apple Watch has always been exceptionally durable. The Series 8, which has the same structure as the Series 7, has no change in durability. All have a thicker front crystal display than the Series 6, making them more durable and scratch-resistant. The Series 8 is IP6X dustproof and has a water resistance rating of 50m.

On the other hand, the Ultra is a completely different class of things. It is built to withstand the harshest environments and conditions of use. The case is made of titanium, which is more durable than the aluminum/stainless steel of the Series 8, and it rises slightly to protect the front sapphire crystal display as if it were wrapped around it. There is a platform that protects the digital crown.

Like the Series 8, the Ultra also has an IP6X dust resistance rating. Here, Apple goes a few steps further and is certified to the MIL-STD 810H military standard. This means that it can withstand extreme conditions such as altitude, temperature, physical shock, and vibration. It is waterproof to 100m and recreational diving is possible up to 40m.

Health and fitness features

Both run watchOS 9, and the new Apple Watch models all feature a new ‘collision detection’ sensor. In the event of a serious accident while boarding the vehicle, it detects it and makes an emergency rescue request. It also provides health functions. For example, both products are equipped with a new wrist temperature sensor that can detect changes in wrist temperature while sleeping and can be used to track the ovulation cycle.

However, the Apple Watch Ultra offers the following features for athletes that other Apple Watch models do not have:

  • Dual frequency GPS for precise positioning
  • Scuba diving and freediving features available in the new Oceanic+ app
  • Wayfinder watch face with a time dial that converts to a compass, space for 8 complications and a special night mode that turns the face red

On the left side of the Ultra, there is a new ‘Action’ button. By linking with the app, you can quickly activate a specific function. For example, you can press to mark waypoints when hiking or to start diving. A long press activates the siren at 86 decibels.
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The following sensors are present in both the Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra.
  • blood oxygen saturation sensor
  • electrocardiogram sensor
  • 3rd generation optical heart rate sensor
  • Wrist temperature sensor (for predicting ovulation)
  • fall detection sensor
  • Collision detection
  • accelerometer
  • ambient light sensor
  • Always-on altimeter
  • Compass
  • gyroscope

The next sensor is only available on the Apple Watch Series 8.

The following sensors are available only on the Apple Watch Ultra.
  • Depth gauge and water temperature sensor
  • Precision Dual Frequency GPS (L1, L5)
  • 3 microphone array for beamforming

color and band

The color of the Apple Watch Series 8 can be selected in a variety of colors depending on the two case materials. The Apple Watch Ultra, on the other hand, has only one case material, titanium, and a ‘natural’ color.
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When it comes to bands, the Series 8 is available in nylon, leather and stainless steel. Additionally, Nike and Hermès versions with dedicated watch faces will continue to be available. The Apple Watch Ultra comes with a choice of two bands optimized for specific activities.
  • Trail loop: thin, lightweight band with pull tabs for quick length adjustment
  • Alpine loop: with titanium G-hook closure to secure it to the wrist
  • Ocean Band: Rubber band with titanium buckle. It has an extension band to increase its length so that it can be worn over a wetsuit.

For reference, the band for Ultra can be used with any Apple Watch in 44mm or 45mm. The band can be purchased for 135,000 won each at the online Apple store. Bands for the 44mm and 45mm Apple Watch are also available on Ultra.


Both watches use the S8 processor. There are no confirmed benchmarks or test results yet, but the performance will be great. Here, the Apple Watch Ultra feels better with a few key upgrades. The first upgrade is dual frequency GPS. It uses L1 frequency and L5 frequency to provide more accurate location information than other Apple Watches. The second is Bluetooth 5.3 support. It has better energy efficiency and connectivity than other watches’ Bluetooth 5.0.

The Apple Watch Ultra supports LTE connectivity. There is no option without LTE connectivity. When purchasing the Apple Watch Series 8, you can choose whether to use LTE or not.

battery and charging

The battery life of the Apple Watch Series 8 is 18 hours, the same as all other Apple Watch models, including the Series 7. The new low-power mode added to watchOS 9 extends the battery life to 36 hours. However, in low-power mode, some features such as always-on display, heart health monitoring, and automatic start of exercise are disabled. If you don’t use Low Power Mode during the day and want to track your sleep at night, you’ll need to charge the watch before putting it on.

The battery life of the Apple Watch Ultra is 36 hours, twice that of the Series 8. Keep in mind, though, that the Ultra is a bigger watch with a bigger battery. It might feel too big to wear for sleep tracking.

Using the Apple Watch Magnetic Fast Charger USB-C Cable (Model A2515) and 20W Power Adapter, both the Series 8 and Ultra can be fast-charged. According to Apple, an eight-minute quick charge will give you eight hours of sleep tracking.

However, the Apple Watch includes only the cable and requires a separate 20W or higher adapter with a USB-C port. A genuine Apple 20W USB-C power adapter (model A2305) is on sale for $19, but you can find cheaper and more feature-packed third-party offerings. For example, the Anker 20W fast charger with foldable plug is available on Amazon for $15. For a little more money, you can get adapters that allow you to charge multiple devices with additional ports.


The Apple Watch Series 8 starts at 599,000 won for a model with GPS only. Adding cellular connectivity or changing the case material and band will increase the price. Starting prices for the various options are as follows:
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The Apple Watch Ultra starts at 1149,000 won. It’s only 49mm in a titanium case and comes with GPS+ cellular connectivity. You can choose the watch band type from trail loop, alpine loop, and ocean band. Of course, it’s not cheap, but it’s cheaper than the recently sold titanium 45mm Apple Watch Edition.

Ultra or Series 8, which one to choose?

The Apple Watch Series 8 is a great smartwatch, but in terms of features, there isn’t much new compared to the Series 7. Updating to a Series 7 or Series 6 to 8 is not recommended unless you absolutely need a newer watch.

But Ultra is a different story. Many users will find the 49mm display to be oversized, but thanks to its incredible features, excellent battery life, and titanium finish, it is a very attractive product, especially at the price of KRW 1.149,000. Even if there are a lot of features you won’t be using, 36 hours of battery life and a rugged case make it a very good buy for those who love big watches, as well as a small number of users who don’t.
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Source: ITWorld Korea by

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