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Apple Watch Series 9, Ultra 2 and SE Compared: Which Watch to buy?

Apple Watch 9 Ultra 2 SE
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Looking for an Apple Watch Ultra, Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch SE? We compare the company's complete Watch lineup and answer your question: Which one should I buy? In the following comparison, nextpit shows you the technical differences between the Watch 9, Watch 8, Watch SE, and the Watch Ultra and Ultra 2. There is also information about watchOS 10 and the history of the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch in 2024: All models in comparison

Apple just released the new Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. In the Apple Store, the Watch Series 9 replaced the Watch Series 8. Additionally, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 succeeds the previous Apple Watch Ultra.

For comparison, details about the Apple Watch Series 8 can still be found in the table above, and the watch itself is still available for purchase from third-party retailers.

The Apple Watch SE 2022 is priced at $249, the Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $399, and the flagship Apple Watch Ultra 2 is available for $799.

The most successful watch in the world is: a Smartwatch! Over the past few years, Apple has achieved the feat of becoming the largest watch manufacturer in the world.

The success of the Apple Watch certainly has a lot to do with the fact that the iPhone and watch work so perfectly together. In fact, you can now make payments, open doors, and take your pulse or blood oxygen levels via the watch. It feels like the future is on your wrist. But the main reason to own a smartwatch for many people is and probably revolves around the issue of health.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Watch Ultra: It doesn't get any better than this

    The new smartwatch flagship
Product Apple Watch Ultra 2
Image Apple Watch Ultra 2 product image
Apple Watch Ultra
Specifications
  • 49 mm
  • Retina LTPO OLED display
  • Dual GPS + LTE
  • Apple S9 and U2
  • Pulse sensor, ECG, SpO2, temperature sensor, depth gauge
  • Oceanic+ app, 86-decibel loud siren, action button.
  • Emergency call SOS, new fall/accident detection,
  • IP6X certified, temperature detection
  • Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 4
  • 64 GB of storage
  • 49 mm
  • Retina LTPO OLED display
  • Dual GPS + LTE
  • Apple S8 and U1
  • Pulse sensor, ECG, SpO2, temperature sensor, depth gauge
  • Oceanic+ app, 86-decibel loud siren, action button.
  • Emergency call SOS, new fall/accident detection,
  • IP6X certified, temperature detection
  • Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 4
  • 32 GB of storage
Benefits
  • Chic, indestructible design
  • Very nice, super bright display
  • watchOS 10 is really fun to use
  • Extremely accurate fitness tracking
  • Multi-band GPS is now even more accurate
  • Useful Double Tap gesture
  • Cool, indestructible design
  • Outstanding smartwatch features
  • Extremely accurate pulse measurement
  • Very accurate multi-band GPS
Disadvantages
  • Still only two days of battery life
  • Only one size and color available
  • Charging is too slow
  • Works only with iOS
  • Improved battery life compared to its predecessor
  • No GPX import/export, no on-device navigation
Rating
Read the Apple Watch Ultra 2 review
Read the Apple Watch Ultra review
To the offer*

The Watch Ultra Series is Apple's flagship smartwatch, designed for extreme athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. Accordingly, this smartwatch is larger, more robust, and boasts a battery that outlasts the Apple Watch Series 9. In our practical test with the first-gen Apple Watch Ultra, we typically achieved two full days of use.

In 2023, Apple released the second generation of the Watch Ultra. As with previous models, the processor and many features are consistent across all 2023 Apple Watches. However, the 49 mm size and the additional, freely assignable action button set the Ultra 2 apart.

While the Watch Ultra 2 incorporates all the new features of the Watch Series 9, it also offers numerous exclusive features. For instance, its display is brighter, reaching up to 3,000 nits at its peak, and divers will appreciate the EN-13319 certification. 

If you would like a more comprehensive comparison between generations, I suggest reading our Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs. Watch Ultra comparison.

Apple Watch Ultra
The Apple Watch Ultra Series is designed for extreme athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. / © nextpit

These are Apple's exclusive watches made of titanium. The crown is slightly larger and designed so that it can now be operated with gloves on. Moreover, in 2023, the device received upgrades for gesture control and on-device Siri voice commands.

So you can see that Apple packs everything into this device that can currently be put into a smartwatch. However, Apple also charges a decent price for this top hardware: $799 is due if you decide to buy this model.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2, available from September 22, comes in one color and only in the GPS+Cellular variant. However, you can pick from several wristbands designed exclusively for the Ultra model to suit outdoor needs.

The Apple Watch Series: Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Series 8

  The 20223 model The 2022 model
Product
Image Apple Watch Series 9 press image Apple Watch Series 9
Specifications
  • 41 mm / 45 mm
  • Retina LTPO OLED display
  • 396 x 484 pixels (45 mm, 1143 mm²)
  • 352 x 430 pixels (41 mm, 904 mm²)
  • GPS or GPS + LTE
  • Apple S9 and U2
  • Pulse sensor, ECG, SpO2, emergency call SOS, new fall/accident detection, IP6X certified, temperature detection
  • Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 4
  • 64 GB of storage
  • 41 mm / 45 mm
  • Retina LTPO OLED display
  • 396 x 484 pixels (45 mm, 1143 mm²)
  • 352 x 430 pixels (41 mm, 904 mm²)
  • GPS or GPS + LTE
  • Apple S8 and U1
  • Pulse sensor, ECG, SpO2, emergency call SOS, new fall/accident detection, IP6X certified, temperature detection
  • Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 4
  • 32 GB of storage
Advantages
  • -
  • Car Crash Detection
  • Temperature sensor to predict ovulation and menstruation cycles
  • More accurate sleep monitoring
  • International roaming for calls abroad
  • Better information about your workout
  • New low-power mode for up to 36 hours of battery life
Cons
  • -
  • Design remains unchanged
Rating
Not yet rated
Read the Apple Watch Series 8 review
To the offer*

Let's move on to the regular Apple Watch Series. Compared to the Apple Watch 8, the Apple Watch 9 is a relatively modest update. Design and display-wise, almost everything remains unchanged. The standout feature is that the Series 9 offers double the peak brightness at 2,000 nits, and it can be lowered to just 1 nit, ideal for dark settings.

However, the display hasn't become larger or higher in resolution. The real change is under the hood, with the S9 chipset now powering the watch. Additionally, the Watch Series 9 includes the U2 UWB chip.

For a detailed comparison between the recent generations, check out our Watch Series 9 vs. Watch Series 8 review.

Apple Watch Series 9, Apple event
The Apple Watch Series 9 offers numerous fitness features. / © Apple

New gestures and Siri on-device voice command sensors are being introduced to the Apple Watch Series 9. This primarily differentiates the new generation from the old one. When it comes to sensors, however, both watches offer the same features, including continuous wrist temperature and heart rate monitoring.

Both models offer fall detection, crash detection features, and emergency SOS. The Apple Watch Series 9 is available in 41- or 45-millimeter versions starting at $399. The Apple Watch Series 8 is still available at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy.

The entry-level class: Apple Watch SE (2022) vs. Apple Watch SE

  The 2022 model The 2020 model
Product
Image
Apple Watch SE (2022)
Apple Watch SE
Specifications
  • 40 mm / 44 mm
  • Retina LTPO OLED display
  • 368 x 448 pixels (44 mm)
  • 324 x 394 pixels (40 mm)
  • GPS or GPS + LTE
  • Apple S8
  • Pulse sensor, emergency SOS,
  • new fall/accident detection
  • Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 4
  • 32 GB of storage
  • 40 mm / 44 mm
  • Retina LTPO OLED display
  • 368 x 448 pixels (44 mm)
  • 324 x 394 pixels (40 mm)
  • GPS or GPS + LTE
  • Apple S5
  • Pulse sensor
  • Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN
  • 32 GB of storage
Advantages
  • Wears great on the wrist
  • Seamless integration with the iPhone
  • Offers core Apple Watch features
  • A wide range of fitness features
  • Integrated GPS (you can leave the iPhone at home)
  • 3 months of Fitness+ included
  • Affordable price
  • -
Cons
  • 90 minutes to charge from 0 to 100%
  • Power adapter not included in the box
  • No dust-resistant rating
  • No Always-on Display (AoD)
  • -
Rating
Read the Apple Watch SE 2022 review
Not yet rated
To the offer*

The Watch SE models are the affordable options with a starting price of $249. However, affordability doesn't compromise their power. The most recent iteration comes equipped with the S8 SiP (System in Package), the same as used in the Watch Series 8 in 2022.

Much of the technology remains the same, including features that we already know from the more expensive models: Emergency SOS and the new accident detection are also available on the Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch SE review
The Apple Watch SE now offers Low-Power mode / © nextpit

The older model is no longer available directly from Apple, but it's still accessible on platforms like Amazon. The Apple Watch SE 2022 doesn't support ECG or blood oxygen level measurements. However, it's priced lower than the more advanced models.

Buying guide: Which Apple Watch is the best?

Here's how to choose your Apple Watch based on features

Let's just start with the exclusion strategy: Can you imagine doing without an always-on display, hand gestures, the ECG feature, the blood oxygen feature, and the temperature detection? In that case, you can tick off the Apple Watch SE. The same applies if you want to benefit from the fast charging feature.

But there are also differences between the Series 9 and the new Ultra 2 that can decide which model is the right one for you. Apple itself also addresses the Apple Watch Ultra accordingly by declaring extreme athletes and adventure fans as the target group.

So, if you are really out in nature for mountaineering, hiking, or extreme sports, you will benefit from several features of the Apple Watch Ultra 2. These include a doubled battery life of up to 36 hours, a freely assignable action button, a siren, and an all in all larger and more robust form factor than the standard model. Divers are also likely to jump at the top model not only because of the depth gauge but also because of the Oceanic+ app.

How to choose your Apple Watch based on price

Besides the features, it's probably the price tag that will help you make your decision. $249 is called for the Apple Watch SE, at least $399 for the Apple Watch Series 9, and finally a hefty $799 for the Apple Watch Ultra 2. If you do not care about any of the features listed above, the SE is most likely the right choice.

With this watch, you can enter the Apple Watch universe at a reasonable price, and have the S8 processor and all basic functions on board thanks to watchOS 10. Occasional running tracking, the new accident detection, emergency SOS and much more ensure that you can be happy all around even for $249.

However, if you have identified certain features above that you do not want to do without, you will have to bite the bullet and purchase one of the more expensive smartwatches. It is up to you and your demands whether you will pay $399 or even twice as much. You should really consider whether you will be happy with the larger model and its additional features. For the majority of Apple fans, the Apple Watch Series 9 should easily suffice.

Apple Watch Studio

Since 2019, Apple has offered in both its stores (physical and virtual) the so-called Apple Watch Studio. Customers can combine any available Apple Watch case with all available bracelets. This way, any number of combinations can be created, allowing buyers to piece together their own personalized Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Studio
Apple Watch Studio lets you piece together your own Apple Watch to suit your mood. / © Apple (Screenshot: nextpit)

Software: watchOS 10

The most recent operating system for the Apple Watch is watchOS 10—compatible with their current lineup as well as older devices, from the Watch Series 4 to the Watch Series 8.

watchOS 10 will be available from September 18 and introduces new widgets for the smartwatches. It also features redesigns of the World Clock and Activities apps, plus two new watch faces, one of which features Snoopy and Woodstock.

watchOS 10 new features include redesigned apps, widgets, and two new watch faces
watchOS 10 new features include redesigned apps, widgets, and two new watch faces. / © Apple

The new features also include enhancements for cycling, hiking, and health monitoring, such as tracking time spent outdoors. For a detailed overview of watchOS 10's new features, check out nextpit's roundup.

All Apple Watch generations at a glance

If you've always wanted to see all Apple Watches at a glance, you've come to the right place. nextpit has listed all the models for you.

Apple Watch: Model overview over the years

Year Models Highlights / Innovations
2023 Apple Watch Ultra 2
  • Hand gesture controls: Double Tap, Digital Crown, Taptic Engine
  • On-device Siri
  • First 100% carbon-neutral Apple device
Apple Watch Series 9
  • Hand gesture controls: Double Tap, Digital Crown, Taptic Engine
  • On-device Siri
  • First 100% carbon-neutral Apple device
2022 Apple Watch Ultra
  • 49 mm size
  • Dual GPS
  • Temperature detection
  • Emergency SOS
  • Depth gauge
  • Oceanic+
  • Siren
  • Action button
Apple Watch Series 8
  • Temperature detection
  • Accident detection
  • Emergency SOS
Apple Watch SE (2022)
  • Temperature detection
  • Accident detection
  • Emergency SOS
  • [Starting from 2023] First 100% carbon-neutral Apple device
2021 Apple Watch Series 7
  • Brighter Always-On Display
  • Fast charging
  • Larger display
  • IPX6 certification (waterproof and dustproof)
2020 Apple Watch Series 6
  • New Always-On Display
  • SpO2 Sensor
Apple Watch SE
  • 'Gimped' model without always-on display, ECG and SpO2
  • SoC from the Watch Series 5
2019 Apple Watch Series 5
  • Always-On Display
  • Compass
2018 Apple Watch Series 4
  • Larger displays: 44 mm and 40 mm
  • ECG function
2017 Apple Watch Series 3
  • Comes with optional LTE (via eSIM) and can also make calls without an iPhone
  • Altimeter
2016 Apple Watch Series 2
  • Apple S2 marks a dual-core SoC in an Apple Watch for the first time
  • Ceramic instead of gold for 'Watch Edition'
  • IP68 certification
  • GPS sensor
Apple Watch Series 1
  • Slightly improved SoC (780 MHz instead of 520 MHz)
2015 Apple Watch
  • The first-ever smartwatch from Apple!
  • Two different sizes: 38 mm and 42 mm
  • Gold edition debuted with a $10,000 price tag

This best list was revised in January 2024 with the current pricing. Existing comments were kept.

 The Best Portable Projectors in 2024

  The best choice The best value for money The best for less The all-rounder The challenger The best laser TV
Product
Image Xgimi Halo+ Product Image Dangbei Neo Product Image Technaxx TX-127 Product Image Samsung Freestyle Product Image Nebula Anker Capsule 3 Laser Product Image Formovie Theater Product Image
Offers

To find out more, browse through our comprehensive Portable Projectors buying guide.

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Camila Rinaldi

Camila Rinaldi
Head of Editorial

With over 10 years of reviewing smartphones and wearables, I recently became addicted to smart home gadgets. Even though I dove into the Apple ecosystem two years back, Android remains as one of my passions. Previously editor-in-chief of AndroidPIT and Canaltech in Brazil, I now write for the US market. I love my records and I believe that the best way to get to know a place is through its food.

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