Are you having trouble deciding whether to go for the brand new Apple Watch Series 8 or the Apple Watch Ultra? We've spent a little time with both and we may have some pointers to help you decide! Let's jump in.
So let's start with the pricing for both - The Apple Watch Series 8 starts at £419 whereas the Ultra starts at £849 so there's a big difference in price in price here, but with how many more features the Ultra has, it should be taken into consideration. We've decided to pitch the Ultra against the 45mm version of the Series 8 as they're the closest in size and we're using the stainless steel version of the Apple Watch Series 8 with the pricing starting at just under £800.
Personally we prefer the stainless steel as it's slightly more durable and the glass is slightly thicker on the front. This does bring the price closer to that of the Apple Watch Ultra, so if you do go for the stainless steel Series 8, there's only going to be around a £50 difference in price. The Ultra is made to be more durable and does have a longer battery life, as it's made for outdoor activities and adventures.
Now if you're looking to purchase your first Apple Watch, the we would definitely recommend looking at the aluminium version of the Series 8 as it is a lot cheaper, does almost everything the Ultra can do (apart from a few activity specific features) and still still goes great with stainless steel bands! (There are even more colour options for the aluminium version than the stainless steel)
So next up, let's talk about the design of these two new watches. The Apple Watch Series 8 is the sleek, slender design that we're all familiar with by now: curved smooth edges with a large screen. On the side of the watch is the digital crown and a select button that you can use for various different features.
With the Apple Watch Ultra we have a much thicker design that allows for the bigger battery inside, we have a flat display screen instead of a curved one and a larger digital crown which is protected at the sides so it's not easily knocked during a workout. We also have a slightly more protruding select button, this is great for if you have thick gloves on and need to select something on your Apple Watch.
On the opposite side of the watch, we have the newest feature: the orange action button. We think this button should be available on every Apple Watch, it makes starting workouts and other actions so much easier. It's fully customisable, so you can use it to start your flashlight or even add laps/waypoints in your workout. With the thicker design and bigger battery comes more weight, with the Apple Watch Ultra being about twice the weigh of the Series 8.
Is the Apple Watch Ultra too big?
One concern of many people is the thickness of the Apple Watch Ultra, and would it be too thick to wear with regular clothes, perhaps on a night out? Well the Ultra is relatively similar in thickness to some popular thick watches, Breitling for example. If you have thin wrists or prefer classic thinner watches then this watch might not be the option for you.
The biggest difference between the two watches, in our opinion, is the battery life. The official Apple report says that it gets up to 36 hours of battery life, but if you've seen our Youtube review then you'll know that we ended up getting almost an entire work week (Monday to Friday) out of a single charge! Simply by turning off at night and then back on in the morning. The series 8 gets us through a day and a half, but realistically you will need to charge it every night so if battery life is a big deciding point for you, then the Apple Watch Ultra is the better choice.
Internal Mumbo Jumbo
So the Apple Watch Ultra and the Series 8 both have an S8 processor with a 64 bit dual-core processor. They both have the W3 chip and the U1 chip on onboard as well. If you want to use your Apple Watch for some health features, then they both have the same health sensor inside them - So the same body temperature sensor, a blood oxygen sensor, optical heart rate and electrical heart rate sensor (or ECG).
Now the Apple Watch Ultra does have a few extra features in the form of dual GPS which makes for more accurate tracking when going for a hike or run, and it also comes with an 86 decibel siren which can be used in emergencies or for safety.
Now if you intend to use your future Apple Watch for swimming or diving activities, then this section is for you! Apple have been touting the Ultra a lot as it does have dive certification, however this has left some with the notion that the Series 8 is no good for diving at all. This isn't true however, as the Apple Watch Series 8 is dive certified up to 50 meters, bearing in mind that a two-storey house is around 5 metres, that's a lot of depth! The Ultra can double that distance and as dive certified up to 100 metres so that's great for anyone who's well into their scuba diving. The Ultra does have an onboard dive computer which lets you know your depth in the water, the water depth and temperature- Something that isn't available on the Apple Watch Series 8.
Both screens on either Apple Watch are extremely good, but there are a few differences between the two. Firstly, lets talk about brightness: The Apple Watch Ultra can reach a peak brightness of 2000 NITS, whereas the Series 8 can only reach 1000. We've personally never had any issues with the Series 8, or 7 in this regard, the brightness has always been perfect in any condition; If you are running a marathon or other activity under bright sunlight then the Ultra may be the better option for you.
One difference that we prefer on the Series 8 compared to the Ultra is the curved edge-to-edge display which doesn't come with the Ultra. It basically means that the clock faces go right to the edge of the screen and almost spill over the sides, which is a really cool look. The screen on the Apple watch Ultra is flat 49mm display which is a little bit bigger than the 8, but it doesn't go to the border so you do end up with a black border around the edges of some watch faces. We've found that when compared together, this pretty much ends up bringing the displays to the same size.
It should come as no surprise that the Apple Watch Ultra takes the cake in this section as it was built with durability in mind. The screen is stringer, the watch body is stronger, it's made from titanium and is designed for hotter and cooler temperatures.
Now the Apple Watch 8 is also built very robust and we haven't had any issues with it, but there exists a video of someone taking a hammer to the Apple Watch Ultra and the table underneath gets damaged, while the Ultra remains unscathed - The same definitely wouldn't be said for the Series 8.
Next, let's talk about the straps! They're possibly the 2nd focal point of an Apple Watch (Behind the watch itself!) so you're probably going to be taking this into consideration when purchasing one for yourself. The Apple Watch Ultra does come with the durable Alpine Loop which is good for hiking or rock climbing, but might stand out a bit if you were to wear it with a shirt or dress on a night out.
Chances are that you're going to want to pair your new Apple Watch, Ultra or Series 8, with some good-looking straps and the good news is that they're fully compatible with previous 45mm straps! We do have a video where we showcase 18 different straps that you can pair with the Ultra, check it out afterwards!
When you pair them with a strap, we personally think the Series 8 look slightly better because it is thinner and sleeker, and you get the edge-to-edge displays which makes the clock faces look slightly more real. That doesn't mean the Ultra looks bad at all, but it is primarily made for extreme sports and activities so that's something to bear in mind. It's not a huge difference, but we'd go for the Series 8 if straps are going to be the main factor in purchasing.
So which of these two watches should you choose? Well, let's say you're thinking of getting your very first Apple Watch - There is an Apple Watch that we haven't yet mentioned: The Apple Watch SE. The SE is a fantastic watch for starting out and getting into the world of Apple Watches, it does almost 95% of the things that the Ultra and S8 can do, the screen is great and you can use it for runs, fitness health any much more. It's a much cheaper option if you don't want to break the bank.
Let's talk about the differences between the Apple Watch Ultra and the Series 8. At this point, especially if you're thinking of going for the stainless steel it really comes down to your personal preference; which design do you prefer the most? If price is a factor for you then of course you'd go with the Series 8, but if money is no object then it's a tough choice!
The Apple Watch Series 8 is a classic, the design, the look, the feel is all so familiar and sleek. The Series 8 is the one that'll look good when combined with a shirt, a dress or a suit if you're going out. The Ultra does look good too, and it has the better screen battery life, durability, GPS and more features so if you're into extreme sports and outdoor activities then the Ultra is the choice for you. If you're just looking for daily wear and just want a great looking timepiece that'll look good with whatever you wear, then definitely go for the Apple Watch Series 8, it's our solid choice out of the two.
And that's it! Have you bought a new Apple Watch, which did you go for? Which design do you prefer of the two? Let us know in the comments below and check out our Youtube video on the topic!