Apple released the radically different Apple Watch Ultra alongside the Apple Watch Series 8 last September. Like iPhones, Apple has made a habit of releasing new watch models each fall. Still, it’s an open question as to whether we should expect an Apple Watch Ultra 2 in 2023.
Apple Watch Series 9 could easily improve one or two things with the Series line without needing to touch the Ultra line. Apple Watch Ultra already bests Apple Watch Series 8 in a number of ways.
The Ultra line has a brighter display, longer battery life, stronger microphones, and a customizable Action button. It will take many generations for the smaller, sleeker Series line to catch up to the current Ultra line’s battery life. That extra battery life also helps power up the brighter screen.
Improved call quality, stronger resistance against the elements, or even an Action button on the Series line would still keep the Ultra line technically more advanced without revising it.
There is one awesome change that could come to the Apple Watch Ultra without technically updating the hardware: a dark color option.
A signature feature of the Series line is lots of finish and material options. Titanium is key to the Ultra line for durability and weight, but Apple has previously offered light and dark titanium finishes.
A darker Apple Watch Ultra wouldn’t just add variety and look cool. It would also create the illusion of slimmer bezels around the display. Bezel thickness on the Ultra line compared to the Series line is just one of the design limitations.
While actually slimming down the bezels on the Ultra line is always a possibility, a year-over-year design change like that seems rather aggressive based on Apple’s upgrade patterns for watches and phones.
Up until a few days ago, I would have wagered that a darker color option without revised internals was the most likely scenario for the Ultra line in 2023. What’s changed? A recent report from Bloomberg about the potential for an upgraded processor inside the Apple Watch Series 9.
There are many differences between Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra, but processing power isn’t one of them. In fact, Apple Watch Ultra clocks the same as Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 7. That’s the last time Apple delivered a speed boost to the Apple Watch.
Measurable speed boosts are common on upgraded iPhones and Macs, but Apple Watches don’t require the same processing potential and extending battery life has more benefit to users.
The need for speed may come to the Apple Watch this fall, though, and there’s no harm in future-proofing hardware today for new potential features coming later.
Starting with watchOS 10, Apple will reportedly overhaul software on the watch to be more widget-focused. Replacing state images with multiple updating information panels could benefit from more chip oomph. Existing Apple Watches will certainly enjoy the same features, but upcoming watches will perform the same tasks more smoothly.
Will the differences be noticeable? Maybe, but I definitely wouldn’t expect jarring gaps in performance. With that in mind, I think it’s totally fine to continue showing the current Apple Watch plenty of love. That is unless your heart is set on a darker color, but there’s no guarantee we’ll see a stealthy black Apple Watch Ultra in 2023.
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