I’ve tested Apple’s Ultra 2 and 1 smartwatches - both are discounted in the Cyber Monday sales, here’s which you should buy

Stock is running out on both models and retailers are ending their deals - if you want one cheap, you'll have to act fast

Anna wearing the Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Ultra 2
(Image credit: Future)

I'll jump straight in as these deals aren't going to hang around for long: it's nearly Cyber Monday and the end of the Black Friday weekend of sales, but, more importantly, stock levels are rapidly depleting. The US deal I found on the Apple Watch Ultra 1 is litreally the last place you can grab one at a discount - BestBuy is up to full price and Amazon doesn't even have any at all.

With that in mind, here's an executive summary: The Ultra 2 has a much brighter screen that's easier to read and upgraded internals. The choice really boils down to whether you want something that'll handle future updates better - right now the two watches are about on par in what they do, and the Ultra 1 is much cheaper right now.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 

Apple Watch Ultra 2 

USA: was $799.00, now $739.00 at Best Buy - save 8%

UK: was £799.00, now £769.00 at Amazon - save 4%

With a brighter screen and a faster processor, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is the latest and greatest and will likely last you longer before you feel you need to upgrade again.

Apple Watch Ultra 1

Apple Watch Ultra 1

USA: was $799.00, now $699.00 at Abt - save 13%

UK: was £699.00, now £599.00 at Amazon - save 14%

It's the Watch OS10 update which is responsible for all the great new cycling features that have recently come to Apple Watch - you get the benefit of all of that with the previous generation Ultra 1. The main differences between the Ultra 1 and 2 are the brighter screen and faster processor - I'd recommend saving money now by getting this model and upgrading to the Ultra 3 or 4 when they are released. 

>UPDATE<

Sorry to report that the US deals on the Apple Watch Ultra 1 have all sold out - disappointing! 

The best you can do now is going down the refurbished route, there are models in excellent condition going for $632.00 $559.99 at Walmart or $799.00 $549.99 at Amazon 

I'll expand on my experience using the Apple Watch Ultra 1 and the Apples Watch Ultra 2 down below. First, I'll focus on the features which the Ultra 2 has over the Ultra 1 - and explain who'd most benefit from these features. 

Below that, I'll run through the features shared by both watches - and the cases where the Ultra 1 would be the better buy. Let's get started...

Reasons for the Ultra 2

Screen brightness

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has a 3,000 nit display comapred to 2,000 nits for the Apple Watch Ultra 1. You can see the difference between the screens in the photo at the top of this page, but holding both next to each other now - I can tell you the difference is even starker than that. 

As a side note, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 can go down to just a single nit, rather than bottoming out at 2 nits as the Ultra 1 does. This helps save battery life with the always-on display, but those gains are balanced out by the more power hungry upgraded processor - so the battery life is basically equal at up to 36 hours.

System-in-a-Package

It's upgrades across the block for the Apples Watch Ultra 2's internals: an S9 processor compared to S8 previously, a second generation ultra-wideband chip compared to the U1 chip previously - and the introduction of a 4-core neural engine into the Ultra 2 as well.

It's a faster and more powerful device - which bodes well for future updates and developments. But with all the current apps on the watches, I find it doesn't make a significant difference to experience, the responsiveness isn't hugely different. 

Storage

64gb for the Ultra 2, 32gb for the Ultra 1. I haven't found myself really needing any more storage on the Ultra 1, but the Ultra 2 has that headroom.

Input 

The Ultra 2 has on-device Siri, although to be honest I hardly ever use Siri, so for me that's by-the-by. You also get the 'double tap' gesture on the Ultra 2, which can sense when you tap your fingers and the watch answers an incoming phone call, for example.

Reasons for the Ultra 1

As you can see, the hardware differences between the Ultra 1 and the Ultra 2 aren't massive, but will help future-proof your watch for a few more update cycles. 

The most exciting thing about the Apple Watch right now is the Watch OS10 software update, which brings a host of new features across Apple's most recent watch models - and that includes the Apple Watch Ultra 1. 

Power meter connectivity

This is the big one: you can now connect cycling sensors with Apple Watch over bluetooth. This obviates the need to bring a bike computer on every ride and brings Apple Watch in line with its competition from Garmin, Suunto, Polar and many others.

FTP estimation 

Another neat feature. When you use a power meter in combination with the Watch's own heart rate sensing, then it will automatically determine your FTP. From there, it's produce your cycling power zones, too, which you can use to guide your training. 

This isn't a revolutionary feature - many indoor cycling training apps including TrainerRoad have done this for a while. But with this feature coming to the Apple Watch, Apple is further cementing itself as a fully fledged player within the cycling tech industry - which is quite exciting.

Workouts

Now workouts can be pushed from third party apps directly to the Apple Watch, meaning that you can see your sessions from platforms such as Training Peaks.

Now coming onto the hardware...

Sensors

Both the Apple Watch Ultra 1 and the Ultra 2 have optical heart rate monitor, blood oxygen sensing, temperature sensing, a depth gauge and water temperature sensing. Both can track your sleep phases, detect irregular heart rhythms and have an ECG app.

Water resistance

Both the Apple Watch Ultra 1 and 2 have water resistance of up to 100 meters and are certified for diving down to a depth of 40 meters. Both have an IP6X water and dust protection rating.

Navigation

Finally, both watches have dual-frequency GNSS, using GPS, GNSS, Galileo and BeiDouL1.

Which watch to choose?

Personally, I would recommend getting the Apple Watch Ultra 1. The biggest developments right now are all in the software - which the Ultra 1 gets the full benefits of. 

For me, the difference in screen brightness and the faster processor aren't really worth the extra spend right now - especially as the discounts on the Ultra 1 are bigger in percentage terms as well as having a cheaper list price in the UK. 

Yes, going with the Apple Watch Ultra 1 might mean you end up replacing it a year early. But I have a feeling that the next generation or too might see much more signficant hardware upgrades.

I'd rather have the cheaper watch now that does essentially all the same things and not feel so bad about splashing out later, rather than paying a packet now and still wanting to upgrade at the same time when the next generation model comes out!

Apple Watch Ultra 2&nbsp;

Apple Watch Ultra 2 

USA: was $799.00, now $739.00 at Best Buy - save 8%

UK: was £799.00, now £769.00 at Amazon - save 4%

With a brighter screen and a faster processor, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is the latest and greatest and will likely last you longer before you feel you need to upgrade again.

Apple Watch Ultra 1

Apple Watch Ultra 1

USA: was $799.00, now $699.00 at Abt - save 13%

UK: was £699.00, now £599.00 at Amazon - save 14%

It's the Watch OS10 update which is responsible for all the great new cycling features that have recently come to Apple Watch - you get the benefit of all of that with the previous generation Ultra 1. The main differences between the Ultra 1 and 2 are the brighter screen and faster processor - I'd recommend saving money now by getting this model and upgrading to the Ultra 3 or 4 when they are released.

Anna Marie Abram
Fitness Features Editor

I’ve been hooked on bikes ever since the age of 12 and my first lap of the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit in the bright yellow kit of the Hillingdon Slipstreamers. For a time, my cycling life centred around racing road and track. 


But that’s since broadened to include multiday two-wheeled, one-sleeping-bag adventures over whatever terrain I happen to meet - with a two-week bikepacking trip from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia being just the latest.


I still enjoy lining up on a start line, though, racing the British Gravel Championships and finding myself on the podium at the enduro-style gravel event, Gritfest in 2022.


Height: 177cm

Weight: 60–63kg