Apple Watch Series 8 vs Series 9 and Ultra: How the prices compare

by The Insights

Apple’s massive event on Sept. 12 saw the announcement of plenty of new devices (as was expected), including the highly anticipated iPhone 15. Yes, the new smartphones were definitely the stars of the show, but let’s not forget about those new Apple Watch reveals.

Releasing on Sept. 22, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are the company’s newest iterations of their iconic smart wrist bling. But, do their new features make it a necessity to upgrade? Or are you better off sticking with your Series 8? Let’s break it down.


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What’s new with the Series 9 and Ultra 2?

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 aren’t the huge technological leaps we’ve seen with the iPhone 15, but there are still some pretty cool new additions that are worth taking a look at.

One new feature that’s coming to both watches, and probably the most popular of the bunch, is the addition of “Double Tap.” This is a new gesture that acts as a one-handed primary action button — just tap your index finger to your thumb two times to take calls, launch Smart Stack widgets, and more. It may seem like a small touch, but the introduction of Double Tap could be a game-changer in terms of quality-of-life improvements for the new smartwatches.

Get ready to *tap tap* all day long.
Credit: Apple

Another big change is the announcement that the Series 9 and Ultra 2 will make use of Apple’s ultra-wideband (UWB) chip. The UWB chip is going to make a huge difference for those who tend to misplace their phone on a frequent basis — it uses precise location tracking via a compass as well as haptic feedback to lead you directly back to your iPhone with minimal stress. (If you’ve ever played a game of “hot and cold,” it’s basically that in watch form.) Both watches will also come stock with the new S9 SiP chip, which boosts speed and performance.

Siri is also getting an upgrade in the Series 9 and Ultra 2. All Siri requests will now be processed on-device, so it doesn’t have to travel to the Cloud before it gets back to you. That means you’ll not only get faster responses, but you can also use Siri while offline. Siri will also add Health app integration for easier access to your analytics.

Where the Ultra 2 is different from the Series 9 is in its pretty big price hike and overall purpose. The Ultra 2 is made for outdoor usage — it’s more rugged and durable than the Series 9, and features a brighter screen, a built-in siren, and a much longer battery life. If you’re not a super active person and you’re stuck deciding between the Series 9 and Ultra 2, we’d say go for the 9 and save yourself $400.

Series 9 and Ultra 2 prices vs Series 8 price

The price difference between the Series 8 and Series 9 is thankfully non-existent (although you can snag a Series 8 on sale at the time of this writing).

Where the big price jump comes in, though, is with the Apple Watch Ultra 2. For the outdoor-centric smartwatch, you can expect to shell out at least $400 more than the Series 9 or Series 8.

Apple Watch Series 8 price drops

As we mentioned, the Series 8 comes with the same starting price as the Series 9 at $399. But, at the time of this writing, the Series 8 is sitting at a pretty nice discount ahead of the Series 9’s release date.

That’s not a bad amount of savings, but if you’re really sold on Double Tap and the UWB chip, we say spend the extra $74.01 and get the Apple Watch Series 9.


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Should you upgrade?

If you already have an Apple Watch Series 8, this is a tougher decision than if you’re picking between the Series 9 and Ultra 2 for your very first smartwatch. What it really comes down to is Double Tap and the UWB chip — if you can live without them, stick with your Series 8 until the next Apple Watch. But, if those two new features really move the needle for you, the upgrade is worth it for the convenience alone. If you’re looking for a smartwatch that you can be more active with and you have a spare $400 lying around, the Ultra 2 is the upgrade from the Series 8 that you’ll want.

If you’re new to the smartwatch game completely and you’re picking between Apple’s two new offerings, you can’t really go wrong, as both watches have the same marquee features. So the only decision to make there is what you’ll be using your watch for. Will you just need it for everyday use? Get the Series 9. Do you plan on taking your watch on camping trips? Go for the Ultra 2.

As of Sept. 12, both the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are available to pre-order, with both devices officially launching on Sept. 22. Here’s where you can get yours:

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