The Apple Watch Ultra 2 reinforces the role of the Apple Watch as the company’s pioneering product in terms of carbon neutrality and significantly reduced environmental impact. While those claims we and the greater public still have to look into further, we are wasting no time and taking a hands-on look right here in Cupertino, California, at the new Apple Watch Ultra 2.

Hands-on images by Ripley Sellers.

The Apple Watch Ultra we reviewe in full here, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that the Ultra marked the first completely new collection within the Apple Watch world. It is larger, bulkier, more rugged, and designed more for outdoor adventures and less for office wear — although it is pretty neat for that, too, if you can manage the noticeably larger size when compared to other Apple Watches. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is more evolutionary than revolutionary, but, again, it also marks an important milestone in Apple’s commitment to its “Apple 2030” plan to be carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030.

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Key features of the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

These are the key features of the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 relies on the latest S9 SiP, a custom Apple silicon to power new features including a double-tap gesture to easily control various features (answer call, snooze alarms, etc.) even if you can’t reach the Watch with your non-watch-wearing hand. Apple goes so far as to say, “The new double-tap gesture is enabled by the faster Neural Engine in Apple Watch Ultra 2, which processes data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor with a new machine-learning algorithm. The algorithm detects the unique signature of tiny wrist movements and changes in blood flow when the index finger and thumb perform a double tap.” The double-tap gesture will be available in a software update next month. On-device Siri with the ability to access and log health data privately and securely is also available in the Apple Watch Ultra 2, courtesy of the S9 SiP.

The brightest-ever Apple-designed display on any device debuts on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 with a maximum brightness of a whopping 3,000 nits, 50% more than on the 1st-generation Apple Watch Ultra. The display can also go super-dark at just 2 nits, making it nicer to look at when waking up in a dark room or operating it in the darkest environments. The new display delivers a new watch face: Modular Ultra. Modular Ultra is designed specifically for Apple Watch Ultra because it takes advantage of the large display, using the outermost edge to present real-time data, including seconds, altitude, or depth.

Apple stresses that the “Apple Watch Ultra 2 is designed for extremes and has been tested for use across the largest range of altitudes for any Apple product, from 500 meters below sea level to explore the lowest valleys, and up to 9,000 meters to ascend the world’s tallest peaks.” Speaking of relatively more normal-use scenarios, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 supports water sports including kitesurfing and recreational scuba diving to depths of 40 meters — actual 40 meters, not 10 meters more than the “30 meters” rated by some watchmakers.

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Like the Apple Watch Series 9, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 supports Precision Finding when used together with the iPhone 15 family of phones, which have the same S9 SiP chip and support for Ultra Wideband (UWB). Beyond the same software updates and features as those on the Apple Watch Series 9 (be sure to learn more about those here), naturally, there has to be a selection of Ultra-specific gismos that include an updated Compass with real-time elevation display and 3D view of waypoints showing relative elevation, new topographic maps in the Maps app to show important details like points of interest and trailheads, and helpful details such as hill shading, contour lines, elevation, and cellular and Emergency SOS waypoints.

Certain case and strap combinations of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 are classified as carbon-neutral products. As part of the “Apple 2030” initiative, emissions related to the Apple Watch Ultra 2 were reduced from the three biggest sources of greenhouse gases: materials, electricity, and transportation. The small amount of emissions remaining are offset by high-quality carbon credits from nature-based projects. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 paired with an Alpine Loop or Trail Loop features 95% recycled titanium, compared with no recycled titanium in the first Apple Watch Ultra. A new Carbon Neutral logo on Apple Watch Ultra 2 packaging indicates models that are carbon neutral.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is available with a 49mm case and is carbon neutral when paired with a new Trail Loop or Alpine Loop since those bands are carbon neutral while also containing over 30 percent recycled content. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is priced at $799 and customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, the UAE, the U.K., the U.S., and more than 40 other countries and regions can order Apple Watch Ultra 2 today, with availability in stores beginning Friday, September 22. You can learn more at the brand’s website.

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