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Apple Watch Ultra vs Series 8 vs SE: What’s the best pick?

There’s more variety than ever in the Apple Watch lineup thanks to the new Ultra model and updated SE. That means there’s a lot to consider between the latest wearables and also their predecessors. Read on for a detailed look at Apple Watch Ultra vs Series 8 vs SE, and more to figure out what’s the best pick for you or someone you’re shopping for.

Since Apple Watch isn’t necessarily an every-year upgrade, we’ve included everything from Apple Watch Ultra down to Series 6 and SE 1st gen to give the best perspective on the differences between all the recent models.

Apple Watch Ultra vs Series 8, SE, and earlier

Processor, storage, more

Last year, Apple used the same 64-bit dual-core processor in the Series 7 that launched in the Series 6, but with the updated S7 name.

This year, the Apple Watch Ultra and Series 8 come with the S8 SiP 64-bit dual-core processor. It appears to be roughly the same as the S7 and S6 performance-wise as Apple didn’t share any claims of performance advancements during its keynote or on its website.

Apple Watch Ultra vs Series 8, SE

While you shouldn’t expect a noticeable speed bump from Series 6 or 7 to 8 or Ultra, if you’re coming from an earlier Apple Watch model you should notice a faster, more responsive watch.

Apple does say that the S8 is 20% faster than the S5 chip.

Another benefit, if you’re coming from a Series 3 or 4 to Ultra, Series 8, or SE gen 2, is a jump in storage to 32GB.

UltraSeries 8SE 276SE 1
SiP/ProcessorS8 SiP 64-bit dual-core processorS8 SiP 64-bit dual-core processorS8 SiP 64-bit dual-core processorS7 SiP 64-bit dual-core processorS6 SiP 64-bit dual-core processorS5 SiP 64-bit dual-core processor
U1 (ultra wideband)

One more difference between Apple Watch Ultra/Series 8 and SE 2nd gen is the latter doesn’t come with the U1 ultra wideband chip.

Case and display

Apple Watch Ultra comes with the biggest case and display yet from Apple with 49mm for the former and a 410 x 502 resolution display that offers 1164 sq mm. Apple says it’s 27% bigger than the display on Series 4-6/SE.

Meanwhile, Apple Watch Series 8 carries on with the same sizes that launched with Apple Watch Series 7. That’s 45 and 41mm cases and a larger display that’s 20% bigger than Series 4-6/SE and 50% larger than the Series 3 display.

UltraSeries 8SE 276SE 1
Case size49mm45/41mm44/40mm45/41mm44/40mm44/40mm
Display size410 x 502 pixels, 1164 sq mm396 x 484 pixels, 1143 sq mm (45mm model)368 x 448 pixels, 977 sq mm (44mm model)396 x 484 pixels, 1143 sq mm (45mm model)368 x 448 pixels, 977 sq mm (44mm model)368 x 448 pixels, 977 sq mm (44mm model)
Brightness2,000 nits1,000 nits1,000 nits1,000 nits1,000 nits1,0000 nits
Always-on display
Sapphire crystal frontYes with steel models, no with aluminumYes with steel models, no with aluminumYes with steel models, no with aluminum

Apple Watch SE 2nd gen features the same 44 or 40mm case options and the same display size as the 1st gen/Series 6 and earlier.

Apple Watch band compatibility

Apple Watch band compatibility

When it comes to bands, Apple says those designed for 44 and 45mm Apple Watches will work with Apple Watch Ultra and vice versa:

And with the Series 8 and SE 2nd gen using the same form factors as before, all bands for the correct sizes will continue working.

Battery life and charging

Apple Watch Ultra vs Series 8 battery and charging

A major change with Apple Watch Ultra is the biggest battery yet in the lineup. That’s 36 hours of standard battery life and up to 60 hours of extended use with Low Power mode.

Notably, the Low Power mode will come to Apple Watch Series 4 and later and will double the battery of those models from 18 to 36 hours.

UltraSeries 8SE 276SE 1
Battery lifestandard36 hours18 hours18 hours18 hours18 hours18 hours
Extended battery with Low Power mode60 hours36 hours36 hours36 hours36 hours36 hours
Charging0-80% in 45 minutes0-80% in 45 minutes0-80% in 45 minutes0-80% in 45 minutes0-80% in 60 minutes0-80% in 60 minutes

First introduced with Apple Watch 7 and continued with Apple Watch Ultra and Series 8 is 33% faster charging than Series 6 and earlier. That means going from 0-80% in 45 instead of around 60 minutes for the other models.

If you’re interested in using Apple Watch Ultra, Series 8, or 7 for sleep tracking, you also get 8 hours worth of use from an 8-minute charge.

Apple Watch Ultra vs Series 8 – Key features

Here are the core features you’re getting with Apple Watch Ultra, Series 8, and SE vs the previous models.

Apple Watch model/featuresUltraSeries 8SE 276SE 1
Customizable action button
ECG app
Blood Oxygen app
High/low heart rate notifications
MIL-STD 810H certified
Precision dual-frequency GPS
New Compass app w/ waypoints + backtrack
IP6X dust resistant
Water resistant to 100m
Water resistant to 50m
Depth gauge + EN13319 certified
Oceanic+ app/dive computer
86-decibel siren
Sleep tracking
Crash detection
Fall detection
Cycle tracking with temp sensing
Cycle tracking without temp sensing
Emergency SOS


  • Apple Watch Ultra is priced from $799 (Apple, Amazon, more)
  • Series 8 comes starts from $399/$429 and up (Apple, Amazon, more)
  • Apple Watch SE 2nd gen goes from $249 (Apple, Amazon, more)

Apple Watch Ultra vs Series 8 and earlier wrap-up

Apple Watch Ultra vs 8, SE wrap-up

Top comment by Alexander Steil

Liked by 32 people

I just wanted to point out that the Series 4 or newer also got the New Compass app with waypoints + backtrack as well as low power mode with the lastet Watch OS 9 RC. 

View all comments

No surprise that Apple Watch Ultra brings the most changes and improvements to Apple’s wearable lineup. However, the new pro model may be overkill for many.

While Apple Watch Series 8 may feel like Series 7S or 6SS, if you’re thinking of upgrading from Series 3, 4, or SE, you get a larger display, always-on screen, faster charging, and all of the latest and greatest health features.

What do you think about the new Apple Watch lineup? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for reading our guide on Apple Watch Ultra vs Series 8 and SE!

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