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Apple Watch Ultra 2: First Look - Video

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is official and costs $799. It has a brighter screen, recycled titanium casing, and improved features.

Introducing the Apple Watch Ultra 2, the latest addition to the Apple Watch lineup. Priced at $799, this new model may appear similar to its predecessor on the outside, but it's the internal changes that truly make it stand out. Having had the opportunity to try it out at Apple Park, I can confidently say that there are numerous exciting updates to look forward to, with the standout feature being the incredibly bright screen.

The display now boasts a maximum brightness of 3000 knits, a 50% increase from last year's model which reached 2000 knits. Even the previous model was already impressively bright, but with this enhancement, the Ultra 2 is guaranteed to be easily visible even in the brightest outdoor settings. Whether you're at the snow fields or simply walking your dog on a sunny day, the improved brightness will ensure optimal visibility. Additionally, the flashlight on the Ultra 2 will be brighter, particularly when using the digital crown, which is a highly anticipated improvement.

While the external casing maintains the same 49-millimeter size as the original Ultra, it now consists of 95% recycled titanium, a significant step towards sustainability. The original Ultra utilized virgin titanium, so this change is commendable. However, it is the internal changes that truly elevate the Ultra 2's performance. Equipped with the SS9 chip, which is also featured in the Apple Watch Series 9, this model offers similar capabilities but in the sleek Ultra form factor.

Noteworthy improvements include on-device processing for Siri, eliminating the need for a Wi-Fi connection. This enhancement ensures faster response times and allows for voice-to-text dictation, making it easier to log various health aspects. For instance, you can simply ask Siri about your sleep duration, and the watch will provide a quick response—a feature that was lacking in previous generations of Apple Watches.

One of the most exciting features of the Ultra 2, based on my hands-on experience in the demo room, is the double tap functionality. While the Apple Watch has long had assistive touch for accessibility purposes, this new feature takes it to another level. Activated by default, simply pinch your thumb and four fingers together twice to access a range of app controls depending on the context. For example, double tapping after raising your wrist will bring up the smart stack of widgets introduced in WatchOS 10. This feature also allows you to start and stop timers, answer or reject calls, and send quick messages, all of which adjust dynamically based on the on-screen content. Utilizing the accelerometer, gyroscope, and heart rate sensor, the double tap feature truly enhances usability.

As someone who frequently walks their dog, I anticipate using this feature extensively. Another notable addition is the new modular ultra watch face, which maximizes screen real estate by displaying information such as altitude, depth, and even seconds. With numerous customization options available, including the ability to add multiple complications, users can tailor their watch to suit their preferences.

Now, let's address the question on everyone's mind—battery life. The Ultra 2 boasts the same impressive battery rating as its predecessor, offering 36 hours of usage or 72 hours in ultra-low power mode. While this may not be a significant improvement, those who own the original Ultra may not feel compelled to upgrade annually. However, for those seeking the exclusive features of the Ultra 2, such as Double Tap and enhanced Siri functionality, the S9 chip is essential. Priced at $799 and set to be available on September 22nd, the Ultra 2 positions itself as a high-end watch, competing with renowned brands like Garmin and Polar in the outdoor watch space. Furthermore, for individuals prioritizing battery life and a larger screen, the Ultra 2 presents an enticing option.

Stay tuned to CNET for more in-depth coverage on the Ultra 2, as well as other announcements made today, including the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Max. We will provide comprehensive insights and analysis to keep you informed.

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