Apple Watch Ultra Design: What’s New & Improved?

A look at the design changes in the Apple Watch Ultra compared to previous models, including new materials and finishes.

The Apple Watch Ultra is the best Apple Watch the company has ever made. If you want to dive deep into what makes it so good, be sure to check out our Apple Watch Ultra review right here.

While the Apple Watch Ultra retains some characteristics of the Apple Watch Series 8, such as swappable bands and the Apple Silicon chips inside, the Apple Watch Ultra features a number of huge design changes over previous models.

Here’s what’s new when it comes to the design of the Apple Watch Ultra.


Apple Watch Ultra Design: The Case

OK, the first thing you notice about the Apple Watch Ultra design is the case – the body that houses the display, the physical buttons, and all the sensors and chips packed inside. The Apple Watch Ultra case is leagues different than any other Apple Watch of the past.

For starters, the case on the Apple Watch Ultra is much larger and thicker. Its height is 49mm, its width is 44mm, and its depth or thickness is 14.4mm.

Compare that to even the largest 45mm Apple Watch Series 8, which is 45mm in height, 38mm in width, and 10.7mm in depth or thickness. The Apple Watch Ultra is nearly 405 thicker than the Apple Watch Series 8. At a weight of 61.3 grams, the Apple Watch Ultra is also nearly 10 grams heavier than the stainless steel version of the 45mm Apple Watch Series 8 (51.5 grams).

Of course, it makes sense that the Apple Watch Ultra is larger and thicker when it comes to case design, given the Apple Watch Ultra has more buttons and components packed inside – not to mention the largest display on an Apple Watch ever.

Finally, the Apple Watch Ultra case is made of titanium – the first time the material has been used in an Apple Watch. The titanium case means the Apple Watch Ultra can take a beating better than the common aluminum casing or even the stainless steel casing of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Apple Watch Ultra Design: The Display

The next thing you notice about the Apple Watch Ultra is the display. At 49mm, it is the largest display on the Apple Watch ever. The largest Series 8 model is limited to 45mm.

But look, that extra 4mm diagonal feels much larger than much 4mm. As a matter of fact, the Apple Watch Ultra display simply feels HUGE on your wrist. And boy does it make a difference when you interact with elements in watchOS, such as small buttons and complications. Thanks to the larger display, every element is easier to see and tap, and text is much much easier to read.

But there are also other differences in the Apple Watch Ultra display than just size. The display features up to 2000 units of brightness – twice as much as the next closest Apple Watch. This makes the display easier to read in even bright outdoor light.

And then there is the display’s sapphire crystal glass. It’s ground flat as opposed to the curved display of other Apple Watches. This flat surface gives the Apple Watch Ultra display more protection against bumps and cracks. It also happens to give the Apple Watch Ultra a much more premium look.

Apple Watch Ultra Design: Raised Digital Crown & Side Button

Another major design difference is that the Digital Crown and Side button are raised from the side of the case. This means they are easier to press if you are wearing gloves – and many climbers and divers who use the Apple Watch Ultra will wear.

These raised buttons also give the Apple Watch Ultra a more rugged look, making the Ultra look more badass than the sleeker Apple Watch Series models.

Apple Watch Ultra Design: The Action Button

Speaking of buttons, the Apple Watch Ultra offers a completely new one: the Action button. The Action button on the Apple Watch Ultra resides on the opposite side of the Digital Crown and the button has no fixed action. Instead, you can map your own command to the Action button.

In this way, Apple essentially lets the user design part of the Apple Watch hardware. That bright orange Action button can be customized for you. It’s an incredible little feature and one that absolutely separates the Apple Watch Ultra from the ordinary Apple Watch Series lineup.

Apple Watch Ultra Design: Speakers & Mic

Finally, the Apple Watch Ultra also offers more speakers and microphones than the Apple Watch Series lineup. The Apple Watch Ultra features dual speakers. The second speaker greatly improves the audio quality for calls and Siri.

And the three-microphone array offers the best ability for the Apple Watch Ultra to pick up the sound of your voice even in windy environments – such as when you are on the side of a mountain.

Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.

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