Apple Watch 9 and Ultra 2 could get great new upgrades after all

We've been hearing for months that Apple's best smartwatches won't be big upgrades. New reports say otherwise

Apple Watch Series 8
(Image credit: Apple)

We've been hearing for months now that the imminent Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 won't have significant hardware upgrades: this year, the excitement is very much focused on watchOS 10 – the biggest OS update Apple's wearables have had in years. But a new report suggests that upgrades are indeed coming, and they're more interesting than the processor bump that most pundits predicted.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple's new wearables will have significant improvements focused on "speed, efficiency and accuracy". So what can we expect?

Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 key upgrades

According to Gurman, the watches will get a new, more accurate version of Apple's optical heart rate sensor – the fourth generation of the sensor – as well as the latest Ultra Wideband chip, Apple's U2. The main benefit of that one is vastly improved location tracking, and Gurman says it's coming to all of Apple's major products including the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. And the much-rumoured processor upgrade is happening too, with Apple apparently planning to "heavily tout" its processing speed improvements. 

Don't expect any big changes to the outside of either Apple Watch other than new colours – the Ultra is reportedly coming in a Black Titanium option –  but there may be a streamlining of the Apple Watch bands you can buy: Apple is apparently moving away from leather watch straps, and may also discontinue the Link Bracelet that's been available for every generation of Apple Watch since the very first one. And the Series 9 casing will be 3D printed, a technology that's coming to the Ultra next year.

If you've already got an Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch Ultra, you can probably sit this year's upgrades out: they're interesting but they're not going to completely transform your experience. However, as the owner of an increasingly battle-scarred Series 7 I think I'm going to upgrade this year: as with iPhones, I think upgrading every second year is the sweet spot.

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are expected to launch alongside the iPhone 15 this week, on 12 September, with the devices shipping a few weeks later. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (