Top 5 Must-Have Features for the Apple Watch Ultra 3

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 laying on the ground, showing the Modular Ultra watch face.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

When Apple introduced the Apple Watch Ultra in 2022, it emerged as one of the top new products from the company in that year. Following numerous speculations, it finally arrived and surpassed expectations with the greatest battery life for an Apple Watch, extremely useful new features like the Action button, a highly bright and large display, and more.

A year later, Apple rolled out the Apple Watch Ultra 2. Although still an excellent smartwatch, it seemed more like an incremental upgrade rather than a groundbreaking one. It featured a new S9 processor that enabled the Double Tap gesture and localized Siri requests, along with an even brighter display. However, it maintained the same appearance as the original Apple Watch Ultra.

While there is a sense that the Apple Watch Ultra could benefit from a more frequent upgrade cycle, it remains uncertain whether we will witness an Apple Watch Ultra 3 this year, as some reports indicate that the next release might be in 2025. Nonetheless, here’s what I hope to see in the upcoming Apple Watch Ultra 3.

Give us the dark titanium, you cowards

Mockup of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 with a dark titanium finish.
ShrimpApplePro / Twitter

Prior to the release of the Apple Watch Ultra 2, one of the major speculations was that Apple would unveil a new color option. When Apple launched the initial titanium Apple Watch Series 5, it was available in a stunning Space Black color that emitted Batman vibes, and many rumors pointed towards the same for the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

Unfortunately, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 did not arrive in a new color, sticking with the same natural titanium color it debuted with, along with the orange accents on the Digital Crown and the Action button. This was a significant letdown for many, myself included.

With the Apple Watch Ultra 3, I sincerely hope that Apple introduces a new color, preferably the Space Black titanium. I owned the Apple Watch Series 5 in that black titanium shade, and it was one of my favorites due to its elegant appearance. Additionally, black is a versatile color that pairs well with everything.

Considering that the orange Action button is a distinctive feature of the Apple Watch Ultra, a black color would be the ideal counterpart. After all, black and orange are synonymous with Halloween, and I would definitely sport a spooky Apple Watch throughout the year.

Extended battery life

Low Power Mode on the Apple Watch Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Another key advantage of the Apple Watch Ultra compared to the primary Apple Watch Series is its battery endurance. Due to the larger case size of the Apple Watch Ultra, there is more space for a bigger battery, resulting in a prolonged battery life.

The Apple Watch Ultra can provide approximately 36 hours of usage on a single charge, almost twice the standard Apple Watch’s capacity. Furthermore, activating Low Power mode can extend this to 72 hours.

While this is commendable battery life for an Apple Watch, there exist other smartwatches in the market that offer even greater endurance. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, recognized as one of the best smartwatches, can last up to two full days with the always-on display and heart rate monitoring active. Additionally, the Garmin Forerunner 265 smartwatch can endure around four days on a single charge.

Although I am not advocating for the Apple Watch Ultra to last an entire week, having it sustain for at least two full days without requiring a recharge would be advantageous.

Transition to solar charging

Battery life page on the Apple Watch Ultra 2.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

One feature that I believe more smartwatches could incorporate is solar charging. Considering that wearing a smartwatch primarily revolves around health and fitness tracking, being outdoors is essential. The Apple Watch Ultra is tailored for “extreme” activities, which mainly occur in outdoor settings.

Integrating a secondary method of charging through solar power to the Apple Watch Ultra would be remarkable. While the conventional charging puck remains a quick charging option, leveraging solar energy would serve as an excellent way to keep the watch powered during outdoor workouts and activities, ultimately extending the battery life.

Solar charging is not an unattainable feat. Several fitness watches already embrace solar charging, such as the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar and Garmin Instinct Solar. This is a feature that should be adopted by more companies, including Apple.

Enhanced display with microLED technology

Someone wearing an Apple Watch Ultra 2, showing the Modular Ultra watch face.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Rumors have been circulating for a while now about Apple transitioning to a microLED display for the Apple Watch, replacing the conventional OLED. The ideal model to introduce this superior display would be the Apple Watch Ultra 3.

With microLED technology, the Apple Watch Ultra 3 would boast a brighter, more vibrant display. MicroLED is also more energy-efficient than standard LED displays, contributing to an extended battery life beyond its current limits. Furthermore, there is a reduced risk of screen burn-in, a common issue with OLED panels.

Seeing a microLED-equipped Apple Watch Ultra 3 would be fantastic, and while the likelihood of its arrival is high, it may not be realized until 2025. Nevertheless, this addition would significantly enhance the Apple Watch Ultra, elevating an already outstanding display to new heights.

Innovative health sensors

The Apple Watch Ultra's heart rate sensor active.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

It has been a considerable duration since Apple introduced new health sensors and features on the Apple Watch. The most recent sensor to be added was body temperature, debuting with the Apple Watch Series 8 in 2022. The Apple Watch Series 9 did not incorporate any new health sensors.

Apple has an opportunity to make the forthcoming generation of Apple Watch significant by including new health sensors on the Apple Watch Ultra 3 and the standard Apple Watch. Two potential new health sensors are on the horizon, with one appearing more probable than the other.

Blood pressure monitoring, a feature surfacing on other smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, could be a viable addition. While calibration with a traditional blood pressure cuff is still necessary, the technology permits blood pressure measurements solely with the watch. Apple could take inspiration from Samsung and integrate blood pressure monitoring into the Apple Watch X (or Series 10) or Apple Watch Ultra, given the current technological capabilities.

Another desirable addition, though less likely to materialize, is blood glucose monitoring. Despite reports suggesting Apple’s ongoing work on this technology, its readiness for mainstream usage remains distant. Additionally, the precision of measuring blood glucose levels via light may never match the accuracy of traditional blood sampling through finger pricks or continuous glucose monitors, although it could complement the existing ecosystem well.

The absence of new health sensor introductions on the Apple Watch for a couple of years is slightly surprising. While it could be indicative of a temporary peak in advancements, Apple may need to catch up with competitors in this aspect.

Will the arrival of Apple Watch Ultra 3 happen this year?

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 next to the original Apple Watch Ultra.
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 (left) next to the Apple Watch Ultra Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The decision to update the Apple Watch Ultra just a year after its debut seemed rather peculiar. Given that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 offered minimal enhancements over the original — aside from a new chip enabling localized Siri and Double Tap gestures, along with a brighter display — it appeared mostly identical.

Current reports suggest that Apple may defer releasing an Apple Watch Ultra 3 this year, opting instead to focus on developing additional health-management features and a potential microLED display.

Whether the Apple Watch Ultra 3 emerges this year or the next, there is room for improvement. While it stands as a commendable smartwatch, there are areas that could be enhanced. Hopefully, the desired features will be incorporated.

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