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5 features I want in 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 debuted the Apple Watch Ultra in 2022, it was one of the company’s best new products that year. After years of rumors and speculation, it finally arrived and exceeded expectations with the best battery life for an Apple Watch, incredibly useful new features like the Action button, a super-bright and large display, and more.

A year later, Apple launched the Apple Watch Ultra 2. Though still a great smartwatch, it felt a bit more like an iterative upgrade than something big. It had a new S9 processor that allowed for the Double Tap gesture and localized Siri requests, and an even brighter display. But otherwise, it looked identical to the original Apple Watch Ultra.

Though it feels like the Apple Watch Ultra is a device that could benefit from a more biannual upgrade cycle, it’s a toss-up whether or not we will see an Apple Watch Ultra 3 this year, as some reports suggest 2025 is the next release. Regardless, here’s what I want to see in the next Apple Watch Ultra 3.

Give us the black titanium, you cowards

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

Before the Apple Watch Ultra 2 came out, one of the biggest rumors was that Apple would come out with a new color. When Apple released the first titanium Apple Watch Series 5, it came in a beautiful Space Black color that gave off Batman vibes, and that’s what many rumors were suggesting for the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

Alas, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 never came out in a new color — just the same natural titanium color that it launched with, along with the orange accents on the Digital Crown and the Action button. It was a huge disappointment for many, including myself.

With the Apple Watch Ultra 3, I truly hope that Apple comes out with a new color, preferably that Space Black titanium. I had the Apple Watch Series 5 in that black titanium, and it was one of my favorites because it looked elegant. Plus, black goes with everything.

And since the Apple Watch Ultra’s distinguishing features include the orange Action button, a black color would be the perfect complement. After all, black and orange are signature colors for Halloween and, hell yeah, I would wear a spooky Apple Watch year-round.

Longer battery life

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

Another big advantage of the Apple Watch Ultra over the main Apple Watch Series is the battery life. Since the Apple Watch Ultra has the largest case size, there’s more room in there for a bigger battery, and that means longer battery life.

The Apple Watch Ultra can get around 36 hours of use on a single charge, which is pretty much double the standard Apple Watch. And if you use Low Power mode, you can extend that to 72 hours.

While that is great battery life for an Apple Watch, there are other smartwatches on the market that can do even better. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, which we picked as one of the best smartwatches, can last around two full days with the always-on display and heart rate tracking on. There’s even the Garmin Forerunner 265 smartwatch, which can last around four days on a single charge.

Now, I’m not saying that the Apple Watch Ultra needs to last a whole week, but it would be nice to have it last at least two whole days without needing a charge.

Let’s go solar, baby

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

One thing that I think more smartwatches in general could use is solar charging. After all, if the main point of wearing a smartwatch is for the health and fitness tracking, then a good way to accomplish that is by being outdoors. And the Apple Watch Ultra is designed for “extreme” activities, which mostly take place outdoors.

I think it would be pretty awesome if the Apple Watch Ultra added a secondary way to charge up with solar power. You could still quickly charge it with the charging puck, of course, but if it had solar charging, it would be a great way to keep your watch powered up during those outdoor workouts and activities. It would also extend the battery life.

It’s not impossible to do solar charging. There are already some fitness watches out there that have solar charging, like the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar and Garmin Instinct Solar. It’s something that should definitely be adopted by more companies, including Apple.

A better display using microLED

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 that Apple is working on transitioning to a microLED display on the Apple Watch, rather than OLED. The perfect model to introduce that better display would, of course, be the Apple Watch Ultra 3.

With microLED, the Apple Watch Ultra 3 would have a brighter, more vivid display. MicroLED is also more power efficient than standard LED displays, which would help extend the battery life past its current limit. And there’s less chance of the screen burn-that can plague OLED panels.

I would love to see a microLED Apple Watch Ultra 3, and it’s very likely that we’ll see it, but maybe not until 2025. Still, this would be a great addition to the Apple Watch Ultra, making a great display even better.

New health sensors

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

It’s been a while since Apple added new health sensors and features on the Apple Watch. In fact, the last new sensor that was added was body temperature, which launched with the Apple Watch Series 8 in 2022. The Apple Watch Series 9 did not add any new health sensors.

Apple has a chance to make the next generation of Apple Watch a big one by adding new health sensors on the Apple Watch Ultra 3 and the mainline Apple Watch. There are two possibilities for new health sensors, with one more likely than the other.

Blood pressure monitoring is a feature that is starting to pop up on other smartwatches, like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. Though you still need a traditional blood pressure cuff for calibration, the technology is there for taking blood pressure measurements with just the watch. Apple could take a page from Samsung’s book and add blood pressure monitoring to the Apple Watch X (or Series 10) or Apple Watch Ultra, as it’s not too far-fetched these days.

The other one that I would like to see, but we probably won’t, is blood glucose monitoring. While there have been reports that suggest Apple has been working on this technology for a while, it’s still far from ready for prime time. Plus, it’s unlikely that measuring blood glucose levels through light will ever be as precise as pricking your finger for a blood sample, or even using continuous glucose monitors, though it would be a good complement to the existing system.

Still, it’s a little surprising that there haven’t been any new additions on the Apple Watch in terms of health sensors for a couple of years now. Perhaps it’s because we’ve reached a peak for the time being, but Apple does have a little catching up to the competition to do.

But will we see an Apple Watch Ultra 3 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

I thought it was rather odd that Apple would update the Apple Watch Ultra just a year after it debuted. It’s not like the Apple Watch Ultra 2 was a huge upgrade over the original — aside from a new chip enabling localized Siri and Double Tap, as well as a brighter display, it’s identical to the original.

But reports now suggest that Apple won’t release an Apple Watch Ultra 3 this year, as it’s taking some time off from working on it to develop more health-management features and a possible microLED display.

Whether or not we see the Apple Watch Ultra 3 this year or next year, it could still use improvement. After all, while it’s a great smartwatch, it’s far from perfect. I’m just hoping that some of the things I want to see make the cut.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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