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Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra hands-on: Key specs, features, and everything you should know

Samsung's answer to the Apple Watch Ultra is loaded with sensors at a more affordable price.
Written by Prakhar Khanna, Contributing Writer
Prakhar Khanna/ZDNET

At Galaxy Unpacked July 2024, Samsung added two new devices to its Watch lineup: the Galaxy Watch Ultra (an Apple Watch Ultra competitor) and the Galaxy Watch 7.

Also: Everything announced at Samsung Unpacked Summer 2024

The Galaxy Watch 7 is not a complete redesign, but Samsung has worked on some aesthetic changes to make it more appealing. It looks refreshing. On the other hand, the Galaxy Watch Ultra is a circular dial watch in the body of a square watch.

I got to spend some time with the two devices, and here's what you need to know.

1. Change in aesthetics

Prakhar Khanna/ZDNET

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 7 is essentially the same size as its predecessor at 40mm and 44mm dial sizes, with two buttons on the right size and 20mm connectors for watch bands. In my brief time with the device, it didn't feel much different from the Watch 6. The Ultra did, however, with its 47mm dial and screen that peaks at 3,000 nits. 

Also: How to preorder the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6, Flip 6, Watch Ultra, Ring, and find the best deals

Samsung is using an orange and blue color scheme on its wearables this year. The Galaxy Buds signify left and right for those colors, while the watches have orange and blue dots below the lugs. The colors are pleasing to the eyes on both the new watches. The Galaxy Watch Ultra looked quite rough and tough, but was comfortable to wear. It didn't feel hefty on the wrist -- despite the 60.5 grams weight.

The Galaxy Watch Ultra features an added button called the Quick Button, which can be used to start a workout with a single press. It can also activate the Emergency Siren. Both new smartwatches boast an AMOLED display, IP68 rating, Sapphire Crystal glass, double the memory at 32GB, and a new Exynos W1000 processor.

2. A new processor and what it delivers

Prakhar Khanna/ZDNET

The Exynos W1000 is based on a 3nm process and is said to be a significant upgrade over its predecessor. In my brief time, the watches felt responsive, but we'll only be able to confirm that further in our upcoming full review. The upgraded processor also enables new AI fitness features like Energy Score, which analyzes various metrics -- sleep time, activity, and more -- to give you recommendations and Wellness Tips to improve your health.

The Galaxy Watch Ultra packs a slew of sensors including accelerometer, temperature sensor, barometer, gyro, geomagnetic, and light sensors. You also get a new Functional Threshold Power (FTP) feature, which will help cyclists measure their maximum cycling power in just four minutes. It also uses an advanced personalized HR zone that can run at optimal intensity levels based on your physical capabilities.

Also: Buy a Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 on sale and save $130 on a pair of Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

The Galaxy Watch 7 sports the same battery cell size as its predecessor. I can't say how long the Watch 7 battery will last, but the Watch 6 could only give me a full day's worth of use. The new processor could offer more efficiency, though, which may help the battery life a bit. By contrast, the Galaxy Watch Ultra is rated to last up to two days in Exercise power-saving mode and up to 100 hours in power-saving mode. 

The Galaxy Watch 7 is the first Samsung smartwatch to offer a dual-frequency GPS system that can track your location more precisely.

The two new Samsung watches run Wear OS 5, which is more efficient and smoother than Wear OS 4. Both the Galaxy Watch Ultra and Galaxy Watch 7 run on Samsung One UI 6, which is fast and responsive. The watch duo is FDA-authorized to check for potential signs of moderate to high sleep apnea with the Sleep Apnea feature.

You also get features like Suggested Replies and double pinch gestures to control the Galaxy Watch.

3. Price and availability

Prakhar Khanna/ZDNET

The Galaxy Watch 7 costs the same $300 as its predecessor for the 40mm variant and $330 for the 44mm option. It'll be available in Sport, Fabric, or Athleisure one-click band styles. On the other hand, the Galaxy Watch Ultra costs $650, which undercuts the Apple Watch Ultra by $100.  

You can preorder both watches now, and get an extra watch band. The devices are set to go on sale starting on July 24.

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