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Buying an Apple Watch? Here's how to pick the best one for you


I tested the best Apple Watch models to help you pick the right one for tracking your health and activity, and for easy access to lots of quick info and apps.
Apple Watch has been the best-selling watch brand in the world for half a decade. Since it’s now available in over five different variants, if you are buying one for the first time or upgrading, it can be a challenge to figure out which model is right for you. Based on hands-on experience and testing, I’m going to help you sort through the different options to choose the best one for you. 
While the Apple Watch started out as a fitness tracker that was slightly more sophisticated than a Fitbit, it has steadily expanded to become an expansive health monitoring device and a handy tool for fast access to information and apps. It can now check your heart rate, carry your boarding pass for a flight, identify a song that’s playing nearby, open your garage door, alert you when it’s about to rain, and guide you to breathe when you get stressed. And those are just a few examples.
All of the Apple Watch models below can do all of those things. Where they differ is in the sizes they come in, their styles, their colors, their prices, and a few extra features in the top models.
I’ve been wearing an Apple Watch every day since the first model launched in April 2015, and I’ve tried nearly every version since then. I’ve used and tested the various Apple Watch models to manage text messages, hike long trails, run countless smart home apps, work out with Apple Fitness Plus, track the weather on a daily basis, manage cooking timers in the kitchen, remind me of important tasks, and a lot more. Based on my years of testing, my pick for the best Apple Watch overall is the Apple Watch Ultra 2, thanks to its large screen, over 24-hour battery life, and emergency siren. Read on to find out which Apple Watch model is right for you.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 Best Apple Watch overall
Apple Watch Ultra tech specs: Display Size: 49mm | Battery life: Up to 72 hours | Storage capacity: 64GB | Features: Sturdy titanium case and sapphire crystal face, enhanced safety features including a built-in siren, dual-frequency GPS, works up to 100 meters underwater
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 offers a list of more exclusive features than any other Apple Watch model. That’s why it became the new flagship model as soon as the first Ultra was released last year, and that’s why it’s the watch to buy if you want all the best features the Apple Watch has to offer.
The most notable and useful difference between the Ultra and the other Apple Watch models is the larger, brighter, flatter screen that makes it much better for viewing images texted to you, typing short responses to texts, seeing alerts from home security cameras, interacting with apps such as smart lights, checking the weather, navigating directions from map apps, and much more. The screen is 49mm, compared to 45mm on the largest Series 9, and the brightness is 3000 nits — versus the 2000 nits of the Series 9.
The screen is covered by a sapphire crystal face and surrounded by a titanium case to considerably increase the amount of wear and tear it can handle. It’s also IPX6 dust resistant, works underwater up to 100 meters (328 feet), and has military grade (MIL-STD 810H) certification for ruggedness. And, it can now handle high altitudes, shocks, vibrations, and temperatures as low as 4 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit. I wouldn’t call it indestructible, but it’s pretty close. 
Beyond that, the Ultra has all the health and safety features you can read about in the Apple Watch Series 9 below, but the Ultra offers one key addition: an emergency siren (activated by holding down the Action Button), which belts out an 86-decibel sound pattern that can be heard up to 600 feet (180 meters) away. This can help if you get lost or take a fall on a hike, to ward off wild animals, or to scare off attackers.
Review: I put the Apple Watch Ultra through a Tough Mudder: Here’s how it held up
Apple Watch Series 9 Best Apple Watch for most people
Apple Watch Series 9 tech specs: Display size: 41 or 45mm | Battery life: Up to 36 hours | Storage capacity: 64GB | Features: New features include a 2x brighter display, double-tap gesture, new pink color, robust S9 processor, all the best health sensors Apple has to offer
The Apple Watch Series 9 can track activity, steps, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen (lung function), wrist temperature, sleep, and environmental sound levels (to protect your hearing). And it uses algorithms and machine learning (a.k.a. artificial intelligence) to spot dangerous patterns and alert you to seek medical attention. There are now many stories of people who’ve had life-saving experiences with health alerts from an Apple Watch.  
There are two big upgrades in the Apple Watch Series 9. The first is a 2000 nit display that is double the brightness of last year’s S8 and matches the brightness of last year’s original Apple Watch Ultra (which gets an upgrade to 3000 nits in the Ultra 2). The second is the new S9 SiP processor, which has a 30% faster GPU and processes machine learning twice as fast. This makes everything quicker, makes the animations smoother, and enables features like the new double-tap gesture and faster and more accurate Siri commands.
Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) Best Apple Watch for kids and first-time buyers
Apple Watch SE tech specs: Display size: 40 or 44mm | Battery life: Up to 18 hours | Storage capacity: 32GB | Features: Most affordable Apple Watch, family setup for kids and older adults, health and location tracking, fall and crash detection
That makes it a great smartwatch to give to someone who doesn’t have an iPhone, such as a child or an elderly family member, using Apple’s Family Setup.

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