Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra hands-on review: This is what I've been waiting for

This is Samsung's sportiest smartwatch yet

Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra is the sportiest, longest-lasting Samsung watch yet, prioritizing training and fitness features. Here is how it stacks up based on first impressions.


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    Premium color options

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    Added quick button

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    Personalized heart rate zones

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    Long battery life


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    Similar performance to the cheaper Galaxy Watch 7

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In all the years Samsung has complemented its flagship smartwatch with some kind of secondary model, the Galaxy Watch Ultra is most exciting one yet. Announced at Galaxy Unpacked, it takes the company's core smartwatch features and elevates them with a rugged look, longer battery life, quick button and more.

Now, there's no denying Samsung drew heavily on the Apple Watch Ultra's success for its own $649 Ultra watch. There are several design elements and features that are borrowed, but there are some ways Samsung tried to make it special. For example, the Galaxy Watch Ultra comes in three color options, including a Titanium White finish that I am simply enamored by. 

Samsung Galaxy Ultra and Galaxy Watch 7 HANDS ON! First Impressions, New Features - YouTube Samsung Galaxy Ultra and Galaxy Watch 7 HANDS ON! First Impressions, New Features - YouTube
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It also has the same Galaxy AI-powered health experiences available for the Galaxy Watch 7, as well as Samsung's latest BioActive sensor and new 3nm processor. Beyond that, everything else you'll need to know about what might be the best Samsung watch yet can be found in my hands-on Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra review below.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy Watch 7Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra
Starting price$299$649
Sizes40mm, 44mm47mm
ColorsGreen, Silver, CreamTitanium White, Titanium Gray, Titanium Silver
Dimensions40mm: 40.4 x 9.7 mm; 44mm: 44.4 x 9.7 mm47.4 x 47. 1 x 12.1 mm
Weight40mm: 28.8 g; 44mm: 33.8 g60.5 g
Display40mm: 1.3" 432 x 432 ppi; 44mm: 1.5" 480 x 480 ppi1.5" 480 x 480 ppi
Battery capacity40mm: 300 mAh; 44mm: 425 mAh590 mAh
Durability5 ATM, IP6810 ATM, IP68
ConnectivityLTE (optional), Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 2.4+ 5 GHz, NFCLTE (optional), Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 2.4+ 5 GHz, NFC
CompatibilityAndroid 11 or higherAndroid 11 or higher
Storage32 GB32 GB
ProcessorExynos W1000Exynos W1000
SensorsSamsung BioActive sensor, temperature sensor, accelerometer Samsung BioActive sensor, temperature sensor, accelerometer

Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra hands-on: Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra is available for pre-order as of July 10; general availability starts on July 24. Unlike the Galaxy Watch 7, the Ultra comes in just one 47mm size option with LTE support for $649. That's $50 less than the Apple Watch Ultra, but still Samsung's most expensive smartwatch to date. 

You can get the Galaxy Watch Ultra in Titanium White, Titanium Gray or Titanium Silver, which present some of the best-looking finishes I've seen for any smartwatch ever. What's more, the watches are meant to be worn with a collection of three new sporty straps — all interchangeable, of course. 

Galaxy Watch Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra hands-on: Design

In order to maintain Samsung's circular smartwatch legacy, the company basically cushioned a round 44mm display inside a squircle-shaped chassis. It's not quite as square-like as the Apple Watch Ultra, but the visual similarity is clearly there. The familiarity also extends to the added orange quick button nestled between the exisiting two side buttons. This button can be used assigned a function such as launching a workout, logging intervals, opening the flashlight, or triggering the watch's 85 decibel safety siren.

Galaxy Watch Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Watch Ultra debuts alongside a collection of watch bands made specifically for activity. This includes options such as the Marine and Trail bands, available in colors that complement the different titanium finishes.

From a durability standpoint, the watch is meant to withstand harsh conditions under the MIL-STD-810H as well as water up to 100 meters. The aerospace-grade titanium is also highly scratch-resistant, so you won't have to worry too much about roughing it up during your outdoor activities.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra hands-on: Fitness Tracking

Galaxy Watch Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra is set to deliver Samung's most holistic health-tracking experience yet, incorporating the basics you'll find on the flagship watch (ie. automatic workout tracking to sleep monitoring) with some special features. In addition to the new multi-sport tile and Functional Threshold Power (FTP) biking metrics, the Galaxy Watch Ultra provides personalized heart rate zones that help you run at your optimal intensity.

Health-based features on the Galaxy Watch Ultra are powered by Samsung's updated BioActive sensor, which is a combined PPG heart rate/ECG/blood oxygen reader and bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA) sensor that can read body composition. These points of data collection feed a slew of new Galaxy AI features like Energy Score, Wellness Tips, and the latest sleep AI algorithm. Galaxy Watch Ultra also gets the Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) Index, a score of metabolic health and biological aging informed by lifestyle and dietary habits. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra hands-on: Battery Life

Galaxy Watch Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life is looking like a big reason to consider the Galaxy Watch Ultra over the Galaxy Watch 7. According to Samsung, the Galaxy Watch Ultra lasts up to 100 hours in Power Saving mode, or just over 4 days. With Exercise Power Saving, which still uses continuous GPS to track workouts, the watch can last up to 48 hours.

Under normal use, I'd expect the Galaxy Watch Ultra to last a bit longer than two days. That would be on par with the Apple Watch Ultra, and speaking from experience, it makes a major difference to be able to go two nights in a row without needing to charge. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra hands-on: Outlook

The Galaxy Watch Ultra seems just more premium enough than the Galaxy Watch 7 to justify the higher price. Between the athletic design and longer battery life, the Galaxy Watch Ultra may truly be the Apple Watch Ultra for Samsung users. 

Still, at $649, it's an investment. I'll need to conduct a full Galaxy Watch Ultra review before making an official recommendation, taking note of its performance in all regards.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.