Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra vs Galaxy Watch 7: first look at Samsung’s new wearables

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The next chapter in Samsung’s wearable journey has been written! The Galaxy Watch 7 series debuted on July 10 with two models and yet another change in the naming scheme. After Samsung went through the “Classic” and “Pro” monikers, now the time has come to use the “Ultra” branding.

The Galaxy Watch Ultra is the pinnacle of wearable tech, at least when it comes to Samsung smartwatches. But how does it compare to the regular Galaxy Watch 7? What extras are we getting if we decide to opt for the Ultra?

Today we’re going to pit those two against each other and help you find out which model is the best one for you. This comparison is a bit preliminary and will be updated with benchmarks and scores soon, but even in its current form, it will help you get an idea of how these smartwatches stack against each other.

Design & Sizes

It’s the age of titanium

It’s the age of titanium, as they sing in the musical Hair (we know, we know, it’s Aquarius), and Samsung has delivered with the Galaxy Watch Ultra. The design bears a suspicious resemblance to the Apple Watch Ultra but also manages to retain part of the Galaxy Watch identity we’re used to from models such as the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.

The vanilla Galaxy Watch 7 is a much more straightforward sequel to the previous lineup, and it uses the same aluminum chassis as its predecessors, as well as the same size options—40mm and 44mm. The Galaxy Watch Ultra is available in just one size, 47mm, and it is much beefier and rugged (weighs over 60 grams), while the regular model is sleek and stylish (33.8g and 28.8g), both catering to different use cases.

The Watch Ultra is in its element when roaming the wild and dangerous abode of mountains, canyons, and even deserts, while city life in general is where the Galaxy Watch 7 feels most comfortable.

There’s a difference in the hardware interface as well, so to speak. The Galaxy Watch Ultra has a brightly colored rotating crown and two click-y buttons, while the regular model only gets two buttons.

Moving to the display of both models, we have the same 1.5-inch Super AMOLED panel with 480×480 resolution on the Galaxy Watch Ultra and the regular 44mm Galaxy Watch 7. The smaller 40mm variant comes with a 1.3-inch Super AMOLED and 432×432 resolution. All models and variants support Always On, and we will need to do some measurements to assess if there’s a difference in brightness between the Ultra and the regular Watch 7.

Bands

Advantage vanilla
Samsung has used a slightly different approach for the Galaxy Watch Ultra in comparison to the vanilla model when it comes to bands. The regular Watch 7 uses the same one-click strap mechanism we know from its predecessor, and the band release button is placed on the band itself. When pressed, this button retracts the pins that hold the band to the lugs. This means you can use third-party bands on the Galaxy Watch 7, and most 20mm and 22mm quick release bands should fit, along with bands from previous generations of Galaxy Watches.

The Galaxy Watch Ultra has the release buttons on the watch, similar to the Apple Watch in that regard, and it uses proprietary bands. That being said, there’s a healthy number of band options on Samsung.com, so this shouldn’t be viewed as a major disadvantage.

The overall look of the regular Galaxy Watch 7 is much more classic with the lugs and how the bands attach to the body, while the Ultra looks contemporary and the band looks like a part of the watch. It’s a matter of personal preference but we like the regular Watch 7 a bit more for its classic look and potential for interchangeable watch bands.

Software & Features

Wear OS 5 enters the stage
The Galaxy Watch 7 and Galaxy Watch Ultra are the first Android smartwatches to feature Wear OS 5, the most powerful version of Wear OS to date, and it’s paired with Samsung’s Exynos W1000, the first 3nm Exynos chip in a wearable. There’s also a new BioActive Sensor system, encapsulating in itself a wide array of sensors (optical bio-signal sensor, electrical heart signal, and bioelectrical impedance analysis), alongside a temperature sensor, accelerometer, barometer, gyro sensor, geomagnetic sensor, and light sensor.

The Galaxy Watch Ultra and Watch 7 use this array of sensors to offer holistic health and fitness tracking. Both watches can track over 100 workouts and build routines by combining various exercises with the Workout Routine feature, and the Body composition reading is back with body mass index, fat percentage, muscle mass, etc.

There are some new features on the AI front, of course, helping to detect things such as Sleep apnea, low heart rates, and irregular heart rhythm. Both watches can measure blood pressure (only in certain markets that have certified the system), and there’s a new AGEs Index tracking advanced glycation end products, basically showing you another diet and lifestyle tied to metabolic health.

You can also answer notifications and messages with AI-infused suggested replies, and there’s a double-pinch gesture for easy hands-free navigation. Samsung Wallet works on both models, and you can pay seamlessly (if the service is available in your country, of course).

The Galaxy Watch Ultra comes with some additional features on top of everything written above. The Watch Ultra is made of grade 4 titanium and has a wider operating range, from 500 meters below sea level, up to 9000 meters above sea. Which means you can climb mount Everest with the watch (and the help of some Sherpas, of course).

There’s a new Functional Threshold Power (FTP) for cycling, a multi-sport tile feature, and advanced personalized heart rate zones. In addition to all this, the Watch Ultra has a Quick Button that you can map different features to, an Emergency Siren, and Night Mode for those nighttime trekking sessions. Samsung says the watch can also output up to 3,000 nits of peak brightness when in direct sunlight, but we should further test this claim.

Battery and Charging

Can’t outsmart physics

The Galaxy Watch Ultra has a pretty hefty 590mAh battery, and Samsung claims that it offers the longest battery life within the Galaxy Watch line-up, with up to 100 hours in Power Saving and 48 hours in Exercise Power Saving. This claim should be tested, and we expect a solid 24 hours to two days of normal use.
The regular Watch 7 comes with two different battery capacities, depending on the size. The smaller 40mm variant sports a 300mAh battery, while the 44mm Watch 7 has a 425mAh battery onboard. These models should last a full day, but again, we should do some testing to confirm. As it stands now, the Galaxy Watch Ultra has the upper hand when it comes to battery life, as it has a larger battery while relying on the same chipset and screen.Both models support WPC wireless charging, which means that you should be able to charge these smartwatches from Qi-certified wireless systems and also with reverse charging from your Galaxy phone (other brands and models should work too).

There are five models total, each of the Galaxy Watch 7 variants has a LTE or BT version, while the Galaxy Watch Ultra comes in only one LTE variant.

The lowest you can go is the 40mm Bluetooth Galaxy Watch 7, which is available for $299. The next step up will be the 44mm Bluetooth, which costs $329. Then we have the LTE variants of both sizes, respectively $349 and $379.

The Galaxy Watch Ultra has only one option, and it costs $649.

Voice Calls and Haptics

Both models come with microphones and loudspeakers onboard and support voice calls. You can use the LTE models independently, and the Bluetooth version acts like a proxy for your phone (or a Bluetooth headset).

Once we have the devices on our test bench, we will add our real-life impressions of the voice call quality, as well as the haptics strength and performance.

Specs

Here’s a quick specs comparison for the number nerds out there.

 

Summary

The Galaxy Watch series has been evolving rapidly and sometimes even chaotically in the past couple of years. We saw Watch Active models, Classic models, and a Pro model as well. This year, Samsung has obviously decided to change things once again with the introduction of the Galaxy Watch Ultra.

Some might say that the company is reacting to the Apple Watch Ultra, and to some extent, this might hold some truth. Whatever the case, we now have a rugged and long-lasting Galaxy Watch, which is a good thing.

On the other hand, the regular Galaxy Watch 7 has most of the bells and whistles of the Ultra, and it’s lighter, more stylish, and, last but not least – cheaper. We can see outdoor enthusiasts and active adventurers go for the Ultra, while for most people, the regular Watch 7 will be more than capable enough.


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