The Galaxy Watch Ultra Looks Like an Apple Watch Ultra Clone

If Samsung's new Galaxy Watch Ultra looks familiar, there's a good reason why. The new top-of-the-line smartwatch has much in common with the Apple Watch Ultra, from its more rugged design to its longer battery life, quick button and emergency siren. 

Samsung announced the $650 Galaxy Watch Ultra during its Unpacked event on Wednesday, its first smartwatch branded with the "Ultra" moniker. It comes after Apple launched the first-generation Apple Watch Ultra in 2022 and launched its successor in 2023. The Galaxy Watch Ultra also marks a departure from Samsung's 2023 Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, which leaned into style and Samsung's signature rotating bezel to distinguish itself from the regular Galaxy Watch 6 rather than sports-oriented upgrades.  

The Galaxy Watch Ultra's arrival further indicates that Samsung is taking an Apple-like approach to its entire smartwatch lineup. Samsung now has an entry-level watch in the Galaxy Watch FE, a standard model in the Galaxy Watch 7, and a high-end sportwatch in the Galaxy Watch Ultra. Apple similarly offers the Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. That strategy has paid off for the iPhone-maker so far: Apple is the largest wearables-maker by shipment volume, according to the International Data Corporation, while Samsung places fourth.

Now, it seems that Samsung is taking a bigger page from Apple's book.

Read more: How Google Wants to Make Android Smartwatches Last Longer

Starting with the watch's look and feel, the Galaxy Watch Ultra has a more rugged casing made of grade-4 titanium and was built to meet the US military standard, according to Samsung. The Apple Watch Ultra also has an aerospace-grade titanium build, a key feature that separates it from the aluminum and stainless steel Apple Watch Series 9. 

There's also a new "cushion" design for added protection, giving the Galaxy Watch Ultra's watch face a more square-like shape similar to that of the Apple Watch Ultra. It's not just the watch itself that resembles the Apple Watch Ultra, it's the bands, too. The Galaxy Watch Ultra's Marine, Trail and Peak Form bands look similar to the Apple Watch Ultra's Ocean Band, Trail Loop and Alpine Loop bands.

Another important characteristic that separates the Apple Watch Ultra from Apple's Series 9 and SE devices is the Action button, which lets you program specific shortcuts related to workouts, the stopwatch, Apple's Waypoint and Backtrack navigation features, the flashlight and more. The Galaxy Watch Ultra has a similar "quick" button for starting and managing a workout. 

Apple Watch Ultra 2

The Apple Watch Ultra is designed for outdoor enthusiasts. 

James Martin/CNET

Like Apple, Samsung is clearly targeting outdoor adventurers (or people who'd like to think of themselves that way) with the Galaxy Watch Ultra. That's why the new watch has a siren for emergency scenarios that can be activated by holding the quick button for 5 seconds. This, too, arrived first on the Apple Watch Ultra, which has a siren that can be heard from up to 600 feet away. 

Samsung and Apple have each added other upgrades to their respective Ultra watches that should make them more ideal for prolonged outdoor use compared to their standard smartwatches. Both the Galaxy Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Ultra (as well as the standard Galaxy Watch 7) have dual-frequency GPS for more precise location tracking. Samsung and Apple's Ultra watches also have longer battery life than other watches in their respective lineups.

Not everything is the same between both watches. At $650, the Galaxy Watch Ultra is much cheaper than the $799 Apple Watch Ultra 2. The Galaxy Watch Ultra is also authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration for detecting signs of moderate to severe sleep apnea, unlike the Apple Watch Ultra. 

Still, the similarities show that both Apple and Samsung are hoping to expand their reach in the smartwatch market by appealing to hardcore athletes and sports enthusiasts -- perhaps those that would have otherwise considered a Garmin or Casio G-Shock endurance watch. If Samsung's watch lives up to the company's claims, it looks like Android fans will finally have a true equivalent to the Apple Watch Ultra. 

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