Darker Apple Watch Ultra prototype uncovered in FCC filing

This is what the original watch could have looked like
FCC Apple Watch Ultra FCC filing
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Apple appears to have originally designed the Watch Ultra with a darker ceramic back, as uncovered in an FCC filing containing an early prototype for the smartwatch.

This design feature never made it to the final version of the Apple Watch Ultra 1 released last September, as we now know, with the company instead opting for the light grey ceramic underside (shown below). 

However, we do at least have an insight into what a darker version of the device would look like - and it's similar to what we've seen Apple release on its other smartwatches, like the Watch Series 9 and Watch SE 2

In the filing, the orange Action button seems to be quite different from the final model, too, perhaps being made of plastic rather than the metal we've seen on both generations of the Ultra.

Wareableapple watch ultra 2 ceramic backThe Apple Watch Ultra 2, like the original, features a grey ceramic back.

What's not known from the file is just how far back these images date, which, in turn, means it's difficult to know just when the decision was made to switch to a lighter color on the back.

With FCC filing details often confidentially held for quite a while before becoming available to the public, too, these kinds of images can take months - or years - to emerge. 

And, interestingly, though Apple stuck with the grey ceramic for the Watch Ultra 2, there is a small chance this canceled design could be revived for a darker case in the future. 

This was something that was strongly suggested would arrive when Apple announced the second-gen model in September, but it never actually materialized. 

Is it possible we'll eventually see it pop up in a similar fashion to this later down the line? Only time will tell.

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Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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