Modern smart watches have to withstand a lot of daily abuse, especially if used in extreme situations. The likes of Garmin have long offered these users rugged devices for outdoor use. More recently, Apple joined this segment with the Apple Watch Ultra. But how durable is the Ultra and how far can it be pushed? We have the answer below.
The titanium and sapphire crystal construction of the Apple Watch Ultra makes it very durable. It also features WR100 water resistance and IP6X dust resistance and is built to MIL-STD-810H standards.
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What is Apple Watch Ultra made of?
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Touted by its maker as “the toughest, most capable Apple Watch ever,” the Ultra uses “aerospace-grade titanium” for its chassis. It is a relatively lightweight material for the amount of structural and corrosive protection it provides. As for its display, the lens is covered with a layer of highly scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Finally, the Ultra uses a combination of ceramic and sapphire crystal to protect its sensor array on the back of the watch.
We’ve seen this combination of materials used on previous Apple Watches. In particular, the Series 7 offered a titanium chassis with a sapphire crystal lens. But it’s how Apple has implemented these materials on the Apple Watch Ultra that makes the most significant difference. The Ultra has slightly raised edges to protect the completely flat screen from edge impacts. There is also protection for the digital crown thanks to a protruding bumper.
In terms of official ratings, the Apple Watch Ultra sports a WR100 water resistance dimension, making it possible to resist the pressure of water to 100 meters. It also has EN13319 scuba certification, although Apple recommends users never exceed depths of 40 meters with the device. For dust protection, buyers get an IP6X rating which is similar to other high-end smartwatches and flagship phones. Finally, the device was tested for MIL-STD-810H standards, which means it has passed many environmental related tests.
How does this compare to other smartwatches?
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Its use of premium materials ensures that the Apple Watch Ultra finds itself among the best companies.
The Apple Watch Ultra is one step ahead with its deep-sea credentials. Garmin and Samsung do not recommend users to dive with their aforementioned devices. The Huawei GT 3 Pro has a freediving sport mode, but the device is only suitable for dives up to 30 meters, while the Suunto 9 Peak Pro’s depth gauge tops out at 10 meters.
What does it take to break the Apple Watch Ultra?
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The Apple Watch Ultra isn’t just a pretty face. It seems that Apple has been rather conservative in describing its limitations.
Let’s talk about diving pressures first. Device Examiner DC rainmaker pushed the device to the limit in a pressure chamber to simulate deep water dives. Although the Apple Watch Ultra displays a “Beyond 130 feet” warning on its screen when it reaches this depth and beyond, it’s not a hardware issue. Instead, it looks like Apple is sticking to the recommended depth of a recreational dive.
Notably, the actual depth simulated during the test was 159 feet or 48.5 meters – 8.5 meters above Apple’s 40-meter guideline. More impressively, the watch was fully functional after testing. You’re unlikely to damage Apple Watch Ultra while recreational diving.
Drops and stripes
You won’t have to worry about dropping your Apple Watch Ultra from hand height either. YouTuber TechRax does just that on a paved driveway. The watch screen was undamaged, but the case had pits and scratches. The YouTuber also rocked the watch in a bottle full of screws and nails to fake… something. Again, the aircraft showed no signs of critical damage.
For more realistic conditions, ZDNetis Matthew Miller Put the Apple Watch Ultra through the Tough Mudder, an obstacle-filled endurance marathon that includes “a freezing pool of water full of shocking ‘electric eels’ and mountains of mud-filled barricades.” Sounds like a fun weekend, so how did the Apple Watch Ultra fare? “To my surprise, it held up really well and I still can’t believe the display is flawless,” Miller wrote.
In the same video, TechRax gave the Apple Watch a hammer blow after surviving drop tests. Impressively, the device suffered several hard blows directly to the lens, but it was the table the watch sits on that broke first. After about 12 taps, the Apple Watch Ultra’s screen turned off, but the lens remained intact. This suggests that a component of the watch broke before the frame or the lens. It’s quite remarkable.
Youtube channel I update also tested the impact resistance of the Ultra against the Series 8. Both watches were subjected to a series of extreme “tests”. Both devices mostly survived general durability tests, including drops, rubbing rocks and gravel, and soaking in rivers. The Series 8 came out rather bruised, with several scratches and knocks on its lens. The Ultra was mostly intact.
More extreme tests involved smashing both devices against a wall. Series 8 broke immediately. The Ultra endured 38 throws against the road before the titanium chassis showed weakness. After “50 impacts”, the device was still functional, except for a few dead pixels. He failed two smashes later.
Is it easy to repair the Apple Watch?
Of course, if you plan to smash your device against a mountain for a few hours, you may need to get your Apple Watch Ultra repaired. But how is this possible, and how much will it cost?
According I fix it, the Apple Watch Ultra is one of the most difficult wearables to repair. While there’s a lot less adhesive involved and the presence of screws is a welcome sight for home DIYers, the screen is tricky to remove and battery replacement is also particularly tricky.
If you’re not interested in repairing your own Watch (very understandably), Apple offers Ultra Repairs at a premium price. You’ll pay $99 for a battery replacement, while “other damage” will cost $499 without AppleCare Plus or $79 with it.
Is the Apple Watch Ultra worth buying?
Apple Watch Ultra
Louder speaker • Large battery • Extended features
An advanced health tracking watch and top notch GPS performance.
The Apple Watch Ultra has a large sapphire crystal display, which is nominally larger than that of the regular Series 8. It also has an extra button on the side (the action button), a bigger and louder speaker, and LTE connectivity comes with every model, plus a bigger battery than any Apple Watch. The Ultra comes with a host of features for athletes. Climbers, scuba divers, hikers, and others looking for a smartwatch that can help them through intense workouts and keep them safe will find a lot to like about the Ultra.
In conclusion, it seems extremely unlikely that you will break your Apple Watch Ultra unless you intentionally try to do so. The device can withstand extreme blunt force, dark depths, and the occasional bang against the wall. The Ultra is a great bet if you’re looking for a solid adventure watch with Apple’s smart features and ecosystem integration.
See also: The best Apple Watch alternatives
Screen protectors are always a good idea, but the Apple Watch Ultra probably won’t require additional protection for its sapphire crystal lens.
Along with its rugged build, the Apple Watch Ultra also has a larger battery than any other Apple Watch. In addition, it has a dual-frequency GPS, a depth gauge and a water temperature sensor for diving, unique features for hikers, a skin temperature sensor and a programmable action button.
Yes. All Apple Watch Ultra models have LTE connectivity, but you need to pay for the data plan separately.