Apple has never been known for serving the outdoor community, but for some of us who enjoy hiking, camping, and exploring nature, Apple’s highly interconnected products contradict our urge to disconnect from technology and get lost in the woods.
Then last year, Apple gave us an outdoor version of its smartwatch called the Apple Watch Ultra. They’re lightweight, rugged, and waterproof — perfect for beating on, banging around, getting wet, and trusting your life when something goes wrong out there.
A few weeks ago, Apple released an app for its iPhone called “Oceanic+,” which turns the device into a full-featured dive computer. Now we can use our iPhones underwater!
Apple Watch Ultra
The Ultra Is Tougher than It Looks
The Ultra is 49 millimeters wide and its display sits under a sapphirine crystal recessed just below an ultra-thin stainless steel bezel — the same material used in the best dive watches by Rolex, Tudor, and Omega.
It’s a tough design, but one that can withstand harsh weather conditions.
The Ultra’s depth rating is 100 meters, which is more than enough for most recreational divers.
The screen of the new Apple Watch Series 4 is dazzlingly bright, crystal clear, and perhaps even gorgeous as it outputs 2,200 nits, twice that of any previous Apple Watch.
Unless you’re underwater (or if you don’t care), the watch’s screen reacts to touch with Apple’s trademark “organic” feel. If you are underwater, you’ll probably need to rely more heavily on the digital crown and action buttons on the left side of the watch for certain functions.
Apple designed three different types of straps for the iPhone XS Max.
- The Alpine Loop is similar to hiking boots, comfortable and stylish in an outdoor, rugged way.
- The Ocean Band is a chunkier version of the original silicone wristband, made from a very stretchy material called fluoropolymer elastomer.
- The Trail Loop is a lightweight, comfortable, and easy-to-use elasticized fabric affair with Velcros closures.
Overall, the G-Shock GDX6900G1UW is an elegant and tough timepiece that feels comfortable when worn. It isn’t made out of stainless steel, but rather has a matte finish.
It’s not surprising that the Ultra feels high-end, futuristic, and even slightly geeksque on the wrist.
Check out our in-depth guides on Apple products and more on our website.
Trekking with the Ultra
Dual GPS System
The Ultra uses a Dual GPS receiver that combines both L1 and L5 signals for greater accuracy. This allows the device to be accurate to within inches in all 3 dimensions, even when changing elevation.
Depending on what you want to know, the GPS can collect fine-grained data and compile them into detailed information reports.
For safety reasons, the Apple Watches include a real-life SOS feature that lets people call emergency services even if they’re hundreds of miles away.
If you’re out hiking and need help, the Ultra can call 911 for you if you have an LTE connection and it will share your current GPS coordinates with the police. It will also send the same info to any pre-registered contacts.
If cell phone networks aren’t available, iPhone 14 can use satellite signals to call for help.
When activated by pressing the right-hand button below the digital crown, or when either Crash Detection or Fall Detection has been detected using the device’s gyroscope, the Ultra will emit an SOS call.
Sweating with the Ultra
Most Apple Watch owners probably expect their watches to be used for exercise and health tracking.
The Ultra monitors and shows biological information in real-time. It measures your heartbeat, for example, but also detects irregular rhythms called AFib and sounds an alarm.
- Blood oxygen levels, check.
- Energy expenditure (aka calorie burn), check.
- Sleeping habits, check.
- body temperature. It’s important for women who want to track their menstrual cycle, but it’s also useful for anyone who wants to know if they’re sick.
The accelerometer that detects your falls and crushes can also track how you walk, including the number of times your foot makes contact with the ground, whether you swing your arms, and other metrics used by elite athletes to improve their performance – all of which can be tracked in real-time with alerts set off to help you maintain good form.
Interval Pace Tracking
Interval pacing is also available for various sports. It’s one of the most sophisticated training programs available to athletes today, particularly endurance athletes.
The Ultra allows you to track your progress by correlating GPS data with your interval goal and letting you know whether you’re ahead, behind, or right on schedule.
Before we had access to real-time pacing, we used to think that our fitness was correlated with our HR. Now that we have access to real-time pacesetting, we see our fitness in three dimensions.
Targeting heart rate zones is intuitive and familiar.
Diving with the Ultra
The Apple Watch Series 4 has been available for several months now, but Oceanic+ is a brand new app that makes the watch into a bona fide diving computer.
To ensure the safety of countless scuba diving enthusiasts, the watch needed to be reliable and easy to use. But to lure experienced scuba divers away from their expensive dive computers, it needed to be good — and gorgeous.
What do you think about this? Do you think Apple Watch Series 4 is worth your price? Let us know in the comments below.
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