The Apple Watch Ultra is a beast of a watch. Unlike my previous Apple Watches, which I was relatively nervous about blowing up on some of my backpacking trips, I don’t feel the need to coddle this at all.
I’ve bought a few Apple watches, especially during day hikes and backpacking trips. If you find yourself in a rock-crawling situation or in any tight space, you’re sure to scratch that watch with something that doesn’t care about that screen. Although I have never completely smashed my watch, when I change it, the screen and the body are usually quite chipped.
so far with him apple watch ultraHowever, I have not been able to see a single imperfection on the screen or the case. Between the titanium material, enhanced glass design, and raised edges around the screen, Apple has created a watch that even I couldn’t beat.
That said, I still can’t grab the Apple Watch alone when heading out into the unknown. I still need to carry my iPhone for two key reasons, and those are the two things I hope will eventually make it to the Apple Watch.
SOS emergency via satellite
The obvious feature that iPhone owners now enjoy that Apple Watch users can’t is Emergency SOS via satellite. With the launch of iPhone 14Apple built in the ability to use your phone to contact emergency services outside of a cellular signal.
The company has achieved this by ensuring that the radios inside the iPhone 14 are compatible with the same bands that certain satellites use, so if you’re out in the field (or anywhere without cellular service) and need emergency assistance, you can Point your iPhone at the sky and it communicates your position and situation. As Apple explains:
“Satellites are low-bandwidth moving targets, and messages can take minutes to arrive. Because every second counts, with Emergency SOS via satellite, iPhone asks some vital questions to assess the user’s situation and shows them where point your phone to connect to a satellite. The initial questionnaire and follow-up messages are relayed to centers staffed by Apple-trained specialists who can call for help on your behalf.”
It got even better when Apple revealed that “users [can] manually share your satellite location with Find My when there’s no cellular or Wi-Fi connection, providing a sense of security when hiking or camping off the grid.” So you don’t necessarily need to be in an emergency situation to leave people you care about know your location in the field.
While Apple released the feature on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro lineupwas missing from the Apple Watch Ultra, even though both the Ultra and certain apple watch series 8 Y Apple Watch SE 2 models that offer a cellular configuration.
Now this is not necessarily surprising. As someone who brings a Garmin inReach Mini when hiking or backpacking, it’s truly an engineering marvel that Apple was able to include emergency SOS features in the iPhone. So miniaturizing that further to fit the Apple Watch will probably take some time.
A built-in camera
Let’s be honest. Any of us who want to take our Apple Watch, and only our Apple Watch, into the field are forced to go without photos or videos of the experience. While there are some companies that build cameras into a strap that works with Apple Watch like the Wristcam, those accessories can get expensive pretty quickly.
The solution here would be to build a camera into the Apple Watch Ultra itself. For me, I would love to be able to go for a run or a walk and if I come across something I want to capture, to be able to do it with just my watch.
I honestly don’t care about the quality here. The camera doesn’t need to compete with the iPhone’s lenses. It’s more about functionality than anything else. The ability to wear a device on your wrist to track your workout, call emergency services, and capture the experience would be awesome.
However, I know there are a lot of privacy concerns about putting a camera on your wrist. I also know that it may not be a feature that’s high on everyone’s list, and I can certainly see Apple shying away from the idea if they don’t see a broad use case for it.
While I’d love to see them try a built-in camera on the Apple Watch Ultra, I’m not holding my breath for this one.
There is not much else to do here.
Other than those two things, I can’t think of anything else my iPhone does that I’d like my watch to do. I still need my Garmin to text people when I’m out in the field, but since my iPhone can’t do that yet, I wouldn’t expect my Apple Watch Ultra to do it. That’s probably the next generation of satellite connectivity with the iPhone that will hopefully eventually come to the watch.
As I said before, the Apple Watch Ultra is a beast. Apple really nailed it when it designed this watch for those who wanted something more extreme and rugged that could handle the adventures people wanted to take on. Personally, I’ve been very happy with the watch so far and can’t wait to take it on more hikes, camping trips, backpacking trips, and general exploration.
The only features left to bring to the Apple Watch Ultra, in my experience, are the things we want but don’t need an iPhone for, like contacting emergency services or capturing a moment.
We’ll have to wait and see what the company has in store for the second generation of its latest watch to understand if parting ways with the iPhone is something they’ll actually entertain. That’s doubtful, as Apple’s business still relies heavily on iPhone sales. However, is anyone really going to buy an Apple Watch Ultra and not an iPhone? Come on, we all know that’s not going to happen.