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Apple Watch Ultra is quite durable, but it’ll be a pain to repair

Updated Oct 27th, 2022 11:10AM EDT
Apple Watch Ultra bands.
Image: Apple Inc.

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The Apple Watch Ultra is Apple’s most rugged wearable made to date. The device is a bigger variant of the Apple Watch Series 8, featuring a brand new design and various new capabilities catered to specific use cases. The durability improvements are certainly the kind of Apple Watch Ultra feature that most people will appreciate, even if they’re not extreme sports enthusiasts. And we do have durability tests featuring the rugged wearable.

The good news is that the Apple Watch Ultra can survive drops. It can sustain rougher environments and accidental hits. And it’s definitely waterproof. But it’s not indestructible. And an iFixit teardown shows that repairing the Apple Watch Ultra is no easy task.

Apple Watch Ultra has excellent durability tests: Drop, scratch, and hammer

YouTube channel TechRax placed the iPhone 14 Pro inside a car to test the handset’s new Crash Detection feature a few days ago, proving that the feature works.

The YouTuber then moved to the Apple Watch Ultra, putting the wearable through a few simple durability tests. The gadget survived an accidental drop against concrete without sustaining any real damage. The sapphire crystal screen was intact, although the titanium casing got some scuffs.

The screen also survived scratches after the Apple Watch Ultra found itself in a jar of bolts and screws.

The final durability test concerned hitting the Apple Watch Ultra’s display with a hammer. The Watch saw no damage after repetitive hits, as seen in the clip below. Instead, the table underneath the wearable started showing damage as the YouTuber applied more force. Eventually, the Apple Watch Ultra stopped working even though the screen did not shatter.

Finally, the screen failed, proving that the wearable isn’t indestructible.

What about water resistance?

Apple Watch Ultra durability tests will also examine Apple’s water resistance claims. The company says the wearable can go up to 100 meters. The new Depth app, meanwhile, will track progress accurately down to about 50 meters.

As YouTuber DC Rainmaker explains, that’s a difference between hardware and software. The Apple Watch Ultra can go to depths of up to 100 meters (328 feet) without sustaining damage. But the software is supposed to track dives of up to 40 meters (131 feet), which is the usual depth experience for most divers.

The YouTuber used a dive chamber to simulate a dive with the Apple Watch Ultra turned on and the Depth app tracking parameters. DC Rainmaker showed the Apple Watch Ultra works just as intended, accurately measuring the simulated depth, water temperature, and dive duration.

iFixit’s Apple Watch Ultra teardown

These durability tests show that the Apple Watch Ultra is the rugged wearable Apple said it was. It’ll be able to avoid damage better than the non-Ultra models during various use-case scenarios that might involve accidental drops and hits along the way.

But despite its increased durability, Apple Watch Ultra might need repairs, and that’s where the folks at iFixit come in. As expected, they performed their “official” Apple Watch Ultra teardown, and the conclusions are in. There’s good and bad news, as expected.

iFixit says that the Ultra’s raised screen lip is great for protecting the display during drops. But direct hits against the screen might damage it. Also, you can only reach the battery by removing the screen, which can lead to the screen breaking.

As for good news, the Apple Watch Ultra features easily accessible screws on the back that let you remove the rear-facing backplate. But the process might break the gasket that prevents water ingress during dives. This means you’ll need a professional to repair the Watch and maintain its water resistance.

Also, the iFixit teardown shows that the Apple Watch Ultra’s battery is almost twice the size of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Finally, the teardown shows the impressive design of the titanium chassis, making us dream of the titanium iPhones of the future.

That said, the iFixit teardown’s main takeaway is that the Apple Watch Ultra isn’t that easy to repair. So even though it features great durability, you’ll want to handle it with some care. And you probably won’t want to get rid of your iPhone for the Apple Watch Ultra just yet.

More Apple Watch coverage: For more Apple Watch news, visit our Apple Watch Series 8 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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