Apple is working on its own custom microLED displays, which could make the Apple Watch Ultra 2 the best smartwatch ever for hiking and navigation.
The Apple Watch Ultra, released in September last year, is a tough wearable specifically designed for use outdoors, with features including a bigger digital crown that can be used while wearing gloves, a larger and tougher case that gives the screen extra protection, multiple microphones to help prevent wind noise during phone calls, and a loud emergency siren. It also has an extra large, extra bright AMOLED display, but according to Apple expert Mark Gurman of Bloomberg News, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 could be even better.
As Gurman explains in his regular column (behind paywall), Apple began a project to built its own screens back in 2017, reducing its reliance on partners like Samsung and LG. Making its own components might mean Apple can keep costs down (Chinese smartwatch maker Amazfit famously keeps prices down by keeping production in-house), but Gurman suggests it will also mean better-looking devices – starting with the Apple Watch Ultra 2, which could be released later this year.
AMOLED displays are great for maps, but microLED screens should be viewable from even more angles and look like details are painted on the surface of the glass.
The next step...
A microLED display would be a huge upgrade for the Apple Watch Ultra 2, but there are also a few other tweaks that could make it an even better device for outdoor adventures. For example, the watch's built-in SOS siren is excellent, but we'd also appreciate a bright flashlight like that of the Garmin Enduro 2, which stranded hikers could use to signal to helicopters, whose pilots wouldn't be able to hear an audio SOS.
Solar charging would be another excellent addition, extending the watch's battery life. We don't know whether a microLED display would be more or less power-hungry and AMOLED, but it would be a real boon if the next-generation Apple Watch Ultra can last more than two days between charges.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we'd like the Apple Watch Ultra 2 to come with an off-road navigation app preinstalled. Apple Maps is great for streets, but when it comes to trails and tracks you need something like Komoot or Alltrails to help find your way. For more of our thoughts, check out Apple Watch Ultra 2: what the next-gen adventure watch needs to succeed.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.