Daniel Neilson reviews a versatile smart watch that happens to be quite capable for outdoor use too – but make sure you bring a charger

This review is part of our smartwatches gear guide, and was first published in the January 2019 issue of The Great Outdoors.

Quality and comfort

Typical of Apple produts, the watch is brilliantly designed and masterfully engineered. The version I’m testing is made from glass and aluminium, with a sleek low profile. A variety of comfy straps easily slide into the watch.

Ease of use

From the moment you put it on, the interface, linked with the iPhone, is effortless. You simply input info about age, height, weight, into the phone’s My Watch app. The screen is vibrant and extremely clear, rendering OS maps small, but clearly. ViewRanger works with the app, in sync with your phone, allowing you to follow routes, record tracks or navigate in map mode. It can use offline data streaming the map from your phone. Other useful apps include OS Locate and Strava.

Customisation options

The face can be changed in a variety of ways, from Mickey Mouse to one you’ve set up for hillwalking. I chose the option that displayed ViewRanger, temperature, weather, clock, diary, and access to the activity.


Its altimeter augments barometric pressure and GPS to get a reading. Using either Apple’s native app, which records walks using their mapping, or ViewRanger, I had no issues with accuracy. Fall Detection senses if you’ve fallen, asks if you’re OK and if you want to alert anyone, and if you haven’t moved after a minute it calls the emergency services and an ICE contact – but in the UK it can’t currently include a GPS location.


For me, what sets the Apple Watch apart is its versatility. It has many of the features of the others, including a heart rate monitor; but it’s a full-on smartwatch rather than a fitness tracker, and because it’s so versatile and so simple to use, it has another dimension.