Apple launched the Apple Watch Series 6 and the affordable Apple Watch SE during its “Time Flies” event in September last year. Both devices feature a next-generation always-on altimeter to provide real-time elevation information by using a new, more power-efficient barometric altimeter, along with GPS and nearby Wi-Fi networks.
Recently, however, some Apple Watch users noticed their smartwatches are giving them faulty altitude readings, especially during unusual weather conditions.
Apple Watch might show inaccurate altitude readings in uncommon weather conditions
However, a large number of Apple Watch users in Germany have been receiving altitude readings that were incorrect by a wide margin. Many users reported that their altitude was calculated 200 to 300 meters too high, despite the fact that their affected Apple Watch displayed the correct information in the past. As reported by iPhone-ticker.de:
“In the last days of December, Germany was in the middle of a large low pressure zone. Anyone who owns an Apple Watch Series 6 or Apple Watch SE with an integrated altimeter only had to look at their watch to confirm this weather situation. The air pressure, which has changed due to the weather, has apparently ensured that the current altitude was displayed by the clock by 200 to 300 meters too high.”
As per the report, users on Apple’s German support forums discovered that a period of low air pressure was causing the Apple Watch’s altimeter to give incorrect altitude readings.
Though it is normal for changes in air pressure to affect barometric altimeters, the problem is usually dealt with by regular recalibrations to the current air pressure value at sea level. However, Apple does not allow users to manually prompt altimeter recalibration. The Apple Watch will still display correct altitude readings whenever it is tracking a hike since it records altitude relative to the start points.
As of now, the Apple Watch is not using GPS information to link barometric measurements to the location of the user. This would enable the device to identify weather conditions that alter the altitude readings, additionally, this would prompt the altimeter recalibration for more accurate readings.
Some users are reportedly still experiencing the issue, and have found the only solution to be a factory-reset of their iPhone and Apple Watch.