All the hype about next month’s annual Apple Event has been focused on the eagerly-anticipated iPhone 8. The flagships smartphone is expected to get a radical new design and new features. However, another Apple gadget might be seeing a big update as well: the Apple Watch. Apple first debuted the Watch in 2015 and though sales got off to a rocky start, Apple has now sold over 30 million of the devices, according to MacRumors:
That’s not too bad for a device many people regard as an “iPhone accessory”. However, that label of shame might be soon put to rest. There are rumors the Apple Watch Series 3, expected to launch next month, could see a radical redesign and internal improvements that will untether it from the iPhone for good.
In the run up to the launch of Apple’s iPhone 8, nearly all the talk has been about the handset, what it will look like, and how Apple will take things forward with its iPhone in 2017/18.
However, a new rumor suggests that Apple will announce its third-generation Apple Watch – AKA the Apple Watch 3 – alongside the iPhone 8 during its Q4 launch.
A new report in August via CNBC reiterates the idea of the Apple Watch Series 3 launching in September. The report states the wearable will be LTE-enabled via an embedded SIM (as opposed to a physical SIM card) and should be officially unveiled alongside the iPhone 8, iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus. The report also reiterates earlier claims that all major US networks will be stocking the watch.
Analysts cited in the report are allegedly expecting the Apple Watch Series 3 to be a "big seller", which would be an interesting change if true. To date Apple's watch has dominated the wearable market over rivals from the Android space, but with that said it has still proven a niche market on the whole, with low sales for Apple relative to its other hit products such as the iPhone.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo has published a report for his investors which claims that the Apple Watch 3 won't support stand-alone phone calls at launch despite coming with built-in 4G LTE capability. Kuo says that before the feature will be fully functional, Apple needs to improve "user experience of data transmission". He thinks it won't support voice calling inside 2017, implying therefore that Apple could push an update in 2018 to enable voice calling. However, he does think it will support VOIP for things like FaceTime and Skype, but this isn't different from the existing Apple Watch.
As per previous reports, Kuo expects the Apple Watch 3 to use an embedded eSIM which will share the same phone number as the user's iPhone. He also believes it will use Qualcomm technology, will not feature many external design changes, and will not support LTE in every region (presumably even after Apple updates it with call support).
Both The Economic Daily and DigiTimes are reporting that Quanta Computer is expecting to see MASSIVE upshifts in its revenues during the second half of 2017. Quanta, in case you were wondering, was the primary manufacturer of the first two Apple Watch devices.
The reports specifically mention the Apple Watch 3, which is expected to boost the company’s profits exponentially during Q3 and Q4 2017. Nothing about the actual device was mentioned in the reports, however, so we don’t know anything about its specs, features or design.
Still, Apple sold around 12 million Apple Watch units in 2016, which in the smartwatch space might as well be a billion, so a third-generation makes a lot of sense given it is essentially the only significant player in the smartwatch market.
Apple has been investing heavily in health-focused projects for the past 18 months. Like Amazon, it clearly believes there is huge scope for profits in this area by leveraging technology like the Apple Watch to analyze a person’s biometrics is a more focused, detailed manner.
At present, the Apple Watch is rather limited. But it is not beyond the scope of imagination to see Apple Watch devices in the future measuring things like blood pressure, glucose levels and resting basal metabolism, to name but a few.
The applications are huge, potentially, and, importantly, features like this would help propel the Apple Watch from a glorified notifications hub to an actual, useful device. This is clearly where Apple envisages taking the platform. How long this will take, however, remains to be seen. It is just a matter of time, though.
Apple has also been drilling out the watchOS updates too, adding new features and building up the platform.
Personally, I’d like to see a more traditional-looking Apple Watch, one with a circular face that doesn’t look so much like a gadget. Something like the Nokia Steel HR, basically.
Beyond this, key updates will likely be improved biometrics, improved battery life, new designs and, potentially, more models and partnership-sponsored devices like the one Apple did with Nike.
Below is everything we know about the Apple Watch 3...
Apple Watch Series 3: Rumored LTE Connectivity
The biggest feature of the upcoming Series 3,according to Bloomberg, is that it will feature a built-in LTE cellular connection. This means that the next Apple Watch could access the internet without being connected to an iPhone. If so, it would make the Watch a truly stand-alone device. Bloomberg says Intel will supply the LTE modem inside the new Watch. As for wireless service, the site says service plans for the Series 3 Watch will be sold through the same mobile operators you get your smartphone plan from:
“Apple is already in talks with carriers in the U.S. and Europe about offering the cellular version, the people added. The carriers supporting the LTE Apple Watch, at least at launch, may be a limited subset of those that carry the iPhone, one of the people said. However, AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. in the U.S. plan to sell the device, according to other people familiar with the matter. The new device could still be delayed beyond 2017 -- indeed, the company had already postponed a cellular-capable smartwatch last year. Apple, Intel and the carriers declined to comment.”
Apple Watch Series 3: Better Battery
It’s no surprise one of the focal points of future Watch developments for Apple is to expand the battery life. With that in mind, there have been reports the Series 3 will have a bigger battery capacity. However, if the Series 3 is gaining LTE connectivity, that new feature may eat up any battery gains. Our guess is to expect battery life relatively on-par with the Series 2 Watch.
Apple Watch Series 3: New Design
The final thing the Series 3 Watch may have is a new design. That’s according to Daring Fireball's John Gruber, who usually has good connections within Apple. In a post,Gruber wrote:
“It’s hard to overstate just how big a deal this [the LTE connectivity] could be. No mention in Businessweek’s report, though, of the all-new form factor that I’ve heard is coming for this year’s new watches.”
However, Gruber then updated his post to add: “That tidbit came from an unconfirmed little birdie, though, so I wouldn’t bet the house on it.”
So will Series 3 feature a new design? It may if Apple’s iPhone tic-tic cycle is anything to go by. This will be the third series of Apple Watch meaning Apple might think it’s ready for a design change. Round clock face, anyone?