Next Year’s ‘Apple Watch X’ May Usher in a Big Redesign
Credit: Apple Watch Concept by TienHung Design
From what Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says in his latest Power On newsletter, the 2024 Apple Watch could be to the wearable what the iPhone X was to Apple’s smartphone lineup — a new design that changes the game for the next ten years of the Apple Watch.
Gurman speculates that Apple may even choose to call the next model the “Apple Watch X,” although, like most Apple product names, that’s far from certain. However, unlike the transition from the iPhone 8 to the iPhone X, the designator would be appropriate this time around in its role as a Roman numeral. After all, if Apple follows convention, next year’s wearable should be the Apple Watch Series 10.
Although Gurman doesn’t have much to say about the specifics of the new design, he notes that it will be “the biggest overhaul yet” to make it thinner and possibly introduce a new magnetic attachment system for Apple Watch bands.
Sources say that Apple has been exploring this system for a while; however, Gurman says it’s not clear if it will be ready in time for the “Watch X revamp.” The current slot mechanism for attaching bands takes up “a considerable amount of space” that could be used for other components, those involved in developing new Apple Watches told Gurman.
However, such a decision wouldn’t be taken lightly by Apple, as it would end a decade’s worth of backward compatibility. Even today’s Apple Watch Ultra can use bands made for the original 42mm Apple Watch “Series 0” released in 2015; a change to the attachment system would make the vast collection of watch bands and straps that are already on the market incompatible with the new “Apple Watch X.”
Significantly, Gurman makes no mention of the rumored Apple Watch Series 7 redesign that never appeared. That’s probably something the rumor mill would rather forget, and the omission seemingly rules out any speculation that these reports were based on leaked information about an early prototype for the “Apple Watch X.” Still, the suggestion of a major overhaul certainly sparks the imagination about what that could entail.
One thing that seems inevitable is that the next ”Apple Watch X” would be a breath of fresh air after nearly a decade of staid design. While the Apple Watch has grown in size twice — from the Series 3 to Series 4 and Series 6 to Series 7 — the overall look and feel hasn’t changed significantly in that time. An untrained eye would have a tough time telling an Apple Watch Series 8 apart from an Apple Watch Series 0 without a side-by-side size comparison.
Of course, Apple changed things up last year with the Apple Watch Ultra — a bigger and bolder model that featured a sleek titanium casing — but once you get past the intrepid design, it’s still the traditional Apple Watch aesthetic, with the same rounded edges and strap attachment system.
By all reports, this year’s Apple Watch models will be similarly uninspired, with identical designs for both the Apple Watch Series 9 and a second-generation Apple Watch Ultra that may do little more than add a new splash of color — or dark grey in the case of the titanium adventurer’s model.
Under the hood, we’ll get a new S9 chip that’s actually expected to move the performance needle for the first time in years; prior S-series chips have essentially just been numerical increments of the same silicon. Most of the magic will be in watchOS 10, but it’s not yet clear how much faster an Apple Watch chip needs to be; maybe Apple has some surprises to show us when it unveils the new models next month.
Although most reports have suggested the new microLED display technology that Apple is working on will come to the Apple Watch Ultra first, next year’s “Apple Watch X” could be an excellent opportunity to introduce it to the entire lineup in the same way the iPhone X ushered in the era of OLED iPhones.
New health sensors are always a possibility as well, but those are much more nebulous. Apple has been hard at work on some significant health technologies for years, but some of these are tough nuts to crack when it comes to getting the kind of accuracy and reliability necessary for things like blood glucose and blood pressure monitoring.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]