If there’s something that’s worked like clockwork over the last few years, it’s been a new Apple Watch launch. Even after the pandemic struck, 2020 gave us not one, but two new Apple Watches.
But it did still offer that great core Apple Watch experience still for a cheaper price.
Unless Apple decides to take a different launch approach, we anticipate a new Apple Watch will arrive in 2021. The question is how it will top what it included in the Series 6 and the SE?
Unsurprisingly, the rumor mill has already been in overdrive, so we’ve taken a look at what’s being pegged for the Apple Watch Series 7 when it lands.
Here’s what we think the next Apple Watch could be packing.
Apple Watch Series 7 release date and price
So we know that new Apple Watch launches are usually pegged for the Fall. We’ll hear about new watchOS updates earlier in the year at WWDC and they’ll end up in new Watches by the end of the year.
The Apple Watch Series 6 was announced on 15 September 2020 and went on sale not long after that. The Apple Watch Series 5 was announced on 10 September 2019. So it’s safe to assume that the Series 7 is going to drop around September time too.
With the arrival of the SE in 2020, it should also mean we see a new version of that too. Whether that will be called Apple Watch SE 2 or stick to the same SE name will be interesting to see. It may well confuse matters having already had an Apple Watch Series 2.
As for pricing, we don’t think Apple is going to budge from the baseline $399.99 it offers the Series 6 with a price jump for adding LTE or going for special edition models. That would also likely mean any new Watch SE model would stick around at the $279 too.
It’s unlikely the Series 3, which is the cheapest option available through Apple at $199, will stick around so it’s possible something comes in at that price point.
A design change
The last major design changes made to the Apple Watch came with the Series 4, when it switched to 40mm and 44mm case sizes. The shape also subtly changed to be less boxy.
For Series 6, we got new colors and finishes. We’d anticipate that Apple will stick to offering more than one case option and according to one regular Apple analyst that seems to have an idea of what’s in the works, there could be changes afoot for the next Apple Watch.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that the next Apple Watch will, “benefit from innovative health management functions and improved form factor design“. Kuo doesn’t elaborate on how that improved form factor design will manifest on the next Apple Watch, just that’s it’s going to get one.
That could mean more case looks just like we saw with the Series 6, or something more dramatic.
We could see a thinner or sleeker Apple Watch, and we wouldn’t be surprised to get some kind of visual overhaul, not least as a way of keeping the Series 7 fresh. The Series 6’s benefits over the Series 5 were fairly incremental, and we’d imagine that Apple wouldn’t want to follow up with another more-of-the-same device.
Apple has got a lot right with its smartwatch design so far, so we are intrigued to see how Kuo’s prediction plays out.
Battery life boost
The single day Apple Watch battery life has always been a bugbear, but with the introduction of native sleep tracking it’s now becoming problematic. Finding time to charge the device now requires thought – and that’s not cool.
Longer battery life will surely be a focus for the Series 7, but achieving that will be difficult.
The Series 6 introduced fast charging, so we could see an expansion of that.
And an Apple Watch patent has landed that explores the idea of using the strap as an extra battery. Could we see that for the Series 7? It would certainly be a feature worth getting excited about.
A greater Apple Fitness+ partner
Apple’s smartwatch is pretty much integral to how Apple’s new Fitness+ service operates, letting you track your heart rate and powering that Burn Bar.
Since the service’s launch in December last year, Apple has been making improvements including its new celebrity guided workouts and adding support to stream workouts to AirPlay enabled TVs.
There’s clearly scope to improve what the Apple Watch could be capable of tracking during workouts.
In watchOS 7, it added the ability use the onboard accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensors to track body movement during fitness dance classes. Apple may look to improve that movement tracking on offer for more activities and exercises you can currently participate in on Fitness+.
Interestingly, it introduced a Motion API for developers for the AirPods Pro to enable head tracking. Apple’s notes on this API does talk of the potential for use with fitness apps. So there could be potential to combine Watch with Pods to better track movement and offer that richer motion tracking in a really smart way.
Blood glucose tracking
This holy grail for wearables seems like a bold one, but there have been reports that have surfaced this year suggesting an Apple Watch that can track blood glucose could be on the way. According to Chinese news site ETNews, Apple is testing “reliability and stability” of the functionality before a launch.
The ability to offer non-invasive blood glucose monitoring from the wrist would be mark a major breakthrough for wearables. It’s something that Apple has apparently been exploring for some time, having brought on a team of scientists to look into the potential for such a device. It was also a passion point for Steve Jobs during his time at Apple.
In 2017, Tim Cook was test driving a prototype device to track blood sugar that was connected to his Apple Watch, so it’s clearly something that current Apple CEO has a keen interest in too. There’s also been Apple Watch patents that have surfaced to suggest it’s being worked on.
The Apple Watch already works with blood glucose monitoring kits like the ones produced by One Drop and Dexcom. The idea that diabetics or even serious athletes could get these rich health metrics from a smartwatch is an exciting prospect.
Blood pressure monitoring
Now there hasn’t been any huge rumors about adding this kind of functionality to Apple’s Watches, but there’s been some interesting patents filed by Apple in relation to it. There’s been a bit of a growing trend that wearable makers are seeking to offer the ability to measure blood pressure from the wrist.
Apple isn’t usually one to rush out a feature because others are doing it and it’s unlikely that it would do that with a serious health monitoring feature too. Though Samsung has been able to offer blood pressure monitoring from its most recent Galaxy Watches.
Once you’ve calibrated it with a dedicated blood pressure monitor. It’s a similar story for startup Aktiia who have created a band that does the very same thing from optical-based PPG sensor technology. Optical heart rate company Valencell also says it’s cracked blood pressure monitoring from the wrist.
There feels like there’s a been a bit of breakthrough with existing sensor technology. If Apple feels its sensors can behave in a reliable way, then it may follow Samsung into offering a simpler way to monitor your blood pressure.
Unlock by wrist
Currently, the only way to lock an Apple Watch is using a passcode, but let’s be honest, it’s no fun trying to tap out those numbers. So what if there was a simpler alternative to securing your smartwatch?
Apple filed a patent, which was published in January 2021 that discusses a method that could offer that simpler way to get access to the Watch. It discusses a wearable device that fires light against the surface of the skin to generate a light field image from a part of the body that is unique to every individual. A bit like taking a fingerprint, it will match that against a saved match to let you unlock the device with your wrist.
We do of course have to keep in mind that this is a patent, and Apple, like other inventive companies, file a lot of patents that may or may not come to fruition. It does though feel like it would be a useful one to add to the Apple Watch. If that light field camera tech can accurately work to make sure someone else can whip on your Watch to unlock it.