Apple’s first plunge into the wearable world is well underway, but rumors of the Apple Watch 2 are already heating up, and the second-generation Apple Watch looks likely to arrive before the end of 2016.
Most sources say the full refresh will arrive in September, but there’s some argument over how big of an upgrade the Apple Watch 2 will actually be, whether there will be an Apple Watch S refresh instead, or if the original model will get a small upgrade and be sold alongside the new version.
Here are all the rumors about the Apple Watch S and the Apple Watch 2.
Could the Apple Watch 2 get cellular?
It’s largely thought that the smartwatch will eventually replace the smartphone, however that can’t happen until smartwatches get cellular connections. Rumors have been circulating that the Apple Watch 2 will indeed get cellular, but, according to a recent Bloomberg report, these rumors are not true.
That’s not because Apple didn’t want to give the Apple Watch 2 a cellular connection. Instead, it seems as though the company has “hit major roadblocks in making major changes that would connect its Watch to cellular networks and make it less dependent on the iPhone.” Instead, the report says Apple will focus on promoting a new GPS chip, which doesn’t need a cellular connection and will be useful for the watch’s fitness features.
So what were the roadblocks? According to the report, while Apple was in talks with carriers to add cellular to the Apple Watch 2, battery issues are preventing the addition of the feature. That makes sense — the Apple Watch has already been criticized for its battery life, and adding a cellular chip would only further amplify the issues.
Previously, a report from the Wall Street Journal said that Apple was considering a cellular connection for the Apple Watch, a feature that would make the device far less dependent on the iPhone. Still, GPS will be a big help — it will allow users to map their runs without needing to take their iPhone, for example.
Will Apple retire the original Apple Watch when the Apple Watch 2 goes on sale? According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the first Watch will be given a slight makeover with some new features — a new processor and improved water resistance are mentioned — and put on sale for a lower price. Apple has cut the cost of the Apple Watch already, when it reduced the starting price to $300 back in March.
Whether it will continue to be named the Apple Watch, or if it will become the Apple Watch S due to the changes, isn’t known. It also follows Apple’s iPhone strategy, where the previous models stay on to flesh out the range when new ones arrive, with a lower price to tempt you to buy.
With every new generation of iPhone, the features and specification change. The strategy is not likely to be any different with the Apple Watch, but exactly what the company has planned for the next version is still up for debate.
Perhaps the most important changes that currently rumored involve battery and processor improvements, along with reports that the wearable’s screen tech may change. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, quoted by MacRumors in August, says a faster processor and a higher capacity battery will feature on the Apple Watch 2, along with the addition of GPS and a barometer. Apple Health, and associated running and exercise apps, will benefit from GPS, but it will reduce battery life while in use. Moreover, a new photo of the alleged Apple Watch 2 has appared on Chinese microblogging service Weibo, and suggests that the 42mm Apple Watch 2 may boast a larger 334mAh lithium-ion battery, which is 35.7 percent larger than the current 246mAh battery.
Continuing, the Apple Watch 2 may have enhanced water resistance — the current model is rated at IPX7, and isn’t described as waterproof — but probably won’t have 4G LTE connectivity.
The new chip may be a big enough update to warrant a new name, and will be called the S2, if reports from the Wall Street Journal are anything to go by. The chip should be a lot more powerful considering the fact that native apps are becoming more important on the Apple Watch — the first-generation Apple Watch use the connected iPhone to handle the bulk of processing for apps, but native Apple Watch apps have started popping up more frequently.
The new chip will reportedly speed up the smartwatch and perhaps lessen app load times.
While many are hoping Apple will make the switch from LCD to OLED on a future iPhone, it seems as though the company may be moving away from OLED technology on the Apple Watch. A recent report from Digitimes, which cites Taiwan manufacturers, suggests that Apple will no longer use the OLED screen, but install a Micro LCD panel on the 2017 Apple Watch instead. That, mind you, is at the same time Apple is expected to start making the iPhone OLED.
It’s not yet clear exactly why Apple would want to move away from the OLED panel on the watch, and the report notes that Micro LCD panels are actually more expensive than OLED, but perhaps there’s an advantage in battery life. Presumably, the 2016 Apple Watch will stick with OLED.