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The Apple Watch X could change everything. Here are 6 things I want to see

watchOS 10 running on an Apple Watch Ultra.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The original Apple Watch was announced in September 2014, with the actual product release in April 2015. While we’re getting the Apple Watch Series 9 next month, it’s likely to be a very iterative update. Instead, we should focus on what Apple could be doing for the 10th anniversary of the Apple Watch, similar to what the company did with the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, which gave us the iPhone X.

With this in mind, 2023 is really not the year to expect big features to come to the Apple Watch; that will come in 2024 or 2025, and rumors suggest that this anniversary smartwatch could be called the “Apple Watch X.”

Assuming the Apple Watch X is as revolutionary for the Apple Watch as the iPhone X was for the iPhone, here are a few things I’d like to see.

It’s time for a new design

Apple Watch Series 5 and an Apple Watch Ultra next to each other.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

There have been rumors in the past about a possible refreshed design ever since the Apple Watch Series 7. Despite those rumors, the look and feel of the main Apple Watch never changed, though many people (including myself) really thought it would.

While a redesign wouldn’t have made sense back then, it makes a bit more sense with a 10th-anniversary version of the wearable. For example, the iPhone design largely remained the same throughout the years until it hit the 10-year mark, as the iPhone X eliminated the classic Home button that the iPhone was known for in the past decade. If Apple is coming out with an Apple Watch X, then a redesign should be a part of it. The Apple Watch, aside from the Apple Watch Ultra, has pretty much looked the same year after year. It’s time for a change.

What kind of redesign should the Apple Watch X have? That’s definitely an unknown. I remember when the Series 7 rumors seemed to point to an Apple Watch with flat edges, similar to the iPhone 12 style. I thought that looked kind of cool, but I know that I was probably in the minority on that one.

Garmin Fenix 7 Pro and Apple Watch Ultra next to each other.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

I think it would also be neat if Apple Watch went with a circular shape instead of a square. This would help make the Apple Watch look less like a smartwatch and more like a traditional timepiece, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 or Google Pixel Watch. Of course, I know that would also make it harder to differentiate the Apple Watch from the competition, but let’s face it — round watches definitely look more elegant in the long run.

A more traditional round face would also bring us to my second point: the use of traditional watch bands.

Give us universal watch bands …

The Apple Watch Ultra with the Solo Loop and Ocean Band bands.
The Ocean Band alongside the Apple Watch Ultra with the Solo Loop band. Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I’ve been using an Apple Watch for almost a decade at this point. Over those years, I’ve acquired a pretty decent amount of Apple Watch bands, whether they’re from Apple or third-party ones.

However, one of the rumors about the Apple Watch X that seems to have popped up is the possibility of moving to a new mechanism for attaching bands to the watch. Currently, Apple Watch bands right now work by sliding into the chassis of the watch case and are locked in place through a special mechanism. The rumored change would be a magnetic system, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

While this new method sounds way easier, it would be yet another proprietary method of band attachment. This would mean the past decade of Apple Watch bands would be rendered incompatible, and in another 10 years, this magnetic method could be incompatible as well.

I would honestly love to see Apple just make the Apple Watch X compatible with standard 20mm watch bands, just like how the Samsung Galaxy Watches have been. By using a standard and universal band system, you can use any 20mm watch band that is already on the market, and there are thousands of options. This gives users more possibilities on styles and makes it so that the band won’t be rendered obsolete the next time Apple makes a change to how the band system works.

… or a new proprietary band design

The side of the Apple Watch Ultra with the Ocean Band band.
Apple Watch Ultra with the Ocean Band Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Since this is Apple, as much as I’d like to see Apple adopt a universal band method, that’s highly unlikely. Let’s face it — it took entire EU regulations for Apple to begrudgingly switch over to USB-C on the iPhone 15 after all (if the rumors are true).

According to Gurman, Apple may be changing how the band system works on the Apple Watch X to utilize a magnetic attachment method. If this is true, then I think it would be a great change, though it does render my current band collection useless.

I’ve acquired many different bands over the years, with plenty from Apple and a handful of third-party bands too. I have noticed that some bands are a bit harder to slide into the chassis, or the locking mechanism doesn’t always “click.” I’m not sure if that was an issue with the Apple Watch itself or the band I was trying to use, but either way, in my experience, it’s always 100%.

But a magnetic system sounds a lot easier, especially if MagSafe on the iPhone has taught me anything. With a magnetic attachment system, I would think there would be fewer points of failure when switching bands out — assuming they’re strong enough to stay connected during workouts and other rigorous activities.

Despite being a proprietary method, the current Apple Watch band system works pretty well, with a few exceptions. I’m sure if Apple is indeed changing how it works, it’ll get it right.

Actual wireless charging

Charging Galaxy Watch 4 with Galaxy S22 Ultra
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Ever since the original Apple Watch, Apple’s used a proprietary charging puck for its smartwatches. This is actually the case with a lot of smartwatches out there — most of them all use some kind of proprietary charger that only works with that device.

It’s time that changed, and I hope Apple does so with the Apple Watch X. I would love to see the Apple Watch X simply charge up when you place it on top of a Qi-compatible wireless charging pad or even a MagSafe charger. That would be so much more convenient, and you wouldn’t necessarily have to remember yet another charger to bring with you when traveling.

This could very well just be a pipe dream, but hey, it would be an awesome one if it was implemented.

Better battery life

Apple Watch Ultra showing Battery Grapher app.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

For the main Apple Watch Series, battery life has always been around 18-ish hours. This is fine, as it gets you through the day, and recent models even introduced faster charging, so you can top it off quicker to have it last through the night for sleep tracking.

But with the Apple Watch Ultra, battery life is pretty much doubled at around 36 hours on a full charge. Of course, the Ultra also has the largest case size at 49mm, so it would make sense that Apple can fit a larger battery in there compared to something smaller, like the Apple Watch Series 8.

Rumors seem to indicate that the possible switch over to a magnetic band system would mean more room on the inside of the Apple Watch. This could result in a larger battery, which would equate to longer battery life.

Now, I certainly don’t expect the Apple Watch X to have the same kind of battery life as the Ultra, but it would be nice to see it get more than the typical 18 hours of battery life that we’ve gotten every year.

New health sensors and capabilities

The Apple Watch Ultra's heart rate sensor active.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If the Apple Watch X is coming, then this would also be the best time to add new health sensors and other capabilities. After all, the Apple Watch is at its best as a health and fitness tracker.

I personally would love to see non-intrusive blood glucose monitoring, though it’s hard to say how far Apple has come with that technology. This area may still be a few years behind, but if the Apple Watch X comes out in 2025, who knows — it could definitely be a possibility.

Another addition could be the ability to monitor blood pressure or skin temperature during the day. Some other wearables on the market are beginning to add such features, like the Samsung Galaxy Watch (in select countries), so it only makes sense for Apple to catch up there.

Time will tell

The Apple Watch Ultra with the Apple Watch Series 8 and Watch SE 2.
(Left to right) Apple Watch SE 2, Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

A 10-year anniversary of a product is always a big deal, and Apple knows this. It released the iPhone X in honor of 10 years of the iPhone, and it’ll almost certainly do the same with the Apple Watch. Though the Apple Watch may not be as “revolutionary” as the original iPhone, it’s still a product that has changed the lives of many people around the world.

If the Apple Watch X is coming, it needs to make a big splash with changes. Otherwise, it would just be another minor and iterative update like we’ve been getting — nothing special. For 10 years of Apple Watch, we deserve something amazing.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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