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Leak of rugged Apple Watch teases massive display and battery upgrades

Apple’s smartwatch portfolio is getting a new member this year, one that’s all about ruggedness and is targeted at extreme sports enthusiasts. According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple is going big and bold for its upcoming sturdy smartwatch slated to debut in the fall. However, buyers might also have to pay a pretty penny for it — possibly $700 or more.

Talking about the core upgrades, the wearable in question will offer a 2-inch display, the biggest ever on an Apple smartwatch so far. The Tim Cook-led company gave a screen real estate bump to the Apple Watch Series 7 last year, which came armed with a 1.9-inch screen.

Music controls on the Apple Watch Series 7.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The screen resolution on Apple’s upcoming rugged smartwatch will reportedly sit at 410 x 502 pixels, and it will offer all the bells and whistles of its more mainstream sibling. Aside from the larger screen, the glass on Apple’s tough smartwatch will offer a higher degree of shatter resistance.

The material of choice for the casing will also be sturdier compared to the recycled aluminum found on Apple’s current-gen smartwatches. Battery size is also going up, ensuring that fitness enthusiasts can go longer with their fitness regimen without having to place their smartwatch on a charging puck.

Just like the vanilla Apple Watch Series 8, its rugged sibling is also said to offer a temperature-sensing feature that will tell users if they need to get checked for a fever. Some improvements are also being made on the software side of things. The report, which comes courtesy of the ever-reliable Mark Gurman, notes that the beefy smartwatch will also “improve tracking metrics like elevation during hiking workouts and data while swimming.”

Gunning for another niche

It is no hidden secret that the Apple Watch’s debut killed a certain upstart named Pebble. But so far, the Apple Watch hasn’t really been the go-to choice for performance athletes, a segment where the likes of Garmin and Polar have made a name despite offering far fewer features compared to the Apple Watch.

Take for example Apple’s latest and greatest, the Series 7. It comes with a water-resistance rating of 50 meters as per the ISO standard 22810:2010. To put it in simple terms, the IP6X-certified watch is fit only for shallow-water activities such as swimming in a pool or ocean.

Apple Watch Series 7 case back.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Taking it for a deep-sea dive is probably not a good idea. Apple actually warns against wearing a Series 7 smartwatch for “scuba diving, waterskiing, or other activities involving high-velocity water or submersion below shallow depth.”

For extreme sports enthusiasts, that’s seriously limiting. Marrying the smarts of the Apple Watch Series 8 with a longer-lasting battery and a rugged build capable of handling the aforementioned scenarios sounds like a sure recipe for success.

With Apple’s polished software complemented by the industry-best portfolio of fitness services, the rugged Apple Watch edition already seems like a winner. Whether those upgrades warrant a potentially eye-watering price remains to be seen, but it sounds like we won’t have too long to wait before we find out for sure.

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