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Why I never want the Apple Watch to change

A recent report indicated Apple’s next version of watchOS will be a “fairly extensive upgrade” — with changes to the user interface specifically mentioned. It went on to say that, despite these possible alterations to the software, the Apple Watch itself won’t see such significant changes. There may be some people who think this is a bad thing and want to see “new” hardware to keep things exciting, at least in their minds.

I’m in the opposite camp. I never want Apple to change the basic shape and design of the Apple Watch. Here’s why leaving it alone is the very best course of action.

Recognizable and comfortable

An Apple Watch Series 8 with the screen turned on.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Apple has only made small changes to the overall shape of the Apple Watch since its launch, all because it struck design gold right from the start. The Apple Watch has a unique design that’s instantly recognizable, and it’s so perfectly shaped that it’s always supremely comfortable, all day and night. This is quite a challenge in itself and really highlights where Apple has got everything just right.

I regularly wear smartwatches that are fine during the day but too bulky or annoying to wear when I sleep. What’s the point in adding (and usually promoting) extensive sleep-tracking technology when the hardware hasn’t been made with sleep comfort in mind?

The World Time watch face showing on the Apple Watch SE 2.
Apple Watch Series 8 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We only make full use of smartwatch technology when we actually wear the device itself, and if we’re only able to do so for half the day due to comfort issues, then the manufacturer has failed. It really is as simple as that.

I’m wearing the Apple Watch Series 8 right now, and I barely know it’s on my wrist. The curve of the case back and sides feel great, the lightweight and the simple Sport Loop band mean it never causes me any bother, it doesn’t get sweaty, and there’s plenty of easy adjustment in the band if my wrist gets a little bigger when it’s hot. Any company can make a smartwatch, but not every company can make a comfortable one. Apple has absolutely succeeded, and for this reason, it needs to tread very carefully if it decides to change the overall design.

Changes on the inside

A render of what the Apple Watch Series 7 may look like.

Take that old rumor that showed a squared-off design for an Apple Watch, which was supposed to be coming soon. Thankfully it has not materialized yet, and hopefully never will, because nothing about it says on-wrist comfort. It doesn’t even really say “Apple Watch” either because everyone associates the Apple Watch with the curvy square design it has now. There’s huge value in having a recognizable product and no good value in having a new design that doesn’t work as well as the one it replaced.

That’s it, then — I don’t want the Apple Watch to ever change dramatically. But I’m not saying it has reached the pinnacle of smartwatch design or that innovation and advancement should stop. Changes to the software are an obvious benefit, and if watchOS 10 is the big step forward we’re being told, then I’ll welcome it with open arms. That said, Apple is also far ahead of the competition in terms of its smartwatch software too.

Apple Watch Series 8 showing how much battery is remaining.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

I’m also keen to see how Apple advances health and activity tracking. Whether it’s blood pressure or blood glucose measurement, the Apple Watch’s comfort and how easy it is to live with make it the perfect consumer device to push these important health monitoring features into the mainstream. New and uprated sensor arrays don’t have to affect the design of the smartwatch. This is what will make future Apple Watch models exciting, not token alterations to the design that risks ruining what makes it so fantastic now.

The Ultra shows the way

The side of the Apple Watch Ultra with the Solo Loop band.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

“But”, I hear you cry, “what about the Apple Watch Ultra and its 5/5 review?” That’s big and heavy, so doesn’t it go against what I’m saying? No. It actually proves my point and shows the way forward as Apple continues to experiment with smartwatches. To be clear, I don’t want the standard “Series” Apple Watch to change drastically. The Apple Watch Series 9, Series 10, Series 11, and so on could share the same general shape and design as the Apple Watch Series 8, and I’d be a happy man.

But to do this across the range would be silly, and Apple is unlikely to do so. It needs to attract new customers and will undoubtedly want to build new models and try out new designs. Introducing the Apple Watch Ultra was exactly the right way to broaden its range and not ruin the wonderful Series 8. It’s trying something new and can change up the design over the coming years before it gets the formula exactly right. Apple is well on its way too, as it has made the Apple Watch Ultra surprisingly wearable for such a sizable smartwatch.

The Apple Watch SE series is also ripe for exploitation. It’s the cheapest way into Apple Watch ownership (if you still want most of the latest tech), and it could easily be supplemented by a more “fashionable” option. That mostly hideous squared-off Apple Watch could even work, particularly if it comes in some bright colors and gets some exclusive band options. That’s basically the approach Apple took with the Ultra, except it went with rugged rather than fashionable.

All this is genuinely exciting, provided the Apple Watch Series 8’s overall design remains sacred. It’s just too right to alter, but everything else is fair game.

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Andy Boxall
Senior Mobile Writer
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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