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've already heard about watchOS 8, giving us some of the new software features that'll end up on the new Apple Watch 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 officially drop around September time too.
With the arrival of the SE in 2020, it could 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.
Series 7 ‚Äď new design
Wareable rumor rating: We'd bet on it
Credit: John Prosser - Front Page Tech
In six generations of the Apple Watch the design has only changed once ‚Äď so rumors of a major change in the look and feel of the next model are unsurprising.
The Apple Watch Series 6 offers some decent changes under-the-hood, but it felt like an incremental update. We‚Äôre not sure how many headline features will be added to the Series 7, so a design change would be a perfect time to freshen up the line-up.
In fact, in 2020 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.
And according to influential Apple leaker Jon Prosser, Apple is plotting a flat-edged design that will represent similar changes to the iPhone 12. Prosser has knocked up some renders of what the Series 7 will look like (see above) based on images and CAD designs he‚Äôd seen, which sounds kind of fishy, but is designed to protect sources, and we presume, sidestep IP lawsuits.
Whatever these renders are supposed to be, the screen size and shape would be unchanged, but it would be a big diversion in the industrial design, and we have to say the timing would be perfect. Prosser also believes Apple is considering a new green colorway.
Take one large pinch of salt and add to Series 7 rumor cooking pot.
However, according to a report on Bloomberg, which does have an excellent track record, there will be a minor design change to accommodate an improved screen with thinner bezels. But this could end up making the Series 7 imperceptibly thicker. The report stated:
For this year‚Äôs model, Apple has tested thinner display borders and a new lamination technique that brings the display closer to the front cover. The new Watch is likely to be slightly thicker overall, but not in a way that‚Äôs noticeable to the user.
An Apple Watch with a bigger battery
Wareable rumor rating: Probable
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 ‚Äď and that's not cool.
Longer battery life will surely be a focus for the Series 7 and achieving that without compromising is going to be a challenge. According to one report from Taiwanese outlet UDN based on sources within the supply chain for Apple's next smartwatch, battery improvements are coming.
It claims that the arrival of a new S7 processor will free up space to allow Apple to place a battery with a greater capacity inside of the new Watch. That could signal a change in battery numbers for the very first time.
We should also remember that the Series 6 introduced fast charging, so we could see an expansion of that in addition to increasing battery capacity as well.
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 rugged Apple Watch and swim features
Wareable rumor rating: Don't count on it
A new rugged Apple Watch could join the ranks this year, aimed at water sports fans. A Bloomberg report alleges that the company is looking at a rubberized design, so the device can be worn in extreme conditions. And the feature will be joined by new swim tracking features, although there's no detail on what those might entail.
The device could be ready for a September 2021 launch alongside the Apple Watch Series 7, according to "people familiar with the matter." Though there have also been more recent reports that it could show up in 2022.
The Apple Watch is currently sold in aluminium, stainless steel and ceramic cases ‚Äď all of which look great but can be marked and scratched. There's a moderate Apple Watch case market for those looking for added protection, so it seems surprising that Apple would be interesting in rubberizing its device.
Currently, Apple doesn‚Äôt recommend its smartwatches are exposed to ‚Äúhigh velocity‚ÄĚ water, so scuba diving, water skiing and that extends to surfing and other sports. So sacrificing the svelte and stylish Apple Watch so a version designed for water sports could make a lot of sense.
More Fitness+ features
Wareable rumor rating: Probable
As well as new swimming features, there could be more workout modes aimed at integrating even further with Apple Fitness+.
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. For watchOS 8, Apple is adding profiles for Tai Chi and Pilates, adding new modes that use validated custom-built heart rate and motion algorithms to provide users with accurate metrics for these two new workout types.
Apple may look to improve that movement tracking on offer even 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
Wareable rumor rating: We'll eat our hats
If there‚Äôs one pervasive rumor across all brands in 2021, it‚Äôs about non-invasive blood glucose monitoring. According to ETNews the Series 7 will debut blood glucose monitoring for the first time, enabling people to get continuous information on blood sugar levels.
This would be massive ‚Äď not only for diabetics but for those looking to make healthy lifestyle choices and performance athletes.
But there‚Äôs an issue. While Apple has secured patents around non-invasive glucose detection, and has been confirmed to be a big customer of Rockley Photonics (a UK based optical sensor company with blood glucose technologies), experts still believe the feature is years off.
We recently published a large investigation into non-invasive glucose tracking and several sources poured cold water onto the idea of imminent breakthroughs.
Apple has confirmed it has a huge interest in the tech, and if it was to debut the feature, it would be seismic for smartwatches, wearables and consumer health tech in general.
We‚Äôre sure the tech is being tested ‚Äď but we‚Äôre extremely sceptical this will land in 2021. We‚Äôd love to be proven wrong.
Blood pressure monitoring
Wareable rumor rating: Could happen
There hasn't bene big noise 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 ‚Äď and apparently Huami has made a breakthrough in China for its third generation Amazfit smartwatches.
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.
Apple wouldn't add the feature without FDA approval ‚Äď so we'd probably have seen a few more rumors if it was in trials. However, ECG was announced before FDA approval, which arrived within a few months, so it's not out of the question.
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
Wareable rumor rating: Could happen
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.
Apple has sought to improve the hands-free experience with its new AssistiveTouch accessibility features landing in watchOS 8. Using a range of motion and optical heart rate signals to decipher the gestures and motion of your arm, the Watch will recognise when you're clenching the fist, pinching fingers and shaking the wrist to launch a cursor, which can be controlled by tilting the Watch around.
So it's clearly thinking about ways to take control of your Apple Watch without having to actually lay a finger on it.