Apple Watch 2 may launch in two months with iPhone 7
Update: Apple Watch 2 release date rumors suggest a September launch alongside the iPhone 7, and the latest leaks point to a new screen and price. More news and rumors below.
Watch OS 3 beta for the first Apple Watch tweaks the software to our liking, but Tim Cook and his team really need to reinvent the iPhone smartwatch with new hardware to jumpstart the category.
Good news: The Apple CEO recently promised that the Apple Watch will get “better and better” and it’ll be something you can’t imagine having lived without.
That’s a tall order for just software, meaning this the biggest Apple Watch 2 hint we’ve seen on the record in 2016. But when will we see anything at all in terms of credible photos and facts? We know someone on the inside: Siri.
But the Apple Watch 2 release date is shrouded in so much mystery that not even Siri knows the answer, though she gave me a heads-up about the dates for WWDC 2016, where watch OS 3 was announced.
Asking my Apple Watch “When does the Apple Watch 2 come out?” only gets me to this message: “Apple.com should be able to answer that question. Continue on the iPhone.”
There are two important things you should know about this answer. First, of course Apple’s official website doesn’t reveal such juicy information. I’ve checked. Everyday.
Second, this is one of the many areas in which the Apple Watch throws you to the iPhone instead of handling tasks itself. Obviously, there’s plenty of room for improvement and a need for a sequel.
Siri, apps and fitness tracking need a serious tune up. While some of that’s coming with Watch OS 3, more sensors and even greater waterproof guarantees should be added in Apple Watch for 2016.
There’s growing evidence that such an iPhone-compatible smartwatch for 2016 is in development at the Cupertino company. Let’s get into the latest rumors point-by-point.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The second generation Apple Watch
- When is it out? Likely at September’s iPhone 7 launch
- What will it cost? Probably a lot, similar to the current Watch
Apple Watch 2 release date
Although Siri didn’t answer my question about the Apple Watch 2 release date, there’s now only one likely point in 2016 in which I could see the company’s next wearable launch.
Unsurprisingly, we didn’t see next iPhone-compatible smartwatch announced on March 21, as some had previously thought. An annual cycle for the wearable is a bit overeager for even diehard Apple fans.
Instead, iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7 graced the stage. Oh, yes, Apple Watch was there, too – and not just the white one on CEO Tim Cook’s wrist. New Apple Watch bands and a lower price were all we got.
We also didn’t see it or any hardware alongside iOS 10 at Apple’s WWDC 2016 event. That just leaves us with September along with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus debut as the only likely point in 2016.
Sources from the upstream supply chain previously suggested the Apple Watch 2 would go into production in Q2, suggesting it would be launched before the expected iPhone 7 launch in September.
But that’s now unlikely and more recently sources in the supply chain have reported that it will actually go into production in Q3, which could lead to a September launch.
This would give Apple enough time to tinker with its smartwatch and not make early adopters feel too cheaped with a rigid 12-month-upgrade schedule.
Whether it’s a true reinvention or an incremental Apple Watch S upgrade remains to be seen, though interestingly, the same sources claim that around two million units will be shipped each month, which suggests Apple has ambitious sales estimates for the device and could point to it being a major upgrade.
Apple Watch 2 price
There may be some wiggle room with the Apple Watch price, considering US retailers had the iPhone smartwatch on sale for some time before the company recently lowered the official price.
It launched at a hard-to-justify starting price of $349 (£299, AU$499), and the unofficial price drop during Black Friday took it down to $299 at some stores. Four months later, Apple made it official.
Introducing the Apple Watch 2 at this new price from the get-go would put the gadget in more hands and on more wrists. Just don’t expect the gold Apple Watch Edition price to budge from $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000).
Of course, this is Apple and this is reality. It doesn’t often do price drops, it adds “magical” features. Adding the suspected Micro-LED panel as the new Apple Watch 2 screen instead of an AMOLED display used in Apple Watch 1 is likely to raise the cost and only cements Apple pricery stereotype.
My gadget-spending money is on Apple adding in enough new Apple Watch 2 features that it resets to the original Apple Watch price. In other words, the price is higher, but not really. That would be a smart stratgey.
Tim Cook promises Apple Watch will be better
Apple CEO Tim Cook just teased that “you’ll see the Apple Watch getting better and better,” and he soon expects “people will say, ‘How could I have ever thought about not wearing this watch?'”
He could be hinting at an inevitable watchOS 3 software update, but it’ll take an Apple Watch 2 hardware announcement to meet those high expectations. Ipso facto, he just confirmed the new Apple Watch.
Right now, plenty of people can live without the Apple Watch, and even Cook acknowledges this: “We’re still in learning mode. We’re learning fairly quickly, though. We know a lot more than we did a year ago.”
There’s a lot of promise behind these statements, even if the Apple boss doesn’t distinctly mention the Apple Watch 2 by name.
Apple Watch 2 news and rumors
Watch OS 2 was a small step forward with improvements, like better native app support, tetherless Wi-Fi and the ability to watch videos, reply to emails and make FaceTime audio calls.
New Apple Watch 2 features, coupled with a watchOS 3 update, are bound to let you do more directly from the smartwatch, too. The rumor of a GPS chip for running, without your phone in tow, persists.
Most recently, we heard that the next Apple Watch will be thinner by measures of up to a 40% reduction in thickness. However, that could be meant for the Apple Watch 3.
There’s a good chance that the next Apple Watch won’t mix things up much in terms of design. Or at all, if Ming-Chi Quo’s insider knowledge ends up becoming truth.
Apple’s wearable won’t boast any visual changes to the design, according to his sources, as reported to AppleInsider. A more significant Apple Watch refresh could happen some time after, possibly in 2017.
While he suggests that the design might not change one bit in the next Apple Watch, the specs, as you’d imagine, will be getting a big boost. We’re currently unsure of exactly which components will be improved upon, but it’s relatively safe to assume we might see a bump up in screen resolution, onboard storage and battery life.
A new wireless chipset is said to allow for basic communication tasks to be handled without a paired iPhone, and the same technology may also mean that lost Apple Watches could be found using Wi-Fi triangulation.
A source talking to Phone Arena went on to claim that the Apple Watch 2 will have a video camera, allowing users to make and receive video FaceTime calls rather than just audio ones.
New models might be launched too, providing users with more than just the standard, Sport and Edition versions available now. It’s not clear exactly what form these new models will take, but new materials could be on the cards, such as titanium, platinum and perhaps even Liquidmetal.
The aforementioned Micro-LED display would be a step up from the AMOLED screen (generally a step up from any LCD panel, like those used on the iPhone), offering better brightness and battery savings.
But if you’re hoping the appearance will change or we’ll see a circular smartwatch from Apple you might be out of luck, as another leak suggests that the Apple Watch 2 will have the same screen size, shape and resolution as the first Apple Watch – this is the way the Cupertino firm does things, after all.
One thing which will apparently change according to the same source is the thickness of the screen, which will be made thinner to allow for a larger battery. Yet that clashes with previous rumors that the juice pack will be staying the same, albeit with possible software improvements to improve its life.
It could also have a new breed of smart band to go along with it, as a recent patent application has been filed for a strap that has light fibres woven in, meaning you’ll be able to get notifications from your wrist all the way around.
Hopefully it won’t flash or be too overt – simply function as a second screen that could give more information than the smaller screen could.
Overall we’re really not sure what to expect from the Apple Watch 2 just yet, and we’re sure it will hold plenty of surprises and features beyond what we’ve heard so far and beyond what the original Apple Watch (which will be getting Watch OS 3) is capable of.
While neither the March 21 Apple press conference nor WWDC 2016 ushered in the second coming of the Apple Watch, we’ll be scanning the internet and reading between the lines of Apple’s statements (and the lines of iOS 9.3 code) for even the smallest suggest of the Apple Watch 2.
Now we’ve spent a decent chunk of time with the original Apple Watch it’s got us thinking – how can Apple improve on its first wearable? Well, in a number of ways it turns out and most of them haven’t been addressed by Apple Watch OS 2 or even Watch OS 3.
So without further ado, here’s what we want to see from the Apple Watch 2.
1. Longer battery life
We never expected the Apple Watch would have great battery life, after all few smartwatches outside of Pebble do really, and with around a day and a half manageable on a single charge we’d like to see a bit more.
Charging a phone once a day is bad enough, but having to charge your watch that frequently (or at all really) is a bit much and the prospect of having your watch run out of battery when you’re away from a charger isn’t terribly appealing either. So we really, really hope that the Apple Watch 2 has better battery life.
We don’t expect miracles, but would two or even three days between charges really be so much to ask?
2. A round face
Some people are probably big fans of the Apple Watch’s square design and we’re not saying the Apple Watch 2 needs to ditch that, but just as the Apple Watch has multiple size options the Apple Watch 2 could offer multiple shape choices, so you can pick between a square and a circle.
That would instantly make it a lot more appealing to a lot more people and it’s a logical evolution of all the customisation options offered by the first gen model, giving you one more way to make the Apple Watch your own.
3. A less chunky design
The Apple Watch is actually a little smaller than most competitors, but it’s still big by wristwatch standards and it’s got a slightly chunky design, so we’d like to see Apple refine that a little.
Chunky is not a word that comes to mind when looking at most Apple products, but we’re hopeful that a change will come there, after all this is a first generation device, so Apple is presumably just focused on getting the basics right.
4. Android compatibility
This won’t happen, but wouldn’t it be amazing if it did? Right now no-one with an Android phone is going to buy the Apple Watch (though Apple is probably hoping a lot of people will switch to an iPhone as a result), but if, IF, the Apple Watch 2 got full Android compatibility then it could become very hard to compete with.
The first gen watch is already almost certainly going to become the bestselling smartwatch by far. If everyone without an iPhone could buy it too then it would surely dwarf the competition. Then again maybe that wouldn’t be such a good thing… we do like choice.
5. More sensors
One of the Apple Watch’s biggest selling points is as a health accessory, but while early rumors pointed to a sensor-packed device, many of those sensors haven’t made the cut.
A mix of hairy arms and inconclusive readings have caused sensors for blood pressure, blood oxygen and stress levels to be removed, so it would be nice to see Apple revisit them for the next version. Plus it turns out tattoos really mess with the heart rate sensor.
Right now the Apple Watch is a decent tool for tracking your health, but it could be a whole lot better.
6. Built in GPS
Similarly the Apple Watch is packed with fitness tracking tools, but one thing it lacks is built-in GPS. As such it can’t be classed as a full-blown running watch. So we’d like to see that added for the Apple Watch 2, enabling runners and cyclists to leave their smartphone at home.
7. Less clicks, more flicks
The digital crown on the Apple Watch is a great idea, but at the moment the interface is perhaps too focused on clicks, with not enough flicks. Which is to say you rarely touch the screen to navigate.
That’s not entirely a bad thing as the display is small and avoiding fingerprints is always a good thing to aim for, but in some ways it seems a step back, when most smart devices are all about interacting directly with a touchscreen. It’s also a little less intuitive than it could be, particularly if you’re used to tapping and swiping on an iPhone.
8. A sharper screen
Depending on which size model you opt for the Apple Watch has a screen resolution of either 340 x 272 or 390 x 312. Given its small size that’s not bad and it’s comparable with many other smartwatches, but right now no smartwatch has a pin-sharp display so that’s something we’d like to see on the Apple Watch 2.
For one thing the lack of visible pixels will make it look more watch-like when using an analogue watch face, but beyond that it’s just nicer looking at a crystal clear screen than a lower resolution one.
9. Lower price
Apple devices are always expensive and with the Apple Watch seemingly positioned as a bit of a luxury item its price is very much on the steep side. In fact is you opt for a Watch Edition version it costs up to a wallet-melting $17,000 / £13,500 / AU$24,000.
If you’re super-rich then that’s fine for a timepiece that won’t be out of date in a year, but even Mr Monopoly might think twice about shelling out that sort of money on a smartwatch.
Even at the lower end prices start at £299 / $349 / AU$499. That’s already more than just about any Android Wear watch and that’s for a sport model. To get a classy look that can compete with say the LG Watch Urbane you’re looking at a starting price of around £559 / $649 / AU$949. That’s insane, so we hope the Apple Watch 2 is little bit more affordable.
If it’s not, at least the current model will be dropped in price to make that the ‘budget’ Apple Watch we’re all craving.
10. More storage
The Apple Watch comes with 8GB of built in storage, which is pretty good by smartwatch standards, except that only 2GB of that can be used for music and just 75MB for photos.
Of course you’ll usually have it paired to an iPhone with far more storage space, but if for example Apple does add GPS so we can go running without our phone then it would be nice to have space for all our tunes.