New watch bands, of course. Spring, summer, and fall. New Apple Watch Series 8. New Apple Watch SE. And new, really new, Apple Watch Extreme. But which one is the flat one?
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Watch is Apple’s most fashion-forward product. Sure, you can get an Hermes case for your iPhone if you really truly want to, but you have to dig for it. With watch, all of that is front and center. So, at the least, the very very least, we can expect a bevy of new Apple Watch bands throughout 2022.
New spring colors, around March or April event time, whether there’s an actual event or not. A new pride band in the Summer around WWDC. Whether it’s in person or… still not. And then new fall colors, and maybe new band styles, to go along with new fall hardware. Hopefully back in September and not delayed again until October. But the 2020s gonna 2020… 2.
As to that hardware, there’s been a new series announced pretty much every year on the year since the Series 2. Some of them have big internal updates, like going dual core, 64-bit, or LTE. Others, big new designs, like the Series 4, or small new designs, like last year’s series 7. There haven’t been too many rumors about Series 8 yet, but my guess is we’re still going to see it. The A13-based cores introduced with the S6 system-in-package are still plenty fast enough for a wearable, but the silicon nerd in me would still love to see A14-based cores in the S8. Just to keep some extra headroom for the future. I’d also love fully independent LTE. I mean, everything is 5G 5G 5G these days, but I’m not sure Qualcomm is anywhere nearly efficient for the Watch yet, and Apple’s custom modems are probably a couple years out still.
More new health sensors remain the holy grain here, of course. Everything from blood pressure to blood sugar and more. Just all the sensors. But those are proving really, really hard to bring to market. The tech has been coming but never quite arriving going on half a decade now, even though Apple keeps buying companies that swear they’re almost there. Only to stay exactly there, at almost. Over and over again. Which is super frustrating for everyone. And that’s before we even get into what’ll be regulated for health, like ECG, and what’ll be marketed as simple metrics, like blood oxygen.
There are stronger rumors around a new Apple Watch SE and really new Apple Watch Extreme, both kinda orbiting around a flat-edged design that many wrongly assumed was meant for last year’s Apple Watch 7. Including a bunch of legit cockamamie stories around Apple changing the design at the last minute. Which just doesn’t happen. I mean, sometimes things get delayed, and something less conservative prototypes win out over more audacious ones, but Apple doesn’t do parts-binned products. Everything is custom. And all those decisions have to be locked and loaded way, way earlier in the production schedule. It’s a 2-3 year process. The delays we got last year were 100% delays on the exact Apple Watch Series 7 design Apple ended up shipping.
Because often these reports arrive with zero context, so everyone just tries to make their best guesses, based on their experience, and it’s easier to think a last minute change was made than an engineering sample got out where the prototyper was using an old container as a quick test for a new project, or vice versa. And then, damn. But I digress.
So, where does that leave that flat edged design? Well, as a different Apple Watch entirely that was pushed from 2021 to 2022. Some think it’ll be marketed as the next Apple Watch SE. That, Apple likes to visually distinguish their flagship designs from their entry-level designs, and they usually do that by keeping older versions around, like the iPhone SE or 9th generation iPad, Home buttoned both. But the as-of-last-year older Watch design doesn’t really look that different, and for something as fashionable and wearable as a watch, the flat sides is an objectively less premium looking design, so it has to be for the next SE.
Others think the flat design is the long rumored Apple Watch Extreme. The more rugged, larger version of the Apple Watch meant to compete with Garmin. And because recent iPhone increased their toughness not just with Ceramic Shield but because of the flatter design that better protected against impact, that a flatter watch design would do the same thing for more extreme athletes and activities. And, yeah, for people who care about ruggedness, being chonkier isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. And, I mean, come on, no one really expects even an Apple Watch Extreme to look like a sand-blasted Otterbox, right? Right?
Either way, anyway, it’ll be interesting to see what Apple decides to include in a new Apple Watch SE. Right now, it lacks the always on display, ECG, blood oxygen, and other, pricer features. Just like the iPhone SE and iPad might as well call it SE and come to think of it, why don’t they? Don’t include the better and fuller screen displays and camera systems. So, whether flat or not, I think the focus there will be on an updated processor to extend watchOS and app headroom, and probably not much else. But a nerd can dream.
As for the Apple Watch Extreme, or whatever Apple ends up calling the bigger, more rugged watch, that I see being more of an Apple Watch Max. Every bell and whistle Apple has available, especially on the health and fitness tech end, but with way better durability in lieu of fancier camera systems. And maybe a whole new set of bands dedicated just for them, along with whatever watchOS 9 has coming our way.