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Apple Watch 2 release date, news and rumors

Matt Swider

Update: Apple Watch 2 wasn’t a part of the company’s iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7 keynote, which means it should its (watch) face at WWDC 2016, or even September’s expected iPhone 7 launch.

That hasn’t stopped the rumors from piling up. Most recently, we heard that the next Apple Watch will be thinner by measures of up to a 40% reduction in thickness, if we’re lucky.

However, we’re now also hearing that the next Apple Watch won’t mix things up much in terms of its design. Or at all, if Ming-Chi Quo’s insider knowledge ends up becoming truth. According to AppleInsider, his sources state that the upcoming Apple wearable won’t boast changes to its design. That will 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. Though, we’re currently unsure of exactly which components will be improved upon. It’s relatively safe to assume we might see a bump up in screen resolution, onboardstorage and battery life.

Suffice to say, what we see in a matter of months may not end up being a full-on successor to the Apple Watch, but more like an “S” upgrade over the original.

Here’s the story so far.

The Apple Watch 2 release date is shrouded in so much mystery that not even Siri knows the answer. The same goes for its new features and cost, given the recent Apple Watch price drop. Will it revert back?

Asking the 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.

Apple Watch 2

Second, this is one of the many areas in which the Apple Watch throws to the iPhone instead of handling tasks itself. There’s plenty of room for improvement and a need for a sequel.

Siri, apps and fitness tracking need a serious tune up, and more sensors and even greater waterproof guarantees should be added in Apple Watch for 2016.

We’ve had a good old think here at techradar Towers to work out what we want to see from the new Apple Watch, so head over to page 2 for our wishlist.

Right now, it’s time to explore the latest Apple Watch 2 rumors for 2016.

  • Read our in-depth review of the Apple Watch

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The second generation Apple Watch
  • When is it out? At WWDC in June or 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 are at least two distinct points in 2016 in which I could see the company’s next wearable launch.

Apple Watch 2

Unsurprisingly, we didn’t see next iPhone-compatible smartwatch announced on March 21, as some had previously thought. An annual cycle for the wearable seems 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.

That means the launch may happen in June alongside iOS 10 at Apple’s WWDC 2016 event, or in September along with the likely iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus debut.

Apple Watch 2

Of the two release dates, the more cautious September launch sounds a lot like Apple’s slow and steady approach to new product categories.

However, a WWDC 2016 announcement would still go along with the Q2 2016 release date estimate that the chairman for Apple Watch supplier Quanta hinted at.

Barry Lam from Quanta said in 2015, “Quanta and Apple are currently developing the second-generation of the Apple Watch, expected late next year in the second quarter.”

A new report suggests that Apple Watch supplier Quanta will be responsible for all the production on the Apple Watch 2, as the company has lowered its order from its initial estimates.

Sources from the upstream supply chain suggest the Apple Watch 2 will go into production in Q2, suggesting it’ll be launched before the expected iPhone 7 launch in September.

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 for a incremental Apple Watch S upgrade remains to be seen.

Apple Watch 2 price

There may be some wiggle room with the Apple Watch price, considering USretailers have iPhone smartwatch on sale right now and the company just lowered the official price.

Apple Watch 2

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 $249 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).

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 an Watch OS 3 updates, is bound to let you do more directly from the smartwatch, too.

Apple Watch 2

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.

Apple Watch 2

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.

Place

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 2) is capable of.

While the March 21 Apple press conference didn’t usher in the second coming of the Apple Watch, we’ll be scanning the internet and reading between the lines of Apple statement (and the lines of iOS 9.3 code) for even the smallest suggest of 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

LG Watch Urbane

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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

Apple Watch

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 anAndroid 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

Apple Watch fitness

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

Apple Watch

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 storagespace, 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.