When will Apple launch a Watch Series 3? We round up the rumours surrounding the Apple Watch 3 release date along with specs and features. If you can’t wait any longer, you can buy a Series 1 or Series 2 Apple Watch, but also read about the best smartwatches of 2017
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If you were hoping for an unveiling of the new Apple watch at WWDC this year you’ll have been disappointed as there was no mention of it. But it’s fairly safe to assume the putative third-generation wearable will ship with watchOS 4, the software that Apple did talk about at the developer conference. That’s coming to all Apple watches later in the year, including a new Siri watch face:
If you own an Apple watch already, then check out our watchOS 3 tips & secret features.
When is the Apple Watch 3 release date?
Right now, the best guess is September 2017, based on the rumours below and our opinion.
One is that the Chinese Economic Daily News website reported that Apple has again given the manufacturing contract for the Watch 3 to Taiwan-based Quanta. The company has assembled all of Apple’s smartwatches so far. It says to expect a launch in the Autumn of 2017.
Another report by Taiwan-based Digitimes agrees that the watch will ship in the second half of 2017. The confidence comes from a leak that manufacturing is already starting to ramp up, specifically for the screen (see below).
We’d be surprised if the wearable isn’t announced in September alongside the new iPhone 8, as this would be a year after the Apple Watch Series 2 (which was revealed on 7 September 2016).
What are the rumoured features and specifications?
What’s easy to predict is that the Apple Watch 3 will come in a range of models, colours and a choice of straps. This means the price will have a large range depending on how basic or flashy you want to go. You can also expect collaborations with the likes of Nike.
Apple, we think, will also continue to offer two different sizes to cater for both sexes.
Until now, most reports have agreed that the Watch 3 won’t look much different from its predecessors – the main improvement will be in battery life rather than a new design or new features.
However, the US Patent and Trademark Office has published a patent application that could be applied to wearable, rollable and foldable displays. The accompanying images show a smartwatch that has a continuous display running from the watch face through the band.
It’s unlikely that we’d see these changes in the upcoming Apple Watch 3, though, and they are more likely to appear in a future version.
For the Apple Watch 3, a significant change (well, significant for Apple and its current OLED screen suppliers) is expected to be a switch from OLED technology to what’s called ‘micro-LED’. The new tech is actually quite similar to OLED in that the display does not require a backlight – each pixel or element is ‘self-emitting’.
What micro-LED brings to the party is higher brightness and lower power consumption, which could be key to making the Watch 3 last for more days between charges
Apple acquired LuxVue in 2014, a company that was developing micro-LED displays. However, a recent report by DigiTimes suggests that only a ‘trial production run’ will happen in the second half of this year.
If that’s true, then any device launched in September won’t have this tech.
Other reports say the device will have a glass-film touchscreen, rather than the ‘touch-on-lens’ screen used by the Series 2.
It would appear that the touch-on-lens screens are very difficult – and therefore costly – to produce and yields haven’t been as good as the manufacturer, TPK Holding, had hoped. Rumour has it that the forthcoming watch will use a thin glass panel covered in a heavy-duty, scratch-resistant film laminate, and that it will be manufactured by a different company.
Do you need a camera on your smartwatch? It didn’t work on the Samsung Gear 2 but Apple’s patent is for a selfie camera instead. So, the Apple Watch 3 could support taking selfie photos and maybe FaceTime video calling, too.
Recently granted patents suggest that Apple might be trialling modular bands which could allow you to buy a ‘base’ watch and add the features you want via removable ‘links’ in the strap. Maybe you want longer battery, a GPS, a camera or even a specific medial function.
One use for this, as reported by BGR, could be to monitor blood sugar levels. Millions of people in the US alone suffer from diabetes and there’s currently no way to measure blood sugar levels without taking a blood sample. According to the report, Apple has hired 200 PhDs recently to innovate in the health space and that “the time is now right” for glucose monitoring.
Rather than drive up the price of the watch for everyone, such monitoring could be added via sensors built into a strap.
Another interesting patent shows that Apple might be designing multi-function straps. A ‘Magnetic Wristband’ shows a strap which would attach to the body of the watch with magnets. However, the interesting bit it when the watch isn’t worn as the strap can be rolled up to create stand.
Could the Apple Watch 3 be round? We certainly hope so or at least an option for circular alongside square, but it’s only images from patents that are giving people hope. In reality, it’s one of the more unlikely features since watchOS has been designed for square shaped displays.
Also, as spotted by 9to5mac, another new patent outlines a strap with an embedded battery (above) that provides power to the watch by an thin induction coil that sits on the bottom of the watch. This is essentially a mobile power bank, which uses the same wireless charging system that’s already used to charge the Watch, but a lot slimmer than the ‘puck’ that’s bundled in the box as that wouldn’t be comfortable in any way.
Though the screen may stay square, Apple could introduce 3D Touch to the Apple Watch 3 providing extra functionality. It was a possible feature for the Series 2 so we expect the next model to be adorned with the pressure sensitivity.
We’re not going to even try to explain that one but, in essence, using this tech the Apple Watch would be able to monitor your respiration rate. It would get around the issues seen by other monitors when body movement compromises the signal by using two light sensors rather than one, then subtracting one from the other to remove noise from the signal.
It’s a fairly out there suggestion for the Apple Watch of course, and if it does ever see the light of day in Apple’s smartwatch it may come in a later generation than the Series 3.
We’ll update this article with more news and rumours as they appear, but if you’re listening Apple, our wishlist includes better battery life, an optional round screen, Qi wireless charging and smart straps. Okay? Thanks.