By Steven Winkelman


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It’s that time of year again — when Apple rumors begin to fill up every corner of the internet. While there’s already plenty of speculation about the next iPhone, iPad Pro, and even MacBook, rumors about the upcoming Apple Watch Series 4 have been pretty sparse … until now.

From a release date that’s just around the corner to details on battery life and an interesting new type of button, we’re finally hearing rumors we can trust about the device, and it looks like this may be a huge year for the popular wearable. Here’s everything we know about the forthcoming Apple Watch Series 4.

Software and special features

The Apple Watch Series 4 will run on WatchOS 5. The newest version of WatchOS includes improved health-tracking options, an all-new walkie-talkie feature, and a Podcast app. There aremore features in WatchOS 5, of course, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see something completely unexpected (“one more thing” in Steve Jobs parlance) when the next Apple Watch is announced.

In addition to the improved health tracking in WatchOS 5, we’re expecting to see hardware updates to improve health monitoring. In September respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted this year’s Apple Watch would support electrocardiography (ECG) while other industry analysts have predicted, more generally, that improved heart rate tracking would be on the Series 4.

It’s also likely we will see a UV-tracking feature on the upcoming Apple Watch. In addition to a potentially related complication shown of the Series 4 promo photo leaked by 9 to 5 Mac, Apple also submitted a patent in late 2017 for a “sunscreen detector”that can be used with a “mobile and/or wearable device.” The device monitors sun exposure and will “generate a notification to the user about whether they should apply sunscreen.” While we don’t know the specifics of the feature, it does sound a bit like L’Oral’s UV Sense,a UV monitor you wear on your fingernail.

Finally, there’s a chance Apple may introduce native sleep tracking (especially since Apple bought Beddit in 2017) this year, along with period tracking on the next Apple Watch — a feature Fitbit brought to the Ionic in March.

Specs

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This year’s Apple Watch will almost certainly feature a range of upgraded specs. For starters, the device’s display may get an upgrade, at least according to a new report from 9to5Mac. The report notes that the 42mm Apple Watch Series 4 will feature a resolution of 384 x 480 — which is up from the 312 x 390 resolution on the Apple Watch Series 3. The actual pixel density may only be slightly higher — the higher resolution may instead be achieved simply through the larger display.

The higher-resolution and larger display will be very helpful in apps, which will now have space to display a whole lot more information — though that will be up to developers.

On top of a higher-resolution display, the Apple Watch Series 4 will also most likely ship with an upgraded Apple S4 processor. As with every processor update, we’d expect to see better performance and improved efficiency. Since the Apple Watch Series 3 shipped with 16GB of storage, we think it’s unlikely to see a bump in storage for the 2018 refresh.

As for memory, the Series 3 Apple Watch — which we currently call the best smartwatch money can buy — shipped with 768MB of RAM, so we don’t think it would be unheard of for Apple to bump it up to an even 1GB on the Series 4. We’d also like to see Apple move to Bluetooth 5 for the Apple Watch Series 4.

There’s also the possibility that Apple will transition tomore efficient MicroLED displays for this year’s Apple Watches.

Design

apple watch series 4 news

The Apple Watch’s design has become somewhat iconic, and the inspiration for many a smartwatch, but it may be time for a change. 9to5Mac has published a massive leak of the new device, showing a few key changes to the overall design.

The leak presents the new Apple Watch Series 4 in all of its glory, showing a much larger display that has apparently been enlarged by up to 15 percent. Apart from that, the body of the device looks pretty similar to previous models — but the software may be getting an update, too. The leaked image, for example, shows a watch face with a ton more information than previous Apple Watch faces. In fact, there are no less than eight complications on the face, both around the outside of the clock numbers and hands, and on the inside. It’s likely more faces will be revealed as well, many of which will likely take advantage of the larger display.

In July, analystMing Chi-Kuo elaborated a bit and predicted the Apple Watch Series 4 will have 1.57-inch and 1.78-inch displays. We can’t imagine Apple would make the Series 4 smartwatch’s case any larger nor would the company forgo its square shape for a round design like that on the newly announced Samsung Galaxy Watch but it is clearly adding more screen real estate by shrinking the bezels.

Kuo also predicted a small, but meaningful change to the back of the Apple Watch Series 4. He believes Apple will do away with the composite glass used on the back of the less expensive Apple Watch models, and replace it with ceramic.

Price and release

After months of rumors, we finally have a date. Apple will launch the Apple Watch Series 4, 2018 iPhones, and likely a few other surprises on September 12. The event will take place at the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. Digital Trends will be covering the event live from the Steve Jobs theater to bring you all the latest Apple hardware news on September 12.

Pricing for the next Apple Watch is unknown, but we would anticipate a modest price increase over the Apple Watch Series 3 to account for the larger display and improved internals. We also believe the Series 4 smartwatch may mark the end of the road for Wi-Fi-only models.

Battery and charging

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Will the Apple Watch Series 4 pack a bigger battery than its predecessors? If a report from KGI Securities is to be believed, the Apple Watch Series 4 will get a bump in battery capacity this year. In addition to a larger battery, it’s also likely we’ll see better battery life overall on this year’s refresh since Apple continuously finds ways to make its chips more energy-efficient. The transition from an OLED to a MicroLED display could also significantly increase the battery life for the Apple Watch Series 4.

Additional battery capacity isn’t enough? Apple may be planning a watch strap that acts as a battery pack. The California tech giant submitted apatent applicationfor an “auxiliary device attachable to a wearable electronicdevice.” This device is said to “wirelessly transmit power to charge a rechargeable battery within the wearable electronic device,” and will use an “attachment mechanism [that] includes a pair of lugs that extend from opposite ends of the housing.”

In terms of charging, we’d hope to see more wireless charging options for the Apple Watch Series 4. Since Apple announced a wireless charging option with Apple AirPower for its Series 3 smartwatch — although the world has yet to see it — it’s not too far-fetched to think this year’s Apple Watch may offer wireless charging via the Qi Standard.

Updated on September 10: Apple Watch Series 4 may support ECG.


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