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What to Expect from Apple’s Next Smartwatches

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Apple is expected to unveil several new Apple Watch(es) at next week’s event — it’s happening on Tuesday, September 12th — and the internet is talking. Rumors are swirling around the potential new design changes, features and abilities, and which of Apple’s three smartwatches are going to get updated models.

It’s pretty obvious that we’ll get a Series 9 and more recent rumors are suggesting we’ll get a second-generation Ultra, as well. Apple typically announces a new Apple Watch SE, but it’s looking like it might that this year.

Here’s what we know so far.

The Series 9 will look very similar to the Series 8

Don’t expect a major design overhaul with the Series 9. Apple hasn’t drastically updated the design of its flagship smartwatch line in years and has seemingly bought itself time with the introduction of the all-new Ultra last year. According to Apple analyst Mark Gurman, the hardware updates of the Series 9 won’t be anything major.

The upcoming Series 9 is expected to look very similar Series 8.

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All Apple Watches will get a new S9 processor

Apple is expected to introduce a new processor — the S9 — with its next-generation smartwatches. This is a big deal because the S6 (Series 6), S7 (Series 7) and S8 (Series 8) chipsets have all been built on the same technology and deliver the same performance. According to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, the S9 chip is very similar to the A15 chip that’s in Apple’s iPhone 13 lineup. This promises to deliver a big performance upgrade for its upcoming smartwatches, as well as hopefully improved battery life.

The Series 9 might be an even more accurate running watch

One of the coolest features of the Apple Watch Ultra is its super accurate GPS. It has dual-frequency L1 and L5 GPS chips (while all other non-Ultra Apple Watches just have a L1 GPS chip), which gives the Ultra more precious GPS tracking and navigation abilities —especially in areas where getting a signal is tough, like in cities, tunnels or even dense forests.

Since most of the upgrades of the new Apple Watches will be under-the-hood, it’s rumored that Apple could bring over its dual-frequency GPS over to the Series 9 to make it an even more accurate smartwatch for working out. This would also distinguish it more from the next SE, which likely will still have the single L1 GPS chip.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 will get a new dark color

apple watch ultra

A second-generation Apple Watch Ultra might be on the cards after-all.

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Apple is most definitely working on a second-generation Apple Watch Ultra — but don’t expect it to be a huge update. The biggest thing is that it will get Apple’s upcoming S9 processor (just like the Series 9) so it should be faster and more capable. The design of the new Ultra will likely be the same, but according to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman it will be available in a new “space black” option. The current Ultra is only available in silver.

There are a lot of other upgrades that will likely come to future models of the Apple Watch Ultra. According to display analyst Ross Young, Apple wants to make a version with a microLED display, which would help with increased brightness, color and contrast. The catch is that the technology isn’t ready yet — no current wearable has a microLED display — and thus we’ll likely have to wait a few years for these microLEDs to come to an Apple Watch.

There might not be a new Apple Watch SE

In general, this is expected to be a year of incremental updates to the Apple Watch. And while the Series 9 and Ultra 2 are expected to get updated models with new processors, it’s unclear if Apple is going to update its most entry-level model, the Apple Watch SE. There are very few rumors swirling around it and thus there’s a good a chance Apple might hold off until 2024 to release a next-gen SE.

The Series 9 could be the first 5G Apple Watch

Apple made a big deal of bringing 5G connectivity to its iPhone line in 2020, but has still yet to do the same with its smartwatches. An Apple Watch with an upgraded 5G chip would help future-proof it, as well as improve the speed of performance when it comes to “Hey Siri” commands (which has been a major complaint of Siri for a long time). The downside to 5G connectivity is that it would most definitely cause an Apple Watch’s “all-day” battery to drain even faster. There are rumblings that this could be the year that Apple finally brings 5G to one of its smartwatches, although it’s still very much speculation.

apple watch rumors

“Hey Siri” has been notoriously pretty slow on the Apple Watch. A 5G chip could improve that.

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It’s unlikely the Series 9 will have a new blood glucose sensor

It’s been floated around that Apple could introduce a new sensor to the Apple Watch that would allow it to non-invasively monitor your blood glucose levels. This would obviously be a huge deal, especially for people who have diabetes, but it’s not going to be ready in time for the Series 9. According to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, Apple is definitely working on bringing blood glucose monitoring to the Apple Watch, but it’s still several years away.

When will these new Apple Watches get released?

The new Apple Watch models will be announced on September 12th at Apple’s big iPhone event. As is tradition, all these devices will likely be up for preorder on that day then ship the following week (likely starting September 19th or 20th).

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