Now that we’re in 2024, the ten-year anniversary of the Apple Watch is finally in our sights. There’s some ambiguity about whether a ten-year anniversary for the Apple Watch will be celebrated by Apple in 2024 or 2025. Regardless, rumors and leaks from reputable sources suggest that the company might finally overhaul the design when it debuts the new Apple Watch, following a few stagnant years.
The last design change to the standard Apple Watch came with the Series 7, which brought a larger edge-to-edge display. Before that, the most noticeable upgrade was between Series 3 and Series 4, and it’s been five years since that smartwatch debuted. Since this year’s Apple Watch will represent the 10th series of Apple Watch, we’re expecting a dramatic change similar to the iPhone X launch in 2017.
What would an Apple Watch X look like?
Back in 2017, Apple unveiled the iPhone X, which was the first to feature slimmer bezels, Face ID, and the notch. It was one of the biggest upgrades to the iPhone product line ever, and it was timed to line up with the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Although the 10-year anniversary of the Apple Watch won’t officially come until 2025, this fall will mark 10 years since the product’s announcement, as it was unveiled in 2014. Since the next Apple Watch generation would presumably be Series 10 (or X), it makes sense for Apple to give the iPhone X treatment to its smartwatch in the form of Apple Watch X.
This possibility has been supported by Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, a reputable reporter who has accurately predicted Apple’s moves on many occasions. Gurman writes that Apple Watch X is planned to be the smartwatch’s biggest overhaul to date. While we don’t know a lot about what Apple Watch X right now, we can look at the jump from the iPhone 7 to iPhone X for some perspective.
Apple Watch X: Pricing and availability
Gurman agrees that due to the discrepancies between when the first Apple Watch was released and announced, we could see Apple Watch X in either 2024 or 2025. It’s possible, but unlikely, that Apple would announce the Apple Watch X in 2024 but not release it until 2025. What’s more likely is that we’ll see an Apple Watch X announced in either September 2024 or September 2025, and released soon after the unveiling. Apple has historically released new Apple Watches at its annual fall events, along with new iPhones, and we expect it to follow this pattern with the Apple Watch X. We don’t have any information about pricing right now, but check back as the launch of Apple Watch X gets closer.
Apple Watch X: What we could see
Despite current Apple Watch releases being minor refreshes, we’ve heard a lot about Apple’s long-term goals for the smartwatch. Based on Gurman’s report, we expect some of these rumored advancements to debut in Apple Watch X.
A new band connection system
Gurman reports that Apple is looking to change the Apple Watch’s band connection system, potentially debuting a new system with Apple Watch X. Apple hasn’t changed the band connection method in 11 generations of the Apple Watch, which has been a huge perk of the ecosystem. Bands that shipped with the first-generation Apple Watch still work with the newest Apple Watch Series models. However, Gurman says that Apple Watch designers think the current system takes up too much space. By changing the band connection system, Apple could make room for a bigger battery or other internal components. It’s rumored that Apple is exploring a magnetic attachment method, but we don’t know if it will come to Apple Watch X yet.
A micro-LED display
Apple has shipped great screens on Apple Watch models, and that’s part of what makes them some of the best smartwatches out there. Currently, the Apple Watch uses an LTPO OLED display panel that has high brightness ratings and variable refresh rates. However, a shift to micro-LED technology would result in better quality screens in terms of clarity and color. Apple has plans to bring micro-LED to its entire product lineup, but there have been rumored delays in production. The latest we’ve heard on micro-LED is that it will come to the Apple Watch in 2026, but we could see that date bumped up to time with the Apple Watch X overhaul.
A report from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that the 2024 Apple Watch (also known as Apple Watch X) will not use a micro-LED display, and instead says that 2025 is the more likely option. Kuo also wouldn’t be surprised if micro-LED technology doesn’t debut until 2026. Gurman does say that micro-LED displays are coming to Apple Watch X, though. Both Kuo and Gurman are reputable sources with solid track records. But if I had to pick, I’d put more stock into Gurman’s prediction. It’s also worth considering that the Apple Watch X could be released in either 2024 or 2025, so both experts could be correct.
New health technologies
Apple Watch 9 with the iPhone 15 Pro Max
Apple has long positioned the Apple Watch as a health device, recently bringing blood oxygen and body temperature sensors to the product line. One of the company’s broader goals is to bring a blood pressure sensor to the Apple Watch, which could identify whether the wearer suffers from hypertension. Gurman says that accuracy has been an issue during testing, but that the feature is expected to be ready by 2024.
That lines up with the predicted release of Apple Watch X, so we could see a blood pressure monitor on the upcoming device. Once again, Kuo contradicts Gurman’s position that blood pressure monitoring will come to the Apple Watch. We’ll have to wait and see, especially considering the drama regarding Apple’s pulse oxygen sensor.
There are other health features that could debut on Apple Watch X, like sleep apnea detection, according to MacRumors. This would be an expansion of the current sleep tracking features available on Apple Watch models. Sleep apnea detection would record breathing patterns and pair them with sleep data to find out whether the wearer suffers from sleep apnea.
Will there be a blood oxygen sensor?
A new development in the Apple Watch X rumor mill is whether the smartwatch will feature blood oxygen monitoring. Apple is currently facing International Trade Commission inquires into whether it violated patents to create the Apple Watch’s blood oxygen sensor. For now, new Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches do not ship with blood oxygen tracking. The hope is that Apple can find a solution that appeases both Masimo, the company whose patent Apple allegedly infringed, and the ITC before the next Apple Watch releases. However, there are still a lot of legal processes that need to play out.
What I want to see from the Apple Watch X
We’re still early in the release cycle, so more concrete leaks and rumors will come as the expected launch of Apple Watch X comes closer. I’m hoping that Apple significantly redesigns the Apple Watch, because the past few years have brought very limited changes outside the new Apple Watch Ultra model. However, I’m hoping that Apple doesn’t change the band connection system for Apple Watch X. Many of us, including myself, have a collection of pricey Apple Watch bands — and I’d hate to see those become useless with the upgrade to Apple Watch X. Most importantly, I’d love to see multi-day battery life come to the Apple Watch X, rivaling Garmin smartwatches.
Apple Watch Series 9
Apple’s Watch Series 9 packs in a new, more powerful processor, a brighter display capable of up to 2000 nits peak brightness, Apple’s U2 chip that enables precision-finding of your iPhone, as well as better HomePod integration, and a whole slew of features and tech you’d expect.
Apple Watch Ultra 2
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is the latest top-tier smartwatch from Apple, powered by the S9 chipset and featuring a super-bright display.