High-end Apple Watch Series 8 to come with a refreshed design and 'more durable' casing

The smartwatch, with a 7% bigger screen and a stronger titanium case, is likely to be released this year

Apple holds a comfortable lead in the global smartwatch industry, holding about a third of market share. Reuters
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Apple's next smartwatch line-up is likely to include a model with a refreshed design, a bigger screen and a more durable casing, perhaps positioning it as the company's latest high-end product.

The most expensive device in Watch Series 8, as it is expected to be called, will come with a “more durable formulation” of titanium that Apple uses on its current high-end models, which would make it “extra rugged”, according to a Bloomberg report.

“The high-end model is going to be a good bit bigger than the standard Apple Watch — big enough that it might only appeal to a subset of customers. The screen will be about 7 per cent larger,” Bloomberg's tech reporter Mark Gurman wrote.

If that is the case, then the rugged version would be at least 48 millimetres in size — a significant increase for the device. Apple has incrementally increased its Watch sizes by 1mm throughout its evolution, starting with 38mm and 42mm since their introduction in 2015.

This would mark the first major redesign of the Apple Watch since 2018's Series 4.

However, the refresh would only evolve around the Watch's rectangular shape, and will not have the long-rumoured flat sides, Gurman said, which would be consistent with the design of the present generation of iPhones.

The biggest version at the moment is the 45mm Series 7, the high-end model for which comes with a titanium casing.

Watch Series 8 is also expected to have a longer battery life compared to the current Watches' 18 hours. A typical charge cycle of the devices involve refilling their battery in the evenings or overnight after all-day use.

Among the names being floated around for the high-end Watch Series 8 include Watch Pro and Watch Explorer Edition, which are primarily aimed at extreme sports athletes.

The latest updates on the expected rugged Watch Series 8 also puts the current high-end version, Apple Watch Edition, in question.

Watch Edition has a checkered history and was expensive at the time of its debut in 2015. It featured 18-carat gold casings, which were priced from $10,000 to $17,000.

Apple discontinued this version and replaced it in the next year's iteration, using ceramic casings instead and significantly lowering the starting price to $1,249.

It became an on-and-off version since then. There were no Edition versions in Series 4, but it resurfaced with Series 5 alongside the debut of the titanium versions. The ceramic version was again discontinued with Series 6.

Apple also offers the Watch Hermes edition, a collaboration with the French luxury house. It is priced within the iPhone territory, starting at $1,229.

Another collaboration is with Nike, the world's biggest sports apparel maker, with prices at par with regular Watches.

The iPhone maker is planning to release Watch Series 8 later this year, according to sources, although it is unclear if it will be alongside the next iPhone, which is expected to be introduced in September.

Bloomberg first reported on Apple's plans for a rugged Watch in March last year. At the time, it indicated that the device could be released as early as late 2021.

In May, Apple revealed several new accessibility features on its devices aimed at assisting users who are physically challenged, including a mirroring tool on its Watches for those with mobility issues.

Global smartwatch shipments surged 24 per cent annually to 127.5 million units in 2021, as the industry emerged from the coronavirus-induced disruptions that began in 2020, Counterpoint Research said in a March study.

In the first quarter of 2022, shipments grew 13 per cent year-on-year to 33.7 million units, Counterpoint said in a report released on Tuesday.

California-based Apple maintained and solidified its lead. The company grew 14 per cent in the three months ending March 31 to have a market share of 36 per cent, well ahead of second-placed Samsung's 10 per cent share, the new study said.

Last week, Apple unveiled a new report that doubled down on how its Watch is “empowering people”, acting as an “intelligent guardian” for their health and safety.

It detailed how users, developers, medical institutions and health organisations around the world are using Apple's devices and services to “break down barriers between people and their health information, all while keeping privacy in mind”.

Apple, however, could face some more competition from Google, which announced the Pixel Watch in its I/O 2022 conference in May. The world's biggest internet company said the device will be launched in the fall.

Updated: July 26, 2022, 10:33 AM