APPLE plans its largest smartwatch display to date, a bigger battery and a rugged metal casing as part of the upcoming Apple Watch geared toward extreme sports athletes, according to people with knowledge of the plans.
The rugged version of the Apple Watch will get a screen that measures almost 2 inches diagonally, while a new, standard Apple Watch Series 8 will keep the 1.9-inch diagonal screen size of the current Apple Watch Series 7. A planned update to the low-end Apple Watch SE also will retain the current screen size.
The larger display on the extreme sports model, which is planned to be announced later this year with the other 2 models, will have about 7 per cent more screen area than the largest current Apple Watch. The display will have a resolution of about 410 pixels by 502 pixels and retain the same overall sharpness as the existing models.
Apple could use the larger screen area to show more fitness metrics or information on watch faces at one time. The company added several new fitness features in watchOS 9, including multisport workouts and improved intensity tracking during exercise routines.
First released in 2015, the Apple Watch has become a key piece of Apple's hardware lineup. The watch models are included in the wearables, home and accessories division, which generated US$38.4 billion - or 10 per cent of the company's total revenue - in the past fiscal year. But smartwatches and fitness wearables are crowded markets and Apple competes with products from the likes of Google's Fitbit and Samsung Electronics.
The extreme sports watch will use a strong metal material rather than aluminium, have a more shatter-resistant screen and include a larger battery compared with standard Apple Watches - letting athletes track workouts for longer periods of time, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the watch details haven't been announced.
Like the standard Series 8, the sturdier watch will have the ability to take a user's body temperature to detect a fever. It will also improve tracking metrics like elevation during hiking workouts and data while swimming.
All of the new Apple Watches will use an S8 processor with similar performance to the S7 chip in the Apple Watch Series 7, which was on par with the S6 in the Apple Watch Series 6 from 2 years ago. This will mark the first time that the company is retaining the same general performance in the Apple Watch for 3 generations in a row.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the company's plans. Apple typically announces its new watch models in September alongside new iPhones. The Cupertino, California-based company is planning 4 new iPhone 14 models for the fall, including new pro versions with faster chips and a 48-megapixel rear camera.
The display size increase for the rugged model will be the third in the history of the Apple Watch. The company expanded the device's screen in 2018 with Series 4 and again last year with Series 7. The nearly 2-inch display on the rugged model will make the screen one of the largest offerings from a mainstream smartwatch maker.
Bloomberg News first reported early last year that Apple was planning to expand the Apple Watch lineup with a rugged version to better compete with offerings from Garmin and others geared toward extreme sports. The higher-end watch is likely to be pricier than the standard stainless steel Apple Watch, which today starts at US$699. BLOOMBERG