This fall, Apple could launch more Apple Watch models than ever before. That’s according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in his new Power On newsletter, and would be part of what he calls a “deluge” of products.
But in his analysis of what he expects from the Watch, there’s one potentially disappointing aspect: the processor design.
Gurman claims that the Apple Watch will be powered by what will be called the S8 chip. That’s hardly a surprise. Series 7 uses the S7 processor, and the Series 6 had the S7 chip.
But the disappointment could come in terms of the power of the chip. When Apple released Series 7, analysts asserted that S7 was actually near-identical, if not actually identical, to the S6.
Now, according to Gurman, the next chip will be a simple rebranding of the S7. In other words, there will be no significant processor change for three generations of Apple Watch. It will have “the same specifications as the S7”.
So, what does this mean?
Well, first of all, even if it’s true, it could all still be fine. Apple is preoccupied—obsessed, you could actually say—with performance. Look no further than restricting Stage Manager to a limited number of iPads, for instance.
So, my guess is that S8 will be more than up to the tasks Apple requires. Otherwise, there would be a new chip, for certain. In other words, why would Apple add to the cost of the Watch by creating a more powerful chip when the current one, or something like it, is more than up to the job. Don’t panic, then.
But there’s another thing to consider: battery life. Apple has not shown any interest in expanding the battery life beyond the 18 hours that has been standard since the first Watch.
As demands on the Watch have grown, Apple has kept the battery life constant. Would an all-new processor allow Apple to expand the battery duration? My guess is that Apple felt the upgraded S6 chip was so strong that something similar would be more than enough for S7 and S8, so it could be that S9 is when we’ll see a step-change in performance.
Gurman has a surprising thought about the new Apple Watch SE which he expects to be launched this fall. He says, “The SE will stick to the screen size of the current model, rather than moving up to the larger Series 7 size. But it may get the same S8 chip as the Series 8, an upgrade from the S5 in the current SE from 2020.”
Although I find this surprising, given the lower price of the SE is partly accomplished by using an older processor, if S6, S7 and S8 are really so similar, then why not put the latest one into the SE? After all, it’s the technique Apple has used with SE iPhones, putting the latest chip in its more affordable iPhones.
Whether that’s true or not, there are two places I think Gurman is right. First, since watchOS 9 won’t work on the Apple Watch Series 3, it’s a near-certainty that that model will be discontinued shortly.
Second, instead of retiring the original Apple Watch SE, that will slide to the bottom of the range, becoming the most affordable Watch. And that’s quite a big upgrade for prospective Watch buyers as the SE is way more accomplished than the S3.
The final suggestion from Gurman, which has been mooted before, is that along with Series 8 and a new SE, there’ll be a third Watch, geared to suit those who like extreme sports.
More as we have it.