Apple Watch 2 To Launch April: Specs & Rumoured Updates Detailed

Features Michael Grothaus 13:15, 12 Feb 2016

The Apple Watch was proof of concept. With the Apple Watch 2 we'll likely see some BIG developments...

It’s hard to believe that the Apple Watch was first announced almost a year ago even though it didn’t go on sale until April of this year. But since the time it’s been available…we actually don’t know how well the Apple Watch is selling. Apple hasn’t released any official sales numbers, which is a bit odd since they love announcing iPhone sales numbers. Various estimates put Apple Watch sales numbers at 3 million in June. If true, that wouldn’t be bad considering it's an all new product and that the first iPhone took 3 months to sell just one million units.

According to a January 12 report from Juniper Research, Apple claimed 50% of the smartwatch market in 2015 with the Apple Watch. This compared favourably to Android Wear's accumulitive share of 10% between every OEM smartwatch produced, including those from Samsung, Sony, LG, and Motorola! The remaining 40% share is made up by an eclectic bunch of cheaper smartwatch devices using proprietary software solutions, things like the recently launched Razer, or the good old Pebble series which was also updated in 2015.

Despite all of this the smartwatch market remains comparably small when put against other mobile devices. Juniper's research notes state that the smartwatch market is "a category waiting for a market," adding that manufacturers adding more fetures or re-designing aesthetics will likely make little difference.

"It is now up to consumers to decide if they want them, rather than technology companies providing more reasons," said the report author James Moar.

Overall Apple Watch shipments likely reached 17.1 million units. Apple also has A LOT more apps available for its Apple Watch, some 10,000 to be precise while Google’s Android Wear only has about 4000. 

What about that remaining 40%? Well it would appear it's been divided up amongst "other" operating systems and manufacturers, bespoke, proprietary stuff like Pebble and Razer. James Moar, analyst and researcher for Juniper Research, and author of the report, said "The smartwatch is now a category waiting for a market." So no change there then, we've been saying that for over a year now!

"Newer devices have offered more polished looks and subtly different functions, but no large changes in device capabilities or usage. With smartwatch functions established, it is now up to consumers to decide if they want them, rather than technology companies providing more reasons," he added. 

Still, many people have said they are holding off for the second Apple Watch in hopes of better design, better battery life, and, well, just better everything. But it looks like those people are going to have to hold off a little longer. After all, it's now almost been a year since its announcement, yet no new Apple Watch is in sight–that’s in spite of Apple releasing a swath of new products in September.

One area where of great contention is whether or not Apple can get away with releasing an Apple Watch every year. I mean, a watch is usually for life and while I do appreciate the Apple Watch is a smartwatch it does cost A LOT more than many premium wristwatches — and this could be a prickly issue for many early adopters. Particularly if Apple makes the Apple Watch 2 A LOT better with improved hardware, better battery life and a similar price tag to the first-generation model. 

Apple Watch 2 Specs & Design Changes

How will Apple evolve the Apple Watch in 2016? Like most things, that depends on who you speak to. A lot of reports have claimed the Apple Watch 2 will be more of an “s” update than complete overhaul; a new processor, battery and thinner display have all been mentioned. Sadly, however, it seems Apple is not changing the display shape this year — at least according to Gene Munster. Nor is it introducing a modem so the Apple Watch can function without being paired to an iPhone. 

“What could change,” reports Stuff, “are the materials, with titanium and platinum reportedly expected to join the roster of options - at a premium price,of course. A fully waterproof Apple Watch isn’t necessarily a top priority for most people, given that they’d want to keep it away from any form of extreme activity, but hey, the option would still be nice.” 

Then there’s this patent, which shows a new type of strap for the Apple Watch: 

 

This new setup allows the strap to flip over and around the face of the Apple Watch before locking in place, acting a screen protector. It’s pretty clever and a great idea for keeping the Watch’s display scratch free. In addition to this, the strap can also be rolled up into a stand. 

Apple Watch 2: Who's Making This Year's Model? 

Apple is looking to pick up a second manufacturer for the next-generation Apple Watch apart from Quanta Computer, reports Apple Insider. The company is currently in talks with Inventec, Wistron, and its primary partner Foxconn, according to the Chinese-language Apple Daily, quoted by DigiTimes. The Daily suggested that the new Watch won't be available until after the second quarter of 2016, which conflicts with some recent rumors calling for a launch within that quarter.

Apple apparently initially ordered 6 million Apple Watch units for the December quarter of 2015 but has since then scaled back production to 4 million following softer than expected sales. Apple has yet to officially comment on exact sales of its first wearable but industry watchers suspect the Apple Watch has out-sold everything else in the wearable space by quite a considerable margin.

In addition to this, word on the street suggests that Apple will unveil the Apple Watch 2 during Q1 2016 - in March. But it’s not just the Apple Watch that could feature, either. No, according to 9to5 Mac’s Mark Gurman — a guy with an excellent batting average re: Apple rumours — the event will see both a new 4in iPhone, likely the iPhone 6c, and the Apple Watch 2.

The Apple Watch will then be released in April, more or less exactly a year after the first model.

Apple Watch 2: CPU & RAM 

Apple often drags its feet over unnecessary updates to memory, so we don’t expect the Apple Watch 2 to feature anymore than its predecessor. Where Apple could make some improvements, though, is the Apple Watch 2’s chipset which will likely be a more efficient 14nm CPU, potentially called the Apple S2 chip, and introduce some much needed improvements to power management and battery efficiency. 

Apple Watch 2 Production

According to reports on January 14, the Apple Watch 2 may be kicked into production in China this very month - January 2016. The word comes via Chinese sources speaking to local news outlet ctee.com, which also allege that the Apple Watch 2 will be outed officially at an event in March alongside the compact iPhone 6c/7c - the rumoured iPhone model with a 4in display. However, it's thought the device would not land in retail stores until April. Apple's manufacturing partner has already been confirmed as Quanta.

However, new reports surfacing on January 18 are skeptical about the idea of an Apple Watch 2 announcement in March. The word comes via Techcrunch, citing analyst Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies, who states that the Asian supply and manufacturing network effectively isn't busy enough (at least in Apple sectors) to imply a March launch of anything!

"With the supply chain cuts from the usual suspects of Apple component providers, the timing does seem suspect for a new product given orders would have taken place in the latter part of 2015 if a new product is shipping first half of 2016," he said. 

"We are observing some interesting new patterns in Apple’s supply chain that are making the waters more murky than before. As with the current edition of the Apple Watch, no one really saw that coming via supply chain so it is possible to not see it. However, the Apple supplier warnings of soft revenue ahead do seem to cause one’s eyebrow to raise when thinking about a new product supposedly shipping in a few months."

Bajarin also added that there would usually be something observable from the software developer side, and right now there is not.

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