A New Apple Watch Ultra May Be Coming This Fall

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A new report suggests that the Apple Watch Ultra may join the mainstream Apple Watch lineup in embracing an annual product refresh cycle.

For the past eight years, Apple has released new versions of the Apple Watch annually. While the original Apple Watch (later dubbed the “Series 0”) was revealed at a fall 2014 Apple event, the wearable didn’t go on sale until the following spring. Apple followed that up in 2016 with a refreshed version of the original model released as the Apple Watch Series 1 and an all-new Apple Watch Series 2 that debuted alongside the fall iPhone 7 lineup.

Since then, new Apple Watch models have arrived like clockwork each September, to the point where you can use basic math to match the series to the year of its release — just subtract 14 from the year. Even in 2020, when Apple was forced to delay the iPhone 12 launch until October due to pandemic-related production problems, it still kept its September event to show off the Apple Watch Series 6.

So, even though we haven’t heard much in the rumor mill about this year’s Apple Watch releases, it’s a safe bet that an Apple Watch Series 9 is coming. What little we have heard until recently suggests that the lack of information is simply because they’re not much to say.

By all reports, watchOS 10 will be the highlight this year, but that’s not particularly surprising either. Annual Apple Watch improvements have been modest at best in recent years; some would argue that the last truly significant change to come to Apple’s wearable was in 2019 when the Series 5 introduced the first always-on display. Meanwhile, watchOS 10 is expected to bring a significant software design refresh to every Apple Watch released since 2018.

watchOS 10 features

Now, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who previously predicted that this year would be more about Apple Watch software than hardware, has revealed that we’ll see an updated version of the Apple Watch Ultra to accompany the Apple Watch Series 9.

In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman shares that we can expect two new Apple Watch Series 9 models and “an updated version of the Apple Watch Ultra,” along with codenames for the individual units.

In addition to the iPhone 15 lineup this fall, there will be two Apple Watch Series 9 models and an updated version of the Ultra (the watches are codenamed N207, N208 and N210).

Mark Gurman

For the Apple Watch Series 9, Gurman isn’t likely suggesting a new tier of Apple Watch; rather, the two models would be the large and small versions of what’s otherwise the same hardware. That’s 41mm and 45mm for the Apple Watch Series 8, and there’s no reason to believe that Apple will change that for the Series 9.

The reference to the Apple Watch Ultra is more interesting, as nobody was quite sure whether Apple would refresh its premium model annually or go with a longer release cycle, similar to what the company has done with the Apple Watch SE.

The entry-level SE version appears to be on a two-year cycle, not unlike the longer cycle for the iPhone SE. However, it makes more sense that the Apple Watch Ultra, being Apple’s most premium wearable, would be updated alongside the standard Apple Watch, lest it be seen as lagging behind in performance and capabilities.

While all of the current Apple Watch models — Series 8, SE (2nd Gen), and Ultra — use the same S8 chip, the Apple Watch SE is a budget model that can afford to stay on the market with an older chip even as the more premium models move on to this year’s “S9” chip.

That said, we can’t entirely rule out the possibility that a new Apple Watch SE could also appear. Gurman’s failure to mention that model suggests that’s unlikely. Still, there’s also a missing number in the codenames that his sources provided: N207 and N208 likely represent the new Series 9 in the two sizes, while N210 would be the new Apple Watch Ultra. Of course, these numbers are essentially arbitrary, and Apple is under no obligation to keep them sequential, but it’s interesting fodder for more speculation.

Apple Watch Ultra

As to what we can expect from the next-generation Apple Watch Ultra, Gurman doesn’t say. However, the words “updated version” suggests this will be more of a product refresh than a significant upgrade. It’s likely to follow in the footsteps of the Apple Watch Series 9, getting iterative improvements each year to keep the performance and specs relevant. An “S9” chip is a given, and there will likely be one or two smaller features to tie in with watchOS 10, particularly with the new hiking and topographic map features. Reports suggest the Apple Watch Ultra may eventually get a micro LED display, but that’s not likely to come before 2025.

For now, though, it seems Apple is biding its time until it can perfect some of the other more sophisticated health features it’s been working on. Apple has been studying and developing sensors for things like blood pressure and non-invasive blood glucose monitoring for years, and while each year seemed to bring a few rumors that some of these were just around the corner, more recent reliable reports have suggested that they’re actually years away due to the need for reliability and proper medical certification.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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