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It’s been a bit touch and go for a while as to when we’ll see this year’s Apple Watch go on sale, but now we’re hearing some good news that while Apple’s latest wearable may still be slightly delayed, everything is back on track to resume mass production.
At the end of last month, Nikkei reported that the new Apple Watch had run into production problems due to its “complicated” new design. Manufacturers had been slated to begin small-scale production toward the end of August, but “encountered critical challenges” that forced them to temporarily shut things down and evaluate their processes.
According to a new investor note from veteran analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by MacRumors, however, it appears that Apple has resolved these production issues and managed to get things largely back on track.
Kuo reports that Apple is now ready to start mass-producing the new Apple Watch Series 7 as soon as next week, and it’s still on schedule to launch this month.
While the original Nikkei report cast some doubt on whether we’d see the Apple Watch announced during next week’s California streaming event, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman insisted that Apple would indeed show off the new wearable, even if it wasn’t able to ship it until October.
However, Gurman also predicted that the Apple Watch Series 7 might be hard to get your hands on due to limited quantities, which could still be the case if Apple is only starting mass production next week. Of course, it would be far from the first time that customers have had to wait a while to get their hands on Apple’s latest technology, and in fact the very first Apple Watch released in 2015 faced similar obstacles.
To be fair, a delayed launch date wouldn’t be out of the question, either. Even though Apple has generally put its Apple Watch on sale within two weeks following its event, with the entire iPhone 13 lineup expected to land on schedule this month, Apple is going to have enough new toys to satisfy its customers who want to get their hands on something right away.
Series 7 Design Challenges
The original report by Nikkei blamed the production problems not only on the “complicated designs of the new smartwatch,” but also indicated that “new features such as blood pressure measurement” was creating difficulties “fitting a greater number of components into a similar size body.”
While that hint of a new health sensor tempted us to get our hopes up, it flew in the face of Mark Gurman’s assertions that there are no major health upgrades coming this year.
Not surprisingly, Gurman was quick to respond, flatly stating that there was “no chance” that the Apple Watch Series 7 would gain a blood pressure sensor, reiterating that even some basic new health features like a body temperature sensor aren’t expected until next year’s Apple Watch Series 8.
Although Gurman and his Bloomberg colleague Debby Wu confirmed the report of production problems, this was entirely as a result of the entirely new display technology that Apple is packing into this year’s model.
Kuo’s latest investor note confirms this as well, stating that the production problems were related to “the panel side,” and the new processes that are being used to manufacture the displays for the Apple Watch Series 7.
Due to the adoption of many new panel-related production processes for the first time, the Apple Watch 7 panel module encountered reliability issues during the risk-ramp phase before Jabil started mass production, mainly including blinking panel and touch insensitivity. This complicated production issue may be related to LGD, Jabil, or Young Poong.Ming-Chi Kuo
Gurman first reported back in June that this year’s Apple Watch is expected to feature a more prominent screen that will not only get slightly larger, thanks to thinner display borders, but also feature a new lamination technique. This will bring the display closer to the front, making it feel more like it sits on top of the Apple Watch, rather than being buried under a piece of glass.
As a result, the designations of the two versions of the Apple Watch Series 7 are going to increase slightly, to 41mm and 45mm. This likely has more to do with the screen sizes, which will be able to get closer to the edges thanks to the more iPhone 12 style squared-off design.
We may also see some modest battery life improvements in this year’s Apple Watch, but don’t expect any major new health features — at least not on the hardware side. watchOS 8 is bringing several new features, including a new Mindfulness app that offers guided meditations, some improvements to sleep tracking, and new workouts, but these are all software features that should be equally available on older Apple Watch models as well.
Next year, however, is expected to be a much bigger year for health sensors, with Apple almost certainly adding the aforementioned body temperature sensor — which could be used to power a fertility planning app — and Apple is also reportedly hoping to crack the blood pressure sensor technology to get the necessary accuracy in time for next year’s Series 8.
[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.]