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Following reports last week that the Apple Watch Series 7 had run into production problems, many have begun to wonder if Apple is going to be able to ship its latest wearable on time this year, but it looks like the company will be forging ahead with a September release after all.
Unfortunately, that may come with a pretty big asterisk. There’s no evidence that Apple has fully solved the issues slowing down mass production of the new Apple Watch. Instead, it appears that the company would rather release it and just deal with some scarcity for the first few weeks.
This latest update comes from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, in his latest Power On newsletter. Last week, Gurman and his colleague Debby Wu confirmed the production problems that were first reported by Nikkei Asia, pointing specifically to this year’s new display technology as the cause.
While Gurman notes that there are other possible outcomes from these production delays, he has reason to believe that Apple will announce the new Apple Watch Series 7 alongside the iPhone, just like it’s done in almost every prior year, but it will be available in very limited quantities at first.
I’m led to believe that we’ll see an announcement during the usual September event alongside the iPhone, but there will be a mix of the models shipping late or in small quantities. That shouldn’t be too unfamiliar to those who witnessed the original Apple Watch launch in 2015.Mark Gurman
While it’s also possible Apple could delay the announcement entirely, like it did with the iPhone 12 last year, there’s been no evidence that Apple plans to do that.
Last year, Apple told investors well in advance that the iPhone 12 would be delayed into the next fiscal quarter, and while the Apple Watch is obviously far less significant than an entire new iPhone lineup, there haven’t even been any indications of a later announcement.
Apple’s Fall Timelines
It’s also worth noting that this year’s Apple event is already running about a week late based on the company’s normal fall event timeline. Eight out of the ten iPhone launch events of the past decade have been held in September — and every one of those has occurred in the second week of the month.
In fact, until last year, you could pretty much mark your calendar for when Apple’s fall event would be held. It was always the Tuesday of the second week of September, except when that Tuesday fell on September 11 or happened to be the day after Labour Day. In those cases, the event was pushed to Wednesday instead.
That said, Apple already did break with tradition last year, delaying the iPhone 12 launch into October while still holding a September Time Flies event to unveil the Apple Watch Series 6 and several other new products. Held on September 15, however, this marked the first time Apple had pushed its September event into the third week in September.
The Time Flies event also brought another departure from Apple’s usual product release timeline. While Apple has almost always opened pre-orders for its newly announced hardware on the Friday of the same week, and then shipped them a week later, it accelerated that process with the new Apple Watch, with pre-orders opening the same day of the event, and the device arriving in stores on Friday, Sept 18 — only three days later.
Since we’re already into the second week in September,
and no event announcements have gone out, it’s safe to say that Apple isn’t holding its event this week, so it’s clearly continuing its break with tradition. With the Apple Watch behind schedule, however, it’s also helping the company buy some more time to get its ducks in a row.
After all, if it’s going to announce a new Apple Watch, it’s going to have to provide some solid dates on when customers will be able to actually buy the product. With mass production behind schedule, it’s safe to say that it’s not going to be on sale right away, but whether the launch date is in September or October, Apple surely wants to do its best to offer something concrete.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it will, though. As recently as this past spring, Apple unveiled several new products — its first 24-inch M1-powered iMac, new iPad Pro models, and a new Apple TV 4K — while offering up a vague and uncharacteristic availability timeframe of “the second half of May.”
By all reports, the “iPhone 13” lineup is expected to debut on schedule, with some reports saying it could arrive in stores as early as September 17. If Apple follows its usual post-event release schedule, however, that’s more likely to be the pre-order date, with the new iPhones actually coming on September 24. Either way, the release of a whole new iPhone lineup is going to take a lot of the pressure off the Apple Watch Series 7.
One thing that does seem certain, however, is that no matter when the new Apple Watch goes on sale, you’ll want to make sure you’re first in line, as there’s sure to be a limited supply of the new devices.
At this point, it’s all but guaranteed that the Apple Watch Series 7 is going to feature a revolutionary new design, with flat edges similar to the iPhone 12 and iPad Pro.
Going with 90-degree angles will also offer more room on the front for a larger screen, so Apple is expected to slip the sizes up to 41mm and 45mm models.
More significantly, the screen is expected to get a big upgrade, and this is reportedly what’s been slowing things down on the production line. A new lamentation technique has been employed that will put the display closer to the top surface of the glass, making it seem like it’s sitting on top of the Apple Watch, rather than beneath the glass.
While the Nikkei Asia report has also suggested that a new blood pressure sensor was part of the reason for the slowdown, Gurman categorically denied that part of the report, saying there’s “no chance” that this or any other major new health sensors will be coming to the Apple Watch this year.
Instead, the Apple Watch Series 7 is going to focus on highlighting a new design, while likely also including the usual improvements to performance and battery life that we see year-over-year. This would be similar to what we saw with the Apple Watch Series 5 two years ago, which introduced an always-on display, but added no significant new health sensors.
Instead, Apple is saving its next big health improvements for next year’s Apple Watch Series 8, which will at the very least include a body temperature sensor that could be used for fertility monitoring, and could possibly see the arrival of the long-rumoured blood pressure sensors.
[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.]