The Apple Watch Series 8 Won’t Be Any Faster Than the Series 6
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Sometimes a technology product reaches a point where there aren’t too many places left for it to go. Either it does everything it needs to do, or technology hasn’t caught up to allow it to do the things we’d like it to.
Such is the case with the Apple Watch. Looking back over the past few years, it’s fair to say that the year-over-year improvements have been incremental at best.
The Apple Watch Series 4 gained a new design with a revolutionary ECG and irregular heart monitoring feature that has saved many lives. The Series 5 boasted an always-on display, perhaps one of the most significant usability improvements ever to come to the wearable.
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However, since then, the reasons to upgrade have been few and far between. The blood oxygen sensor on the Apple Watch Series 6 was an exciting idea until we learned that it wasn’t medically certified; it’s a “wellness feature” at best.
While the rumor mill arguably set us up for an even bigger disappointment with last year’s Series 7 by promising a radical new design that never materialized, the new model would have been only moderately interesting even without the hype.
The Apple Watch Series 7 introduced some nice but minor design changes that ultimately worked out to a slightly larger and more durable screen, but the best new features of the Series 7 weren’t all that compelling. Other than the display, the only way in which the latest Apple Watch model moved the needle was by offering faster charging and a QWERTY keyboard. That’s handy for those who rely on the wearable for sleep tracking and messaging but not enough to convince most users to rush out and upgrade.
However, let’s not be too hard on Apple for these relatively pedestrian upgrades. It’s worth remembering that the Apple Watch still attracts new customers in droves. During its earnings calls, the company’s executives frequently report that most of the Apple Watch sales each year have gone to customers who have never had one before. Of course, that’s understandable, as somebody has to be buying these millions of wearables that Apple is selling each quarter, and it’s clearly not a product that people replace every year.
Will the Apple Watch Series 8 Be a Compelling Upgrade?
Sadly, if you’re hoping for a more exciting Apple Watch this year, be prepared for another letdown. It looks like we can expect more of the same from the Apple Watch Series 8.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that his sources have told him the Apple Watch Series 8 will feature a new S8 chip, but it will have the same specifications as the S7 in last year’s watch — which in turn was the same as the S6 chip in the 2020 Apple Watch Series 6.
For those hoping for a faster chip in this year’s Apple Watch, I’m told the S8 chip will have the same specifications as the S7, which was also the same as the S6. Next year’s models, however, are slated to get an an all-new processor.Mark Gurman
In other words, same chip, new name.
It’s far from the first time Apple has done this. The same thing happened with the Apple Watch Series 5, which featured an “S5” chip virtually identical to its S4 predecessor. The Apple Watch Series 2 also included the same chip as the Series 1. Upgraded chips are becoming the exception rather than the norm.
That doesn’t mean that the Apple Watch Series 8 won’t bring some new features to the table, but we’re not expecting anything revolutionary. For instance, rumors of a body temperature sensor persist, but most believe that will be tied to a fertility planning feature. To be sure, that will be great news for Apple Watch users trying to conceive a child, but it’s not going to do anybody else much good.
Gurman also hints that the low-power mode expected to arrive in watchOS 9 will likely be “a new hardware-exclusive feature.” That makes sense, as we’ve seen no sign of it in the watchOS 9 betas.
Nevertheless, Gurman said earlier this year that this could be the biggest in the history of the Apple Watch. However, that wasn’t about the Series 8, but rather the introduction of two other models that will further expand the lineup.
This includes a new Apple Watch SE and a rugged “Apple Watch Explorer Edition” for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. The new Apple Watch SE may not be especially remarkable. Still, it does have the potential to create a more affordable entry-level model by displacing the current Apple Watch SE.
That position has been occupied for far too long by the Apple Watch Series 3, but with watchOS 9 dropping support for that five-year-old model, the 2020 Apple Watch SE may pick up the torch and be sold at the $199 price range.
The Apple Watch SE is already highly recommended over the Series 3, even at $80 more, so it would be a near-perfect candidate to become Apple’s most affordable wearable. The Apple Watch SE has already distinguished itself as a more affordable Apple Watch for those who are more focused on fitness and workout tracking rather than the premium health monitoring features.
There’s no doubt that Apple is working on some much more exciting health upgrades for the Apple Watch, including blood glucose monitoring, blood pressure monitoring, and more. However, these things take time to perfect, and they’re not going to arrive until the technology is ready and the algorithms are perfect.
[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.]