Apple Watch 4 release date, price, news and features
Apple just announced the follow-up to the Apple Watch 3 live on stage at the iPhone XS launch, and we're set to hear everything that's going to be on the next smartwatch from Apple.
It's called the Apple Watch 4 and its set to sport lots of new spec and a whole new design. We'll share all of the information we learn on stage below, but bear with us as it's breaking right now so it's set to take some time…
Apple confirmed on stage today (again) that the Apple Watch is the number one watch in the world, so we're expecting some major upgrades for the fourth edition.
Cut to the chase
- What is Apple Watch 4? The next generation Apple smartwatch
- When is Apple Watch 4 out? Launches today (September 12) with estimated September 21 or September 28 release date
- What will it cost? Probably upwards of $329 / £329 / AU$459
Apple Watch 4 release date
We don't currently know when the Apple Watch 4 will be launching, but we expect it to be in the next couple of weeks. We hope to learn about that nearer the end of the show.
Apple Watch 4 price
Pricing information for the Apple Watch 4 has yet to be confirmed, but we hope to learn more about that in the next few hours.
Apple Watch 4 design and display
The Apple Watch 4 looks similar to the last few generations, but this is perhaps the most major design change for the wearable series.
There's an edge-to-edge display on the watch that has 30% more screen than the Apple Watch 3. The sizes are now 40mm and 44mm, which is different to the 38mm and 42mm we've seen on all previous versions of the Apple Watch.
Apple has introduced a range of new complications on the watch face that can offer more information as well as third-party app info as well.
One watch face made by Apple comes with space for eight different complications so you can pack it full of details. There's a new series of watch faces that work with the Breathe app features as well.
Previous Apple Watch 4 rumors
Below are all the rumors for the Apple Watch 4 that we'd heard before the event and we're going to leave them here while we update the official information at the top of this article.
Newest Apple Watch 4 leak
According to noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will introduce ceramic backs and ECG/EKG support to its 2018 Apple Watch lineup. More information on those predictions can be found here.
As has been previously reported, it's believed that the Apple Watch 4 won't change in size for either its 42mm or 38mm models. Instead, the watch is expected to boast an edge-to-edge display and a larger resolution, meaning it should be able to fit more complications onto its tiny watch.
Based on information from 9to5mac, it's been posited that the new resolution on the larger 42mm Apple Watch 4 is likely 384 x 480. If we compare this to the 312 x 390 resolution on the 42mm Apple Watch 3, it seemingly lends credence the theory that the Apple Watch 4 screen will be 15% bigger than last year's watch.
The first official-looking Apple Watch 4 image also gives us an idea of the biggest highlight thanks to 9to5Mac: a larger screen within what looks like the same case sizes (42mm and 38mm).
Since the leak, 9to5Mac writer Guilherme Rambo has shared how he found the images. Rambo said, "They came from the recap section of the special event website. I used the URL pattern from the last event and guessed the device’s names. Apple took them down immediately after we published."
If that's true, it looks like the leaked image above may be the real Apple Watch 4.
If you look at any other existing Apple Watch, you'll notice a lot of bezel around the perimeter, where the screen stops and a larger black border remains. Apple appears to have gotten rid of this in the image above and given us more screen instead.
Apple Watch 4 release date
There are clear signs it's coming alongside the iPhone XS, including hints in Apple's iOS 12 beta. That software references four new Apple Watch models (likely two sizes and LTE/non-LTE models).
There's also evidence for its imminent arrival in the form of an EEC (Eurasian Economic Commission) listing for six unknown Apple Watch models. These are probably the Apple Watch 4, especially as they're said to be running watchOS 5.
September 12 makes a lot of sense – Apple announced the third iteration of its smartwatch on September 12, 2017 (it came out September 22), and the Apple Watch 2 was released a year earlier in September 2016.
Want to get more specific? Apple likes to launch new product on Fridays, so expect pre-orders on Friday, September 14, and an actual release date in stores on either Friday, September 21 or Friday September 28. It may depend on when the iPhone XS is ready to launch in stores.
Apple Watch 4 price
There’s no word on the Apple Watch Series 4's price, but it’s likely to be around the same as the Apple Watch 3 currently is, meaning a starting price of around £329 / $329 / AU$459 for the smaller 38mm version.
That said, the Apple Watch 3 actually had a lower launch price than the Apple Watch 2, so with all the extra tech likely to be found in the Apple Watch 4 the price could equally increase or decrease a little.
Bear in mind that the price we've mentioned above is just the starting cost. If you choose the larger 42mm band or opt for LTE connectivity, the Apple Watch 3 gets more expensive, as does choosing a pricier case or strap material. All of that is likely to remain true for the Apple Watch 4.
Apple Watch 4 design and display
A trusted analyst that has previous history of predicting Apple products suggested back in March the Apple Watch 4 was set to undergo a big design overhaul, and now we've heard the same from a trusted Apple source too.
So far every generation of the Apple Watch has come in either 38mm or 42mm screen sizes, but KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says he believes the Apple Watch 4 will have a 15% larger display. That has since been backed up by a report from trusted Apple reporter Mark Gurman at Bloomberg and the leaked picture above on this page.
Kuo also reported in July 2018 that the screen will have a 1.57-inch screen while the larger variant will be 1.78 inches. The Apple Watch 3 comes with either a 1.31-inch or 1.54-inch display.
A concept artist also put together the below diagram to show how the added screen dimensions may look on the final product.
A similar story about the screen comes from a source that believes the Apple Watch 4 will have an edge-to-edge display, which would be larger than the one on the Apple Watch 3. It also claims you'll be able to keep using your existing bands, so we expect the body of the watch to be very similar to the Apple Watch 3.
The Watch 3 has a lot of bezel space around the outside of the display, so we're expecting the company has slimmed this down to fit in the extra screen real estate.
That said, Kuo's first report does suggest the company will be including a larger battery inside the Apple Watch 4 that will likely mean the body of the watch will have to be at least a touch bigger to squeeze in the larger cell.
Kuo also notes that the design of the Apple Watch 4 is set to be "more trendy", but exactly what the analyst means by this isn't particularly clear yet so we'll have to wait for picture leaks to know more about the look.
Before Kuo's comments, we had seen a patent for a self-adjusting watch strap. This would involve a mechanism that expands and contracts the strap as needed, so that the fit remains comfortable and not too loose at all times, which could also help ensure the sensors on the watch get accurate readings.
It's unlikely to happen on the Apple Watch 4, but we've also seen an Apple patent for a circular smartwatch screen. And back in 2016 we saw another patent filed by the company for a round smartwatch, so we may see that circular design on some future generations of the wearable.
Apple Watch 4 features and spec
One leak suggests Apple will use faster, more versatile circuit boards for its antenna. That's again according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who speculates it'll mean a more stable LTE signal and better heat and moisture resistance.
Rumors for watchOS 5 (learn more about that below) originally suggested the upgrades to the OS will be using the LTE signal much more regularly, so it makes sense if the company plans to update it to a faster antenna.
However, WWDC 2018 (where watchOS 5 was unveiled) didn't show off any new features to do with connectivity, so it may be we have to wait until the Apple Watch 4 to hear about that.
One change that we can predict is the chipset, with a new Apple S4 one likely to be included, though we don’t yet know how much difference that will make.
As for new features on the watch, one patent suggests you'll be able to unlock your watch by just looking at it.
Apple patents show that the company may bring a Face ID camera to make a future wearable more secure… but that isn't visible in the leaks we've seen for the Apple Watch 4.
That'd mean you'd just be able to look at your watch to unlock it and avoid having to enter an annoying PIN number to be able to use certain functionalities. Additionally, it would make it a whole lot easier to make quick FaceTime calls from your wrist
Apple Watch 4 fitness
One report from late in 2017 suggests the Watch 4 could get an upgraded heart rate tracker that could embrace EKG technology for the first time.
EKGs, also known as ECGs or electrocardiograms, are more advanced than a standard heart rate monitor and provide more in depth information, by using currents of electricity to analyze your heart's behavior.
The rumor comes from Bloomberg (who spoke to people familiar with Apple Watch 4 plans) but the site also spoke to a cardiologist at the University of California who said the feature isn't intended for those who don't experience heart-related issues.
The cardiologist went as far to say if you’re a "healthy person", “there’s no reason to follow ECG” activity.
There's also an older patent for a wearable that can measure your respiration rate, which could well be a feature on the Apple Watch 4, but considering we've yet to see any further leaks about the feature it may be something included on a future wearable like the Watch 5.
You can expect the return of fitness features we've seen on the Apple Watch 3 including the top-end heart rate monitor and GPS technology as well as the ability to track your swimming with the waterproof design.
Apple Watch 4 OS and battery
It’s almost guaranteed the Apple Watch 4 will run the newly announced watchOS 5 software, which is going to feature upgrades to fitness features, the Siri watch face and much more. You can learn all about the new watchOS 5 features right here.
One report has said the new software will bring something called StreamKit, which would allow for a Spotify app on Apple Watch. That would be a big deal for those who don't use Apple Music – but we didn't hear about that at WWDC during the watchOS 5 reveal.
It may be StreamKit is coming later – perhaps alongside the Apple Watch 4 – or we may have to wait until watchOS 6 to hear about it.
StreamKit is rumored to be a framework that's set up behind the scenes to allow cellular versions of the Apple Watch to receive push notifications from apps. That would mean you'd be able to get Facebook or Twitter messages directly to your wrist, and it's another step toward having a fully functioning phone replacement.
If that's the case, it means lots more developers will be able to make watch faces for the Apple Watch and hopefully there will be far more innovation and experimentation than what we've seen in the past. That said, it wasn't announced during WWDC so this is yet to be confirmed.
What we want to see
While exact details about the Apple Watch 4 remain a mystery for now, the things we want from it aren’t enigmatic at all. In fact, they’re right underneath these words.
1. Android compatibility
We know this is hugely unlikely to happen, but wouldn’t it be great? It would also help the Apple Watch match Android Wear in one of the few areas where it doesn’t already, since Android Wear offers limited compatibility with iOS devices.
It’s understandable that Apple would want to keep its Watch working only with other Apple devices, since doing so keeps people in its ecosystem – you’re not going to switch to an Android phone if you already have an Apple Watch.
But that could also put off anyone who doesn’t want to make a long-term commitment to Apple, and it completely rules out anyone who currently uses an Android phone from having one of the best smartwatches on the market.
2. Even better battery life
The Apple Watch 3 actually has quite good battery life, at least by smartwatch standards, easily lasting at least two days if you don’t use LTE.
But that still leaves plenty of room for improvement. Many fitness trackers last around a week or longer and of course a conventional watch will go for years.
It’s not realistic to expect the Apple Watch 4 to do the same, but any gains would be appreciated and help make it feel like less of a downgrade from your analog watch in that area.
Improvements could also make sleep tracking more viable, since currently you’re likely to plug your Watch in overnight.
3. More fitness features
The Apple Watch has become more and more a health and fitness device over the years and that’s now one of its main selling points, but there’s still room for improvement here.
Much of this will be handled by apps and software updates, but we’d like to see more health and fitness skills from the actual Apple Watch 4 hardware too, such as sensors that can track your respiration rate and blood oxygen levels.
4. Better Siri
One of our few complaints in our Apple Watch 3 review was about the patchiness of Siri. When it works it’s great, but sometimes commands won’t be heard or interpreted properly and that sort of thing can put people off using it at all, since when it does fail you’d usually be quicker doing the thing by hand.
So we’d like Siri on the Apple Watch 4 to work better. That’s probably largely a software or connectivity hurdle, which could mean any improvements will reach older models too.
Another option would be for Apple to improve the microphone so Siri can hear us better, but that's not really the main issue we faced on the Apple Watch 3.
5. Improved performance
Apple upgraded the chipset in the Apple Watch 3 but it’s still not quite as speedy as we’d like, especially when it comes to loading apps, which often isn’t instantaneous.
Much of the time the Apple Watch’s whole purpose is to be a faster, simpler alternative to getting out your phone, but if you’re waiting for apps to load it’s arguably not.
6. A circular option
On the scale of things that are going to happen this ranks way above Android compatibility but below most other things.
Apple seems happy with the design of the Watch and hasn’t substantially changed it in the various versions it’s launched so far, so we don’t expect a redesign any time soon, let alone a completely different screen shape.
But having a circle as an option would be nice. Conventional watches often have a circular face, as do many Android Wear ones, so to appeal to more buyers it would make some sense to offer the choice.
The issue is it would mean reworking the interface a bit, which Apple probably doesn't want to do.
7. Heart rate insights
The heart rate monitor in the Apple Watch 3 is fairly impressive, as it can keep a record of things like your heart rate ranges when working out, your heart rate variability and your daily resting heart rate, as well as your beats per minute, but it doesn’t do much with the information.
It would be good if the Apple Watch 4 – or a software update on previous models – added insights into what these stats actually mean and how you can affect them, because that would turn some graphs into genuinely usable information.
Given WatchOS 4 already brings the ability to poke you to be more active at times that are helpful to you, using this heart rate data to help you get fitter (by suggesting slightly longer walks, or congratulating you on lowering your resting heart rate with reasons it's happened) would be excellent.
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Check out our Apple Watch 3 review below: