When will Apple launch a Watch Series 3? We round up the rumours surrounding the Apple Watch 3 release date along with specs and features. Can't wait any longer? Then buy a Series 1 or Series 2 Apple Watch, but also read about the best smartwatches of 2017
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When is the Apple Watch 3 release date?
Right now, most rumours say Apple will launch the Watch 3 in September 2017, and that's hardly a stretch given the fact that it has combined iPhone and Watch launches in previous years.
A report from Digitimes cites the Chinese-language Economic Daily News. This says that Apple has again given the manufacturing contract for the Watch 3 to Taiwan-based Quanta. The company has assembled all of Apple's smartwatches so far, and that it will launch the new wearable alongside the iPhone 7s, 7s Plus and the new iPhone 8.
Previously, Digitimes said the watch will ship in the second half of 2017. The confidence comes from a leak that manufacturing is already starting to ramp up, specifically for the screen (see below).
More specific is the news that the Apple Watch 3 will ship in the fourth quarter, also via Digitimes.
What are the rumoured features and specifications?
What's easy to predict is that the Apple Watch 3 will come in a range of models, colours and a choice of straps. This means prices will vary wildly depending on how basic or flashy you want to go. You can also expect collaborations with big brands, like Nike.
Apple, we think, will also continue to offer two different sizes to cater for both sexes, but we're not at all confident that Apple will introduce a new form factor. That's because watchOS 3 is designed for a square screen, as are third-party apps. So while it may look a little different - perhaps thinner - it's very unlikely we'll see a circular screen.
There are rumours that Apple will opt for a new form-factor in terms of design but whether this means a switch to a round screen like Android Wear devices remains to be seen.
So what other new features are rumoured?
Apple bought Beddit earlier this year and while we weren't impressed with the Finnish company's Sleep Tracker, we're sure Apple can incorporate the tech into the Apple Watch and make it great.
It's somewhat unlikely we'll see this in the Watch 3, but you never know.
Until now, most reports have agreed that the Watch 3 won't look much different from its predecessors - the main improvement will be in battery life rather than a new design or new features.
However, the US Patent and Trademark Office has published a patent application that could be applied to wearable, rollable and foldable displays. The accompanying images show a smartwatch that has a continuous display running from the watch face through the band.
It's unlikely that we'd see these changes in the upcoming Apple Watch 3, though, and they are more likely to appear in a future version.
For the Apple Watch 3, a significant change (well, significant for Apple and its current OLED screen suppliers) is expected to be a switch from OLED technology to what's called 'micro-LED'. The new tech is actually quite similar to OLED in that the display does not require a backlight - each pixel or element is 'self-emitting'.
What micro-LED brings to the party is higher brightness and lower power consumption, which could be key to making the Watch 3 last for more days between charges
Apple acquired LuxVue in 2014, a company that was developing micro-LED displays. However, a recent report by DigiTimes suggests that only a 'trial production run' will happen in the second half of this year.
If that's true, then any device launched in September won't have this tech.
Other reports say the device will have a glass-film touchscreen, rather than the 'touch-on-lens' screen used by the Series 2.
It would appear that the touch-on-lens screens are very difficult - and therefore costly - to produce and yields haven't been as good as the manufacturer, TPK Holding, had hoped. Rumour has it that the forthcoming watch will use a thin glass panel covered in a heavy-duty, scratch-resistant film laminate, and that it will be manufactured by a different company.
Do you need a camera on your smartwatch? It didn't work on the Samsung Gear 2 but Apple's patent is for a selfie camera instead. So, the Apple Watch 3 could support taking selfie photos and maybe FaceTime video calling, too.
Recently granted patents suggest that Apple might be trialling modular bands which could allow you to buy a 'base' watch and add the features you want via removable 'links' in the strap. Maybe you want longer battery, a GPS, a camera or even a specific medial function.
One use for this, as reported by BGR, could be to monitor blood sugar levels. Millions of people in the US alone suffer from diabetes and there's currently no way to measure blood sugar levels without taking a blood sample. According to the report, Apple has hired 200 PhDs recently to innovate in the health space and that "the time is now right" for glucose monitoring.
Rather than drive up the price of the watch for everyone, such monitoring could be added via sensors built into a strap.
Another interesting patent shows that Apple might be designing multi-function straps. A 'Magnetic Wristband' shows a strap which would attach to the body of the watch with magnets. However, the interesting bit it when the watch isn't worn as the strap can be rolled up to create stand.
Could the Apple Watch 3 be round? We certainly hope so or at least an option for circular alongside square, but it's only images from patents that are giving people hope. In reality, it's one of the more unlikely features since - as we said earlier - watchOS has been designed for square displays.
Also, as spotted by 9to5mac, another new patent outlines a strap with an embedded battery (above) that provides power to the watch by an thin induction coil that sits on the bottom of the watch. This is essentially a mobile power bank, which uses the same wireless charging system that's already used to charge the Watch, but a lot slimmer than the 'puck' that's bundled in the box as that wouldn't be comfortable in any way.
Though the screen may stay square, Apple could introduce 3D Touch to the Apple Watch 3 providing extra functionality. It was a possible feature for the Series 2 so we expect the next model to be adorned with the pressure sensitivity.
We're not going to even try to explain that one but, in essence, using this tech the Apple Watch would be able to monitor your respiration rate. It would get around the issues seen by other monitors when body movement compromises the signal by using two light sensors rather than one, then subtracting one from the other to remove noise from the signal.
It's a fairly out there suggestion for the Apple Watch of course, and if it does ever see the light of day in Apple's smartwatch it may come in a later generation than the Series 3.
It's thought that the Apple Watch 3 might come with cellular connectivity so it won't require an iPhone to fully-function. You'd even be able to make calls and other tasks, according to CNBC, which cites a 'source with knowledge of the matter'.
This wouldn't be out of the question as Apple already sells iPads with cellular connectivity and there are already examples on the market with the features from the likes of LG.
What's likely is that Apple will offer it as an option so the cheapest models might not have it.
Software: watchOS 4
Apple didn't mention any wearable hardware at WWDC back in June, but it's fairly safe to assume the putative third-generation wearable will ship with watchOS 4. Apple did talk at length about that, and it's coming to all Apple watches later in the year, including a new Siri watch face. Read more about the new features in watchOS 4.
In a leaked firmware for the upcoming Apple HomePod, a few possible Apple Watch features have been spotted in the code. They include new sports for the Workouts app, including 'water fitness', water polo, wrestling, yoga, 'dance-inspired training' and 'mixed metabolic cardio training'.
It's possible they're customisable modes which you can 'tune' to the specific exercises you're doing. And they're unlikely to be exclusive to the Apple Watch 3.
We'll update this article with more news and rumours as they appear, but if you're listening Apple, our wishlist includes better battery life, an optional round screen, Qi wireless charging and smart straps. Okay? Thanks.