Why the ‘Apple Watch X’ Shouldn’t Just Be a Mini Apple Watch Ultra

Why the ‘Apple Watch X’ Shouldn’t Just Be a Mini Apple Watch Ultra
  • Apple is prepping a radical redesign for the Apple Watch.
  • It’ll be thinner and may even use a new strap attachment.
  • The Apple Watch Ultra is not different enough. 

Apple Watch.

Solen Feyissa / Unsplash


Apple is prepping a major redesign of the Apple Watch, and it should probably just copy the amazing Ultra and make it cheaper. 

Remember when Apple completely redesigned the iPhone, ditching the home button, reducing the bezels, and replacing Touch ID with Face ID? The iPhone X was so radical—and perhaps so difficult to make—that Apple introduced another new iPhone at the same time, the iPhone 8, which was just like previous models. Now, Apple may be planning an X moment for the Apple Watch

“Conceptually, the regular Apple Watch is an accessible smartwatch for the mass market. The Ultra is a niche, high-end model for outdoor athletes and adventurers,” technology writer Michael Xavier told Lifewire via email. “The regular Apple Watch and Ultra can borrow features from each other in the redesigns, but they should stay distinct products optimized for their different use cases.”

X-Factor

The Apple Watch X, a name coined by serial Apple rumormonger Mark Gurman in his Power On newsletter, will be a radical reimagining of the Apple Watch. Possibly coming in 2025, coinciding with the Apple Watch’s 10th anniversary, the mysterious Apple Watch X will be much thinner than the current bubble-like models. So thin, in fact, that Apple is exploring new ways to affix the watch band so that it doesn’t take up so much of the body. A magnetic fixture might be on the cards.

The Apple Watch has stayed pretty much the same for its entire life. The screen bezels have shrunk, and the Watch has added all kinds of new health-sensing features, plus that game-changing always-on display, but at a glance, the current models could easily be mistaken for the original. 

But hasn’t Apple already redesigned the Apple Watch with last year’s Ultra model? Well, yes and no. With its bigger, flatter screen, ruggedized case, and all-new action button, the Ultra is indeed quite a step up. But it’s not a radical redesign like the iPhone X was. It still looks like a fat puck on a strap and not like a sleek dress watch with benefits. 

One option would be for Apple to just make the regular Apple Watch more like the Ultra, only smaller, for people who don’t want to look like a mobster. It’s certainly a cool-looking watch, and given that the Ultra is priced surprisingly well for an Apple ‘pro’ product, it shouldn’t be too hard to make this happen. 

But that’s not a radical redesign, and it’s pretty easy to see where Apple might go with an Apple Watch X—just look at its other products. 


Nike Apple Watch.

AB / Unsplash


X-Appeal

Everything Apple makes gets thinner over the years: MacBooks, iPhones, iPads, even the iMac. At the same time, they get bigger, brighter, better displays while shrinking the display borders. The platonic ideal of an Apple product is a paper-thin unit with a borderless screen. 

But to get there, compromises have to be made. A thinner device has less space for a battery but requires more power for its bigger screen, for example. In the past, Apple has created more space for batteries by making them non-removable. It has also slowly dropped other components that take up precious internal space, like the headphone jack and the SIM card drawer. 

And what encroaches the most into the internal space of the current Apple Watch? The strap cutout. Apple’s watch straps are amazing, way less fiddly than other designs, and the mechanism is insanely complex and yet simple to use. 

Gurman’s report of a new magnetic attachment brings to mind another new Apple connection, the battery tether for the upcoming Vision Pro headset. This snaps into place on the headset using magnets and twists to lock. Apple often reuses its best ideas across product ranges—the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown has shown up on the AirPods Max and the Vision Pro, for example—so it could happen. And a watch strap needs to be firmly attached, unlike, say, the detachment-prone MagSafe wallet


Apple Watch.

Nadine Shaabana / Unsplash


Another obvious Apple Watch trend is the addition of sensors, mainly for health, and Gurman’s sources tell him that the Watch X will have a blood pressure monitor, which is a pretty useful sensor, especially as it will be able to constantly check throughout the day. 

“[I]f the blood pressure monitor works, that will be an important upgrade for millions. New health sensors are one of the few things they to do to really move the needle,” Apple Watch fan Adelphos33 said in a MacRumors forum thread participated in by Lifewire.

If Apple can make the Apple Watch as slim and sleek as a dress watch without compromising too much on battery and adding sensors and a bigger screen to boot, that really would be worth the X name, a real radical change to the lineup. And it would certainly attract a lot of new buyers who like the idea of an Apple Watch but don’t like the current dorky-bubble design. 

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