The next Apple Watch Ultra will feature a more lightweight design than its predecessor, according to a new rumor from a leaker with a short but solid record for Apple insights.
How will Apple lighten things up? A previous rumor suggested Apple is substituting some of the Ultra 2's titanium mechanical parts for 3D-printed counterparts, which could account for the lighter weight.
Setsuna Digital previously leaked Apple's plans for a banana-yellow iPhone 14. Now the leaker is posting on Chinese social media site Weibo that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has "reduced weight" when compared to the original Ultra model.
The current Apple Watch Ultra weighs 61.3g, nearly twice as much as the 41mm aluminum Apple Watch Series 8 at 32.2g and substantially more than even the stainless steel options (which clock in at 42.3g and 51.5g for the 41mm and 45 mm models respectively).
The leaker didn't specify exactly how much lighter we can expect the Ultra Watch 2 to be. But a previous rumor gives us a clue as to why the next Apple Watch Ultra could be slimming down. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a Medium post last week that Apple plans to shake up its production of the best phones and other devices starting with the Ultra Watch 2. The company is reportedly "actively adopting 3D printing technology" into its manufacturing process, and some of the titanium mechanical parts of the Ultra 2 will be 3D printed.
"Although currently the mechanical parts made by 3D printing still have to go through the CNC process for back-end processes, it can still improve the production time and reduce the production cost," Kuo wrote.
Kuo didn't specify what mechanical parts these would be, but based on the design of the original Apple Watch Ultra, the likely candidates are the digital crown, side button and action buttons. Those are the device's only mechanical parts, though it's important to note the second-generation wearable could incorporate additional parts that we just don't know about at this time.
It's not clear whether these 3D-printed parts will reduce the weight of the Apple Watch Ultra 2, though that appears to be the case based on Setsuna Digital's insight. But Kuo did speculate that the switch to 3D printing would improve production time and cut down on costs.
If you believe the rumor mill, we're likely to learn more about Apple's plans for its next-gen wearable soon. In the Medium post, Kuo describes Apple's next-gen wearable as a “2H23” release — which refers to the second half of 2023.
While that timeframe leaves a lot up to speculation, it at least suggests a second wearable along with the Apple Watch 9 that could be demoed alongside the iPhone 15 at Apple's September event. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has also predicted we’ll see the Apple Watch Ultra 2 sometime in 2023.