The Apple Watch Series 4 pushed the boundaries for smartwatches with its sophisticated heart health features, including a clinical-grade electrocardiogram feature for detecting atrial fibrillation. The EKG app was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
But every year brings a new Apple Watch, and we’re betting that Apple isn’t resting on its laurels with an iterative upgrade this year. We've seen more hints of what the 2019 Apple Watch has in store, including advanced health and fitness features and fully independent watch apps, after Apple unveiled watchOS 6 at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 3. Here’s what the rumor mill is churning out ahead of the Apple Watch Series 5 launch this fall.
Apple Watch 5 price and availability
For the last few years, Apple has announced a new Apple Watch at its September iPhone event. If history is any indication, we expect the company to reveal the Series 5 on or around Sept. 12.
The Series 4 was pricier than its predecessor at $399 for the non-LTE version (versus $349 for the Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS), because of its electrical heart rate sensor and advanced heart health features. Depending on what sensors Apple chooses to add to the Series 5, it could be even more expensive. The cellular model will likely command a $100 premium over the GPS version, as with the third and fourth generations.
Built-in sleep tracking
The Apple Watch excels at health and fitness-tracking, but there’s a key piece missing: The watch has no built-in app for logging your sleep, which is an important factor when it comes to evaluating your overall health. Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung all offer native sleep-tracking, although only Fitbit’s — found in devices like the Fitbit Versa — is spot on. The watchOS App Store does feature some third-party sleep-tracking apps, but we’re curious to see how Apple would tackle this.
Bloomberg reported in February that Apple is working on a sleep-tracking feature for the watch, although it may not be ready for primetime until 2020. Sleep-tracking would also require longer battery life — the Series 4 currently lasts about 18-24 hours on a charge. A useful sleep feature would need the heart rate sensor to detect sleep stages, which would drain the battery. If Apple can’t extend battery life in the Series 5, it’s likely that we won’t see the feature until next year.
New health features
Apple filed a patent for a sensor that can monitor what's in the air. Uncovered by Cult of Mac, this sensor could be used to track such things as your body odor, air quality, and more. You could finally know for sure if you have bad breath, but it could also be used by diabetics to detect low blood sugar levels.
The Apple Watch has looked the same (mostly) since its launch, with a square face and rounded corners that some people love and others hate. And while we don’t think Apple will completely overhaul the Series 5’s design, reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF Securities predicts Apple will bring back a ceramic version. Kuo wrote in February that he anticipates a “new ceramic casing design added,” but provided no additional insight.
The $1,299 Apple Watch Edition came in a beautiful white ceramic, but Apple phased out that premium model when the Series 4 launched in fall 2018. Kuo expects ceramic to make a comeback, though it’s unclear if the material will be reserved for the most expensive Series 5 or if Apple will democratize ceramic across the watch lineup.
Aside from its looks, ceramic is a tougher material than aluminum and more resistant to scratches.
Better OLED display?
Unlike the iPhone, the Apple Watch has sported an OLED display from day one. Apple has relied on LG to make its watch panels, but rumor has it the company is turning to Japan Display for the Series 5’s OLED screens.
This is a big deal, because Japan Display hasn’t made OLED panels before — the company was Apple’s go-to for LCD screens, but those have fallen by the wayside. It’s unclear how that decision will affect the Series 5, or if buyers will even notice a change, but a new supplier could signal a fresh look for the new smartwatch.
Apple Watch camera?
Apple has filed a patent that suggests the company has explored ways to add positionable cameras to the Apple Watch. The concept is an Apple Watch band with a camera embedded into the end of the strap. This would allow the watch to take photos and video, with the Apple Watch's main display acting as the viewfinder.
According to the patent, the lens can rotate on the band, and “allow the smartwatch to capture images and video at angles and orientations that do not depend directly on the angle and orientation of the rest of the smartwatch.” However, there's no telling whether Apple wants to use this feature on an upcoming Apple Watch.
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Credit: Tom's Guide