Apple Watch X — 5 upgrades Apple needs to make

Apple Watch Series 9 on a user's wrist.
(Image credit: Future)

The Apple Watch X (10) will almost certainly debut this fall, possibly alongside an upgraded Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE. With no shortage of other major smartwatch models set to launch this year, the Cupertino tech giant will need to do more than offer basic refreshes of these products to maintain its competitive edge. 

I’ve already shared a list of the most important Apple Watch Ultra 3 upgrades I’d like to see. Now it’s time to peer into the crystal ball and predict which features a next-gen Apple Watch Series X will need to keep Apple at the top of our best smartwatches list and fend off the Galaxy Watch 7 and Google Pixel Watch 3

1. Apple Watch X – Add truly competitive workout recovery tools

Garmin Forerunner 265 recovery features.

Apple should take a page from Garmin's book and add legit workout recovery features, like those found on the Forerunner 265 (shown).  (Image credit: Future)

The Apple Watch Series 9 is a great tool for tracking workouts, setting and reaching fitness goals and generally staying in shape. However, it could benefit from a comprehensive set of workout recovery tools, like those found on more fitness-focused smartwatches from Garmin and Polar

For Apple to truly stay ahead of the smartwatch pack, namely Samsung and Google, it needs to bridge the gap between standard smartwatch fitness functionality and the advanced training tools found in many of the best fitness trackers

The first step: take recovery metrics and analysis more seriously. After all, workout data is just one piece of a much larger well-being puzzle.  

2. Apple Watch X – Multi-day battery life

Middling battery life is an issue that plagues even the best smartwatches. Why are we settling for multi-hundred-dollar devices that still need to be charged daily? Sure, the Apple Watch Series 9 can make it for roughly 18 hours, on a good day, but how about a full-featured smartwatch that only needs to be topped off once or twice a week?

With so many smartwatches to choose from, the war of the wearables may come down to a battle for battery life supremacy. This is to say that whichever brand can figure out a better battery and implement it into a device sooner, will have a serious advantage over the competition. 

3. Apple Watch X – Add some physical buttons

Apple Watch Ultra on the wrist showing the Action Button

I'd like to see the Action Button from the Apple Watch Ultra migrate to the Apple Watch 10.  (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For the last 15 years or so, Apple has seemed hell-bent on nixing physical buttons from as many Apple devices as possible. Blame it on an over-glorification of (former) Apple designer Jony Ives and his strict interpretation of Dieter Rams’ Principles of Good Design, particularly number ten. 

Sure, streamlined products are nice. But so too is having an actual button, especially one that can be customized to a user’s taste. 

So, when Apple introduced the Apple Ultra Watch in September 2022 with a sizable and programmable Action Button on the side of the case, I was thrilled. Now it’s time for that button to migrate over to Apple’s standard line of smartwatches. And heck, why not give the people two programmable action buttons, one above and one below the crown, sort of like a chronometer? 

4. Apple Watch X – Make it more durable

Don’t get me wrong, the Apple Watch Series 9 is pretty durable, but there’s room for improvement. For starters, I’d like to see the water resistance rating increase from 50 meters to 100 meters. While 50 meters of water resistance may sound impressive, Apple recommends you don’t spend more than 30 minutes in the water with Series 9 devices. You’ll also want to stick to surface-level swimming

At 100 meters of water resistance, Apple Watch X owners would in theory be able to splash around to their heart's content, without worrying about damaging their device. 100 meters is also enough water resistance for snorkeling and other underwater activities, though not deep-sea diving. 

Apple Watch Series 9

I hope the Apple Watch 10 is more durable than the Series 9. Or, if nothing else, more water resistant.  (Image credit: Future)

The Apple Watch Series 9 can operate in temperatures ranging from 32 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. With the world getting warmer and climates shifting, there’s clearly room for improvement here as well. And not just on the upper end. As an avid snowboarder, I’d love to be able to use an Apple Watch X to track my day on the mountain but only if it can truly survive sub-freezing temps for multiple hours.

5. Apple Watch X – Full integration with future wearables

A concept image of the Apple smart ring

Apple's new smartwatches better play nice with its forthcoming smart ring.  (Image credit: Midjourney AI)

While an Apple Ring announcement happening this fall is unlikely, never say never (unless you’re Sean Connery). With the hype surrounding Samsung’s forthcoming Galaxy Ring difficult to ignore, perhaps Tim and Co. will have some hints or surprises in store for us. 

Either way, the next-gen Apple Watch X had better come equipped to play nice with a future Apple Ring, because the advantages of these two wearables working in tandem are numerous. For one, they could supplement each other’s health monitoring and fitness tracking data, leading to deeper insights into well-being, as well as speedier and more accurate alerts for serious health conditions. 

Full integration might also mean that sleep-tracking duties can be handed off to the Apple Ring, leading to more reliable sleep data. After all, it’s easier to wear a ring to bed than a watch. At least, for me. 

Apple Watch X – Other improvements

There are of course other improvements I’d love to see in an Apple Watch X, including a wider range of sizes to choose from, a brighter and crisper display, a greater selection of useful third-party apps, blood pressure monitoring, improved health tracking across the board, a tougher screen, etc. 

Which of these will ultimately come to fruition and which will be missed opportunities? We’ll find out in the fall. Until then, stay tuned to Tom's Guide for all the latest leaks and info. 

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Dan Bracaglia
Senior Writer, Fitness & Wearables

Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd.