Apple Watch Series 4: Rumors, Release Date & Features

The new Apple Watch operating system upgrade, watchOS 5, was just revealed at WWDC, but as expected, we'll have to wait until later in the year for the Apple Watch Series 4 to be released. Apple's revenues from its Other Products category (which basically includes every piece of hardware it sells that is not an iPhone, iPad, or Mac) just keep increasing, growing by 38 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2018. The Apple Watch is believed to comprise a large portion of that revenue, so it makes sense for Apple to build on that momentum and announce an Apple Watch Series 4 soon. But when specifically is a new Apple Watch most likely to be released? What features might distinguish a new watch from previous iterations? Let's discuss all the clues and rumors surrounding the Apple Watch Series 4.

Related: Everything You Need to Know about watchOS 5: Release Date, Compatibility, Top Features & More

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Apple Watch Series 4: When Does It Come Out?

Apple has released a smartwatch every year since 2015, so it's reasonable to assume that 2018 will be no different. For the last three years, Apple has announced the new Apple Watch version at its annual September event, so we're predicting that September 2018 will follow the trend and bring an Apple Watch Series 4 reveal. 

New Apple Watch Design Rumors

Larger Display?

According to the rumor mill, Apple is increasing display sizes on the 2018 crop of iPhones, iPad Pros, and also, it seems, for the newest Apple Watch. As reported in 9to5Mac, Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities predicts that the Apple Watch display will be enlarged by as much as 15 percent over the former 38 or 42 mm size offerings of previous smartwatches. This estimate would bring the Apple Watch 4 display sizes up to a choice between 43.7 mm or 48.3 mm; I'm going to guess designers will go for nice round numbers and offer a 44 mm or a 48 mm display on the series 4. The increase in screen size could come as a result of a decrease in bezel size, as with the iPhone X, an enlargement of the watch body, or a combination of both. 

Display Shape

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Up until now, the Apple Watch face has been a rectangle with rounded corners; will the Apple Watch 4 break the mold? Ming-Chi Kuo also predicts that Apple will renovate the watch face to a "more trendy form factor design." Does this mean the Apple Watch 4 will feature a round face? Or maybe more of a rounded square? Only Apple knows, for now, but my guess is that Apple will stick to a square or rectangular watch face to prevent text crowding at the center of a rounded screen. 

Smart Band?

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Image Credit: Apple Insider

Last year MacRumors reported that Apple had been granted a patent for a "modular functional band links for wearable devices" for the Apple Watch. The band gets around the chassis-size issue by incorporating watch components into the band itself. Some of the possibilities for the band's functionality include more biometric sensors, haptic feedback devices, speakers, and extra batteries or kinetic power generators. My favorite idea out of all of these is the kinetic power generation theory; what a great way to extend the time between charges! 

Improved Capabilities 

The Apple Watch Series 3 features a dual-core processor that's up to 70 percent faster than that of the Series 2, while a W2 chip gives the watch 50 percent more battery efficiency for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Both of these features add almost no bulk to the watch chassis, making it almost identical in size to the Apple Watch 2. So what improvements can we expect to see with the Apple Watch 4?

A Faster Processor for the Apple Watch 4? 

Will there be a new CPU and faster graphics performance for the Apple Watch 4? If so, Apple will need to roll out a W3 chip for the Apple Watch this year.

Apple Watch Battery Life & Sleep Tracking

Apple Watch owners have long desired improvements in battery life so the device can be utilized for overnight sleep monitoring as well as daytime health and fitness tracking. The series 2 and 3 Apple Watch both feature an 18–hour battery life, even with workouts; so will the Series 4 make it to 24 hours? If the power-generating modular band is a reality, it's entirely possible. 

An Apple Watch that Truly Operates Independently of an iPhone?

Apple rolled out a cellular option for last year's smartwatch, but the Cellular Apple Watch 3 still needs to be paired with an iPhone in order set it up, update watchOS, and fully access all the functions. As well, not all of the watch's LTE features can function truly independantly of the iPhone. Will the cellular Apple Watch 4 be the first watch to function independently of an iPhone? This rumor seems like it may be wishful thinking; but if it is true, I'll be buying one for my daughter next year!   

New Health Monitoring Capabilities: Blood Pressure, Glucose Level & More

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One of the most exciting applications for Apple's smartwatch technology is the variety of health-monitoring capabilities offered by the device. The heart rate monitor, for example, can be used to monitor for atrial fibrillation (AFib,) a leading cause of stroke. Since AFib often goes unnoticed, approximately 130,000 people die from this condition every year. Luckily, the Apple Watch can warn wearers of the abnormal heart rhythm so they can get help in time, making it literally a life-saving technology. Heart health isn't the only area of medicine that the Apple Watch is contributing to, though. Apple's ResearchKit and CareKit platforms offer support to more than 500 researchers engaged in ground-breaking medical studies, and many of those studies utilize the Apple Watch for data collection. So how will the Apple Watch 4 expand on medical data collection? Most likely with a combination of hardeware and software upgrades.

DeepHeart, an Apple Watch App that collects and translates various health data including heart rate and step count, can currently detect diabetes 85 percent of the time, as well as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol with similar degrees of accuracy. High on the wish list for Apple Watch app developers and medical researchers would be even more health monitoring capabilities, including non-invasive blood glucose level collection, continuous ECG monitoring capabilities, a respiration rate monitor, and a blood-oxygen-level monitor. Will any of these capabilities be rolled out with the Apple Watch 4, possibly in conjunction with watchOS 5? We'll have to wait and see.   

A Truly Waterproof Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch Series 3 is water resistant up to 50 meters, or 164 feet. This means you can swim or snorkel with the smart watch, but not do deeper-water activities like scuba diving. The watch is also designed to handle light splashing, but not heavy-velocity spray from activities like water skiing. So, will these capabilities change with the Apple Watch 4? Can we expect a device that can stand up to every kind of water sport, or is that a feature for a future version of the Apple Watch?

What Do You Think?

What features do you expect or wish to seen in an Apple Watch Series 4? Let me know in the comments!

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Leanne Hays is a Feature Web Writer at iPhone Life.  She loves reading and blogging, and is never without a book in her purse or an audiobook on her phone. Short-term goals include finishing painting her house and starting an aquaponics farm, long-term goals include a bike tour of Italy and writing a novel.