Updated: September 6, 2021 5:35:53 pm
Apple Inc’s next-generation smartwatch will push the limits in a key area: the amount of information users can handle seeing at once.
The company is increasing the screen size of its new models — dubbed Series 7 — and will roll out new watch faces that take advantage of the extra real estate, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple is expected to unveil the new lineup as soon as this month.
The watches will be marketed as 41 millimeters and 45 millimeters, an increase from the current 40- and 44-millimeter versions, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the specifications aren’t yet public. But those sizes refer to the vertical dimension of the case. The new screen itself — measured diagonally — will be about 1.9 inches on the larger model, up from 1.78 inches.
The bigger model will have a resolution of 396 by 484, versus 368 by 448 on the model it’s replacing. That increase means the device will have about 16% more pixels, allowing it to show more so-called complications — an industry term for the bits of information that appear on watches. The smaller model will see a similar jump, but both watches will have thinner borders around the screens.
To take advantage of the new display size, Apple has developed a series of new watch faces for the device, at least some of which may ship with the new model:
A new face, dubbed Modular Max, will show the time digitally alongside one small complication — showing information like the day of the week, outside temperature or quick access to an app — with larger complications that span the length of the screen stacked on top of each other below. That’s an upgrade from the current Infograph Modular, which can show only one large complication.
A face dubbed Continuum will change based on the flow of time and the current hour.
A world time watch face — called Atlas and World Timer internally — will let a user see all 24 time zones simultaneously. An external dial shows the time zones, while the inner dial shows the time in each location. Users will be able to choose to see the time in either digital or analog. This watch face is similar to ones popularized by Patek Philippe, Breitling and Vacheron Constantin.
Apple is also working on new faces for its Hermes and Nike-branded Apple Watches. The Hermes version has numbers that change hour by hour, while a new Nike face features numbers that move based on a person’s motion.
This is only the second time in the history of the Apple Watch that the company has bumped up the screen size. The last increase was in 2018 with the launch of the Apple Watch Series 4. But Apple’s not alone in embracing a nearly 2-inch screen. Oppo put a 1.9-inch display last year on its namesake device, which looks similar to the Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch Series 7 will get other upgrades. The new models will feature a faster processor and a redesigned case with flatter edges. The new screen is designed with a new lamination technique that brings the display closer to the cover glass. That, among other issues, has led to production hiccups that could either delay the ship date of the Series 7 or result in supply shortages at launch.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
While Apple is redesigning the device for this year, it’s planning more expansive changes and new health features for 2022. The company aims to release a new low-end Apple Watch SE, a rugged model geared toward extreme sports users, and an update to the flagship model. It’s also planning to add a body-temperature sensor as early as next year’s model, Bloomberg News has reported.
Further in the future, Apple plans to add a noninvasive blood-sugar monitor and blood-pressure checker to the device, according to people with knowledge of the plans. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that the device would gain a blood-pressure feature, and that the thermometer could be used to help with fertility planning.
Apple has steadily added new health functionality over the past several years, including a heart-rate monitor, electrocardiogram feature and a blood-oxygen sensor.
The Apple Watch is also part of the company’s push to let users store their official IDs on its devices. It announced this week that several states, including Arizona, Connecticut and Georgia, will let residents add their driver’s licenses or state identification to the wallet feature of the Apple Watch or iPhone.
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