Apple Watch Series 4 rumors: Six new models filed with the EEC

The new Apple Watch is also said to have improved health tracking capabilities.

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Updated 08/20/18: French site Consomac has noticed that Apple filed six new Apple Watch model numbers with the EEC, further evidence that the Series 4 is coming soon.

Apple has released a new version of the Apple Watch every year since its debut in 2015, and the company seems to show no signs of slowing down. Here we have compiled all the latest rumors, leaks, and reasonably well-informed speculation about Apple Watch Series 4.

New Apple Watches registered with the EEC

French site Consomac has noticed that six new Apple Watch models have been registered with the EEC (Eurasian Economic commission). The filings are required for products that ship with encryption and are sold in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.

The listing doesn't tell us anything about the products, other than that they are Apple Watches and run watchOS 5. In the past, such EEC listings popped up just a few weeks before the products were announced or went on sale. It's a pretty good indicator that the Series 4 is coming this September. 

Why six entries? There are different model numbers for LTE and non-LTE Apple Watches, the two different sizes, and Watches made from different materials (Aluminum, Stainless, and Ceramic). For reference, the Apple Watch Series 3 showed up in the EEC with eight listings (two GPS aluminum models and six other models without GPS).

Significantly larger displays

A new report from Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities claims that the new Apple Watch introduced this fall—which we assume will be the Series 4—will come with significantly larger displays. Kuo says the small watch will be 1.57 inches (or 39.9mm), up from 1.33 inches (34mm). The larger model will be 1.78 inches (or 45.2mm), up from 1.53 inches (39mm).

That’s about 38 percent more screen area on the small watch, and about 34 percent more on the large model.

In addition to the new screen dimensions, Kuo reiterated his previous report that the Series 4 will have longer battery life (either through a bigger battery or a more efficient SoC, or both) and better health tracking capabilities.

Plausible? We don’t expect Apple to change the Apple Watch case design this year so much that it makes existing watch bands incompatible. That means the case can’t significantly grow or shrink (but it could get a little bit thicker or thinner). However, there’s enough bezel around the edge display within the watch case to allow for these larger display sizes without making the casing any bigger. It’ll be a neat engineering feat and make the watches a lot easier on the eyes, too.

Kuo has great connections with the Apple supply chain and is more accurate than most other analysts, so we think these figures are likely.

No more mechanical buttons

This rumor was reported on June 11, 2018.

A “source with direct knowledge of Apple’s plans” has told FastCompany that Apple plans to outfit the Apple Watch with buttons that do not move, but rather simply sense the touch of a finger. The Haptic Engine would then be used to give the button the feel of a click.

The Apple Watch will still have the same configuration—a rotating crown and a button beneath it—but neither one will actually move inward when clicked (although the crown would still physically rotate). In other words, they would work just as the home button does on the iPhone 7 and 8. 

There are two expected benefits of this change. First, it makes it easier to make the watch more water-resistant. Second, it frees up a tiny bit of space inside to allow for a larger battery or other internal components. Everything is packed so tightly into a very tiny bit of space that every extra fraction of a millimeter matters.

The source told FastCompany that the change may happen with a new Apple Watch this year (which we assume will be Series 4), or it may come in 2019.

Plausible? Apple. Hates. Buttons. For decades the company has been practically obsessed with limiting, removing, and minimizing buttons on its devices, from the dogged insistence that the Mac have a one-button mouse all the way up to the removal of the home button on the iPhone. We can easily see this coming true, between that and the aforementioned benefits of the increased internal space, not to mention that the iPhone 7 and 8 (and newer MacBook trackpads) have shown non-moving “buttons” can work fine with the right haptic response. The only real question is if it will happen this year or next.

Series 4 to have slightly larger display, longer battery, better health tracking

This rumor was reported on March 27, 2018.

Reliable industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI Securities has released a note to investors that claims the Apple Watch Series 4 will launch in the third quarter of the year. The Series 4, he claims, will have a 15 percent larger display, longer battery life, and better health tracking.

The report doesn’t really go into specific details on how any of these things will be achieved. For example, the 15 percent larger display may mean a larger Apple Watch case (for the first time since its debut), or it may simply mean less bezel area between the display and the edges of the case.

The report mentions a higher-capacity battery, but that could be achieved through better battery quality or a larger physical size. A more efficient S-series system-on-chip could provide longer battery life, too.

Unfortunately, Kuo didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “enhanced health sensors.” We know that Apple is big into health tracking with the Apple Watch, but without more information, the vague description gives us no idea of what to expect. 

Plausible? All of these things make sense. Apple is leaning hard into heath and fitness, and Apple Watch is its best expression of that. After several years, it’s time for a better heartrate sensor and Apple has been said to be working on noninvasive continuous glucose monitoring. A new chip fabrication process could improve battery life. And there’s enough bezel around the display in an Apple Watch to make the display area 15% larger without actually changing the case size or shape, so all our watch bands will still work.

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