Updated 06/11/18: The latest rumor says the next Apple Watch (or maybe the one after that) won't have buttons that move. For everything on watchOS 5, check out our FAQ.
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.
No more mechanical buttons
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.