Apple Watch 4: what we want to see

The Apple Watch 3 is the best wearable Apple has built, and, as it tops our best smartwatch list, it’s arguably the best smartwatch from any manufacturer.

But, like most things in the gadget world, it’s still not perfect or essential in the way that a smartphone is.

So we’ve come up with a list of things we want to see from the Apple Watch 4, to bring it a step closer to our wearable dreams.

But before that you’ll find information on the likely price, release date, specs and features of the Apple Watch 4. There aren’t many rumors emanating from the internet-sphere, but some things are very likely based on past models and the rest we’ll fill in as soon as there’s any Apple Watch 4 news.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next Apple smartwatch
  • When is it out? Possibly September 2018
  • What will it cost? Probably upwards of £329 / $329 / AU$459

Apple Watch 4 release date and price

The Apple Watch 3 was launched on September 22, 2017, so it makes sense that we'll be waiting until at least September 2018 for the Apple Watch 4.

As the Apple Watch 2 was released a year earlier in September 2016, that’s only our best guess. We could be waiting longer, given the gap between the original Apple Watch and the Apple Watch 2 was 17 months.

There’s no word on the Apple Watch 4's price, but it’s likely to be around the same price as the Apple Watch 3 currently is, meaning a starting price of around £329 / $329 / AU$459 for the smaller 38mm version.

That said, the Apple Watch 3 actually had a lower launch price than the Apple Watch 2, so with all the extra tech likely to be found in the Apple Watch 4 the price could equally increase.

And that price above is just the starting price. Choose the larger 42mm band or opt for LTE connectivity and the Apple Watch 3 gets more expensive, as does choosing a pricier case or strap material. All of that is likely to remain true for the Apple Watch 4.

Apple Watch 4 news and rumors

There aren’t many Apple Watch 4 rumors yet, but one early one takes the form of a patent for a self-adjusting watch strap.

This would involve a mechanism that expands and contracts the strap as needed, so that the fit remains comfortable and not too loose at all times, which could also help ensure the sensors on the watch get accurate readings.

The Apple Watch 4 could have a strap that resizes itself. Credit: Apple Insider

There's also an older patent for a wearable that can measure your respiration rate, which could well be a feature on the Apple Watch 4, and another for a wearable with a circular face.

However patents very often don't make it into products, so we wouldn't count on seeing either of these things.

Beyond those things most of the Apple Watch 3’s features are sure to return. That includes optional LTE connectivity, GPS, a heart rate monitor, a waterproof build and a premium construction with a square screen.

The Apple Watch 4 is also likely to be available in two sizes - 38mm and 42mm -
and to allow for contactless payments via Apple Pay.

One change that we can predict is to the chipset, with a new Apple S4 one likely to be included, though we don’t yet know how much difference that will make.

It’s also likely that the Apple Watch 4 will run watchOS 5, although again we've got very little information on what that will feature.

What we want to see

While the Apple Watch 4 remains a thing of mystery for now, the things we want from it aren’t enigmatic at all. In fact, they’re right underneath these words.

1. Android compatibility

If the Apple Watch 4 supported Android it would have wider appeal

We know this is hugely unlikely to happen, but wouldn’t it be great? It would also help the Apple Watch match Android Wear in one of the few areas where it doesn’t already, since Android Wear offers limited compatibility with iOS devices.

It’s understandable that Apple would want to keep its Watch working only with other Apple devices, since doing so keeps people in its ecosystem – you’re not going to switch to an Android phone if you already have an Apple Watch.

But that could also put off anyone who doesn’t want to make a long-term commitment to Apple, and it completely rules out anyone who currently uses an Android phone from having one of the best smartwatches on the market.

2. Even better battery life

The Apple Watch 3 actually has quite good battery life, at least by smartwatch standards, easily lasting at least two days if you don’t use LTE.

But that still leaves plenty of room for improvement. Many fitness trackers last around a week or longer and of course a conventional watch will go for years.

It’s not realistic to expect the Apple Watch 4 to do the same, but any gains would be appreciated and help make it feel like less of a downgrade from your analog watch in that area.

Improvements could also make sleep tracking more viable, since currently you’re likely to plug your Watch in overnight.

3. More fitness features

The Watch 3 is a good fitness watch, the Apple Watch 4 could be a great one

The Apple Watch has become more and more a health and fitness device over the years and that’s now one of its main selling points, but there’s still room for improvement here.

Much of this will be handled by apps and software updates, but we’d like to see more health and fitness skills from the actual Apple Watch 4 hardware too, such as sensors that can track your respiration rate and blood oxygen levels.

4. Better Siri

One of our few complaints in our Apple Watch 3 review was about the patchiness of Siri. When it works it’s great, but sometimes commands won’t be heard or interpreted properly and that sort of thing can put people off using it at all, since when it does fail you’d usually be quicker doing the thing by hand.

So we’d like Siri on the Apple Watch 4 to work better. That’s probably largely a software or connectivity hurdle, which could mean any improvements will reach older models too.

Another option would be for Apple to improve the microphone so Siri can hear us better, but that's not really the main issue we faced on the Apple Watch 3.

5. Improved performance

Apple upgraded the chipset in the Apple Watch 3 but it’s still not quite as speedy as we’d like, especially when it comes to loading apps, which often isn’t instantaneous.

Much of the time the Apple Watch’s whole purpose is to be a faster, simpler alternative to getting out your phone, but if you’re waiting for apps to load it’s arguably not.

So we hope the chipset in the Apple Watch 4 – likely to be called the Apple S4 – will offer the sort of smooth performance we get with an iPhone 8 or iPhone X.

6. A circular option

Not everyone wants a square watch, so we'd like to see a circular option

On the scale of things that are going to happen this ranks way above Android compatibility but below most other things.

Apple seems happy with the design of the Watch and hasn’t substantially changed it in the various versions it’s launched so far, so we don’t expect a redesign any time soon, let alone a completely different screen shape.

But having a circle as an option would be nice. Conventional watches often have a circular face, as do many Android Wear ones, so to appeal to more buyers it would make some sense to offer the choice.

The issue is it would mean reworking the interface a bit, which Apple probably doesn't want to do.

7. Heart rate insights

The heart rate monitor in the Apple Watch 3 is fairly impressive, as it can keep a record of things like your heart rate ranges when working out, your heart rate variability and your daily resting heart rate, as well as your beats per minute, but it doesn’t do much with the information.

It would be good if the Apple Watch 4 – or a software update on previous models – added insights into what these stats actually mean and how you can affect them, because that would turn some graphs into genuinely usable information.

Given WatchOS 4 already brings the ability to poke you to be more active at times that are helpful to you, using this heart rate data to help you get fitter (by suggesting slightly longer walks, or congratulating you on lowering your resting heart rate with reasons it's happened) would be excellent.