Apple is expected to make sustainability a big focus of its iPhone 15 event on September 12 – and a major part of that will be a significant refresh of its Apple Watch straps and iPhone cases.
We're expecting to see an Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 announced at the Apple September event tomorrow, and there are signs that Apple is planning to move away from its leather, silicone and even stainless steel watch bands.
Apple's long-time Watch partner Hermès recently removed its 'Apple Watch Hermès' page and all other mentions of Apple-related accessories from its site. That either suggests an entirely new range of straps is en route, or that Apple's partnership with the brand is over.
We'll find out for sure during the September 12 keynote, but an extra hint that Apple is planning to move away from leather entirely was the recent revelation from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman that Apple has been offering Hermès leather accessories to its employees with a 90% discount.
What might take the place of leather straps? Separate leaks from Apple collector @KosutamiSan on X (formerly Twitter) suggest that Apple is planning to introduce a new woven-style "eco-fiber" material called FineWoven for its iPhone 15 cases. This will apparently also feature on new Apple Watch straps, which will also have a magnetic buckle.
But it seemingly isn't just leather that's on the way out for Apple accessories and Watch bands. According to MacRumors, Kosutami claims that Apple is planning to discontinue all of its silicone rubber and fluoroelastomer accessories for the iPhone and Apple Watch, instead replacing them with "more eco-friendly next-generation materials."
This means the Sport Band, Solo Loop, and AirTag Loop could all be given a refresh tomorrow, alongside the arrival of a new FineWoven strap to replace the current leather options.
We could even see a change for Apple's lovely but expensive stainless steel link bracelets, as stock for those has run out in many regions. That means it could either get an update will disappear from Apple's range, leaving fans to choose from the many third-party imitators.
Analysis: Time for Apple Watch straps to go greener
Back in 2020, Apple announced its goal of becoming carbon neutral across its whole business (including its manufacturing supply chain) by the year 2030. So a big focus on sustainable materials for its Apple Watch straps and iPhone cases wouldn't be a huge surprise at the iPhone 15 launch event.
Leather accessories are an obvious one for Apple to cross off its list, given their high carbon footprint. But some of Apple's silicone accessories are also in the firing line because they aren't made from recycled materials. By contrast, its Braided Solo Loop is made from a stretchable recycled yarn, which is interwoven with silicone threads.
Apple's rumored new 'FineWoven' creation could just be the first of many new environmentally-friendly materials that we see from the tech giant, which would be a positive move that could also produce some interesting new Apple Watch straps and iPhone cases.
On a similar theme, Apple also recently announced its support of a California climate bill that proposes transparency and strict reporting around emissions that come from a company's supply chain. But on the other hand, it also looks likely that Apple will attempt to side-step incoming EU regulations demanding that all appliances, including phones, have user-replaceable batteries.
So while a refreshed and more environmentally-friendly Apple Watch strap lineup would be a positive move, there's clearly still a long way to go in the wider push for sustainability.
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Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.