The new Apple Watch model sounds like Apple's most exciting update yet

The Apple Watch 7 in our outdoor test
The Apple Watch 7 in our outdoor test - but the Watch 8 Pro will be bigger (Image credit: TechRadar)

For a while now we've been hearing rumors about the Apple Watch 8 Rugged Edition, a new top-tier spin-off of the upcoming Apple Watch 8 which is supposedly built for outdoor and endurance activities (hence the name). 

Now, a reliable leaker has provided some juicy details about the upcoming smartwatch which has us excited.

This leaker is Mark Gurman, a name likely well-known by tech fans for his track record on Apple product leaks, who has, in his weekly Power On newsletter, shared lots of information about Apple's newest Watch shake-up.

Apparently, this Garmin-rivalling wearable will tout some intruiging features, primarily hiking and swimming ones which should appeal to those who like to go long-distance walks or brave the wild waters.

The design is also said to be a big selling point with a shatter-resistant screen and a premium metal shell (likely titanium, according to Gurman), plus the battery life is said to have a boost too - presumably over the Watch 7, although that's not clear.

Intruigingly, Gurman thinks that the Apple Watch 8 Rugged Edition (or Watch Extreme, Max, Explorer or Pro - there are many names being circulated by leakers and Gurman cites them all) will only come in a cell-enabled version, eschewing the more affordable Bluetooth-only connection version that standard Apple Watches come in.

Gurman also mentions something that he, and other leakers, have mentioned myriad times now: this Rugged wearable will also come alongside a standard Watch 8 and the Apple Watch SE 2, though they certainly sound like less interesting models.

Analysis: a well-needed Apple Watch shake-up

Even compared to other Apple products, the Watch series is one that takes to heart the idea of 'iterative updates'. Each new member of the family just brings a few tweaks and changes to the previous one, and we rarely see massive overhauls.

That sounds like it'll be different this year, as the Apple Watch 8 Rugged Edition could be the biggest shake-up we've seen to the family since the first device launched in 2015.

If the tone of this article wasn't clear enough already, that's certainly a good thing: cheap smartwatches have rapidly caught up to Apple's ones, offering similar features  (both in terms of fitness and smartphone connectivity) at a fraction of the price. The new Extreme model could give Apple an edge up over the competition, and make Apple Watches interesting again to the non Apple fan.

One issue could be Gurman's price guess, which is $900-$999. That's a lot for a smartwatch - more than most people would opt to pay.

So we'll need to wait until the likely-September launch of the Apple Watch 8 Rugged Edition to see how good it is, but if the feature leaks are right (but the price isn't), this could be destined for a high spot in our list of the best Apple Watches.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.