The Apple Watch Series 9 and the next Apple Watch Ultra will be powered by the upcoming S9 chip that will enable a much faster performance.
The last time the Apple Watch received a performance increase was with 2020’s Apple Watch Series 6 that was 20 percent faster than its predecessor.
Aside from a faster chip, the Apple Watch Series 9 and the second-generation Apple Watch Ultra models will get updated sensors, including a new heart rate sensor, and Apple’s upcoming U2 chip for enhanced spatial awareness and tracking in the Find My app. The U2 chip will also supplant the U1 in the iPhone 15.
Apple Watch Series 9 could run a faster chip
Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg, has learned that this year’s watches will focus on significant gains in processing speed. He also mentions that “various sensor and internal component upgrades” concentrate on speed, efficiency and accuracy, including a new version of Apple’s optical heart rate sensor.
The company is testing a shift to 3D-printed device cases, starting with the stainless steel models of the Series 9. Apple is planning to shift the second-generation Ultra to this process next year as well. This comes as part of a major environmental push for the watch planned for this year.
Apple is understood to test 3D-printed mechanical parts like the Side button, the Digital Crown and the case. Gurman said earlier that only the stainless steel Apple Watch Series 9 models are expected to use 3D printed parts.
If the experiment goes well, the thinking goes, Apple could use 3D printing for more components in other devices. 3D printing could help Apple to bring manufacturing costs down while increasing production speed and sustainability.
Another move that will benefit sustainability: Apple seems to be ditching natural leather for accessories in favor of eco-friendly materials.
As part of that effort, Apple is shifting away from some of its leather watch bands. Signs of that change are already emerging: The company recently cut prices by up to 90 percent on some of its leather straps and Hermes-branded watch bands in an internal employee store. It has also run out of its stainless steel link bracelets from the 2015 watch, suggesting that the band will either finally get updated or be discontinued.
This change is expected to affect Apple’s current leather accessories, such as Apple Watch bands and iPhone, iPad and Mac cases and sleeves.
Three years without a speed increase
The Apple Watch Series 6, 7 and 8 models use Apple’s respective S6, S7 and S8 chips that however have the same quoted performance and technology.
The S6, S7 and S8 are all built on TSMC’s 7nm process, called TSMC N7P, and feature the same dual-core 1.8 GHz CPU. They differ in integrated features such as Wi-Fi and sensors like an always-on altimeter, gyroscope and accelerometer.
An increase in processing performance will probably come with energy savings, assuming the forthcoming S9 chip powering the upcoming Apple Watch Series 9 is built on a newer process technology from TSMC.
More oomph will make the next Apple Watch more responsive and multitask faster.
With most of the changes this year in the upcoming watchOS 10 software instead of Apple Watch hardware, the company would be wise to give the wearable device more processing power so that it could better handle the new watchOS 10 features.