Right now you can buy a Series 1 or Series 2 Apple Watch, but when will the Apple Watch 3 be launched? We round up the rumours surrounding the Apple Watch 3 release date along with specs and features. See also: Best smartwatches 2016
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Although Google's partners have launched plenty of Android Wear smartwatches over the years (and there's now Android Wear 2), the Apple Watch is a top seller. With the 'Series' naming scheme differentiating the two current models, the next wearable could well be called the Apple Watch Series 3 but we're calling it the Apple Watch 3 for now to keep things simple.
Latest update: A report by Taiwan-based Digitimes says that the Apple Watch 3 will ship in the second half of 2017. The confidence comes from a leak which says manufacturing is already starting to ramp up, specifically for the screen for the new wearable. The third-gen Watch will reportedly have a glass-film touchscreen, rather than the 'touch-on-lens' screen used by the Series 2.
It would appear that the touch-on-lens screens are very difficult - and therefore costly - to produce and yields haven't been as good as the manufacturer, TPK Holding, had hoped. Rumour has it that the forthcoming watch will use a thin glass panel covered in a heavy-duty, scratch-resistant film laminate, and that it will be manufactured by a different company.
When is the Apple Watch 3 release date?
The Chinese Economic Daily News website has reported that Apple has again given the manufacturing contract to Taiwan-based Quanta, which has assembled all of Apple's smartwatches so far. It says to expect a launch in the Autumn of 2017. We expect the Apple Watch 3 release date to fall around September 2017, as this would be a year after the Apple Watch Series 2 (which was revealed on 7 September 2016).
However, there could be new Apple Watch models as soon as March, with a possible 'S' models arriving with more storage – maybe 4- and 8GB. This is our thoughts as opposed to rumours, though.
What are the rumoured features and specifications?
Will the Apple Watch 3 be round? We certainly hope so or at least an option for circular alongside square, but the only suggestion is the new patent above. Even so, it's one of the more unlikely features since watchOS has been designed for square shaped displays.
One of the latest rumours, supported by the sketch below in a patent for a modular watch strap, is that it will be circular. This is unlikely, though, as it's just a sketch to show how the system will work
Also, as spotted by 9to5mac, another new patent outlines a strap with an embedded battery that provides power to the watch by an thin induction coil that sits on the bottom of the watch. This is essentially a mobile power bank, which uses the same wireless charging system that's already used to charge the Watch, but a lot slimmer than the 'puck' that's bundled in the box as that wouldn't be comfortable in any way.
Most reports agree that the Watch 3 won't look much different from its predecessors, as rumours so far say that the main improvement will be in battery life rather than a new design or new features. The other reported change is that Apple might use what's called a 'micro-LED' screen to help in its quest to last for more days between charges.
What's easy to predict is that the Apple Watch 3 will come in a range of models, colours and a choice of straps. This means the price will have a large range depending on how basic or flashy you want to go. You can also expect collaborations with the likes of Nike.
Apple, we think, will also continue to offer two different sizes to cater for more users.
Do you need a camera on your smartwatch? It didn't work on the Samsung Gear 2 but Apple's patent is for a selfie camera instead. So, the Apple Watch 3 could support taking selfie photos and maybe FaceTime video calling, too.
Another interesting patent shows that Apple might be designing multi-function straps. A 'Magnetic Wristband' shows a strap which would attach to the body of the watch with magnets. However, the interesting bit it when the watch isn't worn as the strap can be rolled up to create stand.
Plus, a newly granted patent suggests that Apple might be trialling modular bands which could allow you to buy a 'base' watch and add the features you want via removable 'links' in the strap. Maybe you want longer battery, a GPS, a camera or even a specific medial function. No problem, just buy those you need and ignore those you don't. Apple could well open this up to third-party manufacturers, too.
Though the screen may stay square, Apple could introduce 3D Touch to the Apple Watch 3 providing extra functionality. It was a possible feature for the Series 2 so we expect the next model to be adorned with the pressure sensitivity.
We'll update this article with more news and rumours as they appear, but if you're listening Apple, our wishlist includes better battery life, an optional round screen, Qi wireless charging and smart straps. Okay? Thanks.