Extra-rugged Apple Watch for athletes will pack biggest screen yet

Extra-rugged Apple Watch for athletes will pack biggest screen yet

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A ruggedized Apple Watch for athletes
Just how radically rugged will the Apple Watch for extreme athletes be?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The rugged Apple Watch designed for hardcore athletes will come with the smartwatch’s biggest screen yet, according to a new report.

Slated to launch this fall alongside Apple Watch Series 8, the sports-oriented smartwatch will come with a beefier battery to make it through longer workouts. A more shatter-resistant screen and a brawny metal case will round out the package — along with a hefty price bump.

Rugged Apple Watch for extreme sports

Details on the upcoming Apple Watch for extreme sports athletes come from Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, citing anonymous sources “with knowledge of the plans.” The screen will measure “almost 2 inches diagonally,” he reported Wednesday.

The current Apple Watch Series 7 screen measures 1.9 inches diagonally. However, as any Apple Watch owner knows, on your wrist, every millimeter counts.

Apple Watch design continues to evolve

The Apple Watch design has evolved slowly ever since the original model launched in 2015. Apple bumped up the screen size with Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018 and again with last year’s Series 7. The overall look of the smartwatch remains mostly the same, however.

Apple could utilize the additional screen real estate on 2022’s sports edition — which Gurman pegged at “about 7% more screen area than the largest current Apple Watch” — to further differentiate it from other models.

“Apple could use the larger screen area to show more fitness metrics or information on watch faces at one time,” Gurman wrote. “The company added several new fitness features in watchOS 9, including multisport workouts and improved intensity tracking during exercise routines.”

He said the “display will have a resolution of about 410 pixels by 502 pixels and retain the same overall sharpness as the existing models.”

Just how rugged will it be?

Rumored for more than a year — and sometimes referred to as Apple Watch Explorer Edition — the rugged model would compete with full-featured sport watches from companies like Garmin and Casio. Initial rumors indicated it might come with a rubberized, impact-resistant casing as seen in Casio’s G-Shock lineup.

Wednesday’s report made no mention of a rubberized casing. Gurman said only that the sport edition will be made of a “strong metal material.” However, the story indicates Apple will forego aluminum (currently used in the most affordable versions of regular Apple Watches).

In addition to durability, using high-end materials for the rugged Apple Watch could bring a jumbo price tag. Gurman predicts the watch will likely “be pricier than the standard stainless steel Apple Watch, which today starts at $699.”

Other features: Body temp monitor and fitness boosts

Like Apple Watch Series 8, the rugged version reportedly will include a body temperature monitor capable of detecting fevers. And it will benefit from new fitness-oriented features coming in watchOS 9.

As Cult of Mac reported this spring, with watchOS 9, “Apple is taking on fitness specialists like Garmin with prosumer experiences such as Heart Rate Zone training, Running Form Metrics, Custom Workouts and Kickboard Detection for swimmers.”

All three new Apple Watches reportedly coming in 2022 — Series 8, the rugged model and an entry-level Apple Watch SE 2 — will run on an S8 chip similar last year’s S7 processor, Gurman wrote.

The S7 chip offered only a slight performance enhancements over 2020’s S6 chip. That makes three years in a row without a real performance boost — a dubious first for Apple’s chipmaking team.

Rugged Apple Watch mockups

If all goes according to plan, Apple should unveil all three Apple Watch models this fall alongside iPhone 14.

Can’t wait to see the new rugged Apple Watch? If you want to eyeball some concept art that shows what it might look like, see our exclusive Apple Watch Explorer Edition mockups.