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This year’s expected Apple Watch updates are all about the sensors

This year’s expected Apple Watch updates are all about the sensors


A report from Bloomberg says the focus on updated sensors is to improve ‘speed, efficiency, and accuracy.’ The iPhone 15 Pro will also be lighter thanks to a new titanium chassis.

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Sensor array of the Apple Watch Series 8 on a reflective pink surface.
The new Apple Watches will purportedly get a new optical heart rate sensor and U2 UWB chip.
Image: Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

This year’s Apple Watch leaks haven’t been terribly exciting. So far, we’ve heard there’ll be a new, faster processor and potentially a darker color for the Ultra 2. However, a new Bloomberg report suggests that’s because the major updates this time around will revolve around the sensors — namely, a new optical heart rate sensor and a new U2 ultra wideband chip. The same report also suggests the iPhone 15 Pro models will be about 10 percent lighter than prior models and perhaps more repairable thanks to an internal redesign.

It’s been a while since Apple did a major overhaul of the Apple Watch’s internal components. The last time the processor got a significant boost was the Series 6 in 2020 — and that’s about when Apple introduced a new always-on altimeter, blood oxygen sensors, and the U1 UWB chip. While there are scant details about the new optical heart rate sensor, the goal is ostensibly increased accuracy. That will in turn impact the Apple Watch’s various health features like abnormal high / low heart rate and irregular heart rate rhythm alerts. Meanwhile, the U2 UWB chip will likely improve precision tracking within the Find My app for lost items.

That said, Bloomberg notes that, design-wise, this year’s Apple Watches will look the same as last year’s models. That means the Series 9 will stick with the 41mm and 45mm cases, while the Ultra will remain at 49mm. The main difference will be a shift toward 3D-printed cases for stainless steel Series 9 models as part of an eco-friendly push.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg also repeats the reports we’ve heard for a while that the iPhone 15 Pro lineup will replace the stainless steel edges with titanium, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in weight. The titanium design is expected to drop the shiny fingerprint-prone sides for a matte finish and replace the sharp edges with something more rounded. All four iPhone 15 models are also rumored to get the new U2 UWB chip as well as an Action Button to replace the ring / mute switch. Lastly, Bloomberg claims that the iPhone 15 Pro models will feature a revamped chassis that will make it easier to repair the phones. We’re also expecting to see the iPhone 15 adopt USB-C, extend the Dynamic Island to all four models, and feature a faster A17 chip on the Pro versions.

While we don’t expect any major changes to the AirPods Pro, Apple will reportedly add a USB-C port to the case. The regular AirPods and AirPods Max are expected to switch from Lightning to USB-C next year.