We haven’t seen it yet, but the Apple Watch 8 Pro figures to be the lineup’s most complete entry yet. Most of the updates aim squarely at rugged sports and outdoor utility.
What’s an iOS product, a smartwatch, and a top-echelon fitness watch all over? Until sometime soon, nothing. But the highest tier of Apple’s oncoming Watch 8 might fit the bill.
Bloomberg reported last week the company planned to give the watch line a “Pro” upgrade this fall. Along with multiple other rumored tweaks, the inclusion would put the collection’s range-topper on par with other Apple hardware like the MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and iPhone Pro.
Speculation didn’t set off fireworks right away. Some said a form factor update would be the most significant change from Watch 7 to Watch 8, which looked scheduled for a September arrival. It did stand to benefit from watchOS 9, which promises substantial improvement in fitness features.
And in line with higher-end componentry that other Apple Pro series equipment showcases, it now looks like Watch 8 Pro — whatever it’s called because it’s still unannounced — will change the Apple Watch game.
The pro features will include, per Bloomberg:
- a bigger and more shatter-resistant display
- upgraded hiking and swim tracking
- longer battery life
- a heftier, rugged case made from some non-aluminum metal material
Bloomberg speculated the new material could be titanium. The screen will grow in all dimensions from the current Watch 7, reportedly measuring 2 inches diagonally for 7% more screen size.
Currently, there’s no way to tell whether Watch 8 will measure up to sports watch stalwarts like Garmin or Suunto. There’s no word on whether Apple will improve the GPS capability, where GearJunkie found the Watch 7 lagged behind the field.
Our experts found that the 7’s heart rate monitor, ECG, sleep, step, and calorie trackers were all on point. The watchOS 9 interface looks more comprehensive for the wearer, and its instruments could improve fitness tracking.
Apple designed the bigger screen to display more information and added fitness metrics like heart rate zones, elevation, and power. The new watt meter will help wearers track their output and help the watch gather critical information during workouts.
Regarding durability against the elements, Watch 7 came with a WR50 (50m) water resistance rating, but was not rated for high-velocity or high-pressure ingresses like in scuba diving or water skiing. Specs on the new iteration were not available as of this writing.
For the casual buyer, the pro-level Apple Watch 8’s selling point looks similar to the pitch for the current iPhone 13 Pro over the regular iPhone 13. Aside from a better camera, the key gains the 13 Pro brings to the table are fit-and-feel benefits like a stainless steel case instead of aluminum, more battery life, and ProMotion (advanced display tech).
Here in the early stages, the watchOS 9 should soundly improve some fitness features. But unknowns remain: how much more shatter-resistant will Watch 8 be, and will users see an improvement in the previously lacking GPS?
We wouldn’t expect the still-unannounced Watch 8 to follow far behind watchOS 9’s scheduled arrival this fall. Initial MSRP guesses put it anywhere between $850 and $1,000 — more expensive than any nonluxury Garmin entry and near the top end of Suunto’s lineup.