Apple Watch Ultra 3: Everything we know so far

 Apple Watch Ultra 2.
Apple Watch Ultra 2.

2024 marks the tenth anniversary of the Apple Watch — or at least the concept's existence. The Cupertino company’s first smartwatch was unveiled in September 2014 but went on sale in April 2015.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple might have a Watch X model planned for this year or next to celebrate, but what about the Apple Watch Ultra 3? 

Here’s everything we know so far about the next iteration of Apple’s flagship smartwatch.

Apple Watch Ultra 3: Price and release date

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that we shouldn’t expect the Apple Watch Ultra 3 in 2024 due to Apple's lack of activity. He suggested that the company might need more time to develop “innovative health management features.”

But in the seven intervening months, Kuo has changed his mind. An updated wearable will likely be released in 2024, he says — and we can safely assume it will be alongside the iPhone 16 in September, given Apple hasn’t deviated from that schedule in eight years of smartwatches.

With limited design intel to go on, the price is somewhat harder to gauge. That said, the first two generations cost $799, and it seems unlikely Apple will raise this already high price of entry by much unless there are some significant unknown upgrades still under wraps.

Apple Watch Ultra 3: Design

Given that Apple has stuck with broadly the same design over its first ten years of smartwatch manufacturing, it would be surprising if the company was planning big changes for the Watch Ultra 3.

However, there is one eyebrow-raising rumor about its appearance. According to the supply chain market research firm TrendForce, the next model will be even bigger than the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and its sizable 1.93-inch panel. The report from December 2023 claims that the Apple Watch Ultra 3’s screen will grow around 10%, clocking in at 2.12 inches. 

Given the current model already feels large on the wrist (our wearables guru Kate Kozuch writes of the need to sometimes take it off at night for a good night’s rest), that feels like a bold move. But it’s not clear at this point how much of that size increase can be achieved by reducing the watch’s bezels or if Apple has innovative ways to reduce the weight, so it’s best to keep an open mind for now.

Apple Watch Ultra 3: Specs

Bad news: unless Apple has been extremely effective at blocking leaks, it doesn’t sound like the Watch Ultra 3 is going to offer any big, exciting new features. Indeed, the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has cautioned fans to expect “almost no” hardware upgrades in the upcoming wearable.

Part of this might be related to Apple’s ongoing legal fight with Masimo over the blood oxygen monitor. Unless Apple finds a workaround or reaches an agreement with Masimo, the rumored sleep apnea and hypertension detection may fail to make any Apple Watch this year — Ultra or otherwise.

However, one big upgrade may still be coming. Last year, TrendForce predicted that the Apple Watch Ultra would adopt microLED technology in its screen. That can be both brighter and thinner than OLED, which could be quite a big upgrade.

Is it happening this year? That’s up in the air. The analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that it had been canceled “for the foreseeable future” due to disappointing performance from the planned supplier. But more recently, a couple of reports suggest Apple may already have an alternative lined up.

Given another report suggested that we may have to wait until 2026 for a microLED Apple Watch screen, consider this one a slim possibility for the time being.

Apple Watch Ultra 3: Outlook

For now, it sounds like the Apple Watch Ultra 3 upgrade will be an underwhelming one, with only the possibility of a microLED screen on the table.

That’s not altogether surprising: Apple Watch upgrades tend to be incremental from year to year, and there wasn’t much to write home about in last year’s Ultra upgrade.

But we’re still four months away from the earliest likely release date, and it’s possible Apple has a few surprises up its sleeve. We’ll find out in September.

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