Apple is reportedly planning to ship the first successor to the Apple Watch sometime next year around the second or third quarter, according to Chinese media source UDN. The report cites comments made during a meeting with Barry Lam, chairman and founder of Quanta Computer, an Apple Watch manufacturer. While it’s no surprise that Apple would be planning to introduce the Apple Watch 2 in 2016, a third quarter release would mean a launch two years after the first model was introduced and roughly a year and a half since it went on sale.
The report does mention initial shipments in small volume during the second quarter, meaning possibly meaning June, although that could amount to production ramping up ahead of a fall launch which is ordinarily what occurs before major product launches.
Apple first introduced the current Apple Watch last year in September 2014, then previewing it again in March 2015 before starting sales in late April. While Apple hasn’t updated the Apple Watch hardware this year, it has released the watchOS 2 software update adding new features, introduced new color options for Apple Watch Sport, Sport bands, and Classic Buckle leather bands, as well as a new high-end collection through a partnership with Hermès.
While 1-day battery life has been an issue for some Apple Watch users (more so after watchOS 2), the next-generation Apple Watch is believed to offer similar battery life performance for now. 9to5Mac reported in June that Apple was targeting 2016 for the launch of the next Apple Watch version, adding that a potential FaceTime camera for video calls was being considered.
Current Apple Watches rely heavily on connected iPhones for most functionality including the initial setup process and managing a lot of the experience. To start to remedy that restraint, Apple has been developing changes called “tether-less” that ease the dependency when on Wi-Fi. Enhances coming to Bluetooth next year, including greater range and increased speed for data transfer, will likely also benefit future Apple Watches.