The Apple Watch 2 is tipped to arrive at a press event in March 2016, but the latest rumours and insider speculation suggest it will be a minor update. It is claimed the only new feature will be a FaceTime camera, while the rest of the watch will remain unchanged.
Apple put the original Watch on sale in April 2015, and as it updates its iPhones and some other products on an annual basis, the Watch 2 is expected at around the same time in 2016. But where it was thought this would be an all-new model, with extra performance and a different design, this is no longer the case.
In late 2015, renowned Apple rumour website 9to5Mac, which has an excellent track record for predicting Apple news, said the new Watch could arrive at an event in March. On 13 January, Chinese website Commercial Times, cited by 9to5Mac, said production of the Watch 2 would start at Quanta, a supplier to Apple, later in January.
Now, referring to claims from analysts and industry insiders, Matthew Panzarino, editor-in-chief of TechCrunch, says he expects an updated Apple Watch to arrive in March, but it will only be a minor revision and feature a FaceTime camera as its only new feature. "It would not be a full 'Watch 2.0' with casing changes and major improvements," Panzarino said.
Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin says supply chain checks show no movement that would normally indicate a new model was in production. Quoted in TechCrunch, Bajarin said: "With the supply chain cuts from the usual suspects of Apple component providers, the timing does seem suspect for a new product given orders would have taken place in the latter part of 2015 if a new product is shopping first half of 2016."
The "waters are more murky than before," Bajarin said, referring to "some interesting new patterns" in Apple's supply chain. "As with the current edition of the Apple Watch, no one really saw that coming via supply chain so it is possible to not see it."
No one yet knows what the update cycle of the Apple Watch will look like. Before the first model was launched it was claimed the time between each new model would be two years. It was even suggested that buyers of the expensive Watch Edition could get a retrofitted upgrade for their £10,000 gold watch.
In any case, Apple doesn't need to update the Watch just yet. Research from Juniper, based on Christmas sales, indicates over half of the smartwatch market belongs to Apple. If sales remain strong, Apple might seek to hold off on a new model until later in the year, perhaps to coincide with the expected launch of the iPhone 7 in September, two years after the Watch was first announced.
And what about this March event? Sources speaking to Panzarino claim Apple could use this to announce something else, like the widely-rumoured 4in iPhone, or perhaps a new iPad.