A couple of sources have posted images of third-party cases designed for the upcoming Apple Watch Pro. The cases could point to an additional button on the new rugged Watch, on the opposite side to the Digital Crown and side button.
The addition to the Apple Watch lineup is believed to be aimed at sports and outdoor activities, a market that is currently dominated by Garmin …
What do we know about the Apple Watch Pro?
Early rumors of an Apple Watch Pro were vague, suggesting that this might just be a new take on an Apple Watch Edition – a fancier model with a price tag to match. But everything now points to Apple aiming to go head-to-head with Garmin, creating a model designed for athletes and outdoor types.
The existing Apple Watch models have a number of drawbacks for use by long-distance runners, climbers, and so on. The Watch is fairly easily damaged, so not ideal for something that might be expected to take a few knocks during climbing. Battery life is limited when Workouts are active, making it less than ideal for those running marathons and similar activities. And usability isn’t ideal when trying to do things while running or cycling, relying too much on the touchscreen.
Garmin’s approach to this is to make rugged watches with large screens and large physical buttons, and this is what we’re expecting from Apple. The company offers the Forerunner series for athletes, and the Instinct series for use for more general outdoor activities, from hiking to dirt biking.
We’re expecting a physically larger device, with a 47mm casing and a display a hair less than two inches. The display is set to be flat, rather than the rounded one on existing models, likely to better protect the glass from impact. The case material is believed to be titanium. We’re also expecting a larger battery, to extend battery life.
The name Apple Watch Pro is just a guess at this point, with other names suggested.
Case leaks suggest rounded sides, potentially a new button
One of the questions about the design is whether the Apple Watch Pro will have the same rounded sides as existing models, or whether those old reports of a flat-sided watch might have related to this model. However, the shape of the inside of these cases does seem to suggest that the Watch will retain its usual round-sided shape.
The lip around the screen does look like it might support suggestions of a flat display, rather than the current “bubble” shaped one, which curves up out of the casing.
On one side, things look the same as existing models. We can see cutouts for the Digital Crown, side button, and microphone.
Things get more interesting on the opposite side. We can see two openings, one long one and one rounder and more oval-shaped. One is likely to be for the speaker, which sits centrally on that side on current models. The position of this cutout suggests that it has been repositioned off-center.
But that second cutout appears to be designed for an extra button. This would make sense for a Watch aimed at the Garmin market, as a physical button is easier to operate with sweaty hands, or while on the move (for example, while running).
The usual disclaimers apply
What we’re looking at here are not actual Apple Watch casing parts, rather protective cases designed by third-party accessory makers.
Accessory makers do their best to get hold of accurate schematics to show the physical design of new Apple devices, so that they can have products ready for launch. Often, they are correct – but not always!
Additionally, while the most obvious interpretation of that extra hole is an additional button – as it would make logical sense for the target market – it’s not a certainty.
Either way, we don’t have long to wait until we find out. We’ll of course be bringing live coverage from this week’s Far Out event.