Technically, every yearly Apple Watch includes a processor upgrade. The Apple Watch Series 8 is equipped with an Apple S8 processor, which is more important than the S7 SoC which equipped the Series 7 or the S6 which equipped the Series 6.
However, none of these processors actually provided a performance boost; they all seem to use an identical processor whose architecture is based on the Apple 13 (presumably the small power-efficient cores) and a 7nm manufacturing process from TSMC.
Mark Gurman says this year will be different. According to him, the next-gen chip (likely the Apple S9) expected for the Apple Watch 9 will be a more substantial upgrade than previous oneswith a new processor based on the same architecture used in Apple’s new A15 chip.
And if the processor changes, Apple could also take the opportunity to improve the manufacturing process, which could improve battery life (and other features) while increasing speed.
A new chip would probably be the most exciting bit of Apple Watch’s next-gen hardware; Gurman doesn’t expect major design changes for the watch this year, and we can probably expect it to look about the same as every Apple Watch introduced since 2018’s Series 4 design increased screen size. However, Gurman expects a fairly significant overhaul of the watchOS software This yearwith a revamped user interface centered around iOS-style widgets.
A software overhaul too
The benefit of keeping the processor relatively unchanged for so many years is that a newer watchOS should perform equally well across multiple generations of watch hardware, rather than requiring the latest and greatest chip to shine. It’s too early to tell if the watchOS 10 update will drop older models; watchOS 9 put an end to the suffering of the Apple Watch Series 3, but not before updating its software became a real ordeal.
The Apple Watch, known for its life-saving health apps, is the most popular watch in the world. Last year, Apple added the top model Apple Watch Ultra, which received rave reviews and this model is only going to get better. Apple will unveil the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 next September, alongside the new iPhone 15 lineup.