Apple Watch Series 4: Release date rumors, spec speculation, and more!

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We may well get a new Apple Watch this fall — if so, here are the rumors and speculation you need to know about now.

Apple Watch Series 3 debuted in September of 2017 but, as is my wont, I’m already thinking about the next version. What will it look like? What new features will it have that pique my fancy?

March 28, 2018: Apple Watch Series 4 could feature a bigger display, redesigned body

Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI is at it again, this time with a report concerning the next iteration of the Apple Watch. According to Kuo’s report, coming via 9to5Mac the Apple Watch Series 4 will launch later this year with a new design, as well as a 15% larger display.

With a launch in the third quarter of 2018, Ming-Chi Kuo says the new watches will have a 15% larger display. All Watches to date come in 38 mm or 42 mm screen sizes.

If it’s indeed true that the Apple Watch Series 4 will have both a redesigned chassis and a bigger display, there are questions to be answered. First: how will this redesign impact what we currently think of as the 38mm and 42mm Apple Watches? How big will this redesign be? And, perhaps most importantly: will I have to get all new watch bands to use with the Series 4?

When’s the next Apple Watch going to come out?

There’s not a ton of speculation out right now, but if we were betting folk, we might lean toward the Fall season, around the same time as the next iPhone. That would mean a Fall 2018 launch for the Series 4 Apple Watch — on par with what we’ve heard previously. Not only does that give the company the year to perfect new hardware, but it would continue the Watch’s release cycle alongside Apple’s most popular product, the iPhone, standardized in 2016 with the release of the Series 2. Given that the Apple Watch requires an iPhone to function, it seems logical to pair the two.

What’s it going to look like?

Apple still hasn’t released official numbers on how well the Watch and its various lines are doing, but I’d expect both the Sport and steel Apple Watch casings to show up in Series 4 — though we might see a new anodized color option in the Sport line. (Perhaps a Product RED Sport?)

We also might see a new Apple Watch Edition, replacing the Ceramic model. (Personally, I’m rooting for meteorite.)

What about a round version?

While I’d love to see some variation on Apple Watch styling, a round Apple Watch would require a round interface; on top of that, to prevent fragmentation, watchOS would have to work on both rounded rectangle and circular Apple Watches. That’s a big challenge for the company’s software team, and perhaps not one Apple feels up to tackling for 2018.

What sizes will it come in?

Some people like big watches, just like some people like Plus-sized phones, so we won’t say never on the prospect of a bigger model; that said, 38mm and 42mm seem to be doing well for the company for now, though, and will probably continue into series 3.

What kind of bands will be available?

Expect new Fall colors for Apple’s Sport, Woven Nylon, Classic Buckle, and Modern Buckle, along with a potential new mystery band or two. We might also see new Nike and Hermès colors as well, and perhaps other designers getting into the mix.

As MacRumors noted earlier in 2017, Apple has filed patents for modular bands that could add additional functionality to the watch, including additional battery life, haptics, health sensors, and more, though it’s hard to bet on when (if ever) a patented product will see the light of day.

How about the internals?

The S1P and S2 processor powering the Series 1 and 2 Apple Watch gave the original “Series 0” Apple Watch a huge upgrade; the S3 in the Series 3 even more so. An S4 system-in-package for Series 4 should provide a similar boost. Also, the smoother watchOS gets, the better for everyone — I still run into lags here and there, especially on third-party apps.

What about battery life?

As with processor, the Series 2 and series 3 watches both gained big improvements to battery life, with both models now lasting a full 18-hour day — with workouts — without needing a charge. Apple can never stop innovating in this arena, however, especially if it plans to one day allow the watch to sleep tracking (without having to own separate “day” and “night” Apple Watches).

Will Series 4 get full cellular data, decoupling it from the iPhone?

Series 3 brought LTE but only when coupled with an iPhone and some services, like SMS, require the iPhone to be on-network. It’s convenient because it means you don’t have to get and manage a separate cell number just for your watch, but it also means the watch isn’t really an independant LTE device.

So, could Series 4 cut the coupling? Maybe. If Apple can figure out a way to keep it simple.

Any new health sensors?

Health is a huge part of the Apple Watch’s message, but right now, the company’s somewhat limited in what it can do without FDA approval — and the organization’s involvement during development, which could compromise Apple’s vaunted security policies.

The current Apple Watch has a pulse oximeter on the rear casing; when pressed against your wrist, it uses a technology called photoplethysmography to measure how fast blood is flowing through your veins. Currently, Apple just uses this sensor for pulse readings, though in theory, the company could also use it to check the oxygen saturation in your blood, or (as suggested by a recent patent uncovered by AppleInsider) identify who’s wearing the watch based on your heart patterns.

There are currently third-party apps that do this on the iPhone by having you press your finger up against the rear camera and flash, but they’re expressly marked with warnings that disqualify it as “official” testing hardware, and encourage anyone with medical problems to see a doctor. (See my above comment about “FDA-approved and tested.”)

The same goes for blood pressure and glucose monitoring. CNBC reported that the blood sugar monitor has made significant progress.

The initiative is far enough along that Apple has been conducting feasibility trials at clinical sites across the Bay Area and has hired consultants to help it figure out the regulatory pathways.

While they would be fantastic statistics for users with blood pressure problems and diabetes, Apple may be better off pairing with third-party Bluetooth devices that are FDA-approved. That’s not to say we won’t see these sensors in the Series 3 — but if we do, expect to hear about them through the FDA’s approval process first.

Additionally, if the company can improve battery life, we may well see the introduction of sleep tracking. There are a few apps (like David Smith’s excellent Sleep++) that can do this already on the watch, but they require significant battery use and the ability to charge the timepiece in the morning.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see more information from Apple’s chief operating officer and Health spokesperson Jeff Williams on CareKit and ResearchKit; both features have the potential to change patients’ lives for the better, and Apple will no doubt be touting the studies — and any new trials — as part of the Watch experience in the Fall.

Will I be able to use my Android phone with the Series 4?

We haven’t heard anything to that effect. But if the company wants to make Apple Watch available to the largest group of users, it’s a smart move to consider — and there’s precedent in Apple Music, iTunes, the iPod, and iPhone. And given that Android Wear watches support the iPhone, there may be a strong business incentive to move in that direction.

Of course, Apple may want to keep the Watch platform-exclusive; depending on the wearable’s features, it might be another good way to convert users to iPhone.

Any word on watchOS 5?

A few nibbles here and there, mostly around new sports activities for the Workout app, like Yoga.

Your hopes?

What do you want the next Apple Watch to look like? Me, I’m hoping for at least some of the following:

  • More health features: An oximeter (to read blood oxygen levels) would be pretty cool, as would a second-generation sensor with better pulse tracking during workouts.
  • A slimmer case: I wouldn’t trade it for battery life, but if anyone could figure out how to make a thinner watch with the same battery tech, it’s Apple.
  • Always-on display: Like a slimmer case, this requires Apple to have its battery needs in check; that said, it’s one of my only remaining nitpicks with the current generation of Apple Watch.
  • Round face: Honestly, I don’t know if I actually want this or just want to see Apple’s take on it. Either way, round faces are traditionally more flattering to ladies’ wrists (though they need to be sized accordingly).
  • Decorative bands: I’d love a more eclectic, jewelry-style band from Apple. Why not?

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Latest Samsung Galaxy S9 leak offers spec details and device images

With less than one week to go before the Samsung Galaxy S9 is officially revealed, we’ve gotten the biggest leak of the upcoming Android flagship so far.

First up, what looks to be the complete spec list for the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ have been leaked by Winfuture.de. This leak backs up the rumors that the S9 will have a single 12-megapixel rear camera with dual apertures, f/1.5 and f/2.4, while the S9+ will add a second 12-megapixel rear camera.

Both Galaxy S9 models are also expected to offer optical image stabilization on their rear cameras as well as a slow motion video capture that’ll record at 960 frames per second. Around front, the S9 and S9+ will offer an 8-megapixel camera with f/1.7 aperture.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ are said to include stereo speakers tuned by AKG. When it comes to screens, the two phones will be similar to last year’s S8 and S8+, with the S9 packing a 5.8-inch 2960×1440 Super AMOLED display and the S9+ offering a larger 6.2-inch 2960×1440 screen. Both panels will offer a tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Today’s report does say that the S9 and S9+ displays will have less edge at the bottom of their screens, so they may not be identical to the S8 and S8+.

Also rumored to be included with the S9 and S9+ include an Exynos 9810 processor (likely a Snapdragon 845 in the US), 4GB of RAM on the S9 and 6GB of RAM on the S9+, 64GB of storage, iris scanning, facial recognition, USB-C, and a microSD card. The Galaxy S9 is said to have a 3,000mAh battery while the S9+ reportedly packs a 3,500mAh battery. Both phones are said to offer IP68 water and dust resistance, too. On the software side, both phones will run Android 8.0 below the Samsung Experience 9.0 user interface.

In addition to all of these spec leaks, several new images have that show the Galaxy S9 and S9+ have been shared by Evan Blass. They give us a look at the color options for Samsung’s upcoming flagship, which include Lilac Purple, Midnight Black, and Titanium Gray.

Samsung will officially unveil the Galaxy S9 and S9+ on February 25. While many of the features of these phones have already leaked, it’s still worth paying attention to Samsung’s event next week for launch date and pricing info, and also to see if Samsung’s got any features that it managed to keep a secret.

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Newly published UFS 3.0 spec brings faster storage speeds to smartphones

The standards organization JEDEC has released version 3.0 of the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) specification. The new specification more than doubles the bandwidth from the previous version, providing up to two lanes at 1450 MB/s, for a maximum of 2.9 GB/s, compared to a maximum of 1.2 GB/s. The standard also includes temperature reporting mechanisms on the storage controller intended specifically for the automotive market, where electronics are subject to more adverse conditions.

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RED Hydrogen One said to have ‘unprecedented’ carrier support as more spec details are spilled

RED Hydrogen One hands-on

It’s been awhile since we got any new info regarding the RED Hydrogen One, but this week a few more details about the upcoming Android flagship have surfaced.

RED founder Jim Jannard has taken to the Red User forums to spill some more info about the RED Hydrogen One. Jannard says that the Hydrogen One has “unprecedented” carrier support and added that the phone is currently being certified by operators, but he didn’t say which carriers will offer the Hydrogen One.

Jannard added that the carrier versions of the RED Hydrogen One will begin shipping this summer. Unlocked models, which have been available for pre-order since last July, are expected to ship earlier.

Speaking of pre-orders, Jannard said that RED will have a Hydrogen One to show to pre-order customers in April.

RED Hydrogen One teaser image

More spec details for the RED Hydrogen One were also spilled today. The device will have a 5.7-inch 2560×1440 display and a Snapdragon 835 processor, and it’ll be powered by a 4,500mAh battery. There will be a 3.5mm headphone jack on the device as well as USB-C, and there will also be dual SIM slots, one of which can be used for a microSD card.

The Hydrogen One is the first smartphone from RED, a company known for making extremely high-end camera equipment. One of the big draws of the device is its “Hydrogen holographic display” which can show holographic 4-View content, 3D content, and traditional 2D content. RED touts that the Hydrogen One will also utilize pogo pins to let you add modules to the device, such as a battery of a “cinema grade camera”.

RED began taking pre-orders for the Hydrogen One last year, with pricing starting at $ 1195 for an aluminum model and going up to $ 1595 for a titanium model.

There’s no question that the RED Hydrogen One sounds like a high-end device on paper, boasting flagship-tier specs and new features like a holographic display. Now we just have to wait and see if the Hydrogen One can live up to the hype that RED is building for it.

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Moto X5, G6, G6 Plus, and G6 Play promo images leak alongside spec details

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Samsung Galaxy S9 packaging reportedly leaks, spec list included

Samsung Galaxy S9 packaging specs leak

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is one of the most hotly anticipated smartphones of 2018, and today some spec details for the upcoming Android flagship may have leaked.

A photo that claims to show the retail box for the Galaxy S9 has surfaced. Judging by the gloved hand and the timing of the leak, it’s possible that this box has recently rolled off the production line.

According this packaging, the Galaxy S9 will have a 5.8-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display, much like the Galaxy S8 before it. Also included is a Dual Pixel 12-megapixel rear camera with OIS, like the GS8. What’s interesting is that there are two apertures listed, f/1.5 and f/2.4, suggesting that the camera could switch apertures.

Also included in this leaked spec list is an 8-megapixel front camera, 4GB of RAM 64GB of storage, IP68 water and dust resistance, and wireless charging. In addition to the bundled AKG headphones, the GS9 reportedly comes with stereo speakers that’ve been tuned by AKG.

Rumors have suggested that the Galaxy S9 will be very similar to the Galaxy S8, and this leak appears to back that rumor up. Many of these specs are similar to those included with the Galaxy S8, but there are some notable updates, like the AKG stereo speakers and camera with apertures that can change. There are other new features that may come to the GS9, too, like a Snapdragon 845 processor.

Will you be interested in the Galaxy S9 if this leaked spec list holds true?

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First 5G spec has been finalized, expect to start seeing 5G in 2018

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Bloomberg: Apple altered Face ID spec to meet iPhone X targets

Ever since the iPhone X was announced, there's been a rumor that the handset will be a rarer commodity than gold dust and the Venus de Milo's arms, combined. That's because the components used to build the device's facial-recognition sensor are so co…
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USB 3.2 spec announced with double the speed for existing Type-C SuperSpeed cables

The USB Promoter Group has just announced the USB 3.2 spec update with one major change over USB 3.1: multi-lane operation on hosts and devices and thus double the bandwidth on existing SuperSpeed Type-C cables.

With USB 3.1, both hosts and devices were designed for single-lane use. The SuperSpeed cables, however, were designed with multi-lane in mind, but weren’t able to make use of it because the devices they connected to on both ends didn’t support it.

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