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Apple Watch 3 Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET

Editors’ note: This article was originally published on July 22, and we’ll continue to add new rumors and stories as they emerge. 

Follow our live coverage of Apple’s announcements at 10 a.m. PT on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Follow the latest Apple news at CNET.  

The next Apple smartwatch may arrive on Tuesday. If the rumors are true, the company’s Sept. 12 event will include the debut of the Apple Watch 3, as we assume it will be called, in addition to the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and a new 4K Apple TV.


The Red Sox made unscrupulous use of the Apple Watch.

The New York Post

The timing is fortuitous, and not just because Fitbit just launched its new Ionic smartwatch. Last week, the Apple Watch popped back into the news when the Boston Red Sox admitted to using one to steal signs from the New York Yankees, leading a multitude of headline writers to the same joke, e.g. “The Red Sox Finally Find a Use for the Apple Watch.” That notion belies the data: technology research firm IDC says that the smartwatch market is booming, and that Apple is leading the way.

And on Friday, with just days to go, a major leak provided new details about what we can expect to see with the Apple Watch 3 — including LTE connectivity that could let you place calls from it without an iPhone in tow. Yet even before that, the Apple Watch buzz was gathering strength. This summer, both Bloomberg and Apple pundit John Gruber cited plans to release a new edition before the end of the year. And by mid-August, Economic Daily News (via MacRumors) was reporting that Apple was putting the final touches on the new model, with the intention to begin shipping in the fourth quarter of 2017. 

It’s not a slam dunk that the company will introduce the Apple Watch 3 on Sept. 12 — the company did not respond to our requests for confirmation — but it looks pretty likely. And as we enter the final hours of the countdown, we’ll continue to assemble the most significant Apple Watch 3 rumors below.

Apple Watch 3 specs we might see

  • Standalone LTE connectivity 
  • New red crown and signal meter on LTE models 
  • New colors, including “blush gold” aluminum and gray ceramic
  • FaceTime camera
  • Micro-LED display
  • Glass-film touch technology
  • Slimmer, more lightweight design 
  • Water resistance
  • Confirmed: WatchOS 4 operating system (see preview)
  • Sleep tracking
  • Glucose monitoring 
  • Respiration sensors
  • Integrated power meter
  • Smart bands
  • Improved and/or faster “wireless” (aka inductive) charging

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by Brian Tong

Announcement and release dates

Let’s assume a new Apple Watch is announced on Sept. 12. If the company follows its traditional schedule, preorders would likely start Friday, Sept. 15, and the Watch would be available a week later: Friday, Sept. 22. 

Similarly, iOS 11 and WatchOS 4 would likely become available to existing customers around Wednesday, Sept. 20. 


A render of the Apple Watch 3 discovered in the iOS 11 firmware leak.

Steve Troughton-Smith

Same design, new colors

A few weeks ago, John Gruber passed along reports of an “all-new” form factor, building on last year’s report from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of a major redesign slated for the third edition.

But the weekend’s iOS 11 gold master leak tells a different story. As reported by Steve Troughton-Smith, the firmware contains a render of a new Apple Watch 3 that looks more or less like the Series 2 — though with a new, red digital crown and signal meter. The leak also contains references to new colors including “blush gold” aluminum and gray ceramic.

It looks like we’ll get LTE support  

Both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal have published articles reporting that Apple’s next Watch will be able to connect to cellular networks, freeing the device from its dependence on an iPhone for data connectivity. The Journal suggests that, like LTE-enabled iPads, the new Watches can be rolled into existing wireless plans for an additional charge. 

Now, 9to5Mac has delivered additional details buried within the iOS 11 leak, indicating that the Apple Watch will make and receive calls and data without a phone, though it’s not entirely clear how it all will work. We do know that the LTE model will use the same phone number as the iPhone with which it’s paired. 

Though this type of connectivity was rumored for the Apple Watch 2, the company was reportedly unable to make it work without rapidly draining the battery. We’ll have to wait to see how LTE affects the Apple Watch’s battery life, but it’s been a pervasive pitfall for LTE-enabled phones.

Note that prior to the firmware leak, Apple possibly confirmed this rumor earlier this summer. At the end of July, the company prematurely released a separate firmware update — for its HomePod speaker, due out in December — inadvertently dropping clues about a range of upcoming products. Developer Jeffrey Grossman discovered a reference in the firmware to the Apple Watch (codenamed “Gizmo”) and SIM connectivity. In March, Barron’s published an article citing a semiconductor analyst’s research on this topic, claiming that the next Apple Watch would come equipped with a SIM card and support for LTE. 


George Jetson’s video-enabled watch.

Video-phone on your wrist

Since the run up to the second edition of the Watch, there has been (hopeful) speculation about a camera. According to 9to5Mac, Apple has considered building a camera into the Watch’s top bezel, making it the smallest device capable of running FaceTime. (The Watch already supports FaceTime audio calling.) 

New health and fitness features

The physiological applications of the Watch are significant. In August, Apple met with Aetna to discuss a deal to bring the Apple Watch to the insurance company’s 23 million customers (via MacRumors). We know that the next version of WatchOS will offer a slew of new features on this front, but there are also some potential hardware-based upgrades said to be coming. 


Apple CEO Tim Cook is testing a glucose monitor for the Apple Watch, according to a report.

Stephen Lam, Getty Images

CNBC has reported that CEO Tim Cook has been testing a blood sugar tracker paired to his Apple Watch, and that the company has dedicated a team to develop a noninvasive, continuous glucose monitorBGR has also reported that Apple is exploring glucose monitoring capabilities for the next version of the Watch — and that Apple plans to introduce interchangeable “smart watch bands” that could support the glucose monitoring, as well as other capabilities such as a FaceTime camera or perhaps extra battery capacity. 

BikeRadar reports that Apple has filed a patent for a device to use wind resistance to measure power. The device described in the application calculates estimated power output — that is, how hard you’re pedaling — using your speed, wind speed and road gradient in addition to your heart rate.

WatchOS 4

We learned quite a bit from Apple’s preview of the next version of its wearable operating system at WWDC in June. Highlights of WatchOS 4 include a new Siri watch face that provides a feed of contextual notifications; new branded watch faces (but no dedicated Watch Face store); a more capable Music app; workout and fitness enhancements; and Bluetooth connectivity for sports and health gear. All of these features sound great, but we suspect that Apple excluded the most exciting upgrades from this early look.

Apple updates its WatchOS with new Siri face

At WWDC, the tech titan announces its new WatchOS 4 with a Siri-based face, new fitness features and the ability to push Apple Music to your watch.

Watch face upgrade

Beyond the new red crown and signal meter on the LTE version, there are other changes potentially coming to the Apple Watch’s display. One is a shift from the Apple Watch 2’s OLED display to Micro LED — a brighter and more efficient variation of the technology. 

Nikkei Asian Review has reported that Apple is piloting Micro LED technology for wearables, though it’s unlikely that the new panels would find their way into a final product until 2018. And DigiTimes has reported that Apple will move to glass-firm touch panels for the third edition of the Watch, leaving behind the touch-on-lens panels onboard the Apple Watch 2.



Apple’s high-end Hermes Watch starts at $1,149. 


The original Apple Watch started at $349 for the 38mm model and $399 for the 42mm edition in the US. In March 2016, the company slashed prices by $50, dropping the entry-level price to $299. Today, the Watch Series 1 starts at $269 (38mm) and $299 (42mm) and the Watch Series 2 at $369 (38mm) and $399 (42mm). 

The big question is this: Will the Apple Watch Series 3 take the current Series 2 pricing, so that one can drop down to Series 1 levels? Or will the addition of LTE add $130 or so to the price, as it does with iPads? We’ll find out Tuesday.

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