It might look the same, but the latest smartwatch from Apple sounds like it will be a lot more powerful. Today, at an event held in the brand new Steve Jobs Theater on the soon-to-open Apple Campus, Jeff Williams, Chief Operating Officer at Apple, showed off the Apple Watch Series 3, which features a new processor that should make it faster and more power-efficient, as well as, more crucially, cellular connectivity.
The latter is considered a major boon, as with cellular support the new Apple Watch will not need a phone in order to pull off crucial smartwatch tasks like texts, voice calls, and weather forecasts. The new connectivity should also allow the Series 3 to do things like allow wearers to chuck the phone and navigate via Apple Maps, listen to music on one’s wireless headphones, or even order takeout.
Most smartwatches with cellular support are huge thanks to the need to pack in antennas and other necessary components, but the Series 3 will be the same size as the Series 2. That’s accomplished by doing cool things like making the whole display the antenna.
LTE has previously been excluded from Apple wearables to conserve battery. The theory goes that the little antenna constantly pinging a cell tower would greatly drain a device that already has only 24-48 hours of solid use.
Besides cellular support, the Series 3 has a new processor with a claimed 70-percent improvement in speed. It also includes the new W2 wireless chip. Apple introduced the W1 last year in its EarPods and other headphones from Beats, and it was a huge improvement over the standard Bluetooth chips used in other devices. The W2 might double down on those advances.
Additionally, Apple has also introduced a new gray color in ceramic, and a bunch of new bands.
The new Series 3 will retail for $399 with cellular and $329, the much slower Series 1 will be $249. Last year’s Series 2 appears to have been retired. The new watches go on sale September 22nd and will be available for retail September 15th.
And Apple is going to need a cool factor if it hopes to fend off Fitbit, which is launching its own smartwatch, the Ionic, next month. While that watch won’t have LTE it will have nearly a week of battery life.