The Apple Watch Series 7 launch on September 14 left everyone surprised since rumors all along had claimed the watch would feature an edgier design to match the new iPhone 13. Now John Gruber at Daring Fireball claims the leaks could have been for the Apple Watch Series 8.
In his reveal video of the Apple Watch Series 7, leaker Jon Prosser noted that the leaked sharp-edged design could be for the Apple Watch Series 8 and not the Apple Watch Series 7. This has been backed up by Gruber, who isn’t exactly a leaker but has a proven track record of having specific insider information and behind-the-scenes access at Apple.
Gruber responded to speculation that Apple changed the design at the last minute due to supply chain issues. He dismissed the speculation and said, “This is not how hardware works. These designs are set long in advance. In fact, from what I’ve heard, the flat-edge watch designs might be legitimate leaks, but they’re next year’s designs. That’s how far in advance Apple works on hardware — they were already in the advanced stages of designing the 2022 Apple Watches months ago.”
A day before the launch event, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman noted in his newsletter that “while the iPhone won’t be seeing any momentous design changes, the Apple Watch will. Look for a flat screen and flat edges to match the iPhone and iPad design…”. Gruman’s statement was corroborated by other leakers with a decent track record including Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Jon Prosser who shared the widely-circulated renders that had us hyped all along.
Anyone with even a vague understanding of how design and engineering works would side with John Gruber. In this case, Apple isn’t designing a product from the ground up. Designers working on what is now being called the Apple Watch Series 8 know what the Apple Watch Series 7 packs and looks like. the next generation is an iteration of this existing design.
Since the designers know what the internals and overall external shape will be, save for a few minor optimizations and changes, the hardware design can be finalized sooner. Having a ready template (existing product) and knowing what will change drastically cuts down what design parameters can be changed, exponentially accelerating the design process.
However, Apple could radically change the design in the year leading up to the Apple Watch Series 8 launch due to a variety of factors including manufacturability constraints, user feedback, internal hardware changes, and supply chain challenges.
[Via Daring Fireball]