Apple might be prepping a big firepower upgrade for its upcoming smartwatches, after keeping them stagnant in terms of processing power boost for the past three generations. In his PowerOn channel on Discord, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims that the upcoming Apple Watch Series 9 models – and likely the next Apple Ultra, too – are “due for the updated SoC.”
To recap, Apple fitted the same chipset inside the current-gen Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra smartwatches as the Series 7 and Series 6. This was confirmed after the same processor identifier was spotted for the S8 chip as the two older generation wearables.
The S6, S7, and S8 are all based on the A13 Bionic that Apple introduced with the iPhone 11 series. Based on TSMC’s 7nm process, this smartwatch chip carrying the T8301 identifier was last seen promising a 20% performance boost.
Notably, Gurman confirmed on Discord that the next-gen S9 chip will be “a new processor and not just a re-brand of the previous generation.” More specifically, he hinted that the S9 chip will be modeled after the A15 Bionic — which is based on the upgraded 5nm fabrication process. This is the same processor that ticks inside the entire iPhone 13 series and the non-Pro iPhone 14 models.
Why does a new Apple Watch chip matter?
We don’t know exactly how powerful the S9 chip for the Apple Watch Series 9 is going to be, but it is definitely a sign that Apple is boosting the raw firepower for a reason. Bloomberg has previously reported that watchOS 10 is going to be a major overhaul for Apple’s smartwatches.
To start, Apple is reportedly bringing the widget system to its smartwatches with the next watchOS iteration, which is going to be detailed at its WWDC conference in June. The company is said to be imagining widgets as a “central part of the interface” and will follow the same strategy as widgets on iPhones.
At this point in time, details are thin about any hardware-side health innovations like blood glucose level monitoring, but things are looking upbeat on the services side of the ecosystem. Apple is planning Fitness upgrades that include personalized health recommendations, direct access to experts, and even emotional health support.
But with plenty of processing power at its disposal, it won’t be surprising to see the company adding more advanced capabilities via software updates down the road. Apple is rumored to introduce the Apple Watch Series 9 models in two sizes later this year, alongside the second-generation Apple Watch Ultra and an updated SE model.