When the Apple Watch arrives this fall we may have a new larger display option available; DSCC's Ross Young and Haitong International Securities's Jeff Pu separately have claimed the Series 8 will offer a 1.99-inch and 2-inch display, roughly 5% larger than the Series 7 (via MacRumors).
How big is too big for Apple Watch?
The slight size disparity between the two claims is easily explained away as rounding given and the reliability of both analysts that have supply chain sources this rumor a high degree of credibility. Young indicated the larger model will be a higher-end Apple Watch Series 8 that will join the existing sizes, which makes more sense than yet another overall bump. The Series 7 screen was roughly 20% larger than the Series 6, so Apple Watch owners already had to adjust last year.
While phones seem to have found their range with roughly 6.7-6.8 inches at the top end and 6-6.2-inches as the more mainstream option, wearables are a much less settled form factor, so it's good to see Apple experimenting. I'm a big fan of the current size of the 45mm Series 7, it feels much easier to navigate and read content than the old display, but I do wonder where the upward limit is and that may be precisely what Apple is trying to find.
If this is either the rugged model that we've seen rumored for a year or two now or a more premium Apple Watch (probably not solid gold again), then a larger size is likely to be more accepted as those markets are both accustomed to larger traditional watches. The smaller form factor of the Apple Watch has often been cited as a factor for its broad appeal as many competitors' smartwatches are outsized for smaller wrists.
How does a 2-inch Apple Watch display compare to Galaxy Watch?
While there are other competitors like Fitbit and Garmin, the Galaxy Watch is far and away the biggest competition for Apple Watch. It's a bit hard to compare the display size of the Apple Watch to its Wear OS competition as the Galaxy Watch and Google's forthcoming Pixel Watch feature circular displays, rather than the rectangular Apple Watch form factor. Holding up the 45mm Apple Watch Series 7 to the 44mm Galaxy Watch 4, they are near enough to not make a meaningful difference for those that have a preference either way on sizing. That certainly wouldn't seem like the case if you looked at the stated 1.77-inch display of the 45mm Apple Watch and the 1.4-inch of the 44mm Galaxy Watch 4.
The jump to a 2 inch display would tip the scales and make the Apple Watch easier the larger of the two, which again lends credence to the assertion that this is going to be a variant and not a size change for the primary Apple Watch.
Another piece of this puzzle is that a more significant design change was rumored ahead of the Apple Watch Series 7 release that obviously didn't come to pass. We saw renders from multiple sources that showed a more squared-off design to match Apple's modern design language that now extends across virtually every product line. If those leaks were simply early rather than entirely incorrect then it's possible a flat display on that redesigned Apple Watch chassis could be roughly 5% larger without increasing the overall size of the watch.
For now, we can only speculate, but rest assured we'll be keeping an eye on the ever-churning rumor mill and as we get closer to Apple's fall event season things are going to keep heating up.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.