Apple mulling a rugged smartwatch for a launch in the near future: Report

by Joseph K. Clark

Apple Watch is currently the king of the global smartwatch segment with a market share as hefty as 40 percent, per Counterpoint Research data. The company is now mulling a new rugged smartwatch targeted primarily at athletes, outdoorsy folks, and even extreme sports. As per a Bloomberg report, the company is considering a launch as early as 2021 or 2022 for its rugged smartwatch. 

“Apple Inc. is considering launching an Apple Watch with a rugged casing aimed at athletes, hikers and others who use the device in more extreme environments, according to people familiar with the matter.”

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Internally called “Explorer Edition”, the rugged iteration of the Apple Watch will reportedly make some durability-centric tweaks such as impact resistance and possible extra frame protection. Right now, Casio is a well-known name in the rugged watch segment with its G-Shock. But if you move over the smartwatch domain, Xiaomi-backed Amazfit is among the few brands that sell its rugged smartwatches in the international market. My colleague Prakhar recently tested the brand’s latest complicated offering – the Amazfit T-Rex Pro – and came out impressed with its overall build and features in his reviewThe rugged smartwatch segment is nascent and ripe for Apple to take an early lead.

The Apple Watch Series 6, for example, is water-resistant up to a depth of 50m and also has a layer of Sapphire Crystal Glass protecting the screen from scratches. However, it is not strong enough to withstand direct impact. Additionally, the casing material used by the Apple Watch – titanium, stainless steel, and recycled aluminum – aren’t particularly resistant to extreme usage scenarios.

Apple could give its upcoming rugged avatar of the Apple Watch a rubberized exterior with raised edges to protect the screen and a reinforced bumper for shock absorption. But of all that is speculation. At this point in time, it is unclear what durability-centric upgrades are in the pipeline and if Apple will make any sacrifices in the internal hardware or features department to make its upcoming rugged smartwatch more resilient.

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