A new Apple Watch is coming, but it may not be the Series 5

Instead of a brand new Series 5, Apple could launch a new version of an old Apple Watch at its September launch event.

Vanessa Hand Orellana CNET Senior Editor
As head of wearables at CNET, Vanessa reviews and writes about the latest smartwatches and fitness trackers. She joined the team seven years ago as an on-camera reporter for CNET's Spanish-language site and then moved on to the English side to host and produce some of CNET's videos and YouTube series. When she's not testing out smartwatches or dropping phones, you can catch her on a hike or trail run with her family.
Vanessa Hand Orellana
5 min read
Angela Lang/CNET

Update, Sept. 18: It was the Series 5 after all. Read our full rated Apple Watch Series 5 review here.

Apple's latest filings fuel rumors about a new Apple Watch in the pipeline for September, but doesn't answer the question of whether it's the Apple Watch Series 5 or an older Apple Watch with a new spin. In this week's Apple Core roundup we break down all of the plausible rumors surrounding Apple's next smartwatch, the latest details about Apple's new services (Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade) and the Apple Card's official debut. 

Read more: The Apple Watch Series 5 health-boosting features we're hoping for | 13 Apple Watch bands to get on Amazon

Apple Watch Series 5 or 4.5? 

After a dry spell of Apple Watch rumors, this week we finally received concrete evidence from two different sources that Apple may be launching an Apple Watch (or two) at its September launch event. 

The first bit of evidence: Apple has registered four new Apple Watch models running watchOS 6 with the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) according to MacRumors. This is a necessary precursor to bringing a product to market in this region. Apple listed a slew of other products in its filing, including the new iPhones running iOS 13 (which we're also expecting in September) and new MacBooks . We're also expecting a new 16-inch MacBook Pro at a later fall event. But not all products registered with the EEC have to be brand new. Apple also registered the newly released 2019 iPod Touch in this round, and the watches in question may just be new versions of an existing model. 

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The other important Apple Watch clue this week came straight from the source: watchOS code. Brazilian site iHelpBR discovered references to a titanium and ceramic Apple Watch Edition in the latest code for watchOS 6. These could be the four models referenced in the EEC filing: the two sizes of the ceramic model and the two sizes of the titanium model.

This wouldn't be the first time Apple launches a ceramic version of the Apple Watch -- both the Series 2 and Series 3 watches came in a ceramic option that sold for nearly $1,500. It would, however, be a first for the titanium edition. But it still doesn't tell us whether the new case materials would be on a completely new watch, or if they would be upgrades to the existing Series 4 line-up. 

The only reference to a Series 5 this week came from long time Apple analyst Ming Chi Quo. According to his latest report cited in MacRumors, Japan Displays will supply the OLED screens needed for a Series 5 Apple Watch due in the second half of 2019. He also predicted Apple would launch a ceramic model of the watch. 

Aside from the new materials, we know very little about what new features may be coming to the 2019 Apple Watch. The Series 4 received new FDA cleared heart health features last year with the built in ECG and an Irregular Heart Rhythm notification that screens for signs of atrial fibrillation. This year there's been talk of glucose monitoring and blood pressure monitoring, but both these would likely need FDA clearance, and by this point Apple would've already submitted study results for review as it did with the Apple Heart Study in 2018. 

Sleep tracking could still be on the table for this year though, because it may not require this type of clearance. Competitors like Fitbit and Samsung have had sleep tracking in their wearable devices for the past several years. But it's been notably absent -- at least natively -- on Apple Watch, and Apple has already expressed interest in the space. The company acquired Beddit, a sleep sensor, back in 2017. 

To bring a feature like this to market, Apple would first have to improve the battery life of the Apple Watch, which still needs to be charged overnight. Apple may be able to give it a power boost using a more efficient processor, larger battery or a less power hungry screen. Recent rumors suggest Apple will eventually switch from OLED to microLED technology in the Apple Watch. This would enable a slimmer, brighter and more energy efficient screen and ultimately solve the battery problem, but it's not slated to happen until at least 2020. 

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Also far off is a camera on the watch. Apple recently filed a patent detailing an Apple Watch with a camera on the band for either FaceID or FaceTime, but a patent doesn't guarantee a product and even if it did materialize, it wouldn't be anytime soon. 

This leaves two possibilities for the 2019 Apple Watch: a Series 4 Edition with shiny new armor (titanium and ceramic), or a Series 5 with incremental upgrades to hardware, a faster processor, better battery and just maybe a new sleep-tracking feature.

Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade pricing and release date 

What's definitely launching this fall is Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade. This week we learned the rumored price and release dates of Apple's two new services along with a peek at the actual content in each platform.

Apple hasn't announced an official release date for its video streaming service, but we know it's definitely coming in the fall. The company did publish a new trailer for The Morning Show this week, its new series featuring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell. 

According to a Bloomberg report, Apple TV Plus, the video streaming service, will arrive in November 2019 and will cost $10 after a free trial period, like  Apple Music . Apple has already spent over $1 billion on original content and is expected to continue its spending spree.

Apple's new gaming service, Apple Arcade, is also expected to launch around the same time. It will cost roughly $5 a month with a month-long free trial period according to 9to5Mac. The site also published a preview of some of the new games coming to the platform.

We're expecting more information from Apple about launch date and pricing of these two services at the September launch event.

Apple Card now available for everyone

The Apple Card made its official debut this week. Apple had previously sent out invites for a select number of users to start using the card, but now it's available for anyone to sign up for (assuming you live in the US and get approved). Users who apply will have to wait a few days to get the titanium card in the mail, but can use the digital version of the Apple Card in the Wallet app right away.

Perks include 3% daily cash back rewards on Apple purchases along with Uber and Uber Eats which the company just announced this week. Apple says it will continue to expand the 3% Daily Cash rewards to more merchants in the future.