Apple Watch is currently the king of the global smartwatch segment with a market share as hefty as 40 percent, per Counterpoint Research data. Now, the company is mulling a new rugged smartwatch targeted primarily at athletes and outdoorsy folks, and even extreme sports. As per a Bloomberg report, the company is mulling a launch as early as 2021 or 2022 for its rugged smartwatch.
Internally called “Explorer Edition”, the rugged iteration of Apple Watch will reportedly make some durability-centric tweaks such as impact-resistance and likely 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 only few brands that sell its rugged smartwatches in the international market. My colleague Prakhar recently tested the brand’s latest rugged offering – the Amazfit T-Rex Pro – and came out impressed with its overall build and features in his review.
The rugged smartwatch segment is in a nascent stage, and is 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 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, and at this point in time, it is unclear what durability-centric upgrades are in the pipeline, and if Apple is going to make any sacrifices in the internal hardware or features department to make its upcoming rugged smartwatch more resilient.