The third-generation Apple Watch, expected to be introduced alongside new iPhones this fall, does not feature an obvious change to form factor, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
In a new note shared with investors this afternoon, Kuo says LTE connectivity will be the main selling point of the new device.
The Apple Watch will keep the same two case sizes, 38mm and 42mm, and will be available in LTE and non-LTE versions, much like the iPad. Previous rumors have suggested the major carriers in the United States will offer add-on cellular service for the new LTE Apple Watch, and the plans may work similarly to iPad data plans.
Kuo believes shipments of the new Apple Watch models will reach 8 to 9 million units in the second half of 2017, with the LTE model to account for 35 to 40 percent of shipments. Overall, he forecasts 17.5 to 18 million units shipped in 2017, up 70 percent year-over-year.
According to Kuo, to drive major growth, Apple needs to introduce a radical form factor change, more FDA approvals supporting medical and health applications, and 5G commercialization.
Bloomberg first suggested the third-generation Apple Watch would include support for LTE in early August, allowing the wrist-worn device to be uncoupled from the iPhone for the first time.
Following Bloomberg‘s report, Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber said he had heard from a “little birdie” that the third-generation Apple Watch would feature an “all-new form factor,” but he warned that the information might be inaccurate.
Based on Kuo’s report and a lack of rumors hinting at major design changes, it appears we may not see significant design changes after all.