Apple has a hardware update policy where the company will unveil a new iPhone with all the bells and whistles, then slightly tweak it and add some new software features for the following “s” model, only to turn around and do something revolutionary the year after the “s” year. Apple did this with the iPhone 4s, where the company added Siri voice command but maintained the screen size. When Apple announced the iPhone 5 back in September 2012, the fruit company pushed the boundaries by bumping up the 3.5-inch screen size to 4 inches. The iPhone 5s featured a fingerprint sensor on the iPhone for the first time, but maintained the 4-inch display. When the iPhone 6 was announced, Apple increased the screen size once again from 4 inches to 4.7 inches (in the original 6, not the 6 Plus; the 6 Plus was announced with a 5.5-inch display).
It is along these lines that Apple will introduce an Apple Watch refresh model in March, says Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. In his letter to clients earlier last week, Munster wrote that the new Apple Watch refresh would be “more of an ‘S’ version with similar design, upgraded components (processor, battery), new band styles.” The change in processor, upgrade in battery, and band styles are what we’d expect out of the Apple Watch refresh – or the Apple Watch “s,” what some may choose to call it if the iPhone is King.
At the same time, however, Munster told clients not to hold their breath about Apple giving the Apple Watch truly wireless standalone capability. “Unlikely to have a wireless radio, which would allow standalone (i.e., decoupled from iPhone),” Munster wrote.
Some may look at this last statement and say, “The Apple Watch does have Wi-Fi,” and you’d be somewhat correct: it does seem that Apple lists Wi-Fi as a capability at its website. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t take time to explain what this means, because, somewhere on its site, the company also writes that you can use Wi-Fi “if your Apple Watch is paired to your iPhone,” meaning that the Wi-Fi you have in the Apple Watch is “paired Wi-Fi” – practically insignificant when it comes to standalone capabilities. At any rate, don’t expect standalone Wi-Fi in the Apple Watch refresh, but you may find that it could arrive with the Apple Watch 2 in September.
The Apple Watch refresh won’t bring standalone Wi-Fi, but, as analyst Munster says, it is reasonable to expect improved battery life, better processor, and additional watch bands. We’ve also covered through insiders here that the Apple Watch refresh (Apple Watch version 1.5 or Apple Watch S) will bring a FaceTime camera for the first time.