Cellular smartwatches are something of a fringe offering, with Samsung having brought cellular connectivity to its Gear S, Gear S2 Sport (original), and Gear S2 Classic smartwatches, and with LG's Watch Urbane LTE on Android Wear lifting Google's platform, but outside of these, little else in the way of cellular smartwatches. According to analytics firm Canalys, though, that could all change with the release of Apple Watch 2 in September:
Canalys forecasts that 7.5 million smart watches with cellular connectivity will ship in 2016, rising to 53.6 million in 2020. This represents a compound annual growth rate of 63% from 2016 to 2020. In the short term, shipments are likely to be driven by a new Apple Watch with cellular connectivity. Samsung and LG have been very aggressive in bringing new cellular technologies to market, with smart watches such as the Gear S2 Classic 3G/4G and the Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, and will also play significant roles.
Canalys says that the Apple Watch 2 will have cellular connectivity, though the language of "likely to be driven" sounds more like the company making predictions more than anything else. Cellular connectivity for the Apple Watch 2 is one of the rumors that keeps creeping up in the news, so there seems to be something substantial to it. As for the idea that the Apple Watch 2 will drive the market, we also believe there's some substance to this: the smartwatch market as a whole grew shortly after Apple announced the first-generation Apple Watch, and Apple seems to be the biggest name in the industry to grow mobile businesses once it enters them due to high demand for its products.
In addition to the cellular connectivity rumor, sources say that the Apple Watch 2 will also gain GPS and water resistance, a wheelchair mode that is currently under employee testing, a FaceTime selfie camera, and a 40% thinner body. Apple has hired medical experts for the upcoming smartwatch, and, with organ donation becoming a new feature with Apple Health in iOS 10, Apple Watch 2 buyers may very well be able to register to donate their organs on the wrist. While Apple looks to stick with its OLED panels from LG in the Apple Watch 2, Apple will put its LuxVue acquisition to good use by implementing micro-LED panels in the Apple Watch 3 that provide the brightness of OLED panels with better battery efficiency than current OLED screens.