Apple Watch doesn’t get as much attention as its iPhone counterpart. While there have been countless leaks and rumors about the 10th anniversary iPhone 8, leaks on the next-gen Apple Watch are few and far between. A report coming out of Asia claims that the upcoming Apple Watch Series 3 is switching to a new touch panel technology, and it would enter production in the second half of 2017.

Apple Watch Series 3
Photo by fancycrave1 (Pixabay)

The glass-film panels have higher yield rates

Sources familiar with the matter told DigiTimes that the Apple Watch Series 3 would feature a new glass-film touchscreen rather than the touch-on-lens (TOL) solution used in the current Apple Watch models. According to the publication, the new glass-film screens are cost-effective and have better yield rates. The new display might help Apple minimize the cost of production.

TPK Holding has been supplying touch panels for the Apple Watch for two years. But the company was struggling with low yield rates, and was unable to meet Apple’s demand. DigiTimes reports that TPK Holding has decided to stop production of touchscreens for the Apple Watch altogether, and focus on producing 3D sensor-based touch panels for smartphones.

GIS or Biel to be the new supplier

Apple will reportedly source the new touch panels from Biel Crystal Manufactory or Taiwan-based General Interface Solution. DigiTimes’ claim that the new glass-film panels would enter mass production later this year corroborates with a previous Chinese report that the Apple Watch Series 3 would launch alongside the iPhone 8 in September.

The Economic Daily News reported last month that the third-generation Apple Watch would retain the design elements of the current models. Instead of introducing a new design, Apple is said to improve the device’s battery life and performance. The Series 3 Watch would be manufactured by Quanta, the same company responsible for the original and current Watch models.

Will Apple Watch Series 3 have cellular capabilities?

Well-connected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has claimed that Apple could add cellular capabilities to the Apple Watch as early as 2017. The cellular chip would consume a lot of battery power. The current Series 2 Watch brings huge battery improvements, with some users reporting that it lasts 2-3 days on a single charge. Considering Apple is working to further improve the Watch’s battery life, it could introduce cellular with the Apple Watch Series 3.

Other supply chain reports indicate that Apple was planning to switch from OLED to micro-LED displays with the next-gen Watch. Micro-LED displays are said to be slimmer, lighter, and brighter. They also offer improved color gamut, but they are expensive to manufacture. Other rumored features of the Apple Watch Series 3 include a haptic feedback band, and a band with built-in charger.