Production of Apple’s upcoming wearable smartwatch, the Apple Watch 7, has reportedly been delayed because of a number of problems.
According to a report in Nikkei Asia, which cited multiple people familiar with the situation as its source, the Watch 7 problems stem from its complicated design, as well as a few other issues.
Those other issues include disruptions caused by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and concerns about ‘satisfactory production performance.’
According to the Nikkei Asia report, manufacturers of the Watch 7 began small-scale production last week.
However they “encountered critical challenges in reaching satisfactory production performance,” multiple people familiar with the situation were quoted as saying.
The report cited three sources who said the current disappointing production quality could be attributed to the “complexity of design, which is significantly different from that of previous generations of the watch, and the assemblers found issues when putting together electronics modules, components and displays.”
As a result of this, production of the Watch 7 has been temporarily halted as Apple and its suppliers try to sort out the problems and further certify the designs before going into mass production.
The Apple Watch 7 is said to include new features such as blood pressure monitoring and at one stage a blood glucose-reading sensor was also rumoured, although the blood glucose feature is now thought unlikely.
Unfortunately, the addition of new sensors creates a production challenge of fitting a greater number of components into a similar size body.
Another challenge is the Watch 7 must also meet requirements for water-resistance performance, further increasing the engineering and production challenges, the people told Nikkei Asia.
“All assemblers are facing similar problems in reaching satisfactory production performance based on the current industrial designs,” one of the people with direct knowledge of the matter told Nikkei Asia.
Apple has also asked component suppliers to delay some shipments to assemblers, sources said.
The designers at Apple have reportedly overhauled the popular smartwatch and the interior design, including the position of various modules, apparently differs from previous generations of the product, the people said.
Another factor is that disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic has made it difficult for Apple and its suppliers to travel back and forth to verify the new specifications.
This is reportedly making it hard to discover difficulties with the design until test production starts, two of the people said.
“Apple and its suppliers are working around the clock trying to solve the issues, but currently it is hard to tell when the mass production could begin,” one of the people told Nikkei Asia.
Apple previously planned to put Apple Watch 7 into mass production around mid-September, another person said, and the engineering team is working to minimise delays.
Apple had unveiled the Watch 6 in mid September last year, and it had expected to do so again and was scheduled to unveil the new watch along with the latest iPhones in the coming weeks.
The Apple Watch has grown increasingly more capable since it was first released in April 2015, and it now includes a heart rate monitor, blood oxygen sensor (useful during Covid-19), sleep tracking, and a fall detector, to name but a few features.
An example of how capable the Apple Watch now is came in January this year, when a cyclist in Herefordshire was swept off his bike and into the flooded River Wye.
The man was reportedly carried a mile downstream, but managed to grab hold of a branch and used his Apple Watch to dial 999 and speak to the emergency services,
The fire brigade managed to rescue the cyclist within 20 minutes of the call.
Apple is the world’s biggest smartwatch maker, and last year reportedly shipped 36 million.
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