Apple and Samsung set to battle it out with new 'rugged' pro-styled smartwatches

A woman wearing a smartwatch
Tech commentator Mark Gurman says they are aimed at extreme sports athletes. Photo credit: Getty Images

Smartwatch aficionados are set to have a wider choice than ever this year with the rumours of a new "rugged" style Apple Watch coming just days after Samsung's new wearable leaked.

Technology commentator Mark Gurman, who writes the Power On column for Bloomberg, says the higher-end watch will be designed to appeal to extreme sports athletes, particularly those who use Garmin's watches for exercise tracking.

"The pro features will be a larger and more shatter-resistant display, enhanced hiking and swim tracking, longer battery life and a heftier and rugged case made from a premium, non-aluminum metal material (probably titanium given it’s much more durable than steel)," Gurman wrote in his latest newsletter.

"Given that the rugged Apple Watch, codenamed N199 inside the company, will apply to extreme sports enthusiasts and consumers who typically spring for Apple's pro offerings, I think the company will probably go with the Apple Watch Pro name and marketing," he continued.

"Apple has already been touting the durability of the current watches, so it's clearly a selling point that it believes clicks with consumers."

That's likely to come at a premium price however, with Gurman speculating it's likely to start at around NZ$1500, more than the majority of Garmin watches, which also boast much better battery life.

In the coming months, Apple is almost certain to release another two models of watch, the Watch Series 8 and a new Watch SE, part of its regular upgrade process.

The Series 8 will have an updated display with the same two sizes offered by the Series 7, 41mm and 45mm. It's also due to have a body temperature sensor for the first time.

The SE will have a lower specification and be an even cheaper option than the Series 8.

The news comes days after Evan Blass, a well-known and respected leaker of technology products, revealed 3D renders of Samsung's new smartwatch range.

According to Blass, there are two separate models - a Galaxy Watch5 and a new Galaxy Watch5 Pro.

The latter is likely to be correlated with last year's Galaxy Watch4 Classic, Blass wrote.

"Codenamed Project X, it’ll come in either black or grey titanium, and either with or without LTE radios for standalone cellular broadband."

The more rugged design of the Pro, along with the higher price and larger battery, could prove to be an astute competitive move by the Korean giants as it looks to take a bite out of Apple's smartwatch market.

Rumours suggest the Samsung Pro model will have a 45mm case, while the Apple Pro is likely to be around 46 to 47mm in size.

If the US-based technology company maintains the same type of release schedule as in previous years, the new watches are likely to be unveiled alongside the new iPhone 14 range in September.

That would be followed in October by updates to the iPad, iMac and MacBook ranges of computers and tablets.