If Apple won't make an Apple Watch for kids, Fitbit and others will
Money left on the table.
The Apple Watch is the most popular watch on the planet, whether that's the mid-range Apple Watch SE or the high-end Apple Watch Ultra. But while the former is perhaps the best Apple Watch for people on a budget and the latter is the best Apple Watch of all, neither is great for kids.
That's something that needs to change. It's also something other companies are starting to realize, with Fitbit reportedly getting ready to launch a smartwatch of its own that's dedicated to being used by kids.
So with that in mind, where's the Apple Watch Kids Edition?
Smaller wrists, smaller watches
Anyone who chooses an Apple Watch today has three sizes available to them. There's the 40mm, 41mm, 44mm, and 45mm, and for those who go for the biggest of all, there's 49mm. That's the only size offered if you want to go Apple Watch Ultra.
The smallest option is the 40mm Apple Watch SE which isn't all that much smaller than the 41mm Apple Watch Series 8. The biggest difference between the two is the price, but we haven't gotten to that yet.
In terms of size, 40mm isn't huge but could definitely be smaller for little wrists. But Apple also needs to make Apple Watch bands that are designed with kids in mind as well — it's no good making a 35mm Apple Watch if the band is too big, for example.
How much smaller should the Apple Watch Kids Edition be? Honestly, I don't know — Apple has a research and design team with a much bigger budget than me with which to figure that out. Just don't forget the band.
Smaller wrists, tighter budgets
One other aspect here is price. The cheapest Apple Watch SE is still too costly for a lot of people when they're strapping it to their kid. At $249 it isn't cheap, especially when it's something that's liable to get broken just because of where it is.
Living on a kid's wrist makes the Apple Watch Kids Edition likely to be damaged, lost, or just generally destroyed. Sure, there's AppleCare+ but still. Apple needs to make the watch cheaper.
How it does that could go one of two different ways. Either Apple could use cheaper materials or it could remove features. Frankly, it should do both.
Does an Apple Watch Kids Edition need a heart rate sensor? Maybe not. The same goes for the 50m water resistance. Maybe Apple could get away with a lower-resolution display as well. Again, over to you, Apple's R&D team.
Smaller wrists, specific materials
The Apple Watch looks great no matter which model you choose today. But it isn't really built with kids in mind.
Thankfully, using different materials could help with two other aspects I've already mentioned — choosing the right materials can make the Apple Watch Kids Edition cheaper and make it more rugged in the process.
Do away with all that metal and replace it with plastic, for example. That'll make the Apple Watch lighter as well as cheaper, although I'm not sure swapping out that glass display for plastic would be a great option. Still, the case is fair game.
Same for the bands. None of that woven nylon for kids, please. Apple's Sport Band and Sport Loop are the winners here, thanks in part because they're cheap and about as rugged as these things can get.
By the time you've stripped the Apple Watch to its core and ruggedized it, all while making it smaller, you've got an Apple Watch fit for a little king or queen. And made it cheaper at the same time.
But perhaps more importantly for Apple, you've a new customer. One that's grown up wearing Apple Watches. One that will buy more expensive Apple Watches when they get older. One that'll buy an iPhone and a Mac maybe, too.
That's the kind of sense that gets Tim Cook up in the morning.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.
Apple makes a Watch for kids, mid and above teenagers to be exact. It’s called the Apple Watch.
Regarding early/pre, teens there will be differing opinions. IMHO a smartwatch is not for this young age group. Their brains are not developed enough to both use it as intended or make it something that is socially healthy to keep attached to you IMO. For any medical issue pre teens, go with the specialist medical watch. There’s no thought to wearing it. IMO Keep pre teens off smart devices frequently, which means certainly don’t strap one to their wrist 24/7.