What does 'Pro' mean for Apple Watch? An analysis of Pro devices so far

Watchos 9 Beta Heart Rate Zone During Workout
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It's only days away. Apple's Far Out event, scheduled for September 7, 2022, is expected to have some pretty routine yearly reveals.

We're almost certain that the iPhone 14 lineup will be revealed. And, aside from one bigger standard phone, that will likely feature the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max — par for the course at Apple's September event. Not to mention you can bet the next Apple Watch will be revealed, likely the Apple Watch Series 8, if Apple sticks with its naming convention. There is, however, one rumored product that has especially perked up my ears heading into next week's event.

Yes, the rumored Apple Watch Pro is an entirely new product from Apple, and if some of the rumors we are hearing prove to be true, it could be a significant product. But it begs the question, why would Apple use the "Pro" moniker for this product? Well, let's examine the other Pro devices Apple sells and see if we can understand this rumored product's place in the Apple Watch lineup. 

MacBook Pro and iPad Pro: More power, bigger screens, and better ports

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Here's the thing, while the MacBook and iPad lineups have the absolute least to do with the Apple Watch, it's worth taking a quick look at why Apple calls them Pro devices. Basically, the MacBook Pro and iPad Pro are bigger, faster, and better — Daft Punk almost had it right back in 1997.

When you buy a MacBook Pro, especially the most recent 14-inch and 16-inch models, you can expect a bigger screen, more power, and many more ports than the non-Pro laptops in the lineup. Apple has made it clear that the MacBook Pro is for the working professional who needs all that stuff. 

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The iPad Pro blurs the line a little bit, especially since Apple introduced the M1 chip in the recent iPad Air 5. Still, on average, you can expect the iPad Pro to be bigger and faster. Add in what Apple is doing with iPadOS 16, which is bringing far more features to the iPad Pro than some of the lower-end models, and you can expect to get more done more easily on the Pro models of the iPad.

That's all well and good, but when it comes to what Apple wants people to expect when they pick up an Apple Watch Pro, the iPhone offers a lot more clues. 

iPhone Pro models offer the most insight into Apple Watch Pro

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Since the introduction of the Pro models of the best iPhone, we've seen them get better screens (thanks to ProMotion) and a bigger version (the Pro Max models), but for the last couple of years, what has been the biggest difference? The camera array.

That's right; Apple's been pushing the photography and videography capabilities of the Pro iPhone models really hard. So much so that the iPhone 13 Pro has the most changes between the standard iPhone 13 version and the Pro models.

Of course, there's a whole extra camera — the Telephoto lens — which allows you to zoom in on your subjects much better without sacrificing quality. And the LiDAR sensor is invaluable for any AR application. Plus, it helps out with night photography and portraits as well. The company has doubled down so hard on the camera features in the Pro models that the current rumors are saying the iPhone 14 Pro will have a 48MP camera. It's clear that when it comes to the "Pro" moniker iPhone, Apple wants you to think about the camera.

So, what does this mean for the rumored Apple Watch Pro? Well, it may be a one-trick pony in the best possible way. 

What to expect from the Apple Watch Pro

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Both iPhone and Apple Watch are highly mobile platforms; you wear your best Apple Watch around everywhere, after all. So, if Apple is indeed launching an Apple Watch Pro, it makes sense to draw the comparison to the iPhone Pro models.

We've been hearing tons of rumors about the Apple Watch Pro being a heavily fitness-focused Apple Watch. Most rumors even point to the Pro version being more rugged than just the standard Series 8. Plus, with the rumored price tag of nearly $1,000 dollars, it sure seems like Apple is going after the market that Garmin and Polar, and other sports smartwatches occupy right now. All these signs show me that Apple wants you to think "fitness" when you pick up an Apple Watch Pro — just like you think "camera" when you pick up an iPhone Pro. 

Pro on the Apple Watch means better fitness, more fitness, and all the fitness.

Sure, I expect the Apple Watch Pro will have other upgrades — like perhaps a bigger case size, as we've heard before — but that's not why Apple is giving its "Pro" moniker to the rumored device. It's picking one thing they want to excel at, and absolutely going for it wholeheartedly. Plus, the enhanced fitness features shown off in the watchOS 9 beta, certainly show that Apple has more to give in the fitness space. 

In short, Pro on the Apple Watch means better fitness, more fitness, and all the fitness.

We will find out soon!

Maybe I'm wrong, and if Apple reveals the Apple Watch Pro and it's completely different than I think it will be, then I will eat my words. But it's hard not to imagine all these rumors are pointing to something specific.

Will it be worth the price tag? Will it cause people to switch to some of the other best smartwatches for fitness like Garmin and other brands? We will find out soon enough! 

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.