What if the S1 chip in the Apple Watch–containing the CPU and virtually the complete system on a single chip–were replaceable? Looking at the images on Apple’s web site, I found an intriguing matchup. (Note that I am not a hardware guy, so this is not based off of any hardware engineering knowledge.)
If you look at the image that Apple uses to demonstrate the Taptic sensor, it shows the internals of the watch. Look carefully at the left side of the watch’s guts, and you’ll see what looks to me like some sort of connector or latch mechanism.
Now, if the watch were not upgradable, the S1 chip would be soldered permanently in–like the A8 chip is in the iPhone and iPad. But if the Apple Watch were upgradable, there would have to be some sort of latch/connector system to plug the custom S1 chip in and secure it in place.
Is it staring at us in plain sight? Look at these images. I took Apple’s original Taptic image off their web site, then used Pixelmatr on my Mac to superimpose the S1 chip (also from their web site) on top of it, and scaled the S1 so that the left edge matched the “connector” on the left. Then I made the S1 chip shown with different amounts of transparency so that you could get a better idea of how it might fit and connect.
Am I crazy? Is this possible? I don’t know. But it sure is intriguing!
Some more things to think about… I had some Twitter conversations with @neilcybart, @olemaedev, and others, and bounced around a few ideas.
- Would all models be upgradable? Theoretically, yes, but Apple might make the least expensive model (the Sport aluminum model) non-upgradable, or perhaps just prohibitively expensive to upgrade.
- Would you upgrade it at an Apple Store? Send it in to Apple? An Apple-certified jeweler?
- How much would it cost? $199? $299?
- How often? Every year?
- Would Apple keep the old S1 so you couldn’t sell it? (The first 2 years, anyway, there wouldn’t be any market for it.) They’d offer to recycle it for you.
- An upgradable S1 would be great because it would be a competitive advantage. Why pay $150 or $250 for a Fitbit, or $300+ for a competing smart watch that would be obsolete in a year? It’s bad enough to get a new phone every 2 years, who would want to also get a new watch?
- Your watch exterior and engraving would be yours forever. You could hand it down to kids or relatives. Probably most relevant for the Edition edition.
- Would Apple ever change the connector? They might want to every 5 years or so (think Lightning connector), but then you couldn’t hand the watch down.
- The Apple Watch could theoretically get thinner or shaped differently in the future, as long as the connector and S1 still fit.
- Would competitors now be 2 years behind Apple again? How would Android deal with their round and rectangular watches–would a chip fit in both? If there were a standard design from Google, how much variation could there really be in Android watches?
Anyway, food for thought. What are your thoughts?