Editorial: The Story Behind the Red Dot on Apple Watch

It’s April, which means that we’re almost to 4 years that the Apple Watch was originally released. It’s also a great time to tell you the story that only the longtime Apple Watch wearers knew, and it all started back when the very first Apple Watches were announced in early 2015.

Image: Apple

It’s the story of the red dots and red rings. If you’re new to the Apple Watch, you’ll think that this article is about the tiny, red notification dot on top of the face of your Apple Watch. We’re not going to talk about this type of red dot, because it’s a common feature that every Apple Watch wearer knows.

If you wear a cellular Apple Watch, you’ll know what the red dot or the red ring is in this article. Yes, it’s the red dot on the Digital Crown. This symbolizes that your Apple Watch is cellular, and is a Series 3 or 4.

Image: Watchaware
To begin with, the history of the red dot originated back in early 2015, back when Apple had a spring event named “Spring Forward.” Many people noticed the red dot on Tim Cook’s 42mm stainless steel Apple Watch in the Keynote address in March 2015. They thought the red dot meant that Tim’s Apple Watch is a prototype Series 2, or a special, dedicated edition for him. Otherwise, he might’ve put a sticker on the Digital Crown or his Apple Watch is a modified, first-generation Apple Watch Edition.

Not only Tim Cook’s Apple Watch is the first Apple Watch to have a red dot, but the gold Apple Watch Edition (Series 0) has a red dot on its Digital Crown if you brought the “bright red” modern buckle band version. That’s the only Apple Watch, with a red dot on the crown, that was sold for the first time. But some companies sold button stickers to customize your Apple Watch’s side button and Digital Crown. They sold it in a splendor of colors, including red.

Let’s fast forward to 2017, to the late iOS 11 beta testing season in August and early September. Many iOS 11 beta testers pointed out that in the late betas and the early release of iOS 11, they saw a leaked image of a space grey Apple Watch Series 3, GPS + cellular, in the Apple Watch app on their iPhones. Then September 2017 came by, and the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and the Series 3 were announced. The rumor of the leaked Apple Watch Series 3 image is exactly the same one shown on the Apple website.

When the Series 3 was initially released, some people thought the red dot on the Digital Crown is jarring, because it defeats the purpose of the design of the Apple Watch. That’s why they brought the GPS, aluminum-clad Apple Watch Series 3 instead because it’s affordable, and there’s no red dot. You won’t need to pay an extra, small fee to get cellular data for your Apple Watch every month as well.

Finally, there are more stickers for cellular Apple Watch wearers to conceal the red dot or change its color by matching the sticker to the color of their Apple Watch. If you’d like, you can turn the red dot on the Digital Crown to a color you want, such as a black one. Non-cellular Apple Watch users can also disguise their Apple Watch as a cellular Series 3 or 4 by adding a red dot or a red ring sticker on the Digital Crown.

The story of the red dots and the red rings in the cellular Apple Watches ends with Series 4. The cellular Series 4 still has a slew of red on its Digital Crown, but it is a red ring instead. This solves the problem with the annoying red dot, but in Apple’s perspective, the red-colored ring is still a symbol that it’s a cellular Apple Watch Series 4, but the Digital Crown needs a bit of space for a tiny component. Without the red dot on the latest Apple Watch Series 4, we wouldn’t be able to take an EKG because the dot blocks the entire surface of the crown. That’s why Apple puts a red ring instead, to solve the problem with the new hardware and the controversy over an annoying part of Apple’s design.

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