The curious case of Apple’s shrinking Sport Loop band

Something peculiar seems to have happened with the first-party Sport Loop band style for Apple Watch because those cool-looking straps have gotten a lot shorter in the last year.

Apple’s hook-and-loop Sport Loop strap style launched in 2017 alongside Apple Watch Series 3.

This season, the Nike+ edition of the new Apple Watch Series 4 ships with a reflective version of the Sport Loop band that doesn’t just look cool but increases visibility for night runners.

The special reflective thread was designed to shimmer when light strikes it

It’s also shorter than last year’s Sport Loop.

Shrinking the Sport Loop band

It was first discovered by Edwin, one of the readers of Dutch Apple-focused blog iCulture, who used to wear an Apple Watch with a Sport Loop strap. Immediately after upgrading to a Series 4 model he discovered that the band that came with the device wouldn’t fit his wrist.

He reached out on several occasions to Apple Support only to be told that the size has stayed the same. Indeed, Apple’s specifications state that the new Sport Loop strap still fits 145-220mm wrists (the measurement tells you what diameter wrists the band will fit). However, its actual length is now much shorter at 23-24cm instead of the usual 26cm.

While Apple did make the Series 4 case a bit larger at 44mm (the measurement denotes the height of the case), the two-millimeter difference doesn’t explain why the bands—and only the Sport Loop ones—have become a few centimeters shorter.

The image above shows a white Sport Loop, a pair of regular Series 3 bands and a longer Sport Loop band that can be purchased separately (more on that later).

All are for the 42mm and 44mm watches.

  • Top: 1x new Sport Loop band (2018 season, 24cm long)
  • Middle: 2x old Sport Loop straps (2017 season, 26cm long)
  • Bottom: 1x extra large Sport Loop band (2018 season)

The Sport Loop band used to be 26 centimeters long, but not anymore.

What about big boned types?

While that’s not such a big deal, you need to know that the Sport Loop band shipping with Apple Watch Series 4 is shorter, which might cause problems for people with large wrists.

If you purchased a Series 4 with a Sport Loop band that doesn’t fit your wrist, you can get a longer version of the strap separately from Apple. Priced at $49, it’s listed as fitting 170–245mm wrists versus 145–220mm wrists for the regular edition.

Apple Watch Series 3, at left, and Series 4, at right

Unfortunately, you’ll be stuck with one color because the large version is available only in black. Apple also has even longer bands for the 160-245mm wrists so your next option entails getting an extra large fluoroelastomer Sport strap which, too, is available only in black.

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As iCulture points out, however, you have some added flexibility with the fluoroelastomer Sport Loop band because it’s delivered in three pieces, one with the pin and two with the holes (the ones with the holes are different lengths to accommodate most wrist sizes).

Your commentary

Have you noticed yourself that 2018’s Sport Loop strap is shorter? And if so, would you say that this is a classic case of Apple nickel-and-diming its loyal customers?

Making the strap shorter saves a few cents in terms of material cost. Multiplied by millions and millions of Apple Watch sales, it can add up pretty quickly to substantial savings.

The curious case of the shrinking Sport Loop band reminds me of a similar example not that long time ago when Apple stopped including the extension cable for the MacBook Pro notebook as standard (and don’t get me started on jacked-up prices of Apple’s updated Magic accessories).

Voice your opinion in the comments down below.