When Apple first announced the Apple Watch Series 7, many were a little surprised. Rumors, from multiple different sources, stated that Apple would launch a completely revamped design, with a flat edge that matches the iPhone and recent iPad models. Ultimately, however, the company kept the overall design, instead giving the watch a display with thinner bezels.
Not much else about the watch is new. It keeps the same processor and the same sensors. Ultimately, the experience of using the Apple Watch Series 7 is pretty much the same as using the Apple Watch Series 6.
But that’s not a bad thing.
Apple is so far ahead of the competition in the smartwatch game that maybe it’s earned a year off. Sure, you probably shouldn’t buy it if you have a Series 6 — but it’s still worth upgrading to if you have a Series 4 or older. And, it’s still easily the best smartwatch in the business.
Apple Watch Series 7 review: Design and display
The Apple Watch Series 7 looks very similar to the Apple Watch Series 6. It has slightly more rounded corners, with a slightly larger footprint, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice the larger size without putting the two devices side-by-side. On the right edge, you’ll still find the Digital Crown and side button, and on the left a speaker grille. There’s only one opening for the speaker instead of two, though.
Generally, the device looks great. The Apple Watch has always been relatively sleek and stylish, and the Apple Watch Series 7 is no exception to that rule.
There is one larger difference between the Series 7 and Series 6 — the colors. None of the aluminum colors that were available on the Series 6 are available on the new device, though there are some similar options. We’re reviewing the Midnight model. It’s similar to Space Gray but has a slight blue tint that you can see in the right lighting. It looks great — though some might lament the lack of a neutral option like gray or black.
The display on the Apple Watch Series 7 still has a variable refresh rate and a 1,000-nit maximum brightness. But Apple says that when you’re indoors, the always-on display will be up to 70% brighter, making it easier to see. It does indeed look great, though I didn’t really have an issue with the always-on display on the Series 6.
I do like that it’s a little larger. The display cover glass actually curves around the edges a little. And, while the screen itself is flat, given the way the glass reflects light, you can see whatever is on the display on the edge. It’s not all of a sudden big enough to watch TV on, but that extra screen real estate is nice.
Apple Watch Series 7 review: Specs and sensors
This section of the Apple Watch Series 7 review isn’t going to be very difficult. The device features the same chip as the Apple Watch Series 6 did before it. You’ll get the same overall performance.
That’s not a big deal. After using the Apple Watch Series 6 for the last year, not once did I run into an issue that would have been solved with a faster chip. Everything loads extremely quickly, and the overall experience is very smooth. I expect Apple will improve on the chipset for the Apple Watch Series 8, but we’ll have to wait and see.
The sensors in the watch are the same too. You’ll get the same heart rate monitor, the same ECG sensor, and the same blood oxygen sensor. Again, that’s not a huge deal — the Apple Watch is among the best fitness trackers out there. But I still would have liked to see things like the rumored glucose monitor or blood pressure sensor. If accurate, those kinds of features could help a lot of people. Hopefully, they’ll arrive next year.
Apple Watch Series 7 review: Battery and charging
The overall battery life on the Apple Watch is similar to the previous-generation Apple Watch Series 6. That’s to say, on a full charge, it should get you through a full day of even heavier use, and at least partway into the night. If you use your device for sleep tracking, I recommend trying to put it on the charger for a few minutes before bed, just to ensure that it will make it through the night.
New for the Apple Watch Series 7, however, is faster charging. According to Apple, the new device charges 33% faster than the Series 6. That’s great news for those who use the sleep-tracking feature and don’t really have a good extended period of time to pop their device on the charger. Indeed, the Apple Watch Series 7 did seem to charge quite quickly. In 10 minutes, I managed to get the device from 7% to around 25%, which should be enough for at least a few hours of use. Unfortunately, there’s still no Qi charging on the Apple Watch — so you’ll still have to stick with Apple’s first-party chargers.
I would still like better battery life in the device. I don’t usually use my Apple Watch for sleep tracking, but when I do, I want to only have to charge it once per day.
Apple Watch Series 7 review: Software
The Apple Watch Series 7 comes with Apple’s watchOS 8, meaning that you’ll get all the improvements and refinements available in the latest Watch operating system. This year, there aren’t a ton of improvements in watchOS, but I appreciate the changes that are there. For example, the layout of the Home app makes it easier to control devices that you regularly interact with. And, the new Mindfulness wraps Breathe and the new Reflect feature into one.
There are some Series 7-specific features in the Software too. Apple says that the screen is now big enough for a full-size keyboard on the Apple Watch. While I tended to stick with voice, the swipe-to-type feature on the keyboard seemed to work pretty well.
The other Series 7-specific feature is the addition of two new watch faces — Contour and Modular Duo. I’ve been using the same watch face for years now, and I’m not changing anytime soon. But the new ones definitely looked nice on the large display.
The Apple Watch Series 7 is an excellent smartwatch. It’s not the massive upgrade some were hoping for — but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. The larger display is nice, and I appreciate the efforts Apple is making to improve on charging.
If you have an Apple Watch Series 6, you don’t need this device. You probably don’t need it if you have the Series 5 either. But if you have a Series 4 or older, you’ll get a solid upgrade in the Apple Watch Series 7.
The biggest competition to the newest watch comes from Apple itself. As mentioned, the Series 7 isn’t a massive upgrade over the Series 6. But if you have a device that’s a few years old or more, the Series 7 might be worth buying.
Apple is so far ahead of any other smartwatch maker that it’s hard to find real competition. But if you prefer to stick in the Android world, then it’s worth considering the Samsung Galaxy Watch series.
Should I buy the Apple Watch Series 7?
Yes, but only if your Apple Watch is more than a few years old.