US$399 (base model) / AU$599 at Apple
It's not often that a major new Apple product could be fairly,
and completely, reviewed in a single tweet. This may come as close
as any ever has: It's a Series 6 with a slightly bigger display and
faster charging, is far less than 250 characters.
But it feels like a stretch to find other things to say about
the Series 7. This could be the least-significant yearly update to
the Apple Watch ever, and while that in no way makes it
bad (this is still the best smartwatch around) it's hard
not to be disappointed.
A bigger display
The star of the Series 7 is the display. It's about 20 percent
larger than in the Series 6. Most of this increase in size comes
from thinner bezels, but the case is also ever-so-slightly larger.
The always-on display is also a lot brighter outdoors—by 70
percent, Apple claims.
A 20-percent increase in screen area is enough to be obvious at
a glance, but it's not life-changing. The jump in area from the
Series 3 to 4 was more significant, I think. The slimmer bezels are
quite nice and it's clear this is the way forward for Apple's
smartwatch, but you shouldn't expect it to drastically alter the
way you use Apple Watch. And while it's nice to have a brighter
always-on display when in direct sunlight, it won't make a huge
difference in your day-to-day use.
The Apple Watch Series 7, right, has a slightly bigger screen
than the Series 6. Image: David Price/Macworld
As someone who needs reading glasses, I can definitely
appreciate the fact that all the interface elements and text are
larger on the Series 7 thanks to the bigger display. For the first
time, Apple has optimizedthe watchOS interface for a specific
watch, and if I'm being honest, the interface the only
real upgrade here. Everything else about is minor to the
point of near-irrelevance.
Faster charging, sort
What we want more than anything else in an Apple Watch is
dramatically better battery life. Apple's competition has multi-day
battery life, and while there's no Fitbit with nearly the same
capabilities as an Apple Watch, that sort of longevity really
changes how you use your watch.
We didn't get more battery life this year. Rather, we got a new
USB-C charging cable and some new electronics that allow for faster
charging. Sort of.
You need a 20W USB-C power adapter (no power adapter is
included), and with that, you can get up to 33-percent faster
charging. That means charging from zero-80 percent full in about 45
minutes instead of an hour or so.
Faster charging is always nice, but I didn't find the Series 7
charged faster enough to be all that noticeable. Apple says you can
get a full eight hours worth of sleep tracking in just eight
minutes of charge, but the same amount of battery life only took
about 10 minutes with earlier Apple Watches. If I could charge up
for the day in 15 minutes, it would make a real difference in my
Apple Watch usage. Instead, a day's charge still takes about an
hour. I put it on the stand, do something else for a while, and
pick it back up later…same as I always have.
In other words, the battery life isn't any different and the
faster charging is not really improved enough to change the way you
use the device.
Still in a league
of its own
There are a few other tiny differences in the Series 7. The
front glass is a bit thicker and more crack-resistant. The silver
and space grey colors have been replaced with starlight and
midnight shades that are close enough to silver and space
grey to annoy you that they're not silver or space grey.
The blue shade is lighter than it was on Series 6, and looks
From the side, you'd
be hard-pressed to recognize the Series 7 (above) from the Series 6
(below). Image: Jason Cross/IDG
Besides slightly worse colors, you'll notice the display is a
little brighter indoors, and there are a few new watch faces that
don't really need to be exclusive to the Series 7 but are, at least
Everything else is the same. The design is nearly identical, the
processor is the same, the sensors are all the same…there's simply
not much new in this release. When we reviewed the Series 6, we wrote that the
changes might not seem like much if you've been using a Series 4
watch or earlier, and the Series 7 is even less of an upgrade.
Does that make it bad? Not at all! The Series 7 is still a
better smartwatch than anything else on the market. Giving us the
same thing with a slightly larger display is objectively better,
and therefore, it's the premium smartwatch we'd recommend.
You can skip this
one, and Apple should have, too
If you have an Apple Watch that is three or more years old, this
is a fine upgrade. It may not be very different from the Series 6,
but there's no real reason not to get the Series 7.
Despite that, I find myself put off by the lack of ambition,
production issues, or poor execution, or whatever it was that
caused Apple to release a whole new, latest-and-greatest Apple
Watch that only has a slightly larger display and slightly
Maybe Apple has refined this miniature wrist computer so much
that it simply isn't possible to make more substantive changes
every year. And that's okay! Apple could release a new Apple Watch
every other year with more significant changes and
upgrades, secure in the knowledge that the rest of the smartwatch
world is far enough in the rearview mirror that they won't catch
We've always known that you don't have to buy a new
Apple Watch every year, but the Series 7 has got me thinking that
maybe Apple doesn't need to make a new Apple Watch every
So here we are, with a perfectly great Apple Watch whose
existence I almost resent. I like it, I even recommend it to anyone
with an old (or no) Apple Watch. And yet I wish Apple hadn't
released it, opting instead to sell the Series 6 for another year
until it could offer a more significant upgrade.