Until now, we haven’t heard many rumors about the Apple Watch Series 7, which we expect to launch in September. But it sounds like the next-gen Apple Watch is going to get some kind of redesign, and apparently, that means larger 41mm and 45mm displays.
The rumor comes from Weibo leaker UnclePan (via MacRumors). While they have accurately leaked Apple information in the past, it’s best to take all this with a grain of salt. That said, there’s reason to be concerned, because when it comes to smartwatches, size matters.
When the Apple Watch launched, it came in 38mm and 42mm options. Starting with the Series 4, Apple increased the case sizes to 40mm and 44mm. Having used nearly every iteration of the Apple Watch, I can say it made a difference. The 40mm Apple Watch SE I wear these days fits my wrist, but looks comically large compared to analog watches or hybrid analogs like the Garmin Lily. A 1mm increase may not seem like much, but 41mm also just 1mm smaller than the original large Apple Watch. It’s a concerning trend.
On the bright side, the bump from 40mm to 41mm and 44mm to 45mm might indicate better battery, new or upgraded sensors, and a larger display area. That’s exactly what happened with the last size increase. Along with the bigger cases and better displays, Apple introduced a ground-breaking feature in the form of wrist-based ECGs.
You might think this kvetching is akin to when a vocal group of folks claimed they hated oversized iPhones, but when the iPhone 12 Mini launched, they didn’t put their money where their mouths were. I’ll admit, larger screens allow for better readability. But a smartwatch differs from your phone in a crucial way—you actually have to wear it. Advanced features are neat, but they’re not useful if a smartwatch is too uncomfortable to wear.
This matters because people are increasingly turning to the Apple Watch for its advanced health features. To make the most of them, however, you have to wear these devices for the majority of the day, every day. I have tiny wrists that are roughly 5.75 inches in circumference. For me, 40mm is the sweet spot—anything above 42mm means I have to start making compromises. Huge watches are nearly impossible to sleep with—I’ve chucked big smartwatches across the room in the middle of the night. That means wearing a larger watch to track sleep is out. It also makes accurate activity-tracking that much harder. Oftentimes, I’ll have to push a big watch two inches up my arm just to get a secure reading. Trust me when I say that’s not fun.
My wrist might be on the smaller side, but I know several people with even more petite wrists who feel excluded from these gadgets—even if they’d benefit from them. I’d love to stick one of these on my elderly mom now that she’s at a greater risk of falling, but her wrists are too small to wear the 40mm watch comfortably.
But all this worrying may be premature. We’ll have to see if this actually pans out once the Series 7 actually launches. But generally speaking, smartwatch makers have made more of an effort recently to include smaller size options to appeal to more people. Hopefully, Apple will do the same.