After some question of whether production issues would delay the Apple Watch Series 7's launch, Apple’s next-gen flagship smartwatch is here. The Series 7 brings about the most significant redesign of the Apple Watch since the smartwatch launched in 2015.
The Series 7 is indeed bigger than its predecessors, with two case sizes: 41mm (up from 40mm) and 45mm (up from 44mm). That, plus the fact that it’s got smaller bezels, means we’ve got a major increase in terms of screen real estate. The Series 7 offers 20% more screen area than the Series 6, and the bezels are 40% thinner at 1.7mm. It’s also 70% brighter. The bigger screen allows a full QWERTY keyboard, as well as bigger buttons within apps, and allows you to read more from your notifications. It also means you get to see more complications. While many rumors said the display would feature flat edges, that’s not the case. The edges are still rounded here. Apple says the Series 7 is also the most durable watch it’s built, with a more crack-resistant display and IP6X certification. Apple is also continuing on its colorful streak, adding a host of five new colors for the Series 7. In addition to the blue and (Product) RED versions from last year, we’re also getting midnight, starlight, and green.
Before today’s event, rumors of larger Apple Watches caused concern as to whether previous Apple Watch bands would work with the Series 7's increased size. Rest easy. Just like when Apple bumped up the sizes with the Series 4, the straps you already have will work with the Series 7.
Inside, the Series 7 has a new S7 chip but doesn’t make any huge health advancements in terms of new sensors, but the new watch did deliver one thing Apple Watch fans have been clamoring for: better battery life. Kind of. They still give an estimated 18 hours, but you can also get 8 hours in just eight minutes of charging. That’s pretty... impressive. It’s nowhere near as long as some Fitbits, but it’s a step up over previous generations. The fast charging is enabled by a new charging architecture, as well as a new Magnetic Fast Charger USB-C cable.
In terms of features, the Series 7 will ship with watchOS 8, which we already knew would focus on mindfulness. On top of new Reflect sessions, we’re also getting Tai Chi as a new workout type and more accurate metrics for Pilates. We’re also getting new watch faces, including a Portrait watch face. Two new watch faces were revealed today. The first is called “Contour” and it takes the dial all the way to the edge of the display. The other is “Modular Duo” which lets you add two big complications instead of the current one.
Good news for bikers—watchOS 8 will also add fall detection for outdoor cycling and automatic cycle tracking. Apple’s also tweaked the calorie burn algorithm so it’s more accurate for when you ride an e-bike. Also new is a new voice feedback feature where the watch will announce workout milestones either from the speaker or through your Bluetooth headphones. Fitness+ is also getting several updates, including guided meditations, pilates, winter workout prep, and group workouts with Share Play. The latter will allow up to 32 people to join a workout at once in the app. This year’s additions were modest overall, but Apple’s rumored to be working on some more advanced health features for next year, including potentially adding a body temperature sensor.
Once again, the Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 3 are also available as affordable alternatives. Apple hasn’t changed pricing. The Series 3 is still $199, while the SE is $279, and the Series 7 starts at $399. The SE is still a solid option for anyone on a budget, but don’t make us chase you down for buying down a Series 3. Just don’t do it.
The Apple Watch Series 7 is available for preorder today, but keep in mind that compared to other years, there’s a slight delay before you can actually get your hands on one. You can thank the global chip shortage, but thankfully it doesn’t seem like the wait will be too long. Apple says the Series 7 will begin shipping later this fall.