Apple Watch 7 may not be compatible with bands you already own

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Elago Sport band for Apple Watch
Or will it?
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch Series 7 is expected to be the biggest yet, with new screens that measure 41mm and 45mm. It’s rumored Apple will increase case sizes to accommodate those larger panels — and that could be bad news for your bands.

One tipster, citing Apple Store employees, says Apple is allowing existing band stocks to dwindle because its next-generation Watch models won’t be compatible with them.

We’ve known for some time now that Apple Watch 7 could bring larger displays. But most reports suggest Apple will tweak the shape of the device’s case to allow for that change without noticeably increasing its overall size.

By doing away with Apple Watch’s curvy edges and adopting a squarer form factor, Apple can increase the surface area of the device — and make room for larger screens — without expanding the case itself. Or so we thought.

A Thursday report warned Apple Watch Series 7 could be bigger than expected, and now one tipster claims existing bands won’t fit as a result.

Apple Watch 7 could get different bands

“I’ve heard from an Apple Store employee that they’re not getting anymore 40/44mm bands in and expect the new Apple Watch to use different bands that won’t be compatible with old watches,” tweeted reporter Max Weinbach.

This certainly wouldn’t be the first time Apple has allowed existing stock to dwindle ahead of a big product refresh. But, in this case, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple Watch 7 won’t work with existing bands.

It could instead mean that Apple will simply launch a new lineup of bands — in the same sizes — alongside Apple Watch Series 7, and it’s just making room for them. Changing lug sizes now would upset a lot of Watch owners with extensive collections of bands.

Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, who replied to Weinbach’s tweet, confirmed “stores are running low on current 40/44mm straps.” However, he said he’s “not sure this means that the new Watch can’t use old bands.”

Déjà vu

Apple increased the size of its smartwatch once before. When it introduced Series 4 and its edge-to-edge display, screen sizes expanded by 2mm on both models. They cases got slightly bigger, too.

However, Apple shaped those cases in such a way that existing bands would still fit perfectly. This avoided upsetting the millions of existing Watch owners who already acquired pricey bands they wouldn’t want to replace.

It’s likely Cupertino will still be mindful of that this time around. We obviously can’t rule out the possibility that Apple Watch Series 7 will require new bands, but it does seem a little unlikely.