As expected, the new Apple Watch Series 7 features a bigger, brighter display and slimmer bezels. Fortunately, that’s about the only thing the rumors got right.
Mockups suggesting the new wearable would come with clunky, flat sides turned out to be way off the mark. The design of Series 7 is more evolution than revolution, taking the classic Apple Watch look and refining it to become more elegant than ever.
Refining a classic design
The design of Apple Watch hasn’t changed much over the past six years since it launched. Probably because Apple’s design team nailed it on the first try. Incremental updates have been subtle, like the addition of a round-cornered display in Series 4.
Far from being fatter and squarer as the rumors predicted, Series 7 takes what’s great about Apple Watch and refines it further, with a design that’s rounder and more curvaceous than ever. The edges of the display seamlessly taper into the case like an infinity pool. And the narrow bezels allow text and graphics to go right up to the edge.
It’s also more rugged than ever, with a new crack-resistant display, which will be handy for people as clumsy as me.
Is a bigger screen that big a deal on a watch?
The new Retina display on Apple Watch Series 7 measures 20% larger than Series 6. That’s an incredible 50% increase over Series 3. The display has been completely reengineered to shrink the bezels by 40%, so that this new, massive display fits into a watch that’s roughly the same dimensions as its predecessors.
But the user interface hasn’t just been zoomed up to fit the larger size. It’s been updated to take full advantage of the extra space, allowing for a whopping 50% more text. That means you can read messages with a lot less scrolling.
Unbelievably, Apple even managed to cram an onscreen keyboard onto the Series 7 screen, although it remains to be seen if that really works with my stubby fingers. Apple claims predictive text will help to figure out what I’m trying to type, but trust me, my fingers are reeeaaally stubby.
New watch faces show off the beautiful new Retina display, including a new Infograph Modular face with space for two large, data-rich complications.
The new display is also 70% brighter indoors when your wrist is down — although I’m not entirely sure how useful that will be in practice.
No new sensors makes perfect sense
Early rumors suggested Apple Watch Series 7 might offer new health sensors, such as blood glucose, blood pressure and body temperature. But the onboard sensors for Series 7 remain unchanged from Series 6.
While that’s a little disappointing, I think Apple is right to wait until sensor tech becomes accurate enough to be useful to people who actually need it, like those with diabetes. It’s better to wait than to rush out gimmicky new features every year.
Apple Watch Series 7 comes with a new USB-C charger, which charges 33% faster than Series 6. Apple claims it takes just 45 minutes to go from zero to 80% charge. Plus, eight minutes of charging is enough for eight hours of sleep tracking, Apple says.
New colors and band compatibility
Aluminum Apple Watch Series 7 models come in five colors, including the all-new green option the rumors indicated would arrive. (Midnight, starlight, blue and red round out the aluminum lineup options.) The stainless steel cases come in silver, graphite and gold. And titanium models come in natural or space black.
One announcement Tuesday that will be welcomed by longtime Apple Watch aficionados is that, despite its larger size, Series 7 is backward-compatible with all earlier bands. So if you’ve built up a vast collection, don’t worry, your investment is safe.
When can you get your hands on this bad boy?
The bad news is, if you’re keen to get one of these babies on your wrist, you’re in for a long wait. Leakers have been warning for a few weeks now that production issues with Apple Watch Series 7 have been causing delays. And this seems to be true. There’s no date set for pre-orders yet. Apple simply promised us the new smartwatch will be available “later this fall.” But from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like it will be worth the wait.