Apple Watch Series 7 review roundup: Bigger is a bit better

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Apple Watch Series 7 review roundup: Bigger is a bit better
The first round of Apple Watch Series 7 reviews are in.
Photo: Apple

The larger screen in the Apple Watch Series 7 is the highlight of the upcoming wearable, according to the first reviews out today. And reviewers praise faster charging, too.

Even so, the consensus is that the new model will be a welcome upgrade for those with an older Watch but not a significant jump for those with Series 6.

Size matters

The new Retina display on Apple Watch Series 7 measures 20% larger than Series 6. That’s a 50% increase over Series 3. Reviewers had a lot to say about it.

“It does the thing all screen upgrades tend to do: make the older screen with its larger bezels look small,” said Dieter Bohn on The Verge.

And Robert Leedham from GQ UK called out, “the one big difference? A larger, brighter display that’s more impervious to whatever the great outdoors can throw at it.”

Lisa Eadicicco from Cnet wrote, “The new QWERTY keyboard is the real reason you’ll benefit from the Series 7’s larger screen.” Brian Heater from TechCrunch was also pleased. “The biggest day to day change, however, is the addition of a full QWERTY keyboard for text input, either by tapping or sliding between letters with QuickPath,” he wrote. “I’m surprised at how well both worked on the small screen.

Faster charging

Many of the first round of reviews released Wednesday praised a feature many potential Apple Watch Series 7 buyers might have overlooked: faster charging. The inductive charger that comes with the wearable transfers power more quickly.

“Apple claims it’s 33 percent faster than the older cable and that sounds right to me,” said The Verge review. And Eadicicco from Cnet gave some hard numbers. She said, “After 30 minutes of charging, the Apple Watch Series 7’s battery jumped from zero to 54%, while the Series 6’s only replenished by 37% in the same time period.”

But don’t expect a longer battery life.  “I need to charge the Series 7 only a little less often than I need to charge my old Series 5 (which is starting to lose its battery capacity a bit),” said Bohn from The Verge.

watchOS 8 benefits

Along with new hardware came a new watchOS version that offers features just for the larger screen in the Apple Watch Series 7. “WatchOS 8 has been optimized for the new screen and the user interface as a whole or with individual apps will look a little different,” wrote Jacob Krol for CNN. “Dialing a number in the phone app features much larger numbers and the same goes for the calculator.”

‘Contour’ and ‘Modular Duo’ faces for Apple Watch Series 7
Apple Watch Series 7 exclusively offers offers ‘Contour’ and ‘Modular Duo’ faces.
Photo: Apple

And there are other improvements in the UI just for this model. “The two watchfaces custom to the Series 7 are called ‘Contour’ and ‘Modular Duo,’” points out The Verge review. “The former just puts numbers out on the edges of the screen and would apparently look bad on screens with larger bezels, while the latter allows you to have two full-width complications stacked instead of just one.”

No change here

Aside from the larger screen, the 2021 Apple Watch looks much like its predecessor. “It has the same curved edges and super-tactile crown, the same highly customisable array of case options, dials and straps and the same imperious array of health-monitoring sensors,” wrote Leedham from GQ UK.

And as The Verge points out, “Apple didn’t add any new health sensors to the Series 7. It still tracks heart rate and has a blood oxygen monitor and EKG.”

Apple Watch Series 7 is a ‘tweak’

A consensus of Series 7 reviewers is that the new model is an improved version of of its predecessor, without dramatic changes. Cnet’s Eadicicco wrote that the new model “feels more like the ‘Apple Watch 6S,’ but it’s a big leap if you have an older watch.”

Heater from TechCrunch pointed out, “At the premium and mid-range end, Apple continues to be utterly dominate to such a degree that top competitors like Samsung and Google are teaming up to take it on. So, what do you do when you’re Apple? You tweak. You make the screen a bit bigger, you make the charger a bit faster and, most of all, you don’t really mess with a good thing.”

Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399 for the 41mm aluminum version, and upgrade to the 45mm size takes the price to $429. Configuring either of those with cellular-wireless capabilities costs $100. The first units will reach customers on October 15, but the demand exceeds Apple’s limited supply and orders placed now won‘t arrive before November.