Why you're wrong about Apple Watch Series 7 | Cult of Mac

Why you’re wrong about Apple Watch Series 7


Have you been too hard on Apple Watch Series 7?
Have you been too hard on Apple Watch Series 7?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Six months after its launch, people are still griping about Apple Watch Series 7. Even our own Lewis and Erfon recently agreed on The CultCast that Series 7 wasn’t worth the upgrade.

Many have moaned that it lacks new features, with some even suggesting it was a last-minute rush-job on Cupertino’s part. Personally, I don’t believe a word of it. I love my Series 7 and I think the haters have got it all wrong. Here’s why.

Why people gripe about Apple Watch Series 7

Most of the criticism of Apple Watch Series 7 focuses on three things: It packs the same processor as Series 6; it lacks new health sensors; and it didn’t benefit from a big redesign. Let’s take each in turn.

1. The same processor

Every previous Apple Watch update boasted a faster processor. But Series 7 stuck with the same old silicon. The chip has a new name, (S7 instead of S6), but as tech-sleuth Steve Troughton-Smith pointed out, the underlying serial number remains unchanged.

That’s disappointing, but is it really such a big deal?

Sure, in the Apple Watch’s early days, the processor was so slow it was almost unusable. Back then, every speed-bump massively improved the user experience. But these days, not so much. Apple Watch is now snappy and responsive.

What difference would a faster processor actually make? It’s not like you use your watch to render 4K videos. So what’s all the fuss about? No one ever worried about the speed of the iPod’s processor, because it made no difference. And the same is now true of Apple Watch.

2. No new health sensors

I don’t get why so many pundits expected new health sensors in Series 7. Of the six previous updates to Apple Watch, only two have introduced new health sensors: ECG in Series 4 and blood oxygen in Series 6.

There’s very little scope to add more health sensors. As I’ve argued before, the wrist is not a good place for monitoring most body functions. That’s probably why Apple’s blood oxygen sensor is not medical-grade — this metric is more accurately measured at the fingertip. Similarly, internal body temperature can’t be reliably measured from the skin on your wrist. And a non-invasive solution for people with diabetes to monitor blood glucose is still a way off.

If Apple comes up with medical breakthroughs to solve these issues, I’d be the first to cheer. But it’s not realistic to expect that to happen on an annual basis. And unless you have a condition that requires you to monitor these things, I don’t see what difference it makes. These are complicated metrics that require qualified medical interpretation. They’re not just a bullet-point list of features for marketing purposes.

3. No redesign

Despite what the haters would have you believe, Series 7 actually did get a redesign. It’s the most beautiful and curvy Apple Watch yet. The changes may be subtle, but they’re clearly visible when you use the Contour watch face. The numerals literally curve off the edge of the screen. It looks amazing.

So why all the griping?

The reason so many people were disappointed is because they expected something more radical. Prior to the launch of Series 7, Apple tipster Jon Prosser shared renders of a flat-sided design concept based on leaks. It looked kinda ugly, in my opinion — more like a chunky gadget than a premium watch. But many Apple fans were excited about the prospect of a major redesign, even if it was just for the novelty of something new.

Personally, I’d choose a good design over a new design any day. I’m glad Apple refined a great design, rather than making a change just for the sake of it.

Apple Watch Series 7 complaints: The numbers on the Contour watch face appear to slide off the edge of the display.
The numbers on the Contour watch face appear to slide off the edge of the display.
Photo: Apple

Was Series 7 really just a minor update?

With all the griping about what Series 7 didn’t have, the major improvements it actually did deliver often go overlooked: a bigger and brighter screen, improved durability and faster charging.

1. Bigger screen

If Apple released a new iPhone with a 17% larger screen, no one would call that a minor update. So why are people so dismissive of Series 7? A 17% bigger display is literally huge!

The trouble is, it’s hard to get across just how nice the new screen is until you see it on your own wrist. Photos just don’t do it justice.

The Series 7 display is 17% larger than Series 6.
The Series 7 display is 17% larger than Series 6.
Photo: Apple

2. Brighter screen

The display is also 70% brighter when your wrist is down, which I find very useful during a workout. I can now read the screen, even when my wrist is at a funny angle during calisthenics.

3. Improved durability

The tougher front crystal is another welcome upgrade. I’ve had Series 7 for months now and there are still no scratches, where previous watches would already be looking the worse for wear.

4. Faster charging

A faster processor would make no difference to me, but faster charging is a genuine game changer. If I want to go for a workout, but my battery is low, a few minutes of charging tops it up sufficiently for a one-hour run.

Series 7 is a massive upgrade. Especially from Series 4.

The new features in Series 7 represent a massive improvement in my day-to-day use of Apple Watch. But here’s the thing: I didn’t upgrade from Series 6. I upgraded from Series 4.

So, for the first time, I’m also enjoying an always-on display, a compass, blood oxygen monitoring and an always-on altimeter.

Apple is constantly improving its products. If you upgrade every year, these incremental improvements might seem minor. It’s like when you look at the minute hand on your watch and you can’t see it moving. When you wait a while, the change becomes obvious.

Time to end the retail-therapy feeding frenzy

Apple CEO Tim Cook never stood onstage and told you to buy a new Apple Watch every year. He never claimed that each new series made the previous one obsolete. Far from it! Cupertino still sells Series 3 alongside Series 7. And these products are built to last — that’s why they hold their value so well.

So, if you buy a new watch every year, only to gripe about how pointless the upgrade was, maybe it’s time you stopped! Instead of indulging in an annual feeding frenzy of retail therapy, try being the kid that waits for two marshmallows, and enjoy some delayed gratification instead.

By upgrading less often, you’ll actually appreciate all the new features. Plus, you’ll save a ton of money and reduce your impact on the environment.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.