Apple Watch Series 7 review: time for an iterative improvement
The latest version of the Apple Watch focuses its improvement on three key areas: the screen, the durability and the charging.
All three are crucial elements of a wearable device. And while you’ll notice and appreciate the updates, this feels like an iterative improvement over last year’s Series 6.
If you splashed out on the Series 6, you don’t need to visit an Apple Store again this year. However, if you’re using an older Apple Watch – like a Series 3, for example, you’ll certainly benefit from making the jump.
That’s because although the Apple Watch Series 7 isn’t a crucial upgrade, it is an excellent smartwatch and, obviously, the best Apple has produced.
While the design has barely changed (that’s a good thing – it means all Apple Watch straps will fit) the Series 7 screen has increased by 20% thanks to Apple shrinking the bezels.
That has multiple benefits. You can get a full QWERTY keyboard on the watch face for the first time, as well as shoving more complications on there. I like to use the Apple Watch primarily for fitness, and having a larger screen makes it easier to take in the workout information at-a-glance while out on a run or a bike ride.
Likewise, everyday functions such as tapping in your screen passcode or hitting the numbers on the calculator app are far easier.
Apple has capitalised on the extra screen size by launching two new watch faces explicitly for the Series 7. The first, called Contour, places numbers so far to the edge of the display it looks as though they’re slipping off the side.
The second, called Modular Duo, stacks two full-width complications on top of each other. This gives you even more information at-a-glance if that’s your thing.
Moreover, the Series 7 is now brighter when you have the display set to always-on and you’re not actually looking at it. Apple Watches dim the display when your wrist is hanging idle, to protect the battery life. But Apple says that, when dimmed, the Series 7 is 70 per cent brighter than the Series 6 is. A few furtive glances down at my own wrist seem to confirm this is indeed the case.
Alongside the larger screen, Apple has improved the charging speed of the Apple Watch with the Series 7. It now powers up 33 per cent faster than older Apple Watches because of a new USB-C charging cable. When placed on the magnetic charging dock, the Apple Watch Series 7 will juice up to 20 per cent in ten minutes.
If you’re wearing your Apple Watch to bed, so you can use it to measure your sleep, the charging boost will be welcome news. The Series 7 maintains an 18-hour battery life (although you’ll run it down sooner with long GPS-enabled workouts) so if you’ve got it on 24-hours a day it can be tricky to find the time to charge it. Apple says just 8 minutes of charging is enough to power it through eight hours of sleep tracking.
The last of the new talking points is the durability factor. Apple calls the Series 7 ‘swimproof’ to 50 meters and notes it’s IP6X rated for dust resistance. That means it’ll be perfectly happy doing lengths in the pool but probably not on a scuba dive. Likewise, the dust resistance lets it stand up to dust and particles from a windy day, sandboxes, or anything kicked up while on a mountain bike trail.
Aside from these three notable updates, the Series 7 is much the same as the Series 6 it replaces. That’s no bad thing, really. The Apple Watch is hands-down the best all-round smartwatch for iPhone users and it’s mature enough as a product now that refinement over reinvention is to be expected.
There are an array of health and fitness features to take advantage of, such as the blood oxygen sensor introduced last year. It uses red and infrared light to give wearers an insight into their oxygen saturation, or SpO2. This represents the percentage of oxygen being carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, and indicates how well this oxygenated blood is being delivered throughout the body.
Likewise, there’s still the ECG ability introduced in Series 5 that keeps an eye on your heart rate variability. If you care to get into it, there’s all kinds of health features you can unlock through combining the Apple Watch with Apple’s Health app on the iPhone. Things like Cycle Tracking for women or general nutrition and mindfulness can be explored through the Watch’s app store and linked to the app.
And, of course, if you want to partake in the workouts from Apple’s subscription-based Apple Fitness+ then you’re going to need an Apple Watch.
Finally, there are a new selection of colours for the aluminium casing for Series 7: Midnight, Starlight, Green, Blue and Product RED.
The Apple Watch is still the smartwatch to beat in my mind.
The Series 7 isn’t a crucial upgrade if you’ve bought one in the last year or two, but it slots in and takes the place of Series 6 at the same price point for any new buyers.
Apple Watch Series 7: the details
Name: Apple Watch Series 7
Starting Price: £369 for the aluminium casing
- Larger screen
- Improved durability
- Faster charging
- Battery life still only manages 18 hours
- No third-party watch faces
Where can I buy one: At the Apple Store right here.
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