The Apple Watch Series 7 is a worthy upgrade from the Series 6
It's all about that screen and that display.
When Apple originally announced the Apple Watch Series 7 at its "California Streaming" event earlier this month, I initially had the same reaction as almost everyone else: "IT'S NOT LIKE THE LEAKS! WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT!" Once I came down from this state, of course, I looked at it again and thought, "it's a modest update that could be enticing for people with an Apple Watch Series 3."
That opinion seems to have remained steady for almost everyone over the last few weeks as Apple has launched its other products that were announced at the event: the iPhone 13, the 6th generation iPad mini, and the 9th generation iPad. We've all been distracted by all of the other new things to worry about the new watch which isn't coming until "later this fall."
However, earlier today, Jon Prosser snapped us all back into Apple Watch mode when he speculated that preorders for the Apple Watch Series 7 might start next week with the new watch set to begin shipping in mid-October. That caused me to, despite already owning an Apple Watch Series 6, take another look at the Series 7 and, after doing so, I have come to a very different conclusion than I did back on Apple Event day.
Now, don't get me wrong here. No one NEEDS the new Apple Watch, especially if you have an Apple Watch Series 6 or Series 5...heck, even a Series 4. However, if you appreciate technology and the seemingly small changes that have bigger impacts, there's actually a couple of things to be excited about here.
It's all about that screen
The biggest change to the Apple Watch this year is its new display. With the Series 7, Apple was able to reduce the borders of the watch by 40%, resulting in almost 20% more screen area than the Series 6. This is one of those things that, when I think back to the days of the iPhone 8, I have to appreciate more. When the company unveiled the iPhone X and removed the chin from the iPhone, everyone lost their minds. They were so happy to have an "edge-to-edge" display on the iPhone.
That's kind of what's happening here with the Apple Watch now. Plus, it's not just about having a bigger and more "edge-to-edge" screen. Apple makes use of that space with watchOS to create new watch faces and experiences with the operating system that weren't possible before because of a smaller screen. You can even use a full keyboard on the watch now (although FlickType would have something to say about that).
Imagine if, with the upcoming MacBook Pro redesigns, Apple announces that it was able to shrink the bezels of the display by 40% and there is now 20% more screen real estate on the MacBook. Everyone would throw up their hands in celebration! So, why don't we do that for the Apple Watch? It's a meaningful improvement for all of us who want a better Apple Watch, from the hardware to the software.
A big step for Always-On
Speaking of that display, Apple was also able to increase the brightness of the Always-On display by 70% when it is indoors. While that may sound inconsequential, I think it could improve our behavior when we glance at our watch. Despite the Series 6 already having an Always-On display, I still find myself always waiting for the full brightness to kick in when I raise my watch to look at it.
Glancing at it without full brightness is still just too dim for me, and it still results in using the watch just like I did on previous generations without an Always-On display. With the Series 7, I might actually be able to glance at my watch and move about my day.
For all of us who destroy our watches
While the other two features are the ones that sway me the most towards the Series 7, I also need to give an honorable mention to the durability upgrades. Apple says that its new watch features a 50% thicker front crystal for more strength and durability and that, due to the new design, is now dust resistant.
I personally have never heard of killing an Apple Watch with dust but I definitely have beaten up the glass on my watches. I hike. I run. I snowboard. I try mountain biking and crash sometimes. These kinds of improvements are meaningful to anyone who likes to do exactly what the Apple Watch was made for - stay active. So, while my other watches have survived my antics, I'm always appreciative of an upgrade to its durability.
More than we thought
Once I put all of this together, I realized that the Series 7 was actually the Apple Watch that I've been waiting for since the Series 5 launched back in 2019. I'll always take a bigger screen in practically the same form factor and a major improvement to the Always-On display makes every moment you glance at your watch better, something we probably don't realize how many times we do in a day.
Of course, if you don't care about these kinds of things, the Apple Watch Series 7 is going to be an easy skip for you. However, if you're the kind of person that appreciates when products push the borders of technology (see what I did there) or find ways to improve the small moment with meaningful results, I think the Series 7 is a bigger upgrade than most of us thought.