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If you can find it on sale, buy the Apple Watch Series 6 instead of the Series 7

The Apple Watch Series 7 is not worth hundreds of dollars more than the Series 6.
By
April 21, 2022
An image of the Apple Watch Series 6 laying on a table showing the World Time watch face on watchOS 8
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Every year, Apple announces a new flagship smartwatch. And every year, it replaces the last-gen model with the one it just announced. It even stops selling the “old” watch, whether it’s considered aging technology or not.

The Apple Watch Series 7 is the latest hotness. Accordingly, once the Series 7 went on sale, the Series 6 essentially ceased to exist on Apple’s website, replaced by the upgraded wearable.

But you know what? The Series 7 is hardly an upgrade over the Series 6. More importantly, if you can find an Apple Watch Series 6 on sale somewhere (and aren’t an Android user, obviously), I’d recommend buying it over the Series 7 at full price. Let me explain.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Series 7: The only tangible differences are in hardware

The Apple Watch Series 7 on a wrist showing the Modular Duo watch face
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Modular Duo

Most people wouldn’t notice the differences between the Apple Watch Series 7 and Series 6 unless they had both watches in front of them (you can also check out the full comparison specs at the end of this article).

The Series 7 has a 20% larger screen and ~40% smaller bezels than the Series 6. Its case is also slightly rounder. These upgrades are nice but not game-changers.

The device’s more substantial upgrades have to do with durability. First, the Series 7 has a front crystal that’s 50% larger than the older watch, making it more resistant to cracks (I have not tested this). Additionally, the new watch is also rated IP6X for dust resistance. However, both watches have the same WR50 water-resistance rating.

Apple hasn't made any significant battery life improvements in years. And unfortunately, faster charging won't solve its issues.

Battery life, one of the main smartwatch pillars Apple usually struggles with, is nearly identical on both watches. They’re both rated for 18 hours of use, so one way or another, you’re going to have to charge the watch before bed or after you wake up. The Series 7 charges faster than the Series 6, but only with the new USB-C charging cable. That’ll save you some time, but again, nothing substantial.

Overall performance is, you guessed it, pretty much the same. I personally experience very few bugs or performance hiccups on Apple Watches, and the Series 6 and 7 are no different. The Series 7 is powered by Apple’s new S7 chip, which is based on the same architecture as the Series 6’s S6 chip.

Related: Apple Watch buyer’s guide

As for fitness tracking, there are also no differences, at least on paper. The Series 6 has the same fitness- and health-tracking sensors as the newer watch. You get a pulse oximeter, ECG, standalone GPS, and an optical heart rate sensor on both models. None of these hardware sensors have been upgraded.

In fact, I’ve found heart rate tracking on the Apple Watch Series 6 to be more reliable and more accurate than the Series 7. Throughout a month-long testing period and two different units, the latter spat out more unusable heart rate recordings than I’ve ever seen on an Apple Watch. Meanwhile, during the same workouts, the Series 6 performed just as it always has: consistently and accurately.

The Series 7’s heart rate issues could be due to wonky algorithms or some software that needs tweaking. I know other reviewers have had better luck with its sensor but, unfortunately, that hasn’t been my experience.

WatchOS 8 is nice, but it’s not a Series 7-exclusive

An image of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 7 laying on a table showing the Mindfulness app
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Software support is one of the biggest selling points of Apple products. It’s also a pretty big reason why people hold on to their devices for so long.

The Apple Watch Series 7 launched with watchOS 8. Its predecessor launched with watchOS 7 and was also updated to watchOS 8 on the day the software was released. Likewise, both of them will receive updates for years to come. Apple doesn’t give hard numbers on how many major updates it releases for each wearable, but consider this: The Apple Watch Series 3, which launched in 2017 with watchOS 4, is still receiving software updates (for better or worse).

Both the Series 6 and Series 7 will receive updates for years to come.

WatchOS 8 on the Series 6 and Series 7 is the same, except for a few small changes. The Series 7 has two new watch faces — Modular Duo and Contour — the former of which takes good advantage of the larger display. There’s also an on-screen keyboard on the Series 7, so responding to messages is a little easier (if you can deal with smartwatch keyboards). Aside from that, the two software versions are nearly the same.

Additionally, both watches come with watchOS 8’s new Mindfulness app, Pilates and Tai Chi workouts, automatic cycling detection, and fall detection during workouts. I think I’ve made my point: Software support really doesn’t need to be a factor when considering one device over the other.

Check out: The best smartwatches you can buy

The Apple Watch Series 6 is cheaper and pretty much the same thing

An image of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 7 laying on a table showing their watch faces
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

As mentioned, Apple no longer officially sells the Apple Watch Series 6, so you’ll need to rely on third-party retailers if you’ve decided to go for this older model. Luckily, it is still sold at various retailers around the web.

Walmart and Best Buy frequently discount older Apple products. Similarly, you can also find tons of Series 6 listings from trusted sellers on eBay. There may not be huge Apple Watch Series 6 discounts around at the moment, but they can show up frequently during the holidays. Recently, the watch could be found for as low as $299. Not a bad deal at all.

Our verdicts: Apple Watch Series 7 review | Apple Watch Series 6 review

Let me be clear, if you’re in the market to buy a new Apple Watch and the Series 7 and Series 6 are both offered for the same price, the Apple Watch Series 7 is your best bet. All around, it’s the better smartwatch. With the upcoming launch of the Apple Watch Series 8, this point might soon be moot. But if it’s a decision between paying full price for a Series 7 or saving a good amount of cash on the Series 6, you should absolutely buy the Series 6.

apple watch series 7 press render green leather strap
Apple Watch Series 7
Bigger display, faster-charging battery
The Apple Watch Series 7 boasts a larger edge-to-edge display, tougher durability, faster charging, and more color options than before. If you want the best of what Apple has to offer, the Series 7 is it.
Apple Watch Series 6 press image
Apple Watch Series 6
Last-gen Apple Watch at a fair price
The Apple Watch Series 6 adds a pulse oximeter, a brighter always-on display, and two new colors. This was Apple's highest-end smartwatch in 2020 and may be a solid alternative to the pricier Series 7.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Series 7 specs

Apple Watch Series 7Apple Watch Series 6
Display
Apple Watch Series 7
LTPO OLED Retina
396 x 484 pixels
Always-on display
Apple Watch Series 6
LTPO OLED Retina
368 x 448 pixels
Always-on display
Dimensions and weight
Apple Watch Series 7
45mm:
45 x 38 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 38.8g
Stainless steel: 51.5g
Titanium: 45.1g

41mm:
41 x 35 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 32g
Stainless steel: 42.3g
Titanium: 37g

Apple Watch Series 6
44mm:
44 x 38 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 36.5g
Stainless steel: 47.1g
Titanium: 41.3g

40mm:
40 x 34 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 30.5g
Stainless steel: 39.7g
Titanium: 34.6g
Durability
Apple Watch Series 7
WR50
IP6X-certified
Apple Watch Series 6
WR50
SoC
Apple Watch Series 7
Apple S7 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple W3
Apple U1 chip (Ultra-wideband)
Apple Watch Series 6
Apple S6 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Apple W3
Apple U1 chip (Ultra-wideband)
RAM
Apple Watch Series 7
1GB
Apple Watch Series 6
1GB
Storage
Apple Watch Series 7
32GB
Apple Watch Series 6
32GB
Battery
Apple Watch Series 7
18 hours
45 min to 80% charge

USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Apple Watch Series 6
18 hours

Magnetic charging cable
Software
Apple Watch Series 7
WatchOS 8.1
Apple Watch Series 6
WatchOS 8.1
Case materials and colors
Apple Watch Series 7
GPS-only, GPS + Cellular
Aluminum: Midnight, Starlight, Green, Blue, Product Red
Apple Watch Nike: Aluminum available in Midnight and Starlight

GPS + Cellular
Stainless steel: Graphite, Silver, Gold
Titanium: Space black, Titanium
Apple Watch Hermes: Stainless steel available in Space Black and Silver
Apple Watch Series 6
GPS-only, GPS + Cellular
Aluminum: Silver, Space Gray, Gold, Blue, Product Red
Apple Watch Nike: Aluminum available in Silver and Space Gray

GPS + Cellular
Stainless steel: Silver, Graphite, Gold
Titanium: Titanium, Space Black
Apple Watch Hermes: Available in Stainless Steel and Space Black Stainless Steel
Connectivity
Apple Watch Series 7
GPS/GNSS
GLONASS
Galileo
QZSS
BeiDou
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Bluetooth 5.0

Model A2475 (41mm)
Model A2477(45mm)
LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Apple Watch Series 6
GPS/GNSS
GLONASS
Galileo
QZSS
Beidou
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Bluetooth 5.0

Model A2293 (40mm)
Model A2294 (44mm)
LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Sensors
Apple Watch Series 7
Always-on altimeter
Blood oxygen sensor
ECG
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light sensor
Apple Watch Series 6
Always-on altimeter
Blood oxygen sensor
ECG
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light sensor
Compatibility
Apple Watch Series 7
iOS 15 or later
Apple Watch Series 6
iOS 15 or later

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Series 7 FAQs

Q: Will my old charger work on an Apple Watch Series 7?
A: You can use an old charging puck on the Apple Watch Series 7, however, only the fast-charging USB cable that came in the Series 7 box will unlock the fast charging mentioned above. Furthermore, only the Series 7 has the compatible charging architecture needed to benefit from the fast charging cable. In other words, charging your Series 6 with the Series 7’s charger will not speed up its charge time.

Q: Is sleep tracking improved on the Apple Watch Series 7?
A: Sleep tracking on the Apple Watch Series 7 is the same as that of the Series 6. Unfortunately, sleep tracking on the Apple Watch is still very basic.

Q: Are Apple Watch Series 6 bands compatible with the Series 7?
A: Yes. As in the past, changes to the width of the Series 7 were nominal enough that previous bands will still fit. Bands for all small cases sizes (38, 40, 41mm) are interchangeable. Likewise, bands for larger cases sizes (42, 44, and 45mm) are interchangeable. Check out our roundup of the best Apple Watch replacement bands.

Q: Are the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 7 available in the same colors?
A: The Apple Watch Series 7 is not available in the exact same colors as the Series 6. For example, the Series 7 introduced green to its lineup. Additionally, midnight and starlight replaced space gray and silver. Finally both the Series 7 blue and red appear slightly different than the previous generation’s blue and red.