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Apple Watch Series 7 buyer's guide: Everything you need to know
If you’re looking for the best smartwatch on the market, the Apple Watch Series 7 is it. It’s a familiar device, with only a few changes from the Series 6. The most obvious upgrade you’ll notice is a bigger screen. However, don’t miss the additional practical upgrades like faster charging and improved durability. This guide covers everything you need to know about the Apple Watch Series 7.
Apple Watch Series 7 at a glance
Apple’s current flagship smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 7, launched October 15, 2021. The device carries over the best of the Apple Watch Series 6 and adds in a few user-friendly upgrades.
While the sensors and major components of the Series 7 are largely the same as the previous generation, this is without a doubt the most usable (and most practical) Apple Watch yet. A 20% increase in display size means more real estate for bigger buttons, watch faces, and the first-ever QWERTY keyboard on an Apple Watch. Additionally, faster charging means more time on your wrist.
These upgrades, plus a major boost in durability, make for a watch that’s accessible and long-lasting. Add in the same great hardware and software features we’ve grown to love, and Apple seamlessly launched another winning device.
See also: The complete Apple Watch buyer’s guide
Is the Apple Watch Series 7 worth buying?
The easy answer is “of course.” Apple Watches are consistently high-quality with great, stylish design, ample health and fitness tracking features, and unmatched app support. The Apple Watch Series 7 falls right in line on all these fronts.
The more complicated answer is that it really depends on what devices you already have in your watch box. There may not be enough newness to motivate owners of an Apple Watch Series 5 or 6 to upgrade. In reality, the Apple Watch Series 7 is more like a Series 6 with a slight makeover than a brand new wearable. If you can find it on sale, we suggest buying the Series 6 over the Series 7.
On the other hand, those still hanging on to anything older will definitely feel the benefits of additional sensors, improved performance, and a larger screen.
If you’re someone who doesn’t want to charge their smartwatch daily, the Series 7 will still be out of the running for you. The device’s battery life leaves much to be desired. Likewise, if your top priority is having the best of the best in health and fitness tracking, other devices may be better suited to your focus. Finally, if you have a Samsung phone, you’ll want to take a peek at the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 instead.
What reviewers are saying about the Apple Watch Series 7
Experts have had plenty to say about the Apple Watch Series 7. Users praise the larger screen, improved charging, and boost in durability. However, in light of the limited changes from the Series 6, wearables enthusiasts feel Apple played it safe.
In his review for Android Authority, Jimmy Westenberg says “the Apple Watch Series 7 is a very good smartwatch. So was the Series 6, and so was the Series 5. Apple has a winning formula, and it’s clear the company is comfortable putting out new devices with minuscule updates.” Like others, Jimmy found that much of the device remains unchanged from the Series 6. While the upgrades to the watch’s display and charging are certainly positive, they don’t necessarily merit a purchase if you’re already wearing a recent model. He also adds that many watchOS updates will be available to other Apple Watches as well.
Another concern Jimmy raises is a potentially finicky heart rate sensor. After purchasing two devices to thoroughly address the issue, he still couldn’t get the consistent accuracy users have come to expect from Apple Watch devices. In the end, he says “for now, I can’t recommend the Apple Watch Series 7’s heart rate sensor for anything but general fitness tracking.” Hopefully, this one setback is a matter of Apple tweaking some algorithms and will be corrected in time.
What other reviewers from around the web think of the Apple Watch Series 7
- CNET’s Lisa Eadiciccio says, “To put it bluntly, the Series 7 doesn’t feel like the type of generational upgrade we’ve come to expect from Apple’s smartwatches in years past. But that’s not necessarily a snub against it.” She appreciates that Apple didn’t add new health and fitness features just for the sake of novelty but wishes there were more specs differentiating the Series 7 from its predecessor.
- Tom’s Guide’s Kate Kozuch labels the device the “most usable standalone smartwatch yet,” touting the larger screen as a possible predictor of what lies ahead for the smartwatch line, namely independence from phones. She also loves the arrival of the QWERTY keyboard as well as the bigger on-screen buttons and new watch faces that came along with the new, larger screen. She is, however, surprised to see the lack of new wellness features and wonders if the move will leave Apple “susceptible to falling behind the competition.”
- Tech Radar’s Garreth Beavis calls the device a “great fitness companion” with plenty of physical and mental health tools users can benefit from using. However, beyond the larger screen, he doesn’t see very many upgrades from the Series 6, remarking, “some things that work really well on the Watch 7 have been there for a long time, but they make it a much more compelling buy.” He also remains frustrated with the limited battery life of the device, even if the charging has been improved, and doesn’t think it’s the right buy for anyone who is hardcore about fitness tracking.
Apple Watch Series 7 hardware and design
We didn’t get the complete redesign rumored early on, but the device’s headlining always-on Retina still features upgrades. The Apple Watch Series 7 screen is about 20% larger than that of its predecessor, and almost double the size of some of the earliest models.
This is an impressive feat considering the expansion barely altered the dimensions of the watch itself. Instead, the Apple Watch 7 features borders reduced by 40%, allowing for more screen space while keeping the overall device size nearly identical. Additionally, refracted light at the edges of the screen also creates a wrap-around effect. This blends the display seamlessly with the case, leaving just enough room for a Digital Crown.
The Apple Watch Series 7 display doesn't just look better than the Series 6, it's built better, too.
A 50% thicker front crystal significantly bumps the display’s strength and durability, while its new design offers a flat base that’s more resistant to cracks (but still crackable, so we don’t recommend testing it out). The device is also dust resistant with an IP6X certification. Lastly, the always-on display is also up to 70% brighter indoors than the Series 6, so you can see your details without lifting your wrist.
For the most part, the device’s internal specs match those of the Series 6, including a dual-core S7 chipset, which provides the same speed as the S6. The Series 7 also still offers support for 2.5GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands as well as 32GB of storage.
The Series 7 brought some improvement in the battery department, albeit not exactly what users were hoping to see. The built-in lithium-ion battery only provides 18 hours of use. However, an updated charging architecture and fast-charging USB-C cable (included in the box) allow the device to charge from 0 to 80% in about 45 minutes. And, if recording Zs is a priority, according to Apple, juicing up for just eight minutes provides enough charge for eight hours of sleep tracking.
The Apple Watch Series 7 comes in two new sizes, 41mm and 45mm. Both sizes are available in aluminum in five colorways: Midnight, Starlight, green, Product Red and a blue that is slightly different than the blue of the Series 6. The options remain silver, graphite, and gold in stainless steel, while silver and Space Black are still the only colors available in titanium.
In all sizes and materials, you can choose between GPS only or GPS + cellular, with an upcharge for the latter.
Health and fitness features
On the health and fitness front, the Apple Watch Series 7 features the same sensors as the Series 6. Users can still expect a blood oxygen sensor for SpO2 measurements and a medically validated ECG monitor for taking an electrocardiogram (ECG) right on their wrists. Like its predecessor, the Series 7 will also alert you if your heart rate gets too high or low. Meanwhile, the device packs the same accelerometer, gyroscope, and altimeter, plus GPS for tracking runs and other workouts.
While Apple didn’t add to the watch’s health-tracking capabilities, WatchOS 8 did make some important improvements available. These include upgrades to sleep tracking, fall detection during workouts, automatic cycling detection, a refresh of the Breathe app (now called “Mindfulness”), and additional workouts like Pilates and Tai Chi. Users will also receive three free months of Apple Fitness Plus when they purchase the Apple Watch Series 7.
Apple Watch Series 7 specs
For an overview of the finer details, check out the specs below.
|Apple Watch Series 7|
396 x 484 pixels
Dimensions and weight
45 x 38 x 10.7mm
Stainless steel: 51.5g
41 x 35 x 10.7mm
Stainless steel: 42.3g
Apple S7 with 64-bit dual-core processor
U1 chip (Ultra Wideband)
45 min to 80% charge
USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Case materials and colors
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
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Model A2475 (41mm)
LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17,
18, 19, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66
Blood oxygen sensor
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Ambient light sensor
iOS 15 or later
Apple Watch Series 7 vs Series 6: What’s different?
Without even turning on your device, you’ll notice the most significant difference between the Series 6 and 7: the bigger screen. The 20% larger Series 7 display stretches from edge to edge, seamlessly blending into borders 40% thinner than those of the Series 6. (We are happy to report that the device retains band compatibility even with the display and case size changes.)
The Series 7's larger display makes for a much more accessible device, with more information available on-screen than ever before.
The update also includes bigger on-screen buttons and watch faces that take full advantage of the additional breathing room. One Series 7 exclusive face, Contour, pushes the watch face numerals to the outer edge of the screen. It then highlights the appropriate hour as time passes. Another face only available on the Series 7, Modular Duo, displays the time and up to three complications. The design allows extra room for more details in the two complications prioritized by the user.
For the first time, watch Apple Watch wearers can also text away on a new QWERTY keyboard. The feature makes for faster on-device messaging and emailing. It can be used by tapping each character individually or by utilizing QuickPath to swipe between letters.
We don’t get any new, differentiating additions on the sensor front like we did when the Series 6 introduced Apple’s pulse oximeter. Most of the hardware and specs remain consistent from the last generation to this one. As mentioned above, however, the Series 7 does offer faster charging.
Finally, in the aluminum case lineup, the Series 7 also features the five new colorways mentioned above: Midnight, Starlight, green, blue, and Product Red.
What are some good Apple Watch Series 7 alternatives?
Year after year, Apple upgrades the specs and features of its popular smartwatch line, continually pushing ahead of the competition. However, if you aren’t drinking the Apple-flavored Kool-Aid, if you’re on a budget, or if you want a more fitness-focused wearable, there are definitely some great alternatives on the market.
- Apple Watch Series 6: Pretty much a Series 7 with a smaller screen, this is the best alternative you can buy. At this point, Apple no longer sells the Series 6 directly. However, if you can find it from other retailers, it may be worth saving some cash.
- Apple Watch SE: For tighter budgets, the Apple Watch SE offers a user experience similar to the Series 6. You just have to be willing to skip on ECG and SpO2 sensors. You can typically find the Apple Watch SE for under $300.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the obvious and best alternative for Android users. It’s a feature-packed smart device with the style and class of a traditional watch. Read more about it in our full review.
- Fitbit Sense: Another solid option is a premium pick from Fitbit. The Fitbit Sense offers noteworthy fitness and sleep tracking, and a battery life of almost an entire week. Plus, it sits on shelves at a lower price point than the Apple Watch. Learn more in our full review.
- Garmin Venu 2: A Garmin device is typically a good bet if your main concerns are accurate fitness tracking and in-depth health stats. The Garmin Venu 2 won’t offer as many smartwatch features as the Apple Watch Series 7, but it’s one of our favorite watches for fitness tracking. Read why in our full review.
- Garmin Venu 2 Plus: If your budget allows, Garmin’s pricey Venu 2 Plus adds in a few of the smartwatch features missing in the original Venu 2, making for a more well-rounded device. Read why we called it the best smartwatch Garmin has ever created in our full review.
Where to buy the Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch Series 7 is available from Apple, as well as in stores or online at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, or Target. Prices start at $399 and go up from there depending on which configuration you are interested in purchasing. The device is also available in higher-end stainless steel starting at $699 and titanium starting at $799.
- Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm Aluminum GPS): $399/£369/€429/Rs 41,900
- Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm Aluminum): $429/£469/€459/Rs 44,900
GPS + cellular
- Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm Aluminum LTE): $499/£399/Rs 50,900
- Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm Aluminum LTE): $529/£499/Rs 53,900
If you purchase a GPS + cellular model directly from Apple, you will receive $100 back after activation.
Finally, you can also purchase the device directly from your carrier. Both Verizon and AT&T offer money back for trading in your old device. You can purchase the Apple Watch Series 7 from Verizon starting at $16.66/month for 30 months. AT&T carries a variety of Apple Watch Series 7 models starting at $13.89/month for 36 months.
Top Apple Watch Series 7 questions and answers
Q: Is the Apple Watch Series 7 waterproof?
A: Like previous models, the device is water-resistant up to 50 meters. The device is also rated IP6X dust resistant and features a newly designed crystal to improve resistance to cracking.
Q: Is the Apple Watch Series 7 compatible with older bands?
A: Yes. Despite the slight design change to the Apple Watch Series 7 case, it will still work with bands in compatible sizes. Bands for 38mm, 40mm, and 41mm case sizes are interchangeable. Likewise, bands for 42mm, 44mm, and 45mm case sizes are all compatible.
Q: Do I need a specific charger to access the improved charge times?
A: According to Apple, you can only achieve 33% faster charging when using a fast-charging USB-C cable on the Apple Watch Series 7. However, only the Apple Watch Series 7 has the necessary internal specs to achieve these touted charge speeds. As a result, using a USB-C cable on a different device will not have the same effect.
Q: Does the Apple Watch Series 7 work with Android phones?
A: No. Unfortunately, all Apple Watches are iPhone-only devices.
Q: Can you control smart home devices from the Apple Watch Series 7?
A: On WatchOS 8, you can control the compatible smart devices in your home from the newly redesigned Home app.
Q: Can the Apple Watch Series 7 measure blood pressure?
A: No, the Apple Watch Series 7 cannot measure blood pressure. However, Apple Health can track blood pressure if you have a compatible device.
Q: Which Apple Watch Series 7 size should I buy?
A: The Apple Watch Series 7 comes in two sizes, 45mm and 41mm. If you consider your wrists to be average or larger than average, we suggest buying the 45mm model. On the other hand, the 41mm model is quite compact and more suitable for smaller wrists.