Despite the fact that development in the tech industry is usually associated with making things smaller, lighter, and more compact, the Apple Watch Series 7 stands out for its larger screen. Apple’s latest wristwatch was introduced during the iPhone 13 event in September and will be on sale on Friday, Oct. 15, for $399 (AU$599, £369). It has a new screen that has roughly 20% more screen area than the Series 6 and more than 50% more screen area than the Series 3. Because of the Series 7’s larger display, it’s the first to include a QWERTY keyboard and other features that make better use of the extra space, such as larger buttons in apps like Calculator and Alarms.
While the larger screen is the most noticeable change on the Series 7, it isn’t the only one Apple added to its new wearable. For the first time, the design is more sturdy and dust resistant, it can charge up to 33% faster than the Series 6, and the aluminium case is available in new colour combinations.
Otherwise, the Apple Watch Series 7 offers all of the same capabilities as the Series 6, plus more premium features like blood oxygen saturation measures, an always-on display, and the ability to capture ECG measurements from the wrist that aren’t available on the Apple Watch SE.
To put it frankly, the Series 7 does not feel like the generational upgrade we’ve come to expect from Apple’s smartwatches in the past. But that isn’t always a disapproval.
The Series 7 appears to be a polished version of a watch we already adore, the Series 6, rather than a significant upgrade. The Series 7 is a tempting option for first-time Apple Watch owners or those upgrading from an older watch because it costs the same as its predecessor.
If you already own a Series 6 or 5, don’t waste $400 on the Series 7. However, if you have an older model, such as the Series 3, Apple’s latest watch will feel like a significant upgrade.
A New Look With a Larger Screen
The greatest difference between the Series 7 and the Series 6 is the larger display. Apple has lowered the size of the screen’s borders to allow for a more spacious display without affecting the casing’s dimensions significantly.
As a result, the Apple Watch Series 7 is available with 41-millimeter and 45-millimeter casings, as opposed to the Series 6’s 40-millimeter and 44-millimeter casings. The watch is also slightly heavier; the aluminium 41mm model weights 32 grammes vs 30.5 grammes for the 40mm Series 6. While wearing the watch, however, this was not evident.
The Series 7 also has IP6X dust resistance and a thicker front crystal cover than the Series 6, however I haven’t had the chance to put those features to the test yet. The corners are also softer and rounder, but this is only noticeable when looking at the watch attentively. The aluminium variant is also available in five new colours: midnight, starlight, green, and revised blue and red versions that are lighter than the Series 6 colours. The starlight model, which is a mix of gold and silver, has been my go-to.
You may be wondering why a larger screen is needed on a gadget like the Apple Watch, which is designed for quick glanceable notifications rather than extensive interactions. Apple has tried to answer this concern by changing the watch’s user interface to make sense of its larger screen.
To make it easier to tap buttons in apps like timers, alarms, and the calculator, they’ve been enlarged. The keypad for unlocking your watch is the most useful change in this regard. Now that the buttons are larger, I can enter in my passcode correctly on the first try even when I’m in a hurry when putting on my watch in the morning.
When reading news clips or notifications, you’ll see a handful of extra lines of text on the screen. While it’s a notable improvement, it didn’t have a significant impact on how I use the Apple Watch because I don’t do any reading on it.
New font size settings for making text look even larger on screen are also included in the Series 7, which could be especially handy for watch owners with visual problems.
The Apple Watch Now Has Its Own Physical Keyboard
The redesigned QWERTY keyboard, on the other hand, is the main reason for the Series 7’s larger screen. To bring up the keyboard in apps like Messages or Mail, simply tap the message field while creating a new text or email. If the keyboard isn’t visible straight immediately, press the arrow at the bottom of the screen to switch between the keyboard and Scribble, which allows you to trace individual characters with your finger.
The autocorrect feature on the keyboard works remarkably well, which is vital on such a little keyboard where precision is tough. Even when I was entering something really particular, like a friend’s name, I was impressed by how often it accurately completed my words before I had finished typing.
This came in handy when I was a bridesmaid at a close friend’s wedding recently. I needed to coordinate with other wedding party members on multiple times but didn’t have my phone with me. When I had some downtime between photo shoots, instead of dashing down the hallway in heels to get my phone from the bridal suite, I texted a brief message to my husband saying, “Come down to the lobby.”
Because it’s much easier to move my finger across the Series 7’s keyboard rather than pounding individual keys, I’ve largely been using the QuickPath feature, which lets you text by swiping between letters.
Of course, you could utilise the watch’s dictation feature to send texts without having to take your phone out of your pocket. However, not everyone is comfortable speaking into their watch in public, and some messages are simply too personal to dictate out loud.
It’s nice to have a native text input mechanism on the Apple Watch that, unlike the Scribble feature, allows you to type complete words and sentences. It’s advisable to use your phone if you’re typing anything longer than a short statement like “Meet me downstairs” or “Don’t forget the milk.”
Long sentences need too much concentration while typing on a watch. I also had a habit of deleting entire words when I only wanted to delete one character, which was annoying. (You can alter this in the watch’s settings or move the pointer more precisely using the digital crown.)
New Watch Faces Demonstrate How The Larger Screen Can Be Beneficial, But More Options Could Have Been Available
Because the Apple Watch’s screen is the one you look at the most, watch faces are an important component of the experience. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Apple has incorporated new watch faces tailored to the Series 7’s larger screen. There’s the Modular Duo face, which is the first to offer two large-format complications for presenting information, and Contour, which has numerals that bleed over the curved borders of the Series 7.
I preferred the Modular Duo face since I prioritise collecting as much information as possible in a single glance over aesthetics. I can view the time, a breakdown of my activity progress over the course of the day, the temperature, and hourly weather forecasts just by looking down at my wrist with the Modular Duo face. By comparison, the normal Modular face on the Series 6 and prior only allows you to add one huge complication and several little ones.
I only wish there were more faces developed specifically for the Series 7 to select from, especially given the larger screen is the most notable update. Hopefully, future software updates will bring more new watch faces.
The display’s brightness has been increased in always-on mode while indoors, which is another significant modification made by Apple. The Series 7’s screen will shine brighter than the Series 6’s and Series 5’s when your wrist is down and the display is inactive. When comparing the Series 7 and Series 6 side by side, it’s obvious, but it doesn’t make a significant change in how I use my watch. The brighter always-on display is a refinement rather than a huge enhancement, which is consistent with my general impressions of the Series 7.
Charging Is Faster, But The Battery Life Is The Same
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to battery life. The good news is that the Series 7 charges much faster than the Series 6, which is helpful whether you use the watch to track your sleep or simply forget to charge it overnight. The bad news is that the Series 7’s battery life isn’t any better than the Series 6.
Let’s begin with the positive. Because to modifications to the watch’s internals and a new charger included in the box, Apple claims the new watch will charge up to 33% faster than its predecessor.
During my testing, I found this to be accurate, but only after charging the watch for at least a half hour. The Apple Watch Series 7’s battery went from zero to 54 percent after 30 minutes of charging, but the Series 6’s only went from zero to 37 percent. I used the same charger for both watches to maintain uniformity.
That’s a significant change, and those who charge their watches before leaving the home in the morning will notice it. However, if you only have a few minutes to charge your watch, the difference in charging speed between the Series 6 and Series 7 isn’t significant. The Series 7’s battery was at 24 percent after 15 minutes of charging on the same charger, while the Series 6’s was at 23 percent.
Another disadvantage is that it is only compatible with Apple’s new charger. That means you won’t be able to use the Series 7’s faster charging procedure if you have a charging dock with an Apple Watch charger integrated in, like as Apple’s MagSafe Duo. The quicker charger, on the other hand, will operate with any USB-C compliant wall adapter, whether or not it’s designed by Apple.