One of the big rumors heating up before Apple’s “California Streaming” iPhone announcement event about the Apple Watch Series 7 wound up fizzling out as soon as the new smartwatch was unveiled. The speculation was that Apple would perform the most significant overhaul of its smartwatch ever, aligning its design with that of the iPhone 12 and 13 — namely, flat sides and a more squared-off look with a larger display and smaller bezels. We got the larger display and slimmer bezels part, but the Apple Watch Series 7 still mostly looks like its predecessors at casual glance.
The biggest change to the Series 7 is indeed physically bigger: the display. Apple increased the screen sizes to 41mm and 45mm, and with a thicker glass top the display is stronger while stretching out further to the edges. The functional benefit is more room on the screen for larger icons, and Apple says you can do and see more with more info on screen and new watch faces.
Along with the screen changes, the Series 7 has a bevy of typical year-over-year improvements, such as faster charging, improved durability, new workouts, new colors, and even a full swipe keyboard for fidgeting with some tiny letters on these larger screens. But even with all of that, the design feels conservative, and not a radical departure from its immediate forebears. So should you wait until Apple’s estimated “later this fall” timeframe for the Apple Watch Series 7, or do the Apple Watches of today offer enough as-is for you?
The outgoing Apple Watch Series 6 of 2020 is still an impressively capable smartwatch, and we’ve seen significant discounts on it for months now. The polarizing red colorway has at times plummeted as low as $249, even cheaper than the midrange $279 Apple Watch SE that lacks an always-on display. Right at this moment you can buy a Series 6 from a variety of retailers in a color of your choice for $319 to $349, which is a considerable amount less than the $399 starting price of the Series 7 without having to wait.
Spending less right now becomes even more appealing when you consider the Series 7 may still be using last year’s S6 processor — if so, it probably won’t have an added year of OS updates over the Series 6 like you’d normally expect. One of the benefits of a new processor isn’t just the speedy improvements of today, but also the sustainability and reassurance offered down the road by an increased performance ceiling.
The Series 7 certainly has its merits. If you prefer to have the most peace of mind, or you live a lifestyle that will really put a fitness-focused device to the test, then perhaps the new IP6X resistance rating for grittier environments and sandy beaches is enticing. If you value the fastest charging, the Series 7 comes with a USB-C magnetic fast charger, offering a 33 percent quicker charge, and even buying one of those separately will not juice up a prior generation watch any quicker. The larger displays are of course the biggest change, and if you always prefer what’s newer, bigger, and flashier then by all means keep an eye out for when preorders go up.
But this new Apple Watch still pretty much just looks like any old Apple Watch, especially at the distances people usually see a watch on someone’s wrist. What will matter most to you here might be a very personal tech or fashion accessory decision, and if a slightly larger screen is all you need maybe that’s good enough. Though if you’re looking for the most sensible smartwatch from Apple, you may want to consider skipping the wait and choosing from the more cost-effective options available right now.