Apple Watch Series 7: Still putting it up to the competition

Tweaks and refinements include bigger display, fast charging and updated chip

Product name: Apple Watch Series 7

Price: €429.0

Where to buy: www.apple.com

Website: www.apple.com

Thu, Oct 14, 2021, 17:22

   

What more can Apple do with the Watch? The smartwatch has everything from an ECG and a blood oxygen sensor to built-in GPS and altimeter to track your health metrics and your activity. It monitors sleep and respiration rate, detects falls and keeps an eye out for atrial fibrillation. It can let you take calls, send quick emails and message replies, and keep in touch with your smartphone notifications.

Basically, there’s a lot going on.

The new Watch Series 7 seems like a modest upgrade at first glance. Apple’s smartwatch has been tweaked and refined, with a bigger display and fast charging capabilities, and an updated chip.

But taking what you know works and making it better is a solid plan, and one that has served Apple in the past. While the owners of the Series 6 may not be rushing to upgrade, the new additions to the Series 7 may persuade others that it is time to spend their hard-earned cash on an Apple Watch.

The most obvious change in the Series 7 is the display. Bigger and more rounded, the new watch can fit more in than those that have gone before. The version reviewed here is the 41mm, although Apple also offers a 45mm option too. The jump to a 41mm casing from 40mm is not huge, but that’s not the only reason for the larger screen. Apple has shrunk the frame on the watch too, giving you 20 per cent more screen space.

It might not seem like much, but it makes a huge difference to what you can see on your wrist and what will require you to defer to your smartphone. Instagram posts are more clearly visible when I get a notification that a favourite account has posted; tapping out messages on the qwerty keyboard isn’t as difficult as it would be on the smaller screen. Even selecting apps on the Watch screen is easier, yielding fewer mistaken taps. And it has been achieved without making the watch itself unwieldy and oversized.

The always-on display is also brighter when the watch is not active, making it easier to see your workout stats while you are indoors without having to constantly raise your wrist to wake the screen.

Apple hasn’t done anything to extend the battery life here; it still comes in at about 18 hours, according to Apple’s own figures. What it means is that you will charge every day and a half, give or take a couple of hours. But Apple has made one significant improvement: it has included fast charging. The Series 7 Watch charges about 33 per cent faster than its predecessor, and you can lob it on the charger while you are getting ready for bed to give it enough power to monitor your sleep for eight hours (assuming you are lucky enough to get to sleep that long uninterrupted), or jump in the shower in the morning.

The fast charging only works with the Series 7. The key ingredients here are the Series 7 Watch and the new USB C cable it comes with; you can use a regular Apple Watch charger, but you won’t get the same fast-charging capabilities. Likewise, the Series 6 and earlier will power up with the new Watch charger, but only at the regular rate.

Perhaps of more interest to some is the durability of the Series 7. According to Apple, the new Watch has its most crack-resistant glass on the front, a crystal that is thicker and sturdier than previous designs. I haven’t cracked the glass on an Apple Watch but I have scratched it through general daily wear; it will be interesting to see if the Series 7 is any more scratch-resistant than its predecessors.

One thing Apple has remedied is the dust-resistance rating. While the Watch has been water resistant up to 50 metres for several iterations and can be worn while swimming, there was no rating for dust resistance – until now. The new Series 7 is IPX6 rated, which is the highest dust-resistance rating. It means you can take it to the beach and feel confident it will live to tell the tale, which will be a comfort to sea swimmers, people who like to walk on the beach, or anyone who has ever considered mountain biking while wearing an Apple Watch. It’s unlikely that the lack of a dust rating would have stopped anyone, mind you; it just means that now you have the backing of Apple to do it while wearing its product.

The good

The larger screen and smaller frame works well for content and messaging alike. The new qwerty keyboard also helps with composing messages quickly.

The not so good

The Watch is still inextricably linked with the iPhone. While you can set up the Apple Watch for another family member using Family Setup, Apple Watch is made to work with iOS devices. It doesn’t make sense for Android users to try to jump ship on wearables.

The rest

What’s an Apple Watch without some exclusive watchfaces for the new model? The new Contour watch face shows you how much space you get with the new Series 7.

If you are wondering about the S7 chip, Apple says it provides the same speeds as the S6, with a 20 per cent boost on the S5 that the Apple Watch SE uses. So still fast, still smooth, still putting it up to the competition.

The verdict

Newcomers and upgraders from the earlier versions of the Apple Watch will appreciate the updated spec and new features.