Apple comes out with its "most advanced Apple Watch" every year, and this year that's the Series 7 ($399+). While past Apple Watches have boasted newer and better processors, additional sensors and novel capabilities to lay claim to this title, the Series 4, Series 5, SE and Series 6 have all looked identical. The Series 7 actually gives us something a bit different: a bigger, more beautiful display. And that's about it.
The Series 7 has a display that's 20-percent bigger than previous Apple Watches. The bezels have been slimmed down so the Series 7 isn't physically larger, but the screen certainly looks it. I've been wearing the Series 7 for the better part of a week and, well, it makes a definite difference in how it feels. There's a little bit of a "new car" thrill when I glance at it, in a way that previous, identical-looking Apple Watches have never really provided.
But while it's a nice difference at a glance, there's no all that much else different about it. When it comes to the guts, the Series 7 has the same chip, sensors and mostly the same feature set as the Series 6.
The larger screen is an aesthetic improvement but it comes with practical benefits. The extra real estate lets you see more text without having to scroll; it allows for a full keyboard that also supports swiping; and it gives you the option to use two larger font sizes, in case you really have a tough time seeing text.
For me, the best part about the Series 7 is seeing more of the messages, emails and Twitter notifications I get, and more of the Portrait Mode photos I set as my watch face (for me, it's my dog). The fact that the Series 7 gives you a full keyboard is nice, too, but I'm assuming most people will still use Siri to dictate the voice messages. Especially since, thanks to watchOS 8, you can now edit dictated text just by using the Digital Crown to scroll. And that makes much more of a difference than a bigger screen.
Though its guts are the same as the Series 6, the Series 7's has a few more small upgrades that might sway some potential buyers. It's slightly more durable thanks to a more crack-resistant front glass. And it has a new fast charging ability, which could be big deal if you plan on using the Apple Watch for sleep tracking, though that comes with a big caveat.
The Series 7 can charge 33-percent faster thanks to new coil technology and a USB-C (rather than USB-A) charging cable that comes in the box. The catch is that you need to pair it with a USB-C wall adapter that's 7.5-watt or greater (sold separately) to get the fastest charge. If you pair the Series 7 with an older Apple Watch charger — including newest accessories like Apple's MagSafe Duo — it won't get this faster charge.
Apple has been making by-far-and-away the best smartwatches for iPhone users for years and years and the Series 7 definitely looks and feels newer and cooler, even if it works basically the same.
If you've bought an Apple Watch in the past two years, it's going to be difficult to justify upgrading to the Series 7. Your current Apple Watch — specifically the Series 5, SE or Series 6 — can likely do everything that this new Apple Watch can do, after all. So it's ultimately going to come down to how much you want the biggest and most beautiful display ever put on an Apple Watch.
After all, what is a watch for if not for looking at?
The Apple Watch Series 7 is available now.