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Apple Watch Series 7 review: A slightly improved AppleWatch Series 6 version

Apple Watch Series 7 review: A slightly improved AppleWatch Series 6 version

The Apple Watch Series 7 is notable for its larger screen, despite the fact that technological advancement is often synonymous with making gadgets smaller, lighter, and more compact.

Apple's latest smartwatch will be released on Friday, Oct. 15, and will cost $399 (AU$599, 369). It comes with a new screen that has about 20% more screen area than the Series 6's and more than 50% more area in comparison to the series 3'. The Series 7's larger display also means it'll be the first to have a QWERTY keyboard and other features that make better use of the extra space, such as bigger buttons in apps like Calculator and Alarms.

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Apple Watch Series 7 is a series of Apple watch models that are based on the Apple TV.

Best Buy offers $399 for $379.
  • QWERTY keyboards are available for typing on the watch.
  • Faster charging makes it quick and easy to top off the battery.
  • Bigger buttons in apps and lock screen are being added to make the buttons more visible on the home screen.
  • Battery life hasn't improved in a year, but battery life does.
  • Only two new watch faces, intended for the bigger display, have been added.

While the increased screen is Apple's most significant change to the Series 7, it' isn't the only update to its new wearable. The design is more durable and dustproof for the first time, charging up to 33% faster than the Series 6, and the aluminum casing comes in new colors. Otherwise, the Apple Watch Series 7 offers all of the same features as the Series 6, but with the addition of more premium features that are absent from the iPhone Watch SE, such as blood oxygen saturation measurements, an always-on display, and the ability to take ECG measurements from wrist.

To put it another way, the Series 7 doesn't feel like a generational upgrade we've come to expect from Apple's smartwatches in the past. That's not to say that it'll be a bad thing.

The Series 7 feels more like a refined version of utmost love -- the Series 6 -- than merely redesigned. The Series 7 is a popular choice for first-time Apple Watch buyers or those upgrading from an older watch because it's the same price as its predecessor.

If you have a Series 6 or 5.5, don't spend $400 on the Series 7. Apple's latest watch will appear to be a significant leap forward for those with an aging model like the Series 3.

A new design with a larger screen, resulting in redesigned screens.

The Series 7's larger display is the biggest difference that separates it from the Series 6. Apple has reduced the size of the borders that frame the screen to allow for a larger display without altering the casing's dimensions.

As a result, the Apple Watch Series 7 is available in 41-millimeter and 45mm size options, compared to the Series 6, which was available as 40mm and 44mm casings. The watch itself is also slightly heavier than the 40mm Series 6 in terms of weight, with the aluminum 41mm model weighing 32 grams, compared to the 30.5-gram 40MM Series 6. This was not noticeable while wearing the watch.

The Series 7 has IP6X dust resistance and a front crystal cover that's more than 50% thicker, although I haven't had the chance to put that to the test yet. The edges are also softer and more round, but this is only apparent when you examine the watch very carefully. In addition, the aluminum model is now available in five new colors: midnight, starlight, green, and updated blue and red options that are lighter than the shades that were available for the Series 6. I've been wearing the starlight model, which is like a mixture of gold and silver.

You may be wondering why you would want a larger screen on svelte devices like the Apple Watch, which are designed for quick glanceable notifications rather than long interactions. Apple has made a few attempts to answer that question by redesigning the watch's user interface to make sense of its larger screen.

Buttons in apps like timers, alarms and the calculator have been enlarged to make them easier to tap. The most useful change in this regard is the keypad for unlocking your watch. Now that the buttons are bigger, I can type in my passcode correctly on the first try when putting on my watch in the morning even when I'm in a rush.

When reading news articles or notifications, you may also see a couple extra lines of text on the screen. While it's a noticeable improvement, it doesn't make measurable difference to how I use the Apple Watch since I don''m not accustomed to reading on its screen.

The Series 7 also includes new font size options to make text appear even bigger on screen, which may be especially helpful for watch owners with visual impairments.

The Apple Watch has its first real keyboard.

The Series 7's bigger screen is the reason for that. Simply tap the message field when creating a new text or email to open the keyboard in apps like Messages or Mail. If you don't see the keyboard right away, you may use the arrow at the bottom of the screen to switch between the Keyboard option and Scribble, which lets you trace individual letters with your finger.

The keyboard's autocorrect function performs well, which is crucial on such a tiny keyboard where it' is difficult to be precise. I was impressed by the way it completed my words even when I wasn't typing a very specific word like s/n of .

This really helped me when I was a bridesmaid at tamer friend's wedding recently. There were several times when I needed to communicate with other wedding party members but didn't have my phone nearby. When I had a bit of down time between photo shoots, instead of running down the hallway in heels to grab my phone from the bridal suite, I texted my husband "Come down to the lobby."

I've mostly been using the QuickPath feature, which allows you to type by swiping between letters, since it's much easier to slide my finger across the Series 7' keyboard than pressing individual keys.

Of course, you may also use the watch's dictation function to send messages without reaching for your phone. But not everyone feels comfortable talking into their watch in public, and there may be times when a message is simply too private to dictate out loud.

It's wonderful to finally have a native text input method on the Apple Watch that'll allow you to type out complete words and sentences, unlike the Scribble feature. If you're typing anything more than a simple phrase like "Meet me downstairs," or "Don't forget the milk," it's better to use your phone than type.

For long sentences, typing on the watch takes too much concentration. I also found myself deleting entire words when I intended to delete only one character, which can be frustrating. (You can change this in the watch's settings or use the digital crown to move the cursor more precisely).

New watch faces illustrate how the larger screen can be useful, but there should have been more.

Since it's the screen you look at the most, Watch faces are a huge part of the Apple Watch experience because they're the ones you'll notice the more. It's no wonder Apple has added new watch faces designed for the Series 7'' larger display, keeping that in mind. There's the Modular Duo face, which is the first to have two large-format complications for displaying information, and Contour, a face with numerals that bleed over the Series 7'' curved edges.

I personally prefer the Modular Duo face because getting as much information as possible in a quick glance is more important to me than aesthetics. I'm able to see the time, a breakdown of my activity progress throughout the day, and the temperature and hourly weather forecasts just by looking down at my wrist. The standard Modular face on the Series 6 and earlier, on its other hand, only allows you to add one big complication and several small ones.

I only wish there were more faces specifically designed for the Series 7 -- especially since the larger screen is the series' most significant upgrade. In future software updates, we'll likely see more new watch faces.

The other major change Apple has made to the display is increasing its brightness in always-on mode while in the house. The Series 7's screen will shine brighter when your wrist is down and the display is inactive than the Series 6'S and Series 5'' screens. It's certainly noticeable when comparing the Series 7 and Series 6, but it doesn't make a significant difference in how I use my watch. Consistent with my overall view of the Series 7, the brighter always-on display is more of a refinement than merely reshaping.

Faster charging but the same battery life.

There's good news and bad news when it comes to battery life. The good news is that the Series 7 can charge significantly faster than the series 6, which is useful if you use the watch for sleep monitoring or forget to charge it overnight. The good news: The Series 7's battery life hasn't improved as much as the Series 6.

Let's get started with the good. Due to changes to the watch's internals and a new charger that comes in the box, Apple claims that the new watch will charge up to 33 percent faster than its predecessor.

I found this to be true during my testing, but only after charging the watch for at least a half hour. After 30 minutes of charging, the Apple Watch Series 7's battery jumped from zero to 54%, while the Series 6'' was only replenished by 37% in the same time period. For consistency, I used the same charger for both watches.

That's a huge difference, and those who charge up their watch before leaving the house will surely appreciate it. There's no noticeable difference in charging speed between the Series 6 and Series 7 if you only have a few spare minutes to charge your watch. After charging both watches on the same charger for 15 minutes, the Series 7's battery was at 24% while the series 6'' was still at 33%.

The other problem is that it only works with Apple's new charger. If you have a charging dock with plugged-in Apple Watch charger like Apple's MagSafe Duo, you won't be able to take advantage of the Series 7'' faster power-up process. However, the faster charger will work with any USB-C compliant wall adapter, whether Apple or not.

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Apple hasn't improved the Apple Watch's battery life with the Series 7. According to Apple's estimates, the Series 7 should last for 18 hours on a single charge, similar to its predecessor. Instead of increasing the watch's overall battery life, Apple is apparently attempting to make it easier to charge the battery throughout the day so that you don't have to overnight charge it.

With the always-on display setting on, battery life will always depend on how you wear your watch, but I've found that the Series 7 and Series 6 generally last about a day and heifer with the constantly-off display set on. Activities like running with GPS will cause it to drain faster.

It would have been nice to see Apple make some advancements in this area, based on Fitbit watches like the Versa 3 and Sense that offer multi-day battery life. That's especially true since Apple is now positioning the Apple Watch as a sleep tracker. There's a lot of room for the Apple Watch to improve as slumber tracker, as Apple has shown by adding new metrics such as sleeping respir rate in WatchOS 8. I'm just disappointed that it didn't extend battery life to match.

The same sensors and health monitoring as the Series 6 are used in the series 6.

Aside from these enhancements, the Series 7 shares a lot with the previous Series 6. The Series 7 runs on a new S7 system-on-chip, but it offers the same performance as the Series 6.

Both watches support blood oxygen saturation measurements, the ability to take an ECG from the wrist, heart rate measurements with high and low heartrate notifications, a compass for more precise location tracking, an always-on altimeter for measuring elevation, fall detection, Apple's U1 chip that helps the watch function as if it were paired with swivel protection, and emergency SOS and international emergency calling. That's in addition to Apple Pay, which has been a standard on the Apple Watch for years.

In reality, you don't even need the latest Apple Watch to get many of the device's latest features. Apple's WatchOS 8 software, which launched on September 20, adds a lot of new capabilities to watches as old as the Series 3.

These include more advanced fall detection that can tell if you've fallen from a specific workout such as cycling, the ability to store digital versions of your ID and house key on the watch, and the capability to use Portrait mode photos as your watch face, as well as introducing e-mindfulness that replaces the Breathe app. The same selection of workout modes and compatibility with Apple Fitness Plus is available for all Apple Watch models.

However, it's worth noting that not all of the new features in WatchOS 8 are available on all models that run the software. A function that detects when you start cycling and prompts you to begin a workout on the watch is only available on Apple Watch SE, Series 6 and Series 7, while the updated fall detection is available only on Series 4 or later.

The end result: A minor improvement on the Series 6.

Overall, the Apple Watch Series 7 feels more like a theoretical Apple watch 6S than merely redesigned yearly. Apple isn't adding anything entirely new to the Health Experience with the Series 7 as it did with last year's Series 6, which was the first Apple Watch to support blood oxygen saturation measurements.

That approach has its advantages and disadvantages. I'm glad Apple isn't merely introducing new health features for the sake of outpacing the competition. My biggest complaint about new wellness capabilities from Fitbit and Amazon, such as Fit Bit's app for testing your body' reaction to stress and amazon' s body-scanning technology that estimates body fat percentage, is that there isn't enough direction on how to interpret these readings. It's difficult to imagine how these data points may be useful without knowing how to use it. So in that regard, it's great to see Apple extending the watch' health tracking capabilities in more practical and straightforward ways, such as by adding better fall detection and new workout options with WatchOS 8.

However, I would have liked to see more in the series 7. Longer battery life is always on my wishlist, but Apple could have done more to utilize the Series 7's existing technology. A wider selection of new watch faces designed to take advantage of the Series 7's larger screen would have been nice. And more than a year later, I'm still not entirely sure what to expect from the watch's blood oxygen sensor' results. According to a Bloomberg article that was published ahead of the watch's launch, we also expected to see redesigned U1 ultrawideband chips in the Series 7, but that didn't materialize.

All in all, the Apple Watch Series 7 is essentially a more refined version of the Series 6. If you already have a recent watch such as the Series 5 or 6, there's no reason to upgrade just yet -- especially since software updates can add many new features. Whether you've got an older watch like the Series 3 or Series 4, you will have a lot to gain from the larger screen, faster performance, and more sensors that come with the series 7.

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