Apple Watch Series 7 review: the benefits of a bigger screen

The Apple Watch Series 7 is not a revolution. Apple’s new connected watch only focuses on improving the ergonomics of the benchmark in a market that may well need competition.

Since its very first generation, the Apple Watch has been available in two sizes: a large and a small. And the Cupertino company has always kept this range scheme, following the aesthetic evolutions that have changed the look of the connected watch (from the Apple Watch Series 4). In 2021, the Apple Watch Series 7 is betting on a major novelty, without a bad pun: a larger screen, on its two versions. It is recalled that it was announced with the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPad mini 6.

I have been using an Apple Watch since the very first version and I have always favored the smallest format (I find the big… too big). In short, enlarging the screen is excellent news for me: keeping a watch of an acceptable size while taking advantage of a larger display surface. Because, in use, we have to recognize that the few millimeters gained improve the experience in every way.

Apple Watch Series 6 (left) versus Apple Watch Series 7 (right) // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

Always more beautiful

The rumors were still false. While indiscretions pointed to a profound change in design (flat slices, like the latest iPhones and iPads), the Apple Watch Series 7 resembles the Apple Watch Series 6 in terms of looks. We are therefore always dealing with a rectangular watch, thick and elegant. Apple product requires, the finishes are neat and this Series 7 is still more resistant than previous generations. Better, it gains an IP6X certification (it is completely dustproof). Obviously, the more money you put in, the more beautiful your Apple Watch Series 7 will be. As standard, the watch is based on an aluminum case (5 colors), but stainless steel (3 colors) and titanium (2 colors) are available for those who want a more luxurious watch.

Apple continues to master measurements

The Apple Watch Series 7 is a bit larger than the Apple Watch Series 6, which built on the DNA of Series 5 (legacy of Series 4). Its case gains 1 millimeter to go from 40 to 41 millimeters, and from 44 to 45 millimeters. Note that the smallest of the Series 7 is almost as large as the largest of the first Apple Watch (42 millimeters). In terms of comfort, this very slight growth is imperceptible. It should be noted: Apple continues to master measurements so as not to transform its watch into an unsightly mini-computer stuck to its wrist. As a bonus, you will always be able to enjoy your collection of bracelets bought at a high price: the fastening system is always the same, since the very first Apple Watch.

The nice design of the Apple Watch Series 7 // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

Apple Watch Series 7: a screen with 20% more display area

If the case of the Apple Watch Series 7 is barely larger, the screen really wins. We take advantage of 20% more display surface (50% more compared to the original Apple Watch). It is colossal. To achieve this, the engineers stretched the Retina panel as far as possible towards the edges, which have never been thinner – in addition to gaining smoothness.

Note that the screen overflows a little on the sides, giving the illusion of a more assertive roundness. In a way, Apple gradually manages to tend towards this round watch – dear to watchmaking purists. At least in appearance. Small detail: the edges reflect the light to better blend the screen into the shell and attract the eye. It’s pretty.

Of course, the Apple Watch Series 7 benefits from the greatest innovation ever to the product: the always-on screen, which appeared with the Series 5 and which really changes everything in terms of design. Thanks to this technology which leaves the screen always on (with an attenuation to preserve autonomy when you are not using the watch), you really have the impression of wearing a show, no longer a simple black square that comes alive when you lift your wrist. With always-on, the Apple Watch has seriously gained in elegance. And with 70% more light output, the mode is even more relevant.

The Apple Watch screen keeps getting bigger // Source: Apple

Faster recharging on the Apple watch, in the absence of better autonomy

When Apple announced the Series 7, the multinational strangely did not go into the technical specifications. As if she had reached the end of what her watch could offer in terms of performance. The Apple Watch is still entitled to a new chip – the S7, which replaces the S6 – but it does not seem to be more powerful (Apple would have bragged about it during the presentation). What to remember? That the Apple Watch Series 7 remains powerful enough to offer an ideal experience on the wrist … as the Series 6 already was. Applications launch quickly, and there are no software bugs to report. This was already the case on previous generations.

Apple could nevertheless have made an effort on autonomy, which remains frozen at 18 hours of use according to official figures. In other words, it requires recharging on a daily basis. The Apple Watch Series 7 still improves the speed of recharging thanks to a refined architecture, both at the level of the charger and of the watch itself (which means that the new charger will not fill the battery of the old Apple Watch. faster). In 1 hour of charging, the Series 7 recovered 97% of autonomy, against 85% for the Series 6 (both watches were flat at the start of our test).

This faster recharge is interesting for monitoring your sleep, even if it involves a less obvious recharging routine: you plug in the watch before sleeping, put it back on before going to bed and plug it back in when you wake up. In this case, the improved recharging makes perfect sense. But those who prefer to charge their Apple Watch overnight will not see any difference compared to before.

Sleep tracking on the Apple Watch Series 7 // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

What is a bigger screen for?

Other than that larger screen, slightly revised design, and faster charging, the Apple Watch Series 7 hasn’t gained any major features. In 2020, the Series 6 focused on health with the addition of a sensor measuring the level of oxygen in the blood. The Series 7 retains this, of course, but instead focuses its positioning on improved ergonomics thanks to its larger display (watchOS is optimized for). These few simple examples will prove it to you.

Fewer errors when clicking on an icon

A larger display area means that the icons have more room to flourish. Read: they are larger, which allows to make fewer errors when clicked. This advantage materializes as soon as it is switched on, when you have to enter your code to unlock. It continues with the Control Center, which displays larger shortcuts.

Unlocking on Apple Watch Series 6 (left) versus unlocking on Apple Watch Series 7 (right) // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama
Control center on Apple Watch Series 6 (left) versus control center on Apple Watch Series 7 (right) // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

More information displayed on the screen

Using Maps on your Apple Watch? The map will be larger, and more streets and names will be displayed. Are you checking your emails? More lines will be shown, while any images that illustrate it will display much better. Do you like having more shortcuts on the home screen? The Series 7 is built for. Note, moreover, that it is possible to adjust the size of the texts on additional levels: 9 for the Series 7, against 6 for the previous models. It is also an opportunity to enjoy even more photos taken with your iPhone, from your wrist – or even to better distinguish the time with the Nightstand mode (which would also benefit from taking advantage of the always-on technology. ).

Plans on Apple Watch Series 6 (left) versus Plans on Apple Watch Series 7 (right) // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama
Mails on Apple Watch Series 6 (left) versus Mails on Apple Watch Series 7 (right) // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama
The different text sizes of the Apple Watch Series 7 // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama
A notification on the Apple Watch Series 7 // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

Integration of a (real) keyboard

For Apple, the Series 7 is the opportunity to finally offer a real keyboard, which then offers a new option to respond to a message from your watch. Unfortunately, to date, it is not yet available in France. The Cupertino company confirmed to Numerama that, for the time being, only English (QWERTY) and Chinese users can benefit from it. There is no doubt that a future update of watchOS will include the AZERTY variant.

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