Apple Watch 7 (handy) review: the most usable smartwatch yet

A completely iPhone-free Apple Watch experience isn’t about if, it’s about when. With its thinner bezels and larger screens, the Apple Watch 7 is shaping up to be the most usable standalone smartwatch yet.

Apple’s latest smartwatch is primarily an incremental upgrade to the Apple Watch 6, maintaining 18 hours of battery life, the same processor, and adding no new health features. But the enlarged screen is already proving a game changer in my short time with the Series 7. It adapts laptop computing to more everyday applications, making it convenient to be productive from your wrist.

Apple Watch 7 specifications

Starting price: $ 399
Sizes: 41 mm, 45 mm
Chipset: S7
Storage room: 32 GB
Connectivity: Cellular (optional,) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, U1
Durability: IPX6
Waterproof: Up to 50 meters
Sensors: Heart rate, ECG, SpO2

From a full QWERTY keyboard and bigger calculator buttons to a brighter always-on mode and exclusive complications, the Apple Watch 7 offers a tailored version of watchOS 8 that you won’t get on the Apple Watch. SE or the Apple Watch 3, both of which stay on sell. Faster charging, greater durability, and contemporary case colors are almost an afterthought, but welcome nonetheless.

We will not draw any conclusions until we spend several days with our colossal candy on the wrist. This hands-on Apple Watch 7 review has what you’ll want to know in the meantime, along with our first impressions on what could become the best smartwatch of the year.

Apple Watch 7 price and availability

The Apple Watch 7 is available now and starts at $ 399 for the 41mm model. The larger 45mm model starts at $ 429. For cellular support, which allows your Apple Watch to function as an option without being connected to your iPhone, you’ll spend $ 499 for the 41mm size or $ 529 for the 45mm size.

Stainless steel cases start at $ 699, while titanium cases start at $ 799.

Note that Apple Watch Black Friday deals may bring discounts on Apple’s latest smartwatch. While it’s not much, we saw some savings on the 6 Series last year before the holidays.

Apple Watch 7 review (hands-on): design

The Apple Watch 7 features the first real product redesign since the Apple Watch 4. Given that this isn’t a major change – the iconic curved squircle holds up – but it’s clear that Apple wanted a smoother overall aesthetic for their smartwatch.

First off, the corners are a bit more rounded, while the screen fits into the chassis more seamlessly than on the 6 Series. I probably wouldn’t notice these tweaks if I hadn’t compared the Apple. Watch 7 at Apple. Look at 6 side by side, however. And even with the larger sizes of Apple Watch 7 (41mm and 45mm), the smartwatch doesn’t look bigger to the naked eye. Does anyone have a micrometer?

Apple watch 7

(Image credit: Avenir)

You can better distinguish Series 7 and 6 by the colors of the Apple Watch 7, which are all new. I am testing the Green model. Midnight is a sort of black, with a subtle hint of blue. Starlight is an amazing mix of silver and gold. While Apple offered blue and red last year, they’re slightly brighter now. If you want a more neutral metal, you will need to purchase stainless steel or titanium versions. I don’t mind, but you have the right to be specific about the appearance of something you wear every day.

Apple watch 7

(Image credit: Avenir)

The Apple Watch 7 has the same swim resistance rating (up to 50 meters) as the previous models, but for the first time, it also achieved an IP6X certification for dust resistance. I hope this will pay off in the kitchen, as I recently started making pasta and the flour just gets everywhere. The modified geometry is also expected to make the latest Apple Watch more resistant to cracks, making it a bit safer to wear while playing sports.

Want to see more of the Apple Watch 7? Here is a handy video I captured for TikTok. (NB: don’t forget to follow TechToSee’s Guide on TikTok.)

@TechToSee

New #applewatch anyone? # applewatch7 #apple #tech #review #technology #techtock #foryou #fyp #smartwatch #unboxing

♬ I’m so pretty – chunkymonkeeyy

Apple Watch 7 test (practical): Display

Yes, the screen is bigger, and the bigger the better. I will die on this hill. With more screen, the smartwatch turns more and more into a mini iPhone for your wrist, and that’s great. The Apple Watch 7 screen is almost 20% larger than the Series 6 screen and over 50% larger than the Series 3 screen. The bezels of the screen are also 40% thinner than before.

Apple Watch 7 screen

(Image credit: Apple)

The screen is curved in such a way that it is easy to read the watch out of the angle and the edges of the user interface are visible from the side. The spillover effect isn’t as obvious as the promo videos suggest, but it’s noticeable with the new Contour dial. More information on this in the next section of watchOS 8.

Apple Watch 7 next to Apple Watch 6

(Image credit: Avenir)

Along with a smaller bezel and larger screen, the Apple Watch 7 is 70% brighter in always-on mode. This means that you won’t see a difference with the face awake in direct sunlight like we did with the Apple Watch 6 versus the Apple Watch 5. Instead, you should be able to see your screen more easily when your wrist is not up. I saw a major difference side by side with the 6 series.

Apple Watch 7 test (practical): watchOS 8

In the past, Apple’s watchOS looked like all of its smartwatches, minus some new hardware-exclusive apps inside a given model. Apple Watch 7 doesn’t have new sensors, however, so the company has tweaked watchOS 8 for a larger screen.

Apple Watch 7 with AirPods

(Image credit: Avenir)

While this is mostly the same UI that I’ve been using for months, watchOS 8 does offer a few special 7 Series tricks. From the control center to the calculator app, the buttons are bigger all around. Some apps also offer smart animations, like HomeKit.

Apple watch 7

(Image credit: Avenir)

And then there is the QWERTY keyboard. I’ve had an Apple Watch keyboard on my wishlist for literal years. It’s even the only thing I said Apple Watch 7 should steal from Galaxy Watch 4, so I’m glad that has come to fruition. I’ve been texting away from my wrist pretty much since I took the Apple Watch out of the box.

Apple Watch 7 with on-screen weather complication

(Image credit: Avenir)

I mentioned the dedicated Contour face in the display section. It’s neat, but not that easy to read. I much prefer the new Modular Duo watch face, which allows you to stack two large complications on your wrist. Apple Watch 7-specific Portrait and World Clock faces also round out the large display.

Apple Watch 7 (Hands-on) Review: Health and Fitness Features

Do I think it’s weird that the Apple Watch 7 doesn’t introduce new wellness features at a time when most people are obsessed with health? Absoutely. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 has pushed the boundaries with body composition analysis, and the best Fitbit watches remain rather holistic wellness tools. By skipping on a health upgrade this year, the Apple Watch may be likely to fall behind the competition.

That said, the Apple Watch remains a reliable fitness tracker. It monitors your heart rate, counts your steps and tracks your mileage with GPS, and supports dozens of workout types. It added automatic outdoor cycling tracking this year, which means it can detect when you’ve jumped on your bike and enable a workout. The cycling algorithm has also been adjusted to account for metrics from the best e-bikes, which are less painful to ride than regular bikes.

I’ll spend some time practicing with the Apple Watch to see how it holds up. Beyond that I will check that features like ECG, blood oxygen monitoring, sound alerts are working up to par.

Apple Watch 7 review (hands-on): Battery life

The Apple Watch 7 has the same 18-hour battery life as the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 5 before it. We would have liked to see improvements in this area, but it is not at all a disappointment.

The Apple Watch 7 charges 33% faster than the Apple Watch 6, as long as it’s charged with the new magnetic to USB-C charger that comes in the box. It doesn’t come with a wall adapter, however.

Apple Watch 7 with charger

(Image credit: Avenir)

As someone who charges their Apple Watch for small periods of the day, I should be able to spend less energy wondering if I have enough juice to take an outdoor walk or spend the night. Eight minutes of charging before bed is supposed to get me eight hours of Apple Watch sleep tracking.

Apple Watch 7 Review (Practice): Outlook

We’ve seen it happen with smartphones. The bezels shrank and the screens grew bigger until we ended up with the giant phones and phablets that we have now. With its larger screen, I can’t help but believe that the Apple Watch is destined to take a similar path to independence. The smartwatch is already an extension of your iPhone to your wrist, but it’s clearly capable of becoming more than an accessory.

This Apple Watch 7 review is not complete. Over the next few days, I’ll be testing it to see if it’s the best Apple Watch ever and how the Apple Watch 7 compared to the Apple Watch SE stacks up for buyers. If you want to know if you should buy the Apple Watch 7, mark this page for our latest updates and impressions.

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