Apple Watch Series 7 Review
Sweetly crafted, with easy-to-use health & fitness tracking, you will love the new Apple Watch Series 7. Yet nothing truly significant is added to Series 7 as this detailed review will show.
That said, the new Series 7 is the best Apple Watch to date and unquestionably the best smartwatch for an iPhone. You will be happy with the faster charging and a more durable case design, yet the only difference you might notice is 20% more screen real estate compared to Series 6.
It’s now available in 41mm or 45mm sizes and comes with a variety of new case colours, case materials and bands. Even better, the entry-level prices are unchanged, Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399/£379/Eu399.
Series 7 follows the excellent Series 5 from 2019 and Series 6 from 2020 which introduced a blood oxygen sensor and always-on display.
This Apple Watch Series 7 Review updated on 28th November 2021.
If you are in a rush, here is a summary review of the Apple Watch Series 7. Page down for all the juicy details, advanced tips, insights and comparisons, please use the table of contents to skip to the sections that most interest you.
Disclaimer: I’ve bought this myself and I have no relationship with Apple except as a customer…like you. Buying from the links here supports my ability to give you impartial advice on tech, thank you.
Apple Watch Series 7 Summary Review
Apple Watch Series 7 (AW7) is the best smartwatch for an iPhone. Simple.
The Apple Watch 7 is the best smartwatch ever and, of course, the best Apple Watch ever it’s comfortable to wear and a joy to use. The integration with the iPhone is excellent and everything works as it should.
Your Apple Watch experience is superbly complemented by many 3rd party apps, although their quality varies.
The Apple Watch 7 is only slightly better than Series 6 giving you a larger screen, faster charging in a more durable overall package.
Health, sleep and fitness tracking aspects of the AW7 will be great for 95% of you and paying a little extra for all the rest of the Apple Watch experience is well worth it. The only exception is for those of you who forget to charge your watch every day; the Apple Watch 7 needs much more charging than a less pretty, Garmin watch for athletes.
Apple Watch Upgrade Recommendations
- Apple Watch 6 – don’t upgrade
- Apple Watch 5/SE – no need to upgrade but Series 7 is better for sport.
- Apple Watch 4 and below – upgrade
If this is your first Apple Watch then buy Series 6 or 7, consider the Watch SE if money is tighter. Maybe get a much cheaper 38mm Series 3 for your kids.
- Excellent always-on screen
- Good health tracking
- Good, accurate activity tracking
- Good battery for this kind of smartwatch and quick to recharge
- Apple App Store offers many great app choices
- Apple Pay offers great convenience
- Listen with Apple Music, Spotify & limited control of YouTube Music
- 50m water resistance, dust resistance and better durability
- ECG, SpO2 and respiration metrics
- Fairly pricey
- iPhone only
- Sleep tracking needs more insights
- Not a great battery as a sports watch
- Screen durability needs to be proven over several months
Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch SE, Series 3
Those are the 3 current models.
Even though Series 3 and SE use the same software as Series 7, there are many subtle differences and improvements with Series 7. Surprisingly the speed of each watch feels similar. However what stands out the most to me is the larger, improved, always-on screen of the Series 7, after a while the other models just start to irritate when I am required to tilt my wrist to turn on the screen.
Under the hood, it’s the market-leading accuracy of the GPS sensor and a great optical heart rate sensor that will attract fitness lovers to the AW7. I would buy it for that reason alone.
From a practical standpoint, the fast charging of the Series 7 makes it much more usable 24×7.
Apple Watch 7 vs. Garmin
An Apple Watch will never work on an Android smartphone, so Garmin wins there and still supports iPhones. However, Garmin’s biggest win is its complete athletic platform which is free with any Garmin watch and, in many cases, the sports features are pre-loaded onto their watches. However, if you are a casual fitness participant and 24×7 smartwatch wearer, then an Apple Watch plus your favourite app will almost certainly be an excellent choice for you.
Even athletes can find great functionality in some apps for the Apple Watch 7…it’s just that finding the right apps to download can take time.
Apple Watch 7 vs Fitbit
The Fitbit Sense is the best Fitbit choice right now. It’s bursting with sensors and features! However, even this top-end model lacks a decent app store and I am not impressed by Fitbit’s health and fitness sensors. There seems little point in having lots of sensors if they are inaccurate. Apple Watch is WAY more accurate. There is little point in having an app store with few apps. Apple’s app store is obviously superior.
Now that Google owns Fitbit expect their direction to radically change. Do NOT buy a Fitbit released before November 2021…wait for the next generation that should come soon.
Apple Watch with Peloton
As of October 2021, the Apple and Peloton environments are becoming increasingly separated. Don’t assume that Peloton will keep Apple GymKit support.
Battery Life & Performance
For Series 7, Apple introduces a new magnetic charging puck with a metallic base but your old puck will still work. The new charging puck significantly improves charging times such that a few minutes boost will give you enough power to track a full night’s sleep. Indeed fast charging is impressive with an 80% charge possible in 45 minutes and a 100% charge in 75 minutes.
Tip: a pre-breakfast quick charge and another as you shower after sport might be enough to see you through every day.
Battery Facts – out of the box
Apple always claims an 18-hour battery life but you should expect to get much more. I can easily get well over a day of battery life.
Let’s explore the reality of that 18-hour battery life. With the bells and whistles enabled you can do this…
- 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth; or
Up to 1.5 hours of talk time when connected to 4G LTE; or
Up to 11 hours for indoor workouts; or
Up to 7 hours for outdoor workouts with GPS; or
Up to 6 hours for outdoor workouts with GPS and 4G LTE; or
Up to 11 hours of playback from Apple Watch storage; or
Up to 8 hours by streaming a playlist with 4G LTE
Athletes are best advised to log super-long workouts with GPS+HR using the Apple Workout app. My record for that is an 8-hour workout with a 33% charge remaining. I didn’t make any phone calls, listen to music and I disabled the always-on screen. If you carry your iPhone and use a HR chest strap, 12 hours of connected-GPS+HR might be possible.
The AW7 claims 1000 charge cycles will reduce the battery to 80% capacity and that should still yield a full day’s usage for me. Apple quotes a 4-year battery life so you should consider selling your Apple Watches every 3 years, although Apple does offer a battery replacement service for about $100 and screen replacement for about $200.
Apple is aware of its environmental responsibilities andApple Watch 7
Apple Watch 7 Review – Top Fitness Tips For Any Watch Series
Here are some Apple Watch Series 7 (AW7) top tips that are rarely covered in other reviews
- All AW7 aluminium case models come with a screen that is more easily scratched. The more expensive stainless steel & ceramic cases have a scratch-resistant coating. You will eventually scratch the cheaper screens and you CANNOT polish out even the shallowest of scratches without compromising the touchscreen. Buy the stainless steel version, get a screen protector or get insurance. My biggest regret with AW7 is NOT paying the extra for the stainless steel, LTE model.
- Athletes will be surprised that the AW7 supports BLE sensors like power meters. However, it is your app that has to make the connection. I use iSmoothRun which is connected to Stryd and to my bike power meters.
- More serious endurance athletes can get many hours of battery life with GPS but need to understand the settings and type of usage that make the Apple Watch 7 battery life last longer.
- Use RunGap to move any of your workout data from the watch/iPhone. I use both RunGap and iSmoothRun to link to dropbox. Remember: directly link apps like Strava to the iPhone/Watch – you don’t need RunGap for that.
- Explore many of the excellent sports apps beyond the Apple Workout app. Here are the best sports apps for Apple Watch: iSmoothRun & WorkoutDoors. The best and most popular mainstream running apps are adidas Runtastic, Asics Runkeeper and Nike Running Club.
- The mindfulness/breath app is a powerful app that records HRV data into Apple Health. HRV data is also automatically recorded 2 or 3 times a night. This is great data to be leveraged by readiness apps like Athlytic and Training Today where you get similar insights to those from OuraRing or Whoop but for a fraction of the cost.
- Get a decent sports band. The velcro-like ones are good for sport except they quickly get dirty and need washing. Avoid the Apple Sport Band which looks good but is uncomfortable. Here is a detailed look at some of the best Apple Watch Sports bands from Apple and from other companies.
- Make a watchface to support your workouts by using the watch app on your iPhone. Put on your trainers and the Apple Watch lets you swap a watch face within a matter of seconds to show a screen with a shortcut to your favourite sports app, Spotify and your readiness to train. An advanced watch face would include a screen complication like Running Stress Balance (rSB) from Stryd. If you use the Nike Run Club app there are other novel screen complications like performance streaks.
- To workout with a streaming service over LTE use Apple Music or Spotify offline, perhaps YouTube Music will follow with offline support in 2022?
- Swipe up to access the control centre and pair a Bluetooth heart rate monitor for improved heart rate recording during a workout and save some battery juice. (Look for this icon: )
- Make WiFi calls on your AW7 (non-LTE) without your phone nearby. On iPhone: Settings > Phone, Wi-Fi Calling, enable Wi-Fi Calling & enable: Calls on Other Devices>. Handy when you return home from a run and find yourself locked out of the house. You can make Bluetooth calls if your phone is nearby.
- The LTE version requires that you have a data plan to use LTE. In my case (O2 UK) I had to buy an additional data plan just for the watch but had I bought the watch from O2 then I could have shared my iPhone’s data plan.
Apple Watch 7 Specifications
These are the Apple Watch 7 specifications and an Apple Watch 6 vs Series 7 comparison
|Apple Watch Series 7||Apple Watch Series 6|
Stainless Steel (LTE only)
Stainless Steel (LTE only)
|Nike Watch case||Aluminium||Aluminium|
|Digital Crown with haptic feedback||Digital Crown with haptic feedback|
|Display||lon-X glass (Aluminium only)||lon-X glass (Aluminium only)|
|Sapphire Crystal (Stainless Steel)||Sapphire Crystal (Stainless Steel)|
|Always-On Retina display (on more!)||Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display|
|45mm: 396x484px (1143 sq mm display)||44mm: 448 x 368px (~326 ppi density) 1.73 x 1.50 x 0.41″ or ( 44 x 38 x 10.4mm)|
|41mm: 352x430px (904 sq mm display)||40mm: 1.57 x 1.34 x 0.41″ or ( 40 x 34 x 10.4mm).|
|likely ~326 ppi density||394 x 324px (~326 ppi density)|
|Up to 1000 nits brightness when the screen is active||Up to 1000 nits brightness when the screen is active|
|Up to 500 nits when the wrist is down||Up to 500 nits when the wrist is down|
|1.7 mm borders||3.0 mm borders|
|Nearly 20% more screen area than Series 6||Over 30% larger than Series 3|
|Up to 70% brighter than Series 6 when the wrist is down, indoors|
|Durability||Water-resistant 50m (swim-proof)||Water-resistant 50m (swim-proof)|
|Crack-resistant front crystal |
the non-sapphire crystal will scratch as easily as with AW6. Crack resistance comes from changed geometry not changed materials
|IP6X dust resistance|
|Processor||S7 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor||S6 SIP with 64-bit dual-core processor|
|Up to 20% faster than Series 5||Up to 20% faster than Series 5|
|Sensors||Blood oxygen sensor (Blood Oxygen app)||Blood oxygen sensor (Blood Oxygen app)|
|Electrical heart sensor (ECG app)||Electrical heart sensor (ECG app)|
|The third-generation optical heart sensor||The third-generation optical heart sensor|
|Accelerometer and gyroscope (fall detection)||Accelerometer and gyroscope (fall detection)|
|Always-on altimeter||Always-on altimeter|
|GPS/GNSS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and Beidou||GPS/GNSS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS|
|Ambient light sensor||Ambient light sensor|
|Audio||50% louder speaker than Series 3||50% louder speaker than Series 3|
|Battery and charging||All-day battery life, up to 18 hours||All-day battery life, up to 18 hours|
|100% Charge time 75 minutes||100% charge in 150 minutes|
|Fast charging: Up to 80% charge in about 45 minutes||Up to 80% charge in 90 minutes|
|Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion||Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion|
|Case Finish||Aluminium: Midnight (replaces space grey), Starlight (replaces silver), Green, Blue, (PRODUCT) RED,||Aluminium: Space Grey, Silver, Gold, Blue, (PRODUCT) RED,|
|Stainless Steel: Graphite, Silver, Gold.||Stainless Steel: Graphite, Silver, Gold.|
|Titanium: titanium & Space Black||Titanium: titanium & Space Black|
|Nike: Midnight, Starlight||Nike: Space Gray, Silver|
|Weight (case)||Aluminium+Nike: 32.0g/38.8g||Aluminium+Nike: 30.5g/36.4g|
|Stainless Steel: 42.3/51.5g||Stainless Steel 39.7/47.1g|
|Titanium 37.0/45.1g||Titanium: 34.6/41.3g|
|Connectivity||LTE and UMTS|
(Stainless Steel+Sapphire only)
|LTE and UMTS|
(Stainless Steel+Sapphire only)
|Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz, 5GHz||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz, 5GHz|
|W3 wireless chip||W3 wireless chip|
|60.5GHz Transmission capability|
|Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
|International emergency calling||International emergency calling|
|U1 Ultra Wideband chip||U1 Ultra Wideband chip|
|In the box||Apple Watch Band (Nike band for Nike model)||Apple Watch Band (Nike band for Nike model)|
|1m USB-C Magnetic Fast Charging Cable||1m USB-A Magnetic Charging Cable|
Items in bold are different to Apple Watch 6. By way of a summary of the differences, AW7 is sturdier, heavier and faster charging plus it has a bigger screen, new colours and several tech upgrades.
Note: The S7 & S6 processors appear to have the same performance but Apple obfuscates this information so, perhaps, the rumours are true that the S7 chip is smaller.
Apple Watch 7 Review of new software features
Apple added numerous improvements to watchOS 8 which work selectively on older watches back to Series 3. There are too many to explain in full so, for now, check these: focus mode; cycling autodetection; gesture control; respiratory rate tracking; Find My AirTag support; precipitation alerts; an expanded Fitness+ service; new workout types, a contacts app; limited e-bike support; revamped breath & mindfulness app; ID storage in the Wallet; digital keys in the Wallet; expanded HomeKit support; easier sharing; always-on screen display controls; Contour, Modular Duo and Nike Bounce watch faces; multiple timer support; and a new keyboard input app. Phew!
Only those in bold are unique to the Series 7 ie not many at all.
Small keys on the new keyboard make it hard to use but it is an improvement on the previous methods. Also improved by the larger screen size are larger buttons and subtly tweaked screens everywhere.
Apple Watch Sport, Fitness+ & Activity
The Apple workout app does a satisfactory job of logging activity with a half-decent amount of interaction. It’s great for general fitness use.
Keener sportspeople will benefit from many, existing high-quality sports apps which transform your Apple Watch 7 to include advanced sports functionality like structured workout support and power meter support for bikes & STRYD. Then there are cool mapping and screen customisations with WorkoutDoors.
- Read More: Turn your Apple Watch into an outdoors Garmin Fenix-like tool for mini-adventures
- Read More on Better Sports Apps: iSmoothRun, RunGap, WorkoutDoors
- Read More on Sporting Watch Face Failures: Here, Apple vs. Garmin
The gym and class crowd might benefit from the new Apple Fitness+ subscription service to give you professionally-led workouts out at home. Watch 7 buyers get this free for 3 months and it will only justify its cost if Apple improves integration with gym equipment.
- Read More: Apple Fitness+ a critical insight
Health & Sleep Monitoring
Apple only makes a token effort at sleep monitoring. Sure it collects HR, blood oxygen, sleep/wake times and respiration rates but other than simple trends it doesn’t give you many insights into what the changes in that data mean to you.
Try the best sleep app – AutoSleep.
Millions of Apple Watch users have no need for Apple’s health screening features. Some people do…and it could save their lives. For example, if your blood oxygen (SpO2) is below 95% you should see a doctor or if SpO2 and other sensor data detect Sleep Apnea you should see a doctor. Another lifesaver would be if the EKG/ECG detects any kind of abnormality, again, you should see a doctor…even if you are young (arrhythmia).
Apple Watch Series 7 Sensor Accuracy for sports
Apple’s health and activity sensors seem broadly correct most of the time, although when I compare SpO2 against other devices there can be variations. The bottom line is that the Apple Watch is not a medical-grade device but it is accurate by sports watch standards.
The Apple Watch also makes no claims at being an athlete’s watch. Yet, from what I’ve seen with Series 7 (45mm Red & 45mm stainless Steel) and Series 6/SE, Apple’s latest heart rate sensor and GPS sensor have market-leading levels of accuracy, edging out both Polar and Garmin.
My tentative view for October 2021 is that the GPS and HR accuracy are both slightly worse than on Series 6. Test results are here at this supporter-only link.
Specifically, the GPS tracks are just that little bit off where they were with Series 6. The HR tracks are generally good but when running sometimes the HR has significant errors after about 45 minutes or so. The Series 7 45mm Stainless Steel could have been worse than series 6 because of a heavier case and a case that also may affect the GPS reception properties. However, I found the same results with the Product RED Aluminum model so that can’t be the explanation. It’s more likely that there is, in fact, a new GPS chip and that needs bedding in for a few months but the optical HR sensor is almost certainly the same as series 6 and I can’t explain the change in performance there but the change definitely exists.
Along with real-world usage, I test every GPS sports watch (series) ever made over a standard 10-mile track. It’s a non-trivial test and allows me to compare the current watch with the best ever…click on this interactive image to see the Apple Watch 7 vs Polar V800 and Suunto Ambit 3.
Take Out – Apple Watch 7 Review
There is always an argument, however tenuous, for you to upgrade to the Watch 7 from any previous series, including from Series 6.
If you love your Apple products and have the cash to burn or simply a cracked screen then you’ve probably already made your mind up to get a Series 7 Apple Watch. For me, I would go for the always-on screen of the Series 6/7 and their high-quality sensors to accurately measure your workouts and recovery.
Against that, I’ve cracked the screen on my SE and scratched the screen on my Watch 6, others have too. So, there seems to be a potential problem with most old Apple Watch screens. I’m sceptical about Apple’s claims of a more robust screen, so I advise you to get Apple Care. My best recommendation is the stainless steel Watch 7 with a Sapphire screen but they all have LTE and are much more expensive.
Fast charging is a big deal on the usability stakes. If you think about it, an extra 2-hour’s of battery life will not affect how often you need to change the Watch 7 compared to the Watch 6. The new, faster charging is superior to all earlier Series and gives you more scope to change how and when you charge the watch, meaning it can stay on your wrist for longer!
And the big screen is a nice bonus…and, yes your old straps fit perfectly!
Get the Watch 7. Ideally from the links below to support the work here!! they go to Apple.com and amazon.
Apple Watch 7 Pricing (rrp)
- Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, Aluminium, GPS) – £369 / $399
- Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm, Aluminium, GPS) – £399 / $429
- Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, Aluminium, GPS + Cellular) – £469 / $499
- Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm, Aluminium, GPS + Cellular) – £499 / $529
- Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, Nike, GPS) – £369 / $399
- Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm, Nike, GPS) – £399 / $429
- Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, Nike, GPS + Cellular) – £469 / $499
- Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm, Nike, GPS + Cellular) – £499 / $529
- Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, Stainless Steel with Sport band, GPS + Cellular) –£599 / $699
- Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm, Stainless Steel with Sport band, GPS + Cellular) – £649 / $749
- Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, Stainless Steel with Milanese Loop, GPS + Cellular) – £649 / $749
- Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm, Stainless Steel with Milanese Loop, GPS + Cellular) – £699 / $799
- Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, Titanium, GPS + Cellular) – £699 / $799
- Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm Titanium, GPS + Cellular) – £749 / $849