1 Regret: Apple Watch 7 Review + 10 Unusual Tips, Which is the best Watch for me

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Apple Watch Series 7 watch faceApple 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
92%

Apple Watch Series 7 (AW7) is the best smartwatch for an iPhone. Simple.

Apple Watch Series 7 blood oxygen spo2

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.

Pros

  • 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

 

Cons

  • 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 Series 7 side view Review

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

Garmin’s equivalent smartwatches are the Vivoactive and Venu, both of which are due a replacement soon.

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.

Apple Watch Series 7 new contour watchface

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.

Sustainability

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 and Apple Watch 7

Apple Watch Series 7 wr50

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. To workout with a streaming service over LTE use Apple Music or Spotify offline, perhaps YouTube Music will follow with offline support in 2022?
  10. 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: )
  11. 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.
  12. 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 Series 7 optical hr sensor

Apple Watch 7 Specifications

These are the Apple Watch 7 specifications and an Apple Watch 6 vs Series 7 comparison

Apple Watch Series 7Apple Watch Series 6
Date Announced/AvailSep-21/Oct-21Sep-20/Sep-20
Watch caseAluminium,

Stainless Steel (LTE only)

Aluminium,

Stainless Steel (LTE only)

Nike Watch caseAluminiumAluminium
40mm/44mm 41mm/45mm41mm/45mm40mm/44mm
Digital Crown with haptic feedbackDigital Crown with haptic feedback
Displaylon-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 density394 x 324px (~326 ppi density)
Up to 1000 nits brightness when the screen is activeUp to 1000 nits brightness when the screen is active
Up to 500 nits when the wrist is downUp to 500 nits when the wrist is down
1.7 mm borders3.0 mm borders
Nearly 20% more screen area than Series 6Over 30% larger than Series 3
Up to 70% brighter than Series 6 when the wrist is down, indoors
DurabilityWater-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
ProcessorS7 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processorS6 SIP with 64-bit dual-core processor
Up to 20% faster than Series 5Up to 20% faster than Series 5
SensorsBlood 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 sensorThe third-generation optical heart sensor
Accelerometer and gyroscope (fall detection)Accelerometer and gyroscope (fall detection)
Always-on altimeterAlways-on altimeter
GPS/GNSS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeidouGPS/GNSS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS
CompassCompass
Ambient light sensorAmbient light sensor
Audio50% louder speaker than Series 350% louder speaker than Series 3
MicrophoneMicrophone
Battery and chargingAll-day battery life, up to 18 hoursAll-day battery life, up to 18 hours
100% Charge time 75 minutes100% charge in 150 minutes
Fast charging: Up to 80% charge in about 45 minutesUp to 80% charge in 90 minutes
Built-in rechargeable lithium-ionBuilt-in rechargeable lithium-ion
Case FinishAluminium: 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 BlackTitanium: titanium & Space Black
Nike: Midnight, StarlightNike: 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 37.0/45.1gTitanium: 34.6/41.3g
ConnectivityLTE and UMTS

(Stainless Steel+Sapphire only)

LTE and UMTS

(Stainless Steel+Sapphire only)

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz, 5GHzWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz, 5GHz
W3 wireless chipW3 wireless chip
60.5GHz Transmission capability
Bluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
International emergency callingInternational emergency calling
U1 Ultra Wideband chipU1 Ultra Wideband chip
In the boxApple Watch Band (Nike band for Nike model)Apple Watch Band (Nike band for Nike model)
1m USB-C Magnetic Fast Charging Cable1m USB-A Magnetic Charging Cable
Capacity32GB32GB

 

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; ContourModular 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.

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.

 

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.

 

Apple Watch 7 – Accuracy Results

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.

Interactive GPS track vs. Best Ever Polar & Suunto Tracks (dcranalyzer)

 

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)

Aluminium

  • 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

Nike+ Edition

  • 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

Stainless Steel

  • 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

Titanium

  • Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, Titanium, GPS + Cellular) –  £699 / $799
  • Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm Titanium, GPS + Cellular) –  £749 / $849

 

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “1 Regret: Apple Watch 7 Review + 10 Unusual Tips, Which is the best Watch for me

  1. I was under impression YouTube Music with offline playback is already on the Apple Watch? Hasn’t there been a major uproar a few months back when they launched it on AW way before Google’s own Wear OS?

      1. There is no offline (without iphone) music playback of YouTube music on Apple Watch. The app is merely a remote control for the iphone.

  2. @fl33tStA
    Apologies, your comment was lost as I had to restore from a backup.

    In essence most of the things you ask for can be done with apps. eg i pair with my 9100p and stryd and there’s no reason why any other PM wont work with ismoothrun.
    in terms of controlling trainers for following a plan then I’m much less sure about that. i can’t think of any that would do that.
    most apps can enable/disable the standard music screen so, yes, listening to music is definitely posible.

  3. In other words, it depends a lot on which third-party apps I use?

    So I can only pair the Bike Power Meter with ismoothrun on an iPhone, but not directly on the watch, that means I need my iPhone during a workout?

    But can I pair the Stryd Pod and HRM Pro directly on the watch?

    If I decide to buy a watch and open the Apple link on your site, will you get some for it?

    1. not quite

      yes you pair to the ismoothrun smartphone app but then the app transfers that pairing to the watch.
      you leave your phone at home and enjoy the powermeter beaming direct to your watch.
      i pretty much always leave my phone at home
      apple: yes if you buy from amazon but no if you buy from apple.com (even tho i link there). actually I’m not even sure that amazon pays me commission as i link to the official apple store on amazon rather that to an exact product. these companies try every which way they can to avoid paying commission to the people who really sell it. it’s very hard to understand exactly what converts with MANY affiliate platforms.

      note: headphones and chest straps can be paired directly to the watch.

  4. Dude, this is an awesome review. Love love love the recommendations right out of the gate for current owners and whether they should upgrade or not upgrade or whatever. That was super helpful, in addition to all the details and even third-party considerations throughout. Awesome and frankly incredibly well done review all around. Thank you!

    1. Or dudette! Just saw writer pic vs the other. Great job to whoever of you wrote it and to both if a collaborative job.

  5. Progress is still too weak for the battery. For this to be a fitness watch with GPS, it must last a minimum of 10 hours. Square Watches ehh. When Apple does circural?

    1. 10 hours is just about possible with screen off and a chest strap. however it isn’t really built for that i agree and hence it needs to improve further.
      apple watch is primarily a smart watch and a mass-market fitness watch and it is good at both. However as a more ATHLETIC-grade watch it’s not ideal.

      circular vs square – with the demise of the Garmin 920Xt many people noted the superiority of the rectangular screen shape. Now with the rise of the Apple Watch many people express the desire for a circular watch face. 😉 I can’t see Apple moving to circular for 3 or more years.

      1. I have had a Garmin EPIX (square) for a loooong time :). It works very well. He is big, but it is his distinguished appearance. It is not profitable for me to change to Fenix. Epix has a nice map with a touch.

        However, I look towards Apple because Garmin is not useful enough outside of sports. However, everyday usability Apple is fun.

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