Should You Buy an Apple Watch Series 7?
The Apple Watch Series 7 is Apple's latest smartwatch, featuring a larger always-on Retina display, a more rounded design with a larger casing, improved durability, and faster charging, starting at a price of $399.
Announced in September 2021, the Apple Watch Series 7 is the newest Apple Watch in Apple's lineup and it is at the start of its product cycle. Apple tends to release new Apple Watch models every September, and there is no reason to suggest that a new Apple Watch Series 8 will not launch next year.
There are early signs of Apple Watch Series 8 models with a number of upgrades and improvements, but since this is likely still around a year away, now is the best time to buy the Apple Watch Series 7.
While the Apple Watch Series 7 is Apple's most full-featured, high-end smartwatch for those who want features like blood oxygen monitoring, ECG, an always-on display, and more premium finishes, users who are looking for a more affordable option should consider the Apple Watch SE. Starting at $279, the Apple Watch SE offers many key Apple Watch features, such as an optical heart rate sensor and fall detection, but at a lower price that balances functionality and affordability.
On the other hand, if price is your main concern and you do not need advanced health functions, the Apple Watch Series 3 may be more appropriate than the $399 Apple Watch Series 7 as it offers many of the Apple Watch's core features for just $199. There are some tradeoffs with the Apple Watch Series 3 because it is a much older model, such as a smaller display, an older chipset, and the lack of a compass, fall detection, ECG, and blood oxygen monitoring.
The Apple Watch Series 7 is not yet available for pre-order, but Apple says it will go on sale later this year in the fall. The Apple Watch Series 6 is currently still available from Apple's online store, likely until the Apple Watch Series 7 launches.
Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch Series 7, announced in September 2021, is the current iteration of the Apple Watch that originally launched in 2015. The Apple Watch Series 7 builds on the design of previous Apple Watch models with a more rounded design and offers some notable new features including larger displays, improved durability, and faster charging.
The Apple Watch Series 7 is available in new 41 and 45mm size options that are 1mm larger than the 40mm and 44mm options of previous generations, and the casings have been refined with softer, more rounded edges. Like the Apple Watch Series 6, Series 7 models feature a black ceramic and sapphire crystal backing and a Digital Crown with haptic feedback. The Digital Crown has a built-in sensor for taking ECG readings.
The new models feature a larger, re-engineered Retina display with more screen area due to slimmer borders. The display has a unique refractive edge that almost curves to the casing. There are interface improvements and two unique watch faces to take advantage of the larger displays. The Series 7 continues to feature the low power (LTPO) OLED Always-On display technology introduced with the Series 5, allowing users to see their watch face and complications at all times.
The Apple Watch Series 7 is more durable than previous models, with crack-resistant front glass, IP6X dust resistance, and a WR50 water resistance rating.
Apple Watch Series 7 models are also able to charge 33 percent faster, with just eight minutes of charging providing up to eight hours of sleep tracking time.
The Apple Watch Series 7 continues to support Apple Pay purchases and emergency calls with SOS like previous models, and has all of the same health features, such as blood oxygen monitoring, ECG, sleep tracking, fall detection, and loud noise detection.
Apple offers the Series 7 with both GPS and GPS + LTE models. LTE Apple Watch models can operate over LTE without an iPhone nearby.
There are five new aluminum casing colors, including Midnight, Starlight, Green, Blue, and (PRODUCT)RED. Stainless steel options continue to include Silver, Graphite, and Gold, while titanium casing options continue to include Silver and Space Black. Apple is also continuing to sell aluminum Apple Watch Nike models and stainless steel Apple Watch Hermès models.
The Apple Watch Series 7 is not yet available for pre-order, but Apple says it will go on sale later this fall. Until then, the Apple Watch Series 6 is still available alongside the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 3.
Pricing on the Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399, while the Apple Watch SE starts at $279. Apple is also continuing to sell the Apple Watch Series 3 starting at $199.
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The Apple Watch Series 7's design builds on the rounded, square look from previous generations, but now comes in new 41mm and 45mm casing size options to suit different preferences and wrist sizes. The design of the Apple Watch Series 7 has been refined with softer, more rounded edges. Although the casings are now slightly larger, they still work with bands from previous generations.
Weights range from 32 grams to 51.5 grams depending on both size and casing material, with the stainless steel Apple Watch models being the heaviest. This is a slight increase in weight over the previous generation.
All Apple Watch Series 7 models feature a black ceramic and crystal back that houses four LED clusters and four photodiodes to facilitate health-monitoring features such as heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen monitoring, and ECGs.
A Digital Crown on the side of the Apple Watch is available for navigation purposes, and there is a Side Button for bringing up frequently used apps, accessing emergency services, confirming Apple Pay purchases, and more.
The Digital Crown is equipped with haptic feedback that offers a precise, mechanical feel when scrolling through lists and controlling various aspects of the Apple Watch, and it is key for the ECG app because it has a built-in electrode that works in tandem with the rear sensors.
Note that the Digital Crown looks different depending on the Apple Watch model you purchase. LTE models have a red ring around the Digital Crown so you know that they have LTE functionality, while GPS-only models lack the red ring.
Colors and Materials
The Apple Watch Series 7 comes in three materials: aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. The aluminum Apple Watch models are the most affordable, while the titanium models are the most expensive.
Apple introduced four new aluminum colors this year: Midnight, Starlight, Green, and Blue. These join the (PRODUCT)RED shade carried over from the Series 6. The stainless steel Apple Watch models are available in Silver, Gold, and Graphite, which is a deep gray shade. The titanium models are available in a natural color (a gray silver) and Space Black.
The aluminum Apple Watch models are made from 100 percent recycled 7000 series aluminum, are lightweight, inexpensive, and designed for an active lifestyle, while the stainless steel models are heavier, more expensive, and designed for everyday wear rather than focused on activity.
The titanium Apple Watch models offer the durability of the stainless steel models along with a brushed finish, but are lighter in weight and resist staining. Compared to stainless steel models, titanium models have a darker, more matte finish.
Both the stainless steel and titanium models feature sapphire crystal displays that are more scratch-resistant than the Ion-X glass used for the aluminum models. The aluminum models are available with and without LTE connectivity, while the stainless steel and titanium models are LTE only with no cheaper GPS only models available.
When it comes to specific weights, the titanium models weigh less than the stainless steel models, which are the heaviest of the Apple Watch models, and all the Series 7 models are up to 10 percent heavier than the Series 6 models. The weights of each model are listed below:
- Aluminum: 32.0 grams
- Stainless Steel: 42.3 grams
- Titanium: 37.0 grams
- Aluminum: 38.8 grams
- Stainless Steel: 51.5 grams
- Titanium: 45.1 grams
The Apple Watch Series 7 features a stronger, redesigned front crystal component with a more robust geometry. It is over 50 percent thicker than that of previous models and more resistant to cracking.
The aluminum Apple Watch models feature Ion-X glass to protect the display, while the stainless steel and titanium models use sapphire crystal glass. Sapphire crystal glass offers better scratch resistance than Ion-X glass because it is a harder material, which means the models with sapphire crystal models are more resistant to scratching and everyday wear.
The Series 7 is also certified to be IP6X dust-resistant, making it much more durable for environments such as the beach or the desert.
The device continues to feature WR50 water resistance, rated for immersion in water as deep as 50 meters thanks to seals and adhesives. The speaker, which needs air to produce sound, is the only point of ingress and has been designed to expel water using sound vibrations after exposure to moisture.
Because it is rated for 50m immersion, the Apple Watch can be used when swimming in the ocean or in a pool. It is only suited to shallow water activities, and can't be used for scuba diving, waterskiing, showering, or other activities that involve high-velocity water or deep submersion.
Apple's Apple Watch warranty does not cover water damage, so it is best to exercise caution when exposing the device to water.
The Apple Watch Series 7's displays are larger, with almost 20 percent more screen area. This has been achieved by reducing the borders to just 1.7mm, which is 40 percent smaller than those on Apple Watch Series 6. The new display is contoured to bend slightly around the top edges of the glass.
Like the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, the Apple Watch Series 7 features an OLED ultra low power temperature poly-silicon and oxide display (LTPO) to enable Always-On functionality, which allows the watch face, complications, and other information to be continually visible with the screen no longer going black when the Apple Watch is not in use.
The display dims when the wrist is down in order to preserve battery life, but key features like watch hands remain illuminated all the time. Touching the watch face or raising the wrist brings the display back to full brightness, and to minimize battery drain, Apple has optimized watch faces for the feature. The Apple Watch's display also has a variable refresh rate that drops from 60Hz to as low as 1Hz when the watch is inactive.
While the wearer's wrist is down, the Always-On Retina display is up to 70 percent brighter indoors than Apple Watch Series 6, making it easier to see the watch face without having to raise the wrist or wake the display.
There have been a number of user interface optimizations to take advantage of the new, larger display, with two additional larger font sizes, larger menu titles and buttons, and a new QWERTY keyboard that can be tapped or swiped with QuickPath. There are two new watch faces for the larger display too, including the Contour face, which moves the dial right to the edge of the display and fluidly animates throughout the day to emphasize the current hour, and the new Modular Duo face, which uses the extra screen area of the Series 7 to accommodate with two large center complications.
The Apple Watch Series 7 uses a dual-core S7 System in Package (SiP) that is based on the S6 processor from the Apple Watch Series 6 and offers similar performance to that chip.
According to Apple, the S6 SiP is up to 20 percent faster than the S5 chip in the prior-generation Apple Watch, allowing apps to launch 20 percent faster, which is broadly what may be expected from the S7 chip.
Apple Watch Series 7 offers the same health monitoring features available with the Series 6. A second-generation optical heart rate sensor calculates metrics like calorie burn, resting heart rate, and a heart rate that's too high, and the electrical heart rate sensor can be used for taking electrocardiograms, while LEDs and infrared light enable blood oxygen monitoring. A built-in accelerometer and gyroscope enable other important health-related features such as fall detection.
The Apple Watch can detect a low heart rate, a high heart rate, and an abnormal heart rate, monitoring for health problems like atrial fibrillation and sending notifications when anomalies are detected.
Blood Oxygen Monitoring
The sensors on the back of the Apple Watch enable the blood oxygen monitoring feature available in the Apple Watch Series 7. Blood oxygen saturation in a healthy individual is around 95 to 100 percent, and when the percentage of oxygen in the blood drops below that, it can be indicative of a serious health issue that needs immediate attention.
Green, red, and infrared LEDs shine light onto the blood vessels in the wrist, with photodiodes measuring the amount of light reflected back. Apple's algorithms then calculate the color of the blood, which is an indication of how much oxygen is present.
Bright red blood is well oxygenated, while darker blood has less oxygen, and that is how the Apple Watch makes its determination about blood oxygen level. Like the Series 6, the Series 7 can measure blood oxygen between 70 and 100 percent.
Blood oxygen measurements can be taken on-demand using the Blood Oxygen app installed on the Apple Watch. To take a measurement, make sure the Apple Watch is snug on the wrist, open the app, stay still, and keep the wrist flat. Tap the Start button and then hold your arm steady for 15 seconds.At the end of the elapsed time, the Apple Watch provides a reading of your blood oxygen level, with the data stored in the Health app on the iPhone.
The Apple Watch Series 7 also takes some blood oxygen measurements in the background and this is set up when the Apple Watch is set up. These settings are available in the Health app on the iPhone. Tap Browse > Respiratory > Blood Oxygen > Set Up Blood Oxygen.
Blood oxygen measurements happen when there is no movement, and based on your daily activity, the number of readings per day and the time between readings varies. Blood oxygen measurements result in a bright light on the wrist that can be distracting in dark rooms, so background measurements can be turned off for Sleep Mode and Theater Mode if desired through the Apple Watch's Settings app.
During sleep, blood oxygen measurements are only taken if the Track Sleep with Apple Watch option is enabled and the watch is being used for Sleep Tracking purposes.
Keeping still is essential for accurate measurements, and the watch must be able to make good contact with the top of the wrist through a snug wristband. Apple says that tattoos can impact performance, as can skin perfusion or the amount of blood flowing through the skin. In cold weather, for example, readings can be affected.
Postures like having the arm hanging at your side or fingers in a fist position can cause unsuccessful measurements, as can motion, and if the resting heart rate is above 150 beats per minute, the Apple Watch won't be able to provide a successful blood oxygen reading.
According to Apple, blood oxygen measurements taken with the Apple Watch Series 7 are not meant for medical use and are designed for "general fitness and wellness purposes." Because blood oxygen monitoring does not require the same regulatory approval as ECG readings, it is available in more than 100 countries, with a list that can be found on Apple's website.
Electrodes in the back of the Apple Watch and the Digital Crown work together to allow users to take single-lead electrocardiograms, just like in the Apple Watch Series 4. An ECG measures the electrical activity of the heart and can be used to diagnose health conditions by a doctor.
ECGs are captured by holding a finger on the Digital Crown of the Apple Watch and can detect a sinus rhythm (normal), an abnormal result, or, sometimes, an inconclusive result that should be shared with a doctor. The ECG is able to detect atrial fibrillation at heart rates above 100 beats per minute.
A single-lead ECG like the Apple Watch means there are two points of contact measuring the electrical sensations of your heart. Clinical electrocardiograms done by your doctor can have six to 12 leads for greater accuracy, but the Apple Watch offers the convenience of being able to take an ECG anytime anywhere in approximately 30 seconds.
Because regulatory clearance is required for the ECG feature, it is limited to Apple Watch users in select countries, with a list available on Apple's Feature Availability website. Apple is continually bringing ECG functionality to new countries.
The Apple Watch Series 7 can be worn at night to monitor your sleep, with Apple providing data on how long you sleep each night. The feature also offers up useful tools for getting a better night's sleep, with details available in our Sleep Tracking guide.
Sleep tracking is available on older Apple Watch models as well, as it is enabled through software rather than hardware, but newer models have battery efficiency and faster charging so you can charge your Apple Watch quicker in the morning after a night's sleep.
Battery and Charging
The Apple Watch Series 7 continues to provide an "all-day" 18-hour battery life from a single charge. The device can now charge 33 percent faster charging compared with Apple Watch Series 6 thanks to a new charging architecture and Apple's Magnetic Fast Charger USB-C Cable. This means that just eight minutes of charging time can provide up to eight hours of sleep tracking.
Apple bases "all-day" battery life estimates on 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback via Bluetooth. For LTE models, Apple assumes four hours of LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to an iPhone. In some situations the Apple Watch drains faster, such as when during calls or workouts.
Apple Watch Series 7 models are equipped with an Apple-designed W3 chip, and there are two variants available: GPS and GPS + Cellular. GPS + Cellular models have a built-in LTE chip and can connect to LTE without an iPhone, while GPS models are Wi-Fi only.
LTE connectivity has been available since the Apple Watch Series 3, and with an LTE connection, the Apple Watch is untethered from the iPhone and does not require an iPhone or known Wi-Fi network for an internet connection.
The Apple Watch is still not entirely independent from the iPhone, because LTE connectivity through a carrier requires an Apple Watch and an iPhone 6s or later to share a cellular plan with the same carrier. The Apple Watch also does not have the battery capacity to be used constantly without an iPhone nearby.
Apple Watch LTE models are available in many countries around the world, with a full list on Apple's website.
The Apple Watch Series 7 continues to feature a U1 chip, which is the same Ultra Wideband chip that first debuted in the iPhone 11 lineup. The U1 chip enables highly accurate short-range wireless that Apple says supports new experiences like Car Keys, the feature that allows an Apple Watch (or iPhone) to be used in lieu of a physical car key.
The U1 chip also allows the Apple Watch Series 6 and Series 7 to track AirTags with watchOS 8.
LTE connectivity enables an international Emergency SOS feature that was first released with the Series 5. With Emergency SOS, the Apple Watch can make international calls to emergency services regardless of where the device was originally purchased or if there's an active cellular plan.
That means if you're traveling to another country and are injured or in a situation where you need help, you can activate the SOS feature on the Apple Watch by holding down the Side button to automatically get in touch with that country's emergency services. International emergency calling works with the Apple Watch's fall detection feature, so if that's enabled, it automatically places an emergency call if the watch senses the user has taken a hard fall and remains motionless afterward.
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS
Apple Watch Series 7 supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0. Compared to Bluetooth 4.2, Bluetooth 5.0 offers longer range, faster speeds, larger broadcast message capacity, and better interoperability with other wireless technologies.
GPS has been included in the Apple Watch since the Series 2, and all Series 7 models, LTE and non-LTE, feature a GPS chip that allows the Apple Watch to determine its position without needing to be near an iPhone.
With GPS, the Apple Watch is able to keep tabs on speed, distance, and route when you're walking, running, hiking, or biking, providing more insight into your fitness activities. GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS systems are supported for positioning technology across multiple countries.
Unlocking Face ID iPhones With Apple Watch
"Unlock with Apple Watch" allows an iPhone with Face ID to use an unlocked and authenticated Apple Watch as a secondary authentication measure when a mask is worn. Face ID doesn't work when a person is wearing a mask, so the Apple Watch authentication method prevents iPhone users from having to constantly enter a passcode when wearing a mask. It's similar to the Apple Watch unlocking feature on the Mac and can be enabled in the Settings app under Face ID & Passcode.
An unlocked Apple Watch paired with Face ID can unlock the iPhone when a mask is worn, but it's only for mask usage. The Apple Watch cannot be used to authenticate Apple Pay or App Store purchases, nor can it be used to unlock apps that require a Face ID scan. In these situations, the mask needs to be removed or a passcode/password needs to be used instead.
When the Apple Watch unlocks the iPhone, you'll feel a haptic tap on the wrist and will receive a notification on the watch, much like how it works when using the watch to unlock a Mac.
Apple Watch Series 7 features electrical and optical heart rate sensors, LEDs and infrared light for blood oxygen monitoring, and an accelerometer used for fall detection, as well as a gyroscope, an ambient light sensor and a battery-efficient barometric altimeter to track flights of stairs climbed, elevation gains when climbing, and more. Note that the altimeter can be inaccurate in some weather conditions.
There is a built-in compass and a Compass app that lets users see their heading, incline, latitude, longitude, and current elevation. Compass functionality is included in the Maps app to let users see which way they're facing when getting directions.
Like the Series 6, Apple Watch Series 7 models feature 32GB of storage space for music, podcasts, apps, and more.
Nike and Hermes Models
The Nike Apple Watch was created in partnership with Nike and is designed specifically for runners. Nike Apple Watch models are all made from aluminum and are the same price as the standard aluminum Apple Watches.
Nike has designed special software for the Nike Apple Watch, which is designed to motivate runners to stay active. Nike Apple Watches include unique Nike-designed watch faces and are available in silver and black aluminum with matching perforated bands or Sport Loops in a selection of different Nike-exclusive colors.
With the Apple Watch Series 7, there is a refreshed Nike Sport Loop that comes in three color options and features the Nike Swoosh and logo text incorporated into the weave of the band, pairing smartly with the new Nike Bounce watch face, which dynamically animates with the tap of the screen, scroll of the Digital Crown, or move of the wrist.
The Hermès Apple Watch collection was created in partnership with French fashion house Hermès and features some of the most expensive Apple Watches Apple offers because of the high price of the bands.
All Hermès models feature a silver or space black stainless steel Apple Watch body paired with one of the Hermès signature hand-crafted leather bands and an additional orange Hermès-branded Apple Watch Sport band. Hermès Apple Watches include unique watch faces based on Hermès watch designs. With the Series 7, there are color updates across the Classic, Attelage, and Jumping styles, as well as two brand new Circuit H and Gourmette Double Tour styles.
Apple has designed several types of bands for the Apple Watch, which it updates on a regular basis, debuting new band options during fall and spring media events, as well as other times throughout the year.
Apple offers an Apple Watch Studio feature that allows most bands to be paired with most Apple Watch casing options so specific Apple Watch band and casing pairings are no longer required when making a purchase.
Available bands include the Sport Band, Sport Loop, Milanese Loop, Modern Buckle, Leather Link, Solo Loop, and Braided Solo Loop.
The Sport Loop is similar to the Sport Band, but it's the first Apple Watch to feature a slip-on design with no buckle or clasping mechanism. It's made from a stretchy liquid silicone rubber that can stretch to fit over the hand and then collapse to fit tightly on the wrist.
Apple says that it's ultra-comfortable because there are no overlapping parts, and it's simple to slip on and off. It's swim-proof, sweat-proof, and treated with UV for a silky finish. The Solo Loop is priced at $49, and unlike all of the other Apple Watch band designs, it comes in nine different sizes for each watch casing size.
Apple offers a printable size guide so you can find the model that best fits your wrist, or you can use a measuring tape to check wrist size. You need to make sure to get a good measurement before ordering because of the multiple size options, so check out our guide for tips.
Some people have had fit issues with the Solo Loop and the Braided Solo Loop given the specific sizing requirements, which has prompted Apple to provide more tailored fit instructions. When measuring with the tool, there should be a snug but not too tight fit, and those in between sizes should size down. Apple also warns that the Solo Loop can stretch a bit over time because of the material that it is made of. Apple does allow returns of the band if you need a different size, but it's best to get a good fit to begin with.
Braided Solo Loop
Like the Solo Loop, the Braided Solo Loop is a new Apple Watch designed without a buckle or clasp of any kind. It's made from a stretchable recycled yarn interwoven with silicone threads so it can fit over the hand before wrapping around the wrist.
Apple says the soft, textured feel of the band is sweat and water-resistant, plus ultra-comfortable to wear. The Braided Solo Loop also comes in nine sizes for each Apple Watch casing size, so wrist measurements are required to order (or there are fitting options in Apple's retail stores).
The Braided Solo Loop is one of Apple's more expensive band options at $99, and the same sizing caveats apply to the Braided Solo Loop.
Apple's Sport Bands are the company's lightest, most comfortable bands, made from a flexible and lightweight fluoroelastomer. Because they're ideal for use when exercising or engaging in vigorous activity, most of Apple's aluminum watches ship with Sport Bands.
Pricing starts at $49 for the Sport Bands, which come with three pieces to adjust the size. Apple offers Sport Bands in S/M, M/L, and L/XL size options.
Designed to be soft, breathable, and lightweight, the Sport Loop is made from fabric that wraps around the wrist for a tight but comfortable fit.
It's made from a velcro-like double-layer nylon and comes in a range of colors, with Nike-branded Sport Loops also available. The 41mm version fits wrists sized 130 to 190mm, while the 45mm version fits wrists sized 145 to 220mm. Apple charges $49 for the Sport Loop.
The unique perforated Nike Apple Watch bands that come with Nike watches are also available for purchase on a standalone basis.
Nike bands are made from a high-performance fluoroelastomer and are available for both 41mm and 45mm Apple Watch models, plus Apple sells Nike-branded Sport Loop options in unique colors. The bands fit wrists sized 130 to 200mm. Nike Bands are priced at $49.
The stainless steel Milanese Loop, available in 41mm and 45mm sizes, is a flexible metal mesh band that wraps around the wrist. It's made of such a fine metal material that it's comfortable to wear all day long, and it's surprisingly lightweight.
The Milanese Loop is priced at $99, and it comes in silver, gold, and space black.
The Leather Link features a two-piece design that doesn't involve a loop. The Leather Link is made from Roux Granada leather sourced from France, and it has flexible, molded magnets that wrap around the wrist for a comfortable fit.
The Leather Link fits both 41 and 45mm models. It comes in small/medium and medium/large and fits wrists sized from 130 to 180mm.
The Modern Buckle, made from supple Granada leather, is a band that's designed to work with the smaller 41mm Apple Watch models. It features a two-piece magnetic buckle and an inner layer of Vectran weave for strength and scratch resistance.
The 316L stainless steel alloy Link Bracelet, available in 41mm and 45mm sizes, is Apple's most expensive band made in-house. Available in silver ($349) and space black ($449), the Link Bracelet resembles a high-quality traditional watch band.
The 41mm model fits wrists sized 135 to 195mm while the 45mm model fits wrists sized 140 to 205mm. A 6-link add-on kit expands its size from 205mm to 245mm for an additional $49.
Along with Hermès Apple Watches, Apple sells a selection of standalone Hermès bands, designed by the fashion house. Hermès bands are available in an assortment of colors.
As these are bands created in partnership with a French fashion houses, prices are more expensive than Apple's own bands. Hermès bands start at $340 and go up from there.
Apple Watch SE and Series 3
Alongside the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple introduced the Apple Watch SE, which is a low-cost option that offers many of the same features as the Series 6, but with a more affordable price tag. It is, however, lacking some key health functions in order to keep prices low.
Compared to the Series 7, the Apple Watch SE lacks ECG and blood oxygen monitoring support and it is equipped with an older S5 chip instead of the faster S7 chip. It's also only available in aluminum, the cheapest and lightest of the Apple Watch casing materials.
Other than that, it has all of the same safety and health tracking functionality, and it is available in LTE and GPS only models. Pricing on the Apple Watch SE begins at $279, compared to $399 for the Series 7.
As an ultra low-cost option, Apple is continuing to sell the Apple Watch Series 3, priced starting at $199. The Series 3 has an older design with a smaller display, a much slower S3 chip, and no blood oxygen sensor or ECG function. It is GPS only and lacks a few other bells and whistles like always-on altimeter and compass that are found in the other Apple Watch models. The Series 3 is several years old at this point and is using outdated technology, so we do not recommend purchasing it.
We have some comparisons between the different Apple Watch models below that are worth checking out if you're planning a purchase.
Apple Watch Series 6
Apple is still selling the Apple Watch Series 6, presumably until the Series 7 goes on sale later this year. The Apple Watch Series 6 was released in September 2020, featuring an identical design to the Series 5, but it added blood oxygen monitoring and a faster processor. Buying a Series 6 is not recommended at this time because of the upcoming launch of the Series 7, which offers new features at the same price.
The Apple Watch Series 6 features a rear LED sensor array that can measure oxygen saturation in the blood for a better understanding of fitness and wellness. A custom algorithm included in the Blood Oxygen app measures blood oxygen levels between 70 and 100 percent. On-demand testing is available through the app, and the watch also occasionally takes background measurements when a person is inactive, including during sleep. Data is available in the Health app.
The Apple Watch Series 6 is available in 40 and 44mm size options, and it has the same thinner, smaller case introduced with the Series 4 along with the low power (LTPO) OLED Always-On display introduced with the Series 5. In the Series 6, the Always-On display is 2.5 times brighter than Apple Watch Series 5 when outdoors, so it's easier to see in bright sunlight.
Apple Watch owners can access Notification Center and Control Center, tap on complications, and swipe to change faces when their wrists are down with the Always-On display in the Series 6. Apple also added an always-on altimeter that's more power-efficient than previous models, which can optionally be seen on the watch face at all times and provides information on elevation changes as small as one foot.
Apple Watch Series 6 is water-resistant and supports Apple Pay purchases like previous models, plus it has all the same health-related features in addition to blood oxygen monitoring. Apple Watch Series 6 is able to do things like monitor steps taken, calories burned, stairs climbed, and heart rate, plus it can take ECG readings, track sleep, look out for falls with fall detection, make emergency calls with SOS, and watch out for overly loud sounds.
Like the Apple Watch Series 5 models, Series 6 models feature a black ceramic and sapphire crystal backing and a Digital Crown with haptic feedback. The Digital Crown has a built-in sensor for ECG readings.
The Series 6 contains an S6 System-in-Package chip, which is based on the A13 Bionic in the iPhone 11. It is up to 20 percent faster than the previous generation but still offers the same all-day 18-hour battery life. Apple Watch Series 6 offers faster charging and can be charged to full in 1.5 hours. Battery life was improved for tracking workouts like indoor and outdoor runs, too.
New to the Apple Watch Series 6 is the same U1 chip and band antennas introduced in the iPhone 11 models, which Apple says enables short-range wireless location to support new experiences like digital Car Keys. Apple offers the Series 6 with both GPS and GPS + LTE functionality. LTE Apple Watch models can operate over LTE without an iPhone nearby.
The Apple Watch Series 6 models come in aluminum and stainless steel finishes, including blue and (PRODUCT)RED color options for the aluminum models and silver and graphite shade for the stainless steel models.
Apple Watch runs an operating system called watchOS, and the Apple Watch Series 7 comes with watchOS 8 installed. The watchOS 8 update introduces new features to help users stay healthy, active, and connected to friends and family, with most of the new additions serving as extensions of changes added in iOS 15.
There are several improvements to Wallet, including Ultra Wideband support for digital car keys, and new digital keys for unlocking doors at home, the office, and hotel rooms. All of these new key features work with the Apple Watch's tap to unlock feature. In some states, users will be able to add their driver's license or state ID to Wallet, and select TSA checkpoints will begin accepting digital IDs.
The Home app has been overhauled to make it easier to get to HomeKit accessories and scenes as needed, with status updates for thermostats, light bulbs, and other accessories. HomeKit devices can be controlled by room, and those with HomeKit-enabled cameras can now see who is at the door right on the wrist. For Intercom users, there's a quick tap feature for getting in touch with everyone in the home.
Apple has added two new workout types with Tai Chi and Pilates, which can be selected when choosing a Workout on the Apple Watch. For Apple Fitness+ users, there's Picture in Picture support, filter options, and options to stop and resume an in-progress workout on any device.
The Breathe app is now the Mindfulness app and it has been enhanced with a new Breathe experience and a Reflect session for mindful intention. Reflect gives users a thoughtful notion to consider that invites a positive frame of mind. The Breathe and Reflect experiences offer new animations and a series of tips on meditation.
When sleeping, the Apple Watch now measures respiratory rate (the number of breaths per minute) in addition to time asleep, heart rate, and blood oxygen. Respiratory data can be viewed in the Health app and is a metric that can be used to track overall wellness.
There's a new Portrait Watch Face that pulls portrait photos from the iPhone and uses the depth data to overlay the time with the faces of your favorite people, and the Photos app has been redesigned with new ways to view and navigate collections. Memories and Featured Photos sync to Apple Watch and can be shared right from the wrist.
Apple added a dedicated Find Items app for locating your lost devices, and the Music app has been redesigned to let users share songs, albums, and playlists. The Apple Watch weather app supports Severe Weather notifications, next hour precipitation alerts, and updated complications.
In the Messages app, Scribble, dictation, and emojis can be combined within the same message, and there's a new option to edit dictated text. The Apple Watch supports sending GIFs in Messages with watchOS 8, and there's now a Contacts app to make it easier to get in touch with people when an iPhone isn't available.
The Focus feature added to iOS 15 also syncs to the Apple Watch so you can reduce distraction and be in the moment to focus on the task at hand. Apple also suggests Focus modes, so if you're working out, you'll be prompted to choose the Focus for fitness option.
watchOS 8 introduces support for multiple timers at once, and more apps support the Always-On display, including Maps, Mindfulness, Now Playing, Phone, Podcasts, Stopwatch, Timers, and Voice Memos, plus third-party developers can create Always-On display experiences for their apps.
Apple has added an AssistiveTouch feature that uses the built-in sensors in the Apple Watch to detect hand gestures for control purposes.
There are many more new features included in watchOS 8, so make sure to check out our full watchOS 8 roundup for more details.
How to Buy
The Apple Watch Series 7 is not yet available for purchase, but Apple says that pre-orders for the device will open later this fall. An exact date for pre-order is not yet known.
Although Apple does not plan to keep the Apple Watch Series 6 in the lineup with the Apple Watch Series 7, Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Series 3, it appears that the Series 6 will continue to be on sale until the Series 7 becomes available.
Apple Watch pricing varies based on case material, band, and collection, with entry-level pricing for each Apple Watch Series 6 case material and size available below. Apple Watch Series 7 pricing is known to start at the same $399 price point, and while other prices are not yet known, it will likely be priced the same as the Series 6.
40mm Aluminum Non-LTE - $399
40mm Aluminum LTE - $499
44mm Aluminum Non-LTE - $429
44mm Aluminum LTE - $529
40mm Stainless Steel (LTE only) - $699
44mm Stainless Steel (LTE only) - $749
40mm Titanium (LTE only) - $799
44mm Titanium (LTE only) - $849
40mm Nike Non-LTE - $399
40mm Nike LTE - $499
44mm Nike Non-LTE - $429
44mm Nike LTE - $529
40mm Hermès (LTE only) - $1249
44mm Hermès (LTE only) - $1299
Apple Watch Series 7 models will be available in many countries around the world, with pricing that varies based on location. Apple offers refurbished versions of some older Apple Watch models, and there are trade-in offers for those upgrading from an older Apple Watch.