The differences you need to know

The differences you need to know

  16 Sep 2021

With the arrival of the Apple Watch Series 7 comes the natural reaction: do you need to make that purchase?

The new Apple Watch doesn’t launch until later in the Fall, but we know what it will offer, and how it matches up to the Watch Series 6.

Now that the dust has settled on the big unveiling, we take a closer look at what we can expect from the Series 7 and crucially, how it compares to the Series 6.

Apple Watch Series 7 v Series 6: Price

While we are being made to wait to order or even pre-order the Apple Watch Series 7 right now, when it does land it’ll launch at the same price as the Series 6.

So the Series 7 pricing will start at $399 and we expect just like the Series 6 it can go can go as high as $799 depending on your combination of case, band and whether you go for the GPS only model or the pricier GPS and LTE version.

Apple Watch Series 7 v Series 6: Design, screen and colors

Series 3 (left), Series 6 (centre) and Series 7 (right)

Series 3 (left), Series 6 (centre) and Series 7 (right)

When you compare the Series 7 and the Series 6, this is where the biggest differences lie. We didn’t get an Apple Watch with a flat edged case, but there were changes.

With the Series 6, you’re getting a smartwatch that comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes. With the Series 7, that’s grown to 41mm and 45mm options. We should point out, however, that unlike when the case size changed on Series 4, the Series 7 still supports older strap sizes.

The move to the larger case size is to accommodate larger displays with thinner bezels. Apple says those screens offer 20% more screen estate than the Series 6 and 40% smaller bezels too.

Along with standard Watch models, both Series 6 and Series 7 come in Nike and Apple Watch Hermès with the Series 7 versions introducing new models. Though it seems the Series 7 will play nice with Series 6 bands, which should also mean the same for the Series 6 as well.

There’s always-on Retina displays across all models, though the Series 7 promises to offer a 70% brighter display compared to the Series 6.

Apple Watch Series 7 colors

The cases on all the watches offer curved edges, though Apple says the Series 7 goes even softer and more rounded with that case curves to help give it a more attractive look.

If you’re worried about your Apple Watch getting knocked about or being fit for jumping in the sea with it strapped to your wrist, then both the Series 6 and Series 7 are equipped to be submerged in water up to 50 metres depth.

When it comes to durability, the Series 7 gives you a crack resistant crystal to further protect the display and it’s been slapped with an IP6X certification to better guard against dust if you’re heading out for a hike or climb with it.

For case options, the Series 6 and the Series 7 both come in stainless steel, titanium and alumnium options. Apple says aluminium Watch Series 7 models will be made from 100% recycled aluminium.

In terms of colours, here’s the breakdown:

  • Apple Watch Series 6 stainless steel: silver, graphite, gold
  • Apple Watch Series 7 stainless steel: silver, graphite, gold
  • Apple Watch Series 6 aluminium: silver, space gray, gold, blue, Product Red
  • Apple Watch Series 7 aluminium: midnight, starlight, green, blue (new) and Product Red
  • Apple Watch Series 6 titanium: titanium and space black
  • Apple Watch Series 7 titanium: titanium and space black

So there’s new colors if you opt for the alumnium Series 7 over the 6, but elsewhere, you’re getting largely the same case color options here.

Apple Watch Series 7 v Series 6: Smartwatch features

Apple Watch Series 7 bigger screen size

Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Series 7 will run on watchOS 8, which mean a consistent software experience in terms of what they’re capable of as smartwatches.

You’ll be able to view notifications, control music playing on your iPhone and store music offline from Apple Music and third party apps like Spotify.

There’ll be LTE on offer for an untethered life, and you’ll have watch faces aplenty to choose from and throw complications on to save you launching another app to see the information you care most about being able to glance at.

That bigger display on the Series 7 will bring some new features into play that you may miss out on getting on the Series 6.

The first is a new full size QWERTY keyboard that uses taps and swipes to input text. It also uses the AI-based QuickPath to better predict what you want to type.

Both watches will ofer cusomizable watch faces, though with the larger screen on the Series 7, Apple has tweaked native watch faces to squeeze more information and data in. So a new modular watch face will offer additional complications compared to the one optimised for the Series 6.

Apple is lso adding bigger menu tiles and buttons for features like StopWatch, Alarms and its Activity app, but with this rolling out in watchOS 8, this looks like this will be applied to Watch Series 6 watches when they’re updated to that latest version of Apple’s smartwatch operating system.

As smartwatches, it should be a pretty consisent experience across both Series 7 and the Series 6. The biggest gains on the new Watch seem to be that QWERTY keyboard and more accommodating watch faces. It’s reasonable to think these additions won’t be a huge deal for most.

Apple Watch Series 7 v Series 6: Sports and health tracking

Apple Watch Series 7 fall detection

If you care about tracking runs, swims (pool and open water), cycles or checking your heart rate and blood oxygen levels, then the Series 7 and Series 6 will offer the same features on that front.

That means things like built-in GPS, an optical heart rate monitor, ECG heart rate monitor, the ability monitor blood oxygen and closing those Rings will be available across these Apple Watch models.

Both will run on watchOS 8 bringing all the big new health and fitness features Apple introduced with its latest smartwatch OS update. That includes the new Mindfulness app, the ability to track respiratory rate, new workout modes for Tai Chi and Pilates and deep integration with Apple’s Fitness+ platform.

That also brings new cycling detection features, updated cycling algorithms including a fall detection mode that knows when you’ve taken a tumble off your bike.

That larger screen estate on the Series 7 should in theory mean that it could be capable of fitting in more information like workout stats and health data compared to the Series 6. It would be over to third party apps to take advantage of that extra screen to put it to good use and we’ve yet to see any examples of that just yet.

Apple hasn’t divulged whether the heart rate or GPS sensors for instance have been upgraded on the 7, so we have to assume they’ll be identical the ones on the Series 6. Based on our experiences of testing the 6, those sensors really impressed, so we hope and expect that it’s more of the same with the Series 7.

So they’re level pegged here, though that extra screen could potentially offer more data-rich screens for native and third party health and fitness apps.

Apple Watch Series 7 v Series 6: Battery life

Apple Watch Series 7 v Watch Series 6: The differences you need to know

The Apple Watch Series 7 should offer the same ‘all-day battery life’ that the Series 6 does, which essentially means you should get 18 hours. Where things do differ is when it comes to charging when your Watch is running low.

Apple says the Series 7 offers 33% faster charging than the 6 thanks to new charging architecture and a magnetic fast charger USB-C cable, which incidentally, will be available for the Apple Watch SE. With that cable matched up with the Series 7, you can expect to go from 0-80% with 45 minutes of charging.

Just 8 minutes of charging will apparently deliver enough battery to record 8 hours of sleep monitoring data too, if you’re running low before bedtime and wondering if you’re Watch has enough to get through the day.

So for that base daily battery life, they’re the same. When it comes to offering a faster way to charge the battery, the Series 7 is the one you want.

Apple Watch Series 7 v Series 6: Verdict

So to break things down, with the Series 7, you’re getting the bigger case and screens, more colors in alumnium and right now, some software extras like a QWERTY keyboard and watch faces that fit in more information than the Series 6. You’re also getting faster charging support to slightly make up for sticking to the same 18 hour battery life.

Outside of that, the Series 7 and Series 6 seem evenly matched. You’re getting largely the same watchOS 8 extras, the same sports and fitness features and smartwatch features too.

The price might be the same now, but that’s likely to change when the Series 7 goes on sale. So if you can pick up the Series 6 for less, it still should offer a really strong Watch experience. It really seems to come down to how much you value that extra screen and if developers take full advantage of it on the 7.

We think the Series 6 is going to serve a lot of people well still despite the arrival of the Series 7.

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