Apple Watch Series 7 vs Apple Watch Series 6: What’s new?

Everything you need to know about what upgrades are in Apple Watch 7 compared to Apple Watch 6

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Apple Watch Series 6
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has revealed its latest smartwatch, called the Apple Watch Series 7, predictably enough. Despite rumours of a totally different design, the new model retains a very similar look to previous models, so you're probably what's changed when you compare Apple Watch Series 7 vs Apple Watch Series 6, which it replaces in Apple's line-up. Is this the best Apple Watch so far? It certainly looks it.

The most obvious change is the display, which covers more of the front of the device than before. The display of the Watch Series 7 is 20 percent larger than that of the year-old Apple Watch Series 6, and 50 percent bigger than the Apple Watch Series 3.

Other highlights include a brighter screen in the always-on dimmed mode, faster-charging battery, increased toughness and new colours. The new Apple Watch Series 7 doesn’t yet have a release date, with Apple saying it will arrive later in the autumn. 

Don't forget to read up on the iPhone 13 and iPad mini that were announced at the same Apple Event.

Apple Watch 7 vs Apple Watch 6: Price

The Series 7 will start from $399, and while international prices haven't been revealed yet, we expect that to translate to £379. That will be for the 41mm version (ie, the smaller one) in aluminium.

This is the same as Series 6 costs now, so there's no downside to Apple adding the extra features of the Series 7.

As usual, buying the larger version will see a slight increase in price, and stepping up to the steel or titanium cases will be a bigger jump – but we'll have official pricing for all those whenever Apple confirms the launch date.

Apple Watch Series 7 line-up

The Apple Watch Series 7 in its three steel finishes

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch 7 vs Apple Watch 6: Design

The overall design of the new Watch Series 7 remains broadly the same as all previous generations of Apple Watch. Despite rumours of a shift to a squarer, flat-sided case, the curved edges remain. In fact, Apple says the corners of the display and case are softer and rounder than those of the year-old Watch Series 6, which remains on sale for now.

The biggest design difference is the size of the Series 7’s display. It is 20 percent larger than that of the Series 6 and 50 percent larger than the Series 3, and comes loaded with new watch faces that take advantage of the extra real estate.

The casing hasn't grown by that much, though – Apple has just made it so that the screen stretches right up to the edges of the black glass panel, which has a striking and dramatic effect. Apple has reduced the borders and thickness of the display by integrating the touch sensor into the OLED panel. 

The general design is otherwise the same as before, with Apple’s signature Digital Crown on the right, above the side button, while a circular module housing a heart rate monitor sits on the rear of the case.

Apple Watch 7 vs Apple Watch 6: Hardware

The new Watch Series 7 is offered with case sizes of 41mm and 45mm. These are fractionally larger than the 40mm and 44mm variants of the Watch Series 6.

As well as being bigger, the display of the Series 7 is up to 70 percent brighter than the Series 6 in the dimmed 'always-on' mode – ie, how it looks when your wrist is down, rather than when you've raised it to see the time. This makes it easier to see if you can't raise your wrist for whatever reason, and makes it more visible to others, which is nice for some of the watch faces you may have chosen.

Apple describes the Series 7 as its “most durable” smartwatch to date, with the “most crack-resistant” glass crystal and an improved IPX6 rating to protect against dust. The Series 7’s water resistance to 50 metres remains the same as before.

The Series 7 is available in a range of new colours. These are green, blue, red, ‘Starlight’ and ‘Midnight’ for the entry-level aluminum model, plus the familiar stainless steel, Nike and Hermès options available at a higher price (although Apple is yet to actually say on its website how much any variant of Series 7 costs).

A claimed “all-day” battery life of 18 hours is the same on both the Series 7 and Series 6, but the new model refills its battery more quickly thanks to an updated charging architecture and a new USB-C charging cable included in the box. Apple says it charges 33 percent quicker than the Series 6, filling the battery from empty to 80 percent in 45 minutes.

For those who want to use an Apple Watch to monitor their sleep, Apple points out how the Watch Series 7 can be given enough battery for eight hours of sleep monitoring with eight minutes of charging.

Lastly for the hardware, and in a growing trend across Apple’s latest products, the Watch Series 7’s case is made from what the company describes as 100 percent recycled aluminium. The strap connections remain the same as before, so straps for your older Watch will fit the Series 7 – and new straps released will likely have the "41mm" and "45mm" names on them, but still still fit older models.

Apple Watch Series 7

The Apple Watch Series 7 showing off two new watch faces.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch 7 vs Apple Watch 6: Features and software

Both the Series 6 and new Series 7 run Apple’s latest watchOS 8, which is available to download on September 20th.

This will bring some cycling-specific fitness improvements, cool Portrait mode watch faces, improved health and fitness tracking, new communication options, and more.

There are some key differences for the Watch Series 7, however, as it’s bigger screen affords space for larger buttons right across the user interface, plus a new QWERTY keyboard – a first for any Apple Watch – that can be tapped or slid across using QuickPath, Apple’s swiping keyboard system.

Apple Watch 7 vs Apple Watch 6: Conclusion 

The new Apple Watch Series 7 represents a fairly small upgrade over the year-old Series 6. There are no new hardware-based health features, so the larger and brighter screen is the main takeaway here, though faster charging is also extremely welcome.

Some power users might find the keyboard and revised interface useful, while extra toughness is always welcome from a device with a front made entirely of glass. 

We wouldn’t expect many Series 6 owners to be clamoring for an upgrade to the Series 7, but for owners of older models of Apple Watch – especially Series 4 or earlier, which don't have the always-on screen – Series 7 will make for a tempting upgrade.

If you're wondering about buying a Series 6 now or waiting for the Series 7, we'd suggest waiting if you can – we think that if you're paying full price, then you should definitely opt for the Series 7, but that means that there might be great discounts on Series 6 as it disappears from sale, and that could well be the best bargain. Definitely keep your eye on our guide to the best Apple Watch deals in the next few months.

Alistair Charlton
Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3.