The newest Apple Watch is called the Series 7. While it doesn’t have one big new feature, there are lots of little refinements that make it one of the most useful accessories around.
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For starters, Apple has increased the case size on the Series 7, giving the device it’s biggest display yet. Apple says it’s 20% bigger. The case sizes are now 41 and 45 millimeters, but old watch straps will still work with the new cases.
I didn’t think the bigger screen would be a big deal (pun intended) but it turns out even that millimeter makes a difference. It’s obvious the first time you have to type in your passcode to unlock the watch. The buttons just look bigger and they’re easier to tap.
For the first time ever natively on an Apple Watch, there’s now a QWERTY keyboard. You can tap on the tiny keys to peck out a message (not ideal, but good for things like proper names) or better yet, swipe to type. Right now, this feature is exclusive to the Series 7.
There are two new watch faces that take advantage of the larger screen real estate.
Contour has numbers that go right to the edge of the screen, while Modular Duo lets you fit two big information widgets (Apple calls them complications) on the screen for the first time.
Other improvements to the watch include a more crack resistant face and dust resistance. I’ve gotten my share of scratches on the screen, so it will be interesting to see if this screen material is more durable than before. Also, when it comes to dust, I’ve never had any issues in the past, and I’ve taken previous generations of Apple Watches to the beach and on hikes many times.
Battery life isn’t improved on the Series 7 – you’ll still get a day’s use out of the watch, but they did make charging faster. You can now charge up the Series 7 about 15 minutes faster than before and double as fast as older Apple Watches.
There’s a new USB-C charging cable in the box, but you’ll need to bring your own plug. You can tell the charging cable is new since it has the USB-C and a silver lining around the charging end.
Apple says an 8-minute charge will give you enough juice to power your watch through 8 hours of sleep. In my testing, I got a little notification that it was time to charge my watch before bed so I could put it back on and get those sweet sleep tracking numbers. Sadly, I find that the sleep data colleced by the Apple Watch isn’t very robust and you might have better luck with a third-party sleep tracking app.
Apple Watch 7 comes in a lot of fun new colors: Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Red and Green.
It starts at $399 for the standard version and $499 for the cellular version, which will work with calls, texts and streaming music even when your phone isn’t nearby.
Siri dictation is getting better but it’s still a sore spot on this device.
Still, the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch around thanks to useful notifications, excellent fitness tracking, fun faces, good support for a wide range of Apps and helpful complications.
It’s easy to see why this watch is on a lot of wrists.
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