Apple showed off the latest design for the Apple Watch Series 7 on Tuesday, displaying an all-new layout for the popular digital watch.
Apple hasn’t changed the watch much since it debuted in 2015, but the latest version features a new layout and changes distinguishing it from its predecessors.
While the watch previously came in two different size options — 40 mm and 44 mm — Apple unveiled new 41 mm and 45 mm sizes that will have larger displays and improved screen technology.
Apple COO Jeff Williams said the Apple Watch Series 7 “takes all the great features of Apple watch and combines them with our largest and most advanced display ever.”
The 45 mm version will have a 396 x 484 resolution and Williams said the new retina display offers nearly 20% more screen area than the Series 6 and more than 50% more screen area than Series 3.
The Series 7 also reduces the borders to 1.7 mm, which is 40% thinner than Series 6.
“It’s an incredible innovation that maximizes the screen area while barely changing the dimensions of the watch itself. And the shape of the watch has also been refined. Both the case and the display of Series 7 have softer and rounded corners. The new display refracts light at its edges for a subtle wraparound effect, creating a seamless integration with the curvature of the case,” Williams said.
“It’s also up to 70% brighter indoors when your wrist is down, making it even easier to discreetly check the time. This new display is an industry first and we fully optimized the user interface for it.”
Lauren Braun, Apple Watch product manager, added that buttons have been redesigned and enlarged to complement the size and shape of the new display. The watch’s stopwatch, activity and alarms are now easier to tap and can fit 50% more text on screen than the Series 6.
There are also new ways to input text and a full keyboard that you can either tap or slide from letter to letter, Braun explained, adding that the watch uses machine learning to predict the words you’re typing.
The new watch will be available later this fall. The Series 7 will cost $399.
There are also new watch faces designed specifically for Series 7. Braun said the new watch face animates when you raise your wrist, pushing the dial out to the edge.
“All of these improvements give Series 7 the best user experience of any Apple watch. We also improved durability, which is another essential aspect of Apple Watch. Series 7 is the most durable Apple watch we’ve ever built,” Braun said.
“It has our most crack-resistant front crystal thanks to a stronger and more robust geometry. It’s also the first Apple watch to have IP6X certification, so you don’t have to worry about wearing it in dusty environments. It’s still swim proof with WR50 water resistance. With our best ever durability, you can take Series 7 anywhere you want to go and use it all day long with the same, great 18 hour battery life.”
Apple also announced that the latest watch charges 33% faster than the Series 6 and has an updated charging architecture with a new fast charging USBC cable. It now takes 45 minutes to go from zero to 80 percent charge and eight minutes of charging is enough for eight hours of sleep tracking, according to Braun.
Williams added that Series 7 will be available in five new aluminum colors — midnight, starlight, green, blue and red. It will also be available in silver, graphite and gold stainless steel as well as natural and space black titanium.
There will also be new Nike and Hermes models of the Series 7 that come with leather bands and other features. Series 7 is compatible with all existing bands that can be matched with the new slate of colors.
The Series 7 aluminum watch cases are made with a 100% recycled metal and all magnets in Series 7 use 100% recycled rare earth elements.
Williams noted that Series 3 still costs $199 and Apple Watch SC starts at $279.
The latest watch comes with a bevy of other features including ways to check your blood oxygen level, meditation tools and trackers showing how fast you’re moving.
Apple also announced that the Watch OS 8 will now be able to detect when you begin riding a bike and will remind you to start a workout, automatically pausing and resuming if you stop. It will even be able to tell if you fall.
Leo Gebbie, principal analyst for CCS Insight, told ZDNet that at first glance, the latest Apple Watch is “another iterative update.”
“But the larger screen allowing bigger virtual buttons and up to 50% more text on screen should certainly improve usability. I’d expected to see a bump in battery life on the Apple Watch, as owners continue to clamor for smartwatches to last longer, but Apple has decided not to deviate from its 18-hour battery life. The faster charging will be welcomed, but for those wanting to track their sleep it would be far easier to offer a battery that lasts a couple of days,” Gebbie said.
“Despite these concerns, the Apple Watch continues to sell in record numbers and dominates the smartwatch market by a distance. Clearly, users are happy enough with the daily charging routine, and I expect that other improvements to the Watch will be very well received. New features such as dedicated activity tracking and fall detection for cyclists add to the Apple Watch’s capabilities in the fitness space. They’ll be a welcome update for new and existing owners. The enhancements further the Watch’s credentials as the best all-round smartwatch.”