OPINION: It’s been an interesting year for smartwatches – the OnePlus Watch ended up being one of the biggest tech missteps in recent history, while the Galaxy Watch 4 has shown that the new and improved Wear OS does have a future.
All eyes were on Apple this week to see how the company’s seventh-generation wearable would stack up, but unfortunately it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
Let’s start with the good. The larger display – which is an almost 20% increase over the Apple Watch 6 – looks simply gorgeous. The fact that it’s now up to 70% brighter is sure to be a boon when out running during the winter months, and as someone who gladly sticks to the modular watch face on their Apple Watch SE, the thought of being able to cram even more info into the screen is fantastic.
The Apple Watch 7 has also been built to withstand some serious damage. I can’t say that I’d ever plan on flying off my bike anytime soon, but the new bike fall detection on watchOS 8 will pair well with the Watch 7’s IP6X rating and new crack-proof crystal coating.
Underlying these improvements is one big caveat however, being that the battery seems to be completely unchanged from last year’s model, which was already outdated in the Apple Watch 6. Superior battery life has long been a key feature of more dedicated fitness trackers like the Fitbit Versa 3, but smartwatches like the TicWatch Pro 3 and Galaxy Watch 4 have since surpassed the Apple Watch’s 18-hour battery life.
Apple has tried to remedy this somewhat with the introduction of fast charging (33% faster to be exact). The company quoted an eight-minute charge as being sufficient for eight hours of sleep tracking, and while that’s a great feature for making 24/7 use a more feasible option, it really is starting to feel as though everything the Apple Watch introduces – no matter how impressive – will always come with an asterisk until battery life is improved.
I’m also fairly surprised that we didn’t see a major redesign for the Apple Watch either. I still enjoy the current style, but it is starting to feel at odds with the flat edge aesthetic now employed by the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 range. Plus, there’s the added space benefit that a flat design would bring, as components wouldn’t have to be as tightly packed as they are in a curved chassis.
For the larger screen alone, I’m excited to test out the Apple Watch 7, but I know for a fact that until the battery issue is sorted, I’ll always be tempted to swap back to a different wearable that can see me safely through a weekend on a single charge.