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Apple Watch Series 7: 6 Months Later, I'm Still Loving the Bigger Screen

The Apple Watch sets the bar high for all other smartwatches.

The Apple Watch Series 7 continues to set a high benchmark for the entire smartwatch industry, thanks to its comprehensive health tracking tools and near-seamless integration with the iPhone. Features like a larger screen and fast-charging may be considered iterative updates over previous generations of the Apple Watch. But after using the Series 7 for six months, I'm convinced this wearable is way more than the sum of its parts. 

On paper, the larger screen with slimmer bezels might not feel like a significant upgrade. But in practice, it makes all the difference for reading workout metrics and using complications without tapping in to see more detail.

Apple Watch Series 7 Unity Lights on a wrist
Lexy Savvides/CNET

For example, I'm a big fan of the Unity Lights watch face. When I use it on the Series 7, there's more real estate to see complication details like the weather or message notifications. The Series 7 makes nearly everything more readable, whether it's workout stats or using a larger text size for notifications. After using other wearables like the Garmin Venu 2S with similarly sized screens, it's refreshing to boost the font size instead of being limited to an option that's too small to read without glasses.

The larger screen means there's a full QWERTY keyboard, which I found myself using a lot. Typing is a much more discreet way to respond to text messages than speech-to-text dictation. It's hard to be inconspicuous when talking into your wrist. Correcting words or moving the text cursor is trickier though. Sometimes I don't bother to correct a typo and instead send a follow-up message apologizing for my terrible typing skills. 

Apple Watch showing image of a bicyclist and text saying WORKOUT It looks like you're working out. Record Outdoor Cycle. Change Workout

Automatic workout detection on the Series 7.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Thanks to WatchOS 8, the Series 7 is also incredibly reliable about automatically detecting workouts, including outdoor cycling. I appreciate the new cycling features in WatchOS 8, including the ability to autopause a ride, and the more accurate calorie tracking for e-bike rides. While these updates are not exclusive to the Series 7, the larger screen makes them more pleasant to use than earlier Apple Watches.

The Series 7's main limitation is battery life. It's largely the same as earlier Apple Watches, which is my biggest disappointment. Without sleep tracking, I can get a maximum of 1.5 days between charges with the always-on display active. If I want to do an extended outdoor workout, I plan to charge the watch more frequently than usual. 

Software updates aren't likely to improve the battery life, but there are additions I hope Apple will include in WatchOS 9. There needs to be a rest or sick mode, so you can flag that you're not feeling well and get a pass for not closing your rings that day. I'd also like to see improved sleep tracking and have the Apple Watch put more of an emphasis on workout recovery overall. This could include finding more of a correlation between all the metrics the Apple Watch already gathers, like activity levels, heart rate variability, blood oxygen percent and sleep data. Many other wearables have already started to connect the dots, such as Garmin's Body Battery or the Fitbit Daily Readiness Score.

Find out more about my long-term experience with the Apple Watch Series 7 in the video on this page.