Where next for the Apple Watch? With around 100 million of them on people's wrists, what's in store for the next 100 million?
Following the successful launch of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE in late 2020, smartwatch fans are eager to see what's in store for the Series 7 model, expected to appear in the autumn of 2021.
In this article we round up the latest news and rumours about the Apple Watch Series 7, including its design, tech specs, likely release date and pricing.
When will the Apple Watch Series 7 be released?
We expect the Apple Watch Series to launch in mid-September 2021.
September is marked with a big Watch sign on the calendar at Apple HQ, with the last four models all appearing in that month. A quick look at the list below shows when they all arrived:
- Apple Watch Series 3: 22 September 2017
- Apple Watch Series 4: 21 September 2018
- Apple Watch Series 5: 20 September 2019
- Apple Watch Series 6: 18 September 2020
With this in mind, you should expect the Series 7 to launch at a special press event in mid-September 2021: Tuesday 14 September is a decent bet. It will probably be announced alongside the iPhone 13.
Apple Watch Series 7 price
Pricing on the Apple Watch series has held reasonably steady over the years. The previous three models were priced as followed:
- Apple Watch Series 4: £399/$399
- Apple Watch Series 5: £399/$399
- Apple Watch Series 6: £379/$399
We can't see any obvious reason why this would change drastically, so the Apple Watch Series 7 will most likely come in at £399/$399.
The Series 6 didn't bring the radical redesign that many had hoped for, but industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that a "significant form factor design change" will come to the Apple Watch "in 2H21 at the earliest".
What this will look like remains a mystery: a slimmer body is feasible, a reconfiguration of the hardware controls is possible, and we might even get that long-rumoured round face (although don't bet on it, given the knock-on effects this would have on the watchOS interface). With Kuo's impressive record of getting predictions correct, we could find out soon.
Apple Watch Series 7 new features
With the Series 7 still a long way off in the distance, there's little in the way of solid news about the new features Apple will introduce with the new model.
That being said, the rumour mill has already thrown up some clues about what we might see next September.
Touch ID fingerprint recognition
Several rumours have surfaced suggesting that Apple will include a Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the Series 7. This could be either under the display itself, as has been rumoured for the iPhone 13, or in the Digital Crown, much like the power button in the iPad Air (2020).
Technologically Apple could pull this off. But would it be worth the disadvantages in terms of price, production or product size?
Bear in mind that the average Apple Watch is unlocked precisely once per day (it remains unlocked as long as it's on the user's wrist), and even that isn't much of an inconvenience as you can simply put it on and then trigger Face ID on the paired iPhone. This feels like a solution to a problem not many people are actually complaining about.
Display upgrades for Apple Watch Series 7
There's been talk for a while now about Apple replacing the OLED displays on the Apple Watch with either Mini-LED or Micro-LED panels. The advantage of the newer displays is that they can be thinner and offer better energy-efficiency, which leads to improved battery life.
MacRumors has reported that 2021 could be the year where Apple finally works with Taiwanese display manufacturers to deliver the new panels on the Watch. If this is true, it would fit with the redesign rumours and certainly be a big step forward for the Series 7.
Health and fitness are the twin prongs of Apple's strategy for the Apple Watch - our analysis of Apple Watch trends in 2021 named health as one of the key factors - and the firm has been steadily adding related features with each generation of the product.
The Apple Watch Series 6 continued this tradition with the inclusion of blood oxygen monitoring, but for one reason or another (most likely the avoidance of delay) this feature was never cleared by the FDA: this was acceptable because Apple classified it as a wellness feature rather than a medical function. But this does mean we must regard the feature's scientific accuracy as unproven.
By the time the Series 7 arrives we hope Apple will have obtained FDA approval, or changed its strategy in some other way that means we can place greater reliance on the accuracy of blood oxygen measurements.
But other changes are coming too, if a pair of patent applications are any guide. Based on these patents Apple is working on continuous blood pressure and heart-rate measurements.
Apple is also believed to be planning to add blood sugar monitoring to the Apple Watch 7. The company has applied for a patent for a way of measuring blood sugar using terahertz electromagnetic radiation.
That's all the new Apple Watch rumours for the time being.
Obviously, we're largely in the realm of speculation, and our grasp of the precise details could change as we get nearer to the Apple Watch Series 7's release date. Be sure to keep checking back: we'll update the article whenever news breaks.
Finally, for broader information about Apple's plans for the coming year across all of its product categories, take a look at our guide to the new Apple products coming out in 2021.