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, due to appear in the autumn of 2021. With around three months to go until the new Apple Watch appears, we're starting to get a good idea of what to expect.
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.
We're hearing that this year's Apple Watch will feature the most radical redesign since the original came out in 2015. This will include a flatter body and a new green colour; we're also hearing rumours of an edge-to-edge screen. On the new features front, Apple is investigating demand for a glucose monitor, and sources suggest we could be looking at dramatically improved battery life.
Plus, at WWDC 2021, we got our first look at watchOS 8, the updated software that will run on the new Apple Watch.
When will the Apple Watch Series 7 come out?
We expect the Apple Watch Series 7 to be released 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:
- 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.
This will probably be another virtual event, like WWDC 2021 in June, unless the US sees some almost miraculous improvements in pandemic containment. Aside from the health implications, which are obviously the priority, Apple's virtual events have been a success.
The new Apple Watch will probably be announced alongside the iPhone 13.
Price: How much will the Apple Watch Series 7 cost?
The Apple Watch Series 7 is likely to start at £379/$399.
Pricing on the Apple Watch series has held reasonably steady over the years. At launch 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 £379/$399 or thereabouts.
The Series 6 didn't bring the radical redesign that many had hoped for, but industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted back in September that a "significant form factor design change" is coming to the Apple Watch and may arrive in the second half of 2021.
We got a better idea of how this might look when Jon Prosser made a raft of predictions in May 2021. Prosser, basing his theories on anonymous insider sources, says the next Apple Watch will have flatter edges - a rough approximation of the square-edged design familiar from recent iPad Pros and the 2020 iPhones, although "more subtle", by which we assume he means not quite as sharp for the sake of comfort.
Prosser also reckons Apple will sell the Series 7 in an additional colour finish, adding the same green that's available for the AirPods Max.
Finally, Prosser has briefly mentioned the launch of a MagSafe accessory for the Apple Watch, although it isn't entirely clear what this will entail. The Apple Watch, of course, already has something along the lines of MagSafe: it attaches magnetically to its charging puck and charges inductively.
Here's another element of the expected redesign: an edge-to-edge screen. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, this year's new Apple Watch models will feature displays that go almost all the way to the edge of the chassis.
This is certainly the direction of travel: the biggest redesign so far was when the thick bezels around the screen of the Series 3 were replaced by the thin ones of the Series 4, although in other respects the design remained largely the same. It sounds like those bezels are going to shrink still further, opening up more screen space without increasing the size of the device.
Gurman also thinks Apple will upgrade the Watch to a new lamination technique this year, bringing the display tech closer to the glass. It's hard to assess without trying it out how this will affect the user experience, but lamination can be important: the unlaminated iPads feel plasticky and cheap compared to the laminated ones.
Switching to a round face
If you're wondering if there will be a round Apple Watch... well, we doubt it, but there are patents that indicate Apple has at least considered such a design. It's one of the options that was rejected in favour of the squircle look.
Switching to a round face now would have such a huge impact on watchOS's interface that we struggle to see a scenario in which it's likely to happen.
Add this to the list of long shots, but there is some evidence that Apple is looking into the possibility of a flexible screen on its smartwatch. It's unlikely to happen any time soon, but could happen in the longer term.
Apple has applied for a patent, entitled Display Module and System Applications, which features a flexible screen that goes around the entire wrist. This would mean significantly more information could be displayed than is possible at present.
The mooted design also appears to have no Digital Crown, but it isn't clear how the dial's functions will be replicated elsewhere. It might simply have been left off the diagram for simplicity, since patent images are under no obligation to be accurate, merely illustrative of the specific concepts in question.
Talking of long shots... Another out-there rumour predicts that Apple is working on a new version of its wearable to be called the Apple Watch Sport.
In itself that isn't too hard to believe - there was a Sport version of the original model, which just referred to it coming with a sporty strap - but we're also hearing that this will be a completely new design focusing on shock resistance and all-round robustness. It would be covered with rubber-like material and be somewhat reminiscent of Casio's G-Shock watches.
Mark Gurman, a consistently reliable source, insists that Apple is working on this device, which is known internally as the Explorer Edition. But for us it's hard to see such a model passing the Apple taste test. Watch this space.
Apple Watch Series 7 new features
The rumour mill has thrown up some strong clues about the new features we might see in September.
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 okay 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, and in May it emerged that the company has been investigating demand for a glucose monitor via a customer survey.
Apple asked which third-party apps customers use to keep track of their health, and whether they have any apps installed to keep track of eating habits, medications and blood sugar levels.
A final mention goes to body temperature, which a future Apple Watch may be able to measure, based on a patent from 2019. "Skin temperature is one of the vital signs for patient health," reads the patent. But the evidence suggests this won't be ready for the Series 7, so you'll have to carry on using a thermometer for now.
Battery life is one of those things that everyone says is a priority, but ends up getting trampled by the desire to include energy-intensive new features and upgraded components. But this year may be different.
We know, based on a report from the Economic Daily News, that the new S7 chip will take up significantly less space inside the Apple Watch Series 7 than the S6 did in the Series 6. And this will free up space for new or larger components.
Normally, of course, your average smartwatch manufacturer would immediately fill that space with bells and whistles: new sensors that sound good in a keynote presentation. But MacRumors reasons that many of the health sensors discussed in the section above aren't going to be ready for the 2021 launch, and that Apple will instead fill the space with a bigger battery. And this will mean dramatically improved battery performance.
Battery life can be difficult to sell as a flagship feature - it feels like more of an iterative improvement you expect from year to year. But if the battery life leaps forward significantly, Apple's marketing machine is more than capable of taking on the challenge.
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.
Announced at WWDC 2021 on 7 June, with a developer beta available the same day and a public beta to follow in June, when the new Apple Watch launches in the fall it will be running the final release of watchOS 8.
In the latest software update Apple focuses on photos and messaging, health, sleep, keeping fit and mindfulness, plus better support for smart home kit and some new Apple Wallet features. Plus there's Assistive Touch, which allows you to control the watch using gestures, and on-device recording for Siri.
Among the most interesting new features are the fact Apple Watch will get the iPhone's Portrait Photos mode, allowing you to display even better images of your friends and family, plus the rebranding of the Breathe app as Mindfulness, which now includes a Pause to Relax mode with calming animations and the addition of a Mindful Minutes summary.
For more details on watchOS 8 see our dedicated article.
That's all the new Apple Watch rumours for the time being. Be sure to keep checking back: we'll update 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.